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Home » Product & Planning Guide » Fitting out Process » Tools for Fitting Out a Canal Boat or Narrowboat


To do the job smartly, efficiently and safely you will need a good quality tool kit.
Some tools can be hired rather than bought, such as pro tile cutters or tools for cutting metal.
If you are buying however, we advise to invest in the best...

Go For Gold...
It has to be said that when fitting out a canal boat the best tool you can have is a warm fully equipped boat shed|!

In the absence of that our best advice is simply buy the best you can afford. There are lots of cheap tools on the market but experience teaches that in the long run they will cost you money.

A Ha'porth of Tar...
Take a table saw for example. Necessary for making accurate long cuts on big 18mm panels and a real time saver when chopping battens etc.
Your panels may be double sided oak veneered block board and cost in the region of £90 each.
A cheap deck will not align the blade squarely and a cheap blade will not cut the panel cleanly. A poor quality motor will struggle as you get half way through the panel and start to burn the edge. Potentially that’s 90 quid of scrap.

Good quality tools will hold their value, do a professional job and can be re-sold later to cover part of the cost. It’s likely the cheap tool will go to landfill.

Skill Set...
Tools will depend on your skill set.
As an example you may decide to have a go at first fix wiring.

Cable runs need clipping or running in conduit in accordance with the Recreational Craft Directive or the Boat Safety Scheme. You may find the use of an electrician’s fish tape useful.

Holes will need making in panel work for which you will need an electric drill and spade drill bits for holes that are going to be covered.
A hole saw set is advisable for accurate diameters for lighting units.

For cutting square apertures for 230VAC pattress boxes, you can use a jig saw if you are accurate and have a steady hand.
The problem with using a jigsaw for this with panels in situ is that you run the risk of cutting through the wiring or bouncing the blade off the steel work and therefore the operation is potentially dangerous.

We would advise using an oscillating multi tool for fast accurate cuts into panels with less danger!

Actually wiring 12vDC appliances in will require crimped terminal connections on cable ends in accordance with the RCD Small Craft – Electrical Systems- Extra Low Voltage DC installations guidance.

In this case a proper ratchet crimping tool will make a world of difference to the quality of your work.

Mechanical work will require a decent set of spanners and sockets. Poor quality tools will quickly damage nuts and bolts with potentially disastrous consequences.

Toys for Boys and Girls...
Visit your local tool specialist, not the local DIY shed when buying tools. Don’t be afraid to ask for discount. Local businesses appreciate local custom. Knowing you are undertaking a project will show them that you will be back for more. Ask for tools as gifts from family members and friends for special occasions. They will get the gesture back by being able to use the boat with you when it is finished!

Local Courses...
Consider enrolling in night classes to hone your tool handling skills. In the long run, you can only add value to your investment by improving your skills.
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