Mostly retired spend all my time working on or thinking about boats and outboard motors :)
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Follow our project from start to finish



Fasteners include all the nails, screws, bolts etc that you will use during the build.

Most woodworkers will tell you that in most cases the fasteners are only there to keep things in place and "clamped" until the glue dries. My opinion is similar.

However, it's one thing if a glue line lets go on a book case in your living room, it's quite another if your transom let's go when you are in 4 foot waves a few miles from shore. So no matter how careful I have prepared and fitted the joints, no matter what claims the maker of the glue has provided and how carefully I have followed the instructions and method, I'm going to have superior quality fasteners backing my work up in this particular application.

(A side note to the above. I have read "The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction" cover to cover multiple time - just ask my wife :) - and I absolutely believe that the "West System" will allow you to build an extremely sound, well bonded structure with little to no fasteners. It is not the West System that I distrust, but possible errors on my part which had initially led me to use fasteners and the fastening schedule set forth by the designer. As the build progressed and I became more trusting of both the glue and my abilities, I used less and less fasteners, often only using them to apply clamping pressure in locations where I couldn't get a conventional clamp.)

Again, talk to wooden boat builders and you will get near total concurrence on what material is "best", but you will get varying view on what is "adequate". I will briefly discuss all of them, but for myself, I plan on using what is "best".

Top of the food chain is Silicon Bronze. This material has been used for years, last well in both salt or freshwater environments and are available from a few reputable sources. Although quality can vary even within this material, even the "lower grade" stuff is probably your best all around option.

What are the drawbacks? The material is on the "soft side" as far as metals go which means drilling a lot of "pilot" holes and no matter how you look at it, it's expensive. For our particular build, the fasteners final pricetag was about $600.

In comparison, for less than 200 bucks, we could use "galvanized" fasteners. These, along with the Silicon Bronze are recommended by the builder for fiberglass covered freshwater boats. So while the cost savings is there, they will however, rust over time.

This is where the disagreements come into play. If the epoxy is strong enough by itself, what does it matter if the fastener rusts away? Well, maybe it doesn't, but for 400 bucks am I willing to take that chance?

Besides, since we are planning to "clear finish" a substantial portion of the boat, do we want to run the risk of having "rust" bleed through and become visible. For "us" the answer is NO.

Stainless steel - If the world ended today, 500 years from now there would be nothing left of any of our cities to determine where they once stood. Everything would rot/decay and be reclaimed by mother earth - except plastic which had been shaded from UV light and stainless steel sinks. So why not use Stainless.

Well, it's true that it will never rust as long as it's exposed to the air, but once it's in a closed environment such as in an epoxy encapsulated piece of wood, it can rust - from the inside out.

So yes, above the waterline, to fasten your rails, lights, whatever, stainless is a great choice. Just keep it out of the hull. But the jury is still out on that one too.

If you do chose to use stainless, find a knowledgeable dealer. There a numerous grades of the material. The best are some of the 300 series alloys - they are also the most expensive and the cost difference compared to Silicon Bronze may be minimal at best.

Brass - no it won't rust, but anyone that has twisted off the head of a brass screw quickly realizes just how soft the metal is. Again, brass is great for non-structural work and can give a great "finished" appearance, but its low sheer strength makes it impractical for structural work.

Plain old nails/screws from the hardware store, or even "deck" screws which are coated with this or that. Hey, your deck is 10 years old and the screws are still fine. Ya, maybe, or maybe they are disintegrating down inside the boards. At least if the deck falls apart when you walk on it, at most you will hit the hard ground.

Your boat, your choice. If you want to skimp on a couple hundred bucks worth of fasteners on a multi-thousand dollar build, perhaps you best take up model building instead. At least if the fasteners fail your life won't be in peril.

Bottom line. If spending a couple hundred extra bucks on material, fasteners and glue will kill your budget, you are probably not at the point where building a larger boat is feasible for you. Build something smaller or buy a "production" boat and enjoy it.
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