Structural Design of Wooden Boats

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


The contemporary environmental challenges faced by the maritime industry have triggered a regain of interest in wood as a sustainable material. Modern classics and replicas of historical vessels have been increasingly popular. However, owing to their historical nature and small market share, wooden yachts and small ships do not benefit from a robust and detailed regulatory framework. Instead, their structural design remains driven by designer and builder experience, historical scantlings and rules of thumb. As such, the lack of detailed regulations for the scantlings of traditional timber vessels has been identified as a limitation to their wider implementation in the maritime industry. Consequently, this paper explores existing regulations and recent experimental research to provide novel insights into wooden structures and their associated scantling rules. First, a classification of wooden boatbuilding techniques is offered. Then, the lower carbon footprint of traditional carvel construction compared to modern cold moulding, strip planking, and plywood construction is quantified. Finally, recommendations are provided regarding the remaining outstanding research questions that need to be addressed to ensure reliable traditional wooden boat scantlings in modern regulations. It is anticipated these findings will facilitate the wider adoption of wooden construction for small crafts, support the use of more sustainable materials, and may further contribute to the development of future regulations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistoric Ships Conference
PublisherRoyal Institution of Naval Architects
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Nov 2023
EventHistoric Ships Conference 2023: Historic Vessels: Sustainable Futures - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Nov 202329 Nov 2023


ConferenceHistoric Ships Conference 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Bibliographical note

This is the author's accepted manuscript of a paper presented at the Historic Ships Conference 2023.


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