How do you eat an elephant? The (grinning) response is "One bite at a time!" Actually, it's the same answer for the way to accomplish any large task. Taken all together, it really is formidable. If you organize it into steps, stages, logical pieces, then you can see how to accomplish it, step by step. The steps can be smaller. They will each be easy enough and "do-able." Moreover, when you have all of them done, why, you will see that you have accomplished your entire large task. It's the same way with how to build wooden boats. Here then is how you can approach the elephantine task of building wooden boats, in 7 easy steps.

Step 1. Create the ribs using the 2 by 4 wood. For this you need to cut the gussets to reinforce the rib joints from 1/4-inch marine plywood. Similar to the ribs on the human body, the ribs secure the rest of the boat's framework. If you do not do this or neglect it, you will probably have to have a very inferior boat frame.

Step 2. Construct the keel by cutting a 2 by 4 to length of boat. Attach the stern post, also cut from a 2 by 4, to the "aft" end of the keel with #12 6-inch wood screws. This part is important because as in the human body, the ribs need a backbone to link them together; the keel serves as the backbone of the boat. ).

Step 3. Switch the ribs upside down and attach the keel and stern post to the ribs, similarly spacing the ribs and affixing with #12 3-inch wood screws. The last set of ribs should be affixed at the forward end of the boat to form the bow. Link the keelson to the inside of the ribs with #12 6-inch screws, screwed through the ribs and into the keel. This could mean that the keelson supplies additional stableness and rigidity to the keel. This can additionally mean that the ribs and transfers of longitudinal forces to and from the keel and the hull.

Step 4. The stringers offer even more lateral durability to the hull, helping to stop longitudinal flexing that crack the keel, or even the boat in half. This will require affixing the stringers to the inside of the ribs on the bottom, then to the outside of the ribs on the sides, using #12 3-inch wood screws.

Step 5. The plywood forms the "skin" of the hull, the hull plating. Use the #12 3-inch screws to fasten the marine plywood to the ribs and stringers at every point where they contact. Fill the seams with caulk, both inside and outside the boat. One of the important points to keep in mind here is reducing the marine plywood to fit. The reason that this is often important is because it would be a costly mistake, causing you to re-cut the wood until it fits perfectly.

Step 6. Reduce the 1 by 10-inch planking to fit between the uprights of the ribs, 2 inches below the gunwales, to form the seats. Reduce gussets to act as seat supports and attach them to the ribs with #12 2-1/2-inch screws, with the top of the seat support 3-1/4-inch below the top of the gunwales. Affix the seats to the seat support with #12 2-1/2-inch screws.

Step 7. Tie the boat to the shore to test boat float; the boat should have no passengers. Watch for two or three hours to see if water leaks into the boat. Mark the leaks with a grease pencil as they are noted. Take the boat out of the water; allow the hull to dry for a day. Re-caulk the entire boat with particular awareness to the marked leaks. Allow the caulk to cure according to the directions on the caulk label. Analyze boat float again to ensure the seeps are closed. Carry the boat out and allow to dry for a day. Prime and paint the boat. Allow the paint to dry according to the manufacturer's directions. Great! Now you're almost there! Remember, build wooden boats can be fun and very rewarding.

If you stick to the steps set forth above, step-by-step the huge elephant-challenge you were facing is going to be "consumed," conquered and finished off. You will complete your project, succeed, and then take pleasure in the benefits and fruits of accomplishment and victory! Congratulations on your triumph! You undertook a tremendous challenge, overcame it, and won, taking one step at a time!