How to build a coracle

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Coracles are very simple vessels, consisting of a basketframe, a seat and a waterproof cover. There are no hard and fast rules for their construction and as such, every coracle is unique. Measurements can be adapted to meet the needs of the user; different materials can be used depending on what is available.

Below we detail how an Ironbridge coracle can be built. Many thanks to Terry Kenny for providing his instructions to use in this guide. Measurements are for guidance only and will build a boat for the average adult

Materials Tools
  • 30 green ash laths - 8ft long x 1 1/2in wide x 1/4in deep (2.5m x 4cm x 0.5cm)
  • softwood seat - 42in long x 8in wide x 1in deep (105cm x 20cm x 2.5cm)*
  • 2 softwood seat supports (to attach seat to gunwhale) - 8in long x 2in wide x 1in deep (20cm x 5cm x 2.5cm)
  • 3 softwood seat posts - 11in long x 1 1/2in wide x 1 1/2in deep (28cm x 4cm x 4cm)
  • plyboard (for paddle blade) - 16in long x 7 1/2in wide x 1/4in deep (41cm x 19cm x 0.6cm)
  • 1 broom handle 1 1/4in (3cm) diameter
  • calico - 75in long x 70in wide (1.9m x 1.8m)
  • bitumen paint - 2 litres
  • galvanised nails - 2 dozen 40mm and plentiful quantity of 25mm**
  • wood screws, 8x1 1/2in and 8x2 1/2in
  • optional: creosote, paint and/or varnish for decoration
  • strong curved needles and strong thread (optional)
  • wood glue

*alternatively, a larger seat measing 48in (122cm) wide can be used to make a slightly larger coracle
**galvanised nails can be substituted for staples. Use of an electronic staple gun is recommended

  • drill, drill bits and countersink
  • 2 hammers, or one hammer and a dolly (a weight to hammer against)
  • saw
  • screwdriver
  • a quantity of G clamps
  • tape measure
  • file
  • plane
  • a large flat surface, such as a workbench

It is important that your laths are freshly cut prior to use. This makes them easier to work with and reduces the chances of constant breakages