Tools & Materials to Build Your Bait Boat

This section covers the sort of tools and materials that you may need or use while building your bait boat.

What tools will I need?

Most of us have a ready selection of tools that can be used to build your bait boat and the physical size of the tools is likely to be the only problem as you will be working with small items, rather than house sized items!

Hand tools:

  • Measuring - This ones easy as a tape measure and a straight rule will cover almost all of your needs. A compass is useful for setting out the hole for the hatch, assuming you use a circular hatch, but is not essential as we normally just trace around the outside of the hatch.
  • Cutting - A sharp knife, a saw and a fret saw will cover most your cutting jobs. A Stanley knife will cover all your needs where the knife is concerned and a cross cut saw for bigger jobs would work. A tenon saw would also be useful for fine work and a fret saw is invaluable for shaped cuts.
  • Smoothing - Sanding sheets and a rasp would cover most of your needs, with the sanding sheets in grit sizes varying from 60 to 240. A Surform is a useful tool for removing large quantities, followed by a rasp and then sanding paper.
  • Electrical - Your bait boat will work at either 6v or 12v and will be perfectly safe to work on and all you will be likely to need will be a good electricians screwdriver and a decent set of side cutters. The only safety issue is causing a fire by shorting out the battery, so take care once the battery is connected.
  • Fixings - Most of us have a collection of spanners around the home, but this is an area where most of your tools are likely to large and small screwdrivers and spanners can be useful, especially for tightening the nuts on the drive shaft.

Power tools:

  • Cutting - Off all my power tools, the ones that get used the most are my fret saw and Dremel. The fret saw, while intended for scroll work, does get used for most of my small cutting jobs as it is easily available and quick to use. The Dremel is invaluable for smoothing and cutting and makes short work of modifications to fibreglass. My latest purchase has been a Proxxon Micromot Angle Grinder for the cutting jobs that are a little beyond the Dremel.
  • Smoothing - Again the Dremel gets used a lot for small touch up jobs, but my detail sander and belt sander are helpful where the larger jobs are concerned. The final smoothing tool that I have is the bench sander and this helps me get true right angles and other angles on small pieces of work.
  • Electrical - A good soldering iron is invaluable if you intend to work on your own electrical connections, especially one with the power to solder battery terminals. I have two, one for electronic soldering and another heavy duty one for battery terminals and the like.
  • Screwdriver - While not essential, a power screwdriver takes a lot of the drudgery out of those tasks that have several screws to spin up. Nothing two powerful is needed and a small Bosch Cordless Drill/Driver or similar would be fine.


  • Epoxy - A staple of all model makers and usually the 5 minute epoxy is ideal for all jobs from fixing the propeller shaft to attaching hull components. Be aware that epoxy glue is reasonably flexible so don't use it where you need a rigid glue. Fixing the propellor shaft is a case in point, if you have been a little gung-ho in making the holes for the shaft, just use epoxy to tack the shafts in place and then use body filler to complete the job to ensure rigidity.
  • Super Glue - Not used a lot in bait boat building, but essential for the odd job, particular for securing something temporarily in an awkward spot. But remember that is not durable in a constantly wet environment and take care when using it as it sticks skin and eyes together as easily as wood!!
  • Plastic Weld Cement - As the name suggests, this glue actually melts the plastic to make a join that is frequently stronger the the plastic itself. It can be used on most plastics that are found in modelling, but care should be taken to keep it to the surfaces to be glued as it will leave marks wherever it goes and weld cement finger prints will haunt the clumsy builder.
  • PVA Wood Glue - Always use exterior grade PVA for sticking your wooden elements together. PVA takes longer to set that Epoxy or Super Glue, but is a strong bond for wooden parts with a large surface area.
  • Body Filler - Not strictly an adhesive, but an essential part of the toolkit non the less. Body filler comes in many guises, but the car body workers standard of P38 has to be one of the easiest to use. The keys here are ease of mixing and sanding and P38 ticks both boxes as well as being easily available in any auto store like Halford's.
  • Polyester Resin and Fibreglass - Useful for sheathing hulls for strength and durability, it can also be useful for patching or bridging holes, either during construction or in the event of an accident. Fibreglass kits are freely available and a small kit that will cover most hobbyist uses is available from Halford's.


  • Safety Glasses - Obvious I guess, but you only have two eyes and they are worth looking after. These are not costly items and protect your eyes from flying debris, especially when you are using power tools.
  • Face Mask - Often seen as unnecessary, the face mask is vital if you are working with some products, especially fibreglass. I use the 3M Organic Vapour/Dust Half Mask Respirator, which sounds impressive and expensive, yet costs less than £20 and protects you from just about anything that you can produce while building your bait boat. Even if you are not worried about the long term harm caused by dust and noxious vapours, consider the short term benefits of a good nights sleep and lack of nausea which are some of the side effects of fibreglass dust and paint and solvent inhalation.
  • Gloves - OK, its obvious right! If you wear gloves your hands will stay clean and free from paint and glue and offer some protection against injury. I use nitrile disposable gloves because I find that they are more durable than the normal latex, but any form of disposable glove with help protect your hands.
  • Apron - I don't want to seem a complete nancy, but I wear an apron for most of my bait boat work. It is quick and easy to slip on, protects whatever clothes I am wearing and is cool in hot weather. Not essential, but very sensible.

What materials will I need?

Your material choice is partly dependant on how your hull and deck are constructed and partly on what stage you start the build. Commercial hulls are constructed from fibreglass or moulded from plastic, but both of these processes are complex and time consuming, so I am ignoring the processes in this article and concentrating on the usual hobbyist materials.


  • Balsa - Balsa has been used for modelling for centuries and it still has many useful properties, especially lightness and ease of shaping. But it is also easily damaged and lacks density so that its surface can be marked or dented very easily. Use balsa wood for shaping sections that require buoyancy or are complicated to shape, but ensure you sheath any exposed or at risk surfaces with something file fibreglass to provide exterior strength and make it waterproof.
  • Marine Plywood - More difficult to work than balsa, but far stronger, this wood is good for making exterior surfaces like the deck or even the hull if you are starting from scratch. Even marine ply needs sealing and will not take continuous immersion in water, so varnish or paint inside and out to protect it.
  • Plastic - You can make just about everything from plastic and it is reasonably easy to work, but some plastics will distort in hot weather and care should be taken about direct sunshine on hot days. Plasticard by Plastruct is available from all hobby stores and comes in all manor of shapes and sizes and can be joined together easily with plastic weld. Plasticard is also quite durable and flexible, unlike other plastics like Perspex which will snap under tension.
  • Metals - A wide selection of metals can be used in the making of your bait boat, especially brass for making everything from levers for your release mechanism to the doors for bait release. Piano wire is also useful in making links between the servos and release mechanisms, but not essential if you can place the servo near the item to be controlled.

As with all things, you don't start off with all of this stuff, but gradually acquire it as you embrace different projects, just get started and buy whatever you need as you find you need it.