The Case For Larger Plate Sizes When Building Metal Boats

The Case For Larger Plate Sizes When Building Metal Boats

We receive a lot of comments and questions regarding plate sizes and nesting so I thought I'd blog about it. Here is the case for larger plate sizes when building metal boats.

Generally the discussion arises when occasionally some suppliers will say they don't stock 5' x 20' or 6' x 20' (2m x 6m) sheets. This is true, many don't keep this size in stock, but they often fail to mention that they can order them in for you. Their suppliers stock it on coils and can cut it to any length they need.


Most cutting shops can handle these larger plates as well, with most modern tables sized at a minimum 6' x 24'. In fact they prefer larger sheets as there is less loading and off-loading of the table.

There is generally a slightly higher cost for the supplier to order the larger sheets for us though, and this is where the discussion begins. "Can we nest on smaller plates to save money" etc. Of course this is an option, but there is a strong case against doing so if possible. While it may appear we can save some money by going to smaller sized sheets... we may not be saving an money at all. In fact is may cost more. Here's why:

We generally nest on the larger sheets deliberately. Even though it may seem more costly up front, there are many factors to consider. All our professional builders request these sizes for the following reasons:

  • Re-nesting will likely use more material as parts cannot be nested as efficiently. There will be more waste adding to your costs..
  • The cutting shops charge a fee per plate loaded onto the table. More plates to handle and load = higher cutting cost.
  • Ugly Seams on the boat will reduce resale value. Reducing seams wherever possible increases the value of your boat.
  • Labor/time to build the boat will increase significantly adding to the cost of building.
  • The cost of a few dollars more on the few sheets is a small percentage of the overall building costs.
  • Once we consider all the factors there is usually no saving to be had by re-nesting. It may even increase costs.

That said, if builders need to re-nest we encourage you to do it on your side because there's less chance of miscommunication. Often the cutting shop can do this for you to suit the materials they have on hand. (Also ask the cutting shop to quote on materials supply as they get better pricing than you and I). I would also encourage getting more than one quote and have the suppliers bid against each other to reduce pricing.

We can re-nest for you but encourage not to, unless it’s impossible to build otherwise. These boats are a good investment and will be more valuable than the money spent to build them. It is worth doing it as nicely as possible (without seams) to protect that investment. Most of our builders will sell at a profit even after years of use, so it all comes back in the end. 🙂

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