New Boat Hooks



Often a boat project is born of frustration with an existing product. Boathooks are a fine case of this. My issues come from two incidents involving failed boat hooks. First I was using an extensible boat hook to reach up to resolve some issues with the gaff rigging. I reached up and pulled. The boat hook separated into the segment I was holding in my hand and the two segments hanging from the mast. I saw that the plastic slider part had broken. The second incident occurred when we were docking. Debbie was in front with a short aluminum boat hook. As she was working on tieing up the handle of the boat hook split and slid off. The boat hook sans handle fell in the water. It promptly filled with water and sank. The third motivation is the fact that these aluminum boat hooks fill with water when I stick them in the water. Then they drip all over the deck. This is a bit irritating in itself.

Here's the split handle which is all that's left of my short boat hook. The lesson learned here is that some plastic rots and one cannot tell ahead of time which plastic will rot.

The New Boat Hooks

I decided to make the boat hooks the traditional way. After looking through the WoodenBoat Forum I found some plans for 6 foot poles made of ash and bronze hooks. I had a couple of hooks lying around.

First I went up to Scottsboro and bought a couple of 1/4 ash planks for a total of $26. These boat hooks were looking almost as cheap as the store bought ones.

I ripped the ash to 1/2 and glued it up to make an approximate square. Next I used a thicnkess planer to get them to 1 1/4" squares. The next step was to run them through the tablesaw to knock off the corner to make it 8 sided. The stock was 10 feet long so I decided to keep the finished boat hooks 10 feet long.

After that it was necessary to sand them round. This took a couple of hours but I got the pieces round. I also had to taper one end and make the other round. It turned out easier to mount the belt sander in a clamp and hold the piece against it while turning it as shown.

Here are the nearly finished boat hooks. I put three coats of varnish on them. Out of curiosity I did a float test. One floats laying flat on the water's surface. The other floats standing up with about 1 foot of the end sticking above the water.