Make Your Own Coracle to Set Sail Like a Celtic Briton

coracle making

Coracle is a type of ancient light weight keel less boat that the Britons used for fishing and for transporting their goods, from historical times. It’s very easy to make a coracle on your own if you are willing to follow the rules.

How to Start?  Are There any Cautions Involved?

So if you want to build your own coracle and sail the waters like the ancient Britons did, here are few details that you might want to keep in mind. Unless you are an expert with tools, its’ better to take the help of a trained carpenter or a boat maker if you are going on with this, or you might hurt yourself.  

coracle making

Things You Will Need

  • A load of willow rods and an animal hide/ a tar coated calico.
  • A hand drill and some nails.
  • 5 wooden planks that are rectangular and are about 4 feet long and 1 feet wide.
  • A sharp pocket knife and a hand saw.
  • A needle and some hard plastic strings.

Steps for Building

Cut down the fresh willow on the same morning you are going to build the coracle. Do not let the willow go dry as it will make them rigid and reduce their flexibility, which cause them to break up when you try to bend them. Next get four planks and fix them firmly using nails in the shape of a square. This is the template for your coracle, so make it with care.

Then take a piece of crayon or a pastel and draw the outline of the coracle on those planks in a spherical or elliptical shape. Then take the hand drill and place holes at equal distances on the wooden frame. Next take the willow rods and sharpen their tips using your pocket knife and fix them vertically and firmly to the holes you made on the plank. After doing this you will have a cage like structure made of willow rods.

coracle making

Then you have to begin the second step. That is to weave the willow rods. To do it just take another set of willow rods and place the rods one by one horizontally between the standing rods in a zigzag pattern, so that they are fixed firmly. After doing it, if you do it right the horizontal rods should fit tightly between the vertical standing rods. Continue this step until you get the side walls of the boat up to the desired height. Then take a piece of wood and tap the horizontal woven rods to make them tighter.

Next you will have to make a seat. Cut down the remaining wooden plank using a saw, to the required width and make two holes at its opposite ends using a hand drill. Next run a pair of vertical rods through the holes you made in the plank and push the plank downwards from above. Be careful not to injure your eyes when you do it. So now it should sit like a bridge between the opposite ends of the boat.

Once you have finished, carefully bend the vertically standing willow rods of one side and fix it to the other side one by one, when you are doing this take care not to apply huge force. As if you do the rods will break and you will have to start all over again, if it’s right the shape of the coracle should now be visible like an inverted rib cage. Now if you have got it right you can try to kneel down at its center to check for strength, hopefully it will not break and it will support your weight even if you bounce up and down on it.

Next take the piece of tar coated calico or the animal hide you have and turn the coracle to its correct position. Next fasten the cloth or the hide to the frame using few ropes or strings and double stitch the cloth to the circumference of the boat. Finally now you will have your coracle. Take a piece of wood for the oars and go to the nearest lake or river, and set sail for your destination.


So, remember to sail like a real Celtic Briton you need to make your own coracle, to do it you need a load of fresh willow rods, hand drill and some nails, 5 planks and a hand saw and a pocket knife, finally a needle and some hard plastic strings. Then build the template and fix the vertical willows. Then weave the willows to get the required shape. Finally stitch the cloth to the frame to finish your coracle.