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Building a DIY Jon Boat: All You Should Know

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diy jon boat

A DIY Jon boat will bring you relaxing weekends on the water, exciting waterfowl hunting seasons, and beautiful moments with your family at minimal costs. The big question is what boat design you should aim for and where to start such a tough project.

This article will walk you through different Jon boat designs and materials, the steps to recreate one, and pro tips for tight budgets. Rest assured that Jon boat’s simple construction requires minimal materials and woodworking skills. Dreams can come true, so hesitate no more!

Table of Contents

List of DIY Jon Boat

Jon boats feature unique flat bottoms and square bows, which allow them to tackle difficult water bodies such as shallow marshes and meandering rivers.

Whether you are an angler, waterfowl hunter, or bird enthusiast, you will find a homemade Jon boat handy for exploring the living environments of these animals.

Jon boats come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. You should examine all the Jon boat builds before deciding on a design.

Types of Jon Boat

1. Flat-bottom hull Jon boat


Flat-bottom hull is the classic design of Jon boats. A flat bottom boat allows you to navigate shallow waters and maintain its stability under many circumstances.

You can haul fishing rods, walk back and forth on the boat, or distribute the weight unevenly without worrying that the boat might flip or swamp. As a result, this boat type is ideal for river fishermen or fowl hunters, who need small ships that can’t be capsized.

However, flat-bottom hulls don’t perform well on choppy waves, which are unavoidable in deep water. When a wave hits the boat, its impact covers the bottom and thus moves the entire boat. Plus, the low freeboard makes it more likely for water to splash into the vessel.

Builders soon came up with an idea to counteract the stability problem in choppy waters—modified V-hull Jon boats.

  • Modified V-hull Jon boat

The V-shaped hull allows this design to cut water more smoothly, resulting in a higher speed. It also provides quick and precise maneuverability, even in strong waves. In addition, the boat has a higher freeboard and doesn’t slap the water as hard, thus preventing liquid from entering.

Note that you might run aground when navigating shallow waters with a V-hull Jon boat, as its hull shape makes the draft deeper.

If you intend to launch your boat on windy days or rough water bodies, you should build a plywood Jon boat with a V-shaped hull.

2. Materials

A Jon boat can be constructed from fiberglass, aluminum, or wood. These materials can all resist water, moisture, and other harsh marine conditions, but each has distinct benefits and applications.

  • Wood


Since the very first days, boaters have used wood to build rowboats. The material is popular for its lightweight and affordable price. Plus, flat bottom plywood boat plans are one of the easiest to carry out at home. They don’t require molds, welding, or other metalworking skills.

The downside is plywood requires extensive care. Before building, you need to treat it with epoxy resins. Then, cover it with primer, topside paint, and varnish. After six to twelve months, you must reapply the protective coats to keep the wood in its top shape.

While the treatment and maintenance can be expensive and time-consuming, marine grade plywood doesn’t last as long as aluminum or fiberglass. All things considered, protective coatings can’t completely prevent moisture from seeping into the wood.

  • Fiberglass


To try out custom Jon boat ideas from fiberglass, you need a boat mold, which can be built from wood or ordered online. Then, start adhering fiberglass sheets to the mold with epoxy resins. You will need to build at least four layers of fiberglass to form the boat frame.

Needless to say, the method is expensive and labor-intensive. In exchange, you will have a durable, corrosive- and impact-resistant Jon boat. In fact, fiberglass is the most sturdy material among the three mentioned.

It comes with a disadvantage, though—its weight. Fiberglass is heavy; thus, you must calculate carefully when building the layers. The heaviness can cause your boat to swamp when loading too much. It also requires a bigger engine to guarantee performance.

  • Aluminum


The last option, aluminum, is indeed the best material for boat construction. It is lightweight yet robust and enduring. Aluminum boats require minimal maintenance. When used in freshwater, it needs little to no protection. In saltwater, however, an extra coating of antifouling bottom paint is necessary for galvanic corrosion protection.

Though aluminum is widely-used among boat manufacturers, few people can construct it at home due to its demanding metalworking machines and skills. You can buy pre cut aluminum Jon boat kits, but the procedure is still laborious and challenging.

3. Sizes

Jon boats can be from 8 to 26 feet long and 32 to 60 inches, but they mostly stay in the smaller range. The humble size gives a Jon boat an edge in shallow and narrow bodies of water, but a longer build means a higher speed.

When you choose a design from simple free Jon boat plans online, consider its size thoroughly. This element will largely affect the boat’s efficiency and performance.

To specify, the smaller the boats, the more prone to flipping they are, especially if equipped with heavy motors. Meanwhile, larger vessels can house powerful engines and batteries but require more maintenance chores.

How to Make a Jon Boat

Boat building is a meticulous task that takes weeks and even months. So, pack yourself in patience and make sure you have enough time before starting the project.

How to build a Jon boat? To begin, you need a detailed boat plan. You can browse the Internet for aluminum Jon boat plans, wooden Jon boat plans, or 16 plywood Jon boat plans free. But remember to choose one with complete information on the tools, materials, and boat dimensions.

Once you have gathered the tools and materials for your DIY Jon boat kit, follow these steps to build a wooden Jon boat:

Step 1. Build the boat’s frame: Start by constructing the boat’s stern and bow stem, then connect them with ribs and chines. You should trim the plywood to the desired dimensions, then use clamps to keep them in place as you put the parts together with screws and glue.

Step 2. Add the bottom and sides: after cutting the boat’s bottom and side planks according to the plan, attach them to the frame with glue and screws.

Step 3. Reinforce the frame: Add a keel, two sheer clamps, and two battens to the boat frame.

Step 4. Paint the boat: Coat the bottom with marine epoxy resin and apply paint to the hull to protect the wood against the elements.

Step 5. Build the interior: Cut the wood and place them inside the boat as instructed in the plan. Don’t forget to look up Jon boat decking ideas online for creative ways to decorate your boat.

Step 6. Mount oar locks on two sides of the seating position. Alternatively, install a motor on the transom or the bow.

Tips to Save Money When Building Jon Boat


  • Choose affordable materials

Marine-grade plywood is the most affordable material for boat building. The woodworking tools and machines are also more accessible and beginner-friendly. So, choose a wooden boat plan if you have a tight budget.

Opting for wood doesn’t necessarily sacrifice the quality and lifespan of your watercraft, though. A well-built wooden Jon boat with regular maintenance can stay in its top shape for years.

  • Aim for simplicity

Aim for a simple boat design that consumes minimal materials when you want to save money. You can come up with customizing ideas from premade boat plans and adjust the watercraft to your needs.

Feel free to cut out unnecessary decorations, such as carpets, cup holders, and gear shelves. Additionally, a DIY aluminum Jon boat doesn’t need painting if you intend to launch it only in freshwater.

  • Reduce the size

A small watercraft takes less material and time to build. Plus, the smaller the boat, the less demanding it is. You won’t have to worry about a powerful engine, sufficient batteries, ample space for storage, and huge maintenance costs.



How much does it cost to build your own Jon boat?

The total cost depends on many factors: complex or simple design, affordable or high-quality material, decoration of choice, and your location.

On average, it costs around $250 per foot, meaning an 8-foot Jon boat might cost approximately $2,o00. Note that the cost might double for bigger and more complex designs.

What do you need to build a Jon boat?

To begin, you need to select a boat plan that details the tools, materials, and boat dimensions. The most popular material is marine-grade plywood; the tools you need might include a miter saw, electric screwdriver, power sander, and epoxy resin.

Besides, prepare a spacious garage for the project. It might take up to a few months. So, make sure your space isn’t occupied during this period.


That sums up our guide on building a DIY Jon boat. Regardless of how time-consuming the project is, it will spark an interesting pursuit for your free time. If you love boating and have experience working with wood, I don’t see why you shouldn’t start this adventure.

Even for expert carpenters, this is a tough challenge, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions. We are more than glad to assist. See you next time!

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