fender board

How To Build A Fender Board

While many boat owners use fenders to protect their vessels from unwanted contact with docks or other objects, some require a bit of additional protection. In this situation, a fender board is an excellent option. Fender boards are a tool used to protect your boat when docking against pilings or seawalls. They act similarly to a larger fender, providing a barrier that buffers the hull from pilings, seawalls, or other potentially damaging components.

As a boat moves around at the dock, a fender board will work to prevent the fenders from being out of position on the pilings. This is accomplished by increasing the distance a boat must travel before the fenders no longer fall between piling and boat. 

If you often find yourself docking your vessel near pilings or sea walls, adding a fender board is something to consider. Fender boards are actually very inexpensive, and can easily be made in an afternoon with minimal materials and tools. The process requires very few steps, and for a small investment and a bit of time, you can ensure extra protection for your vessel.

Fender boards can be made using either wood or PVC piping. Before starting the project, you’ll need to decide which option is best for you and your boat. If you do decide to use wood to build your fender board, it is important to remember that if using wood, it should be treated ahead of time so that it is less likely to rot, and will last much longer.

You will also need to decide on your desired length for your fender board, as both wood planks and PVC piping can generally be cut to length when purchasing. For reference, fender boards generally range from 4-6’, depending on the size of the vessel.

Below are the necessary materials and instructions on how to build a fender board.

PVC Fender Board:

  • Dock line of choice
  • Two fenders of choice
  • A 4’ – 6’ section of 3’4” PVC pipe
  • Tape measure
  • A drill and drill bits

Step-by-step instructions for PVC pipe fender board:

  • Start by drilling two holes through the PVC pipe, each about 18” inches from the end of the pipe. The holes will need to be large enough for the dock line to pass through easily, and the edges of each hole should be rounded down a bit with sandpaper after drilling, to prevent chafing the dock lines.
  • Next, pass the dock line through the PVC pipe fender board. A knot on each side of the pipe will prevent the line from sliding. The bottom length of the rope should be just long enough to attach to the bottom of the fender. The upper section of the line should be long enough to attach to the top of the fender, and then to reach the required distance up to the lifeline or other attachment point on the boat.
  • To use, place fenders and fender board between pilings and vessel, and secure tightly.

Wood Fender Board:

  • Drill and drill bit
  • Electric jigsaw
  • Small file or sandpaper
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Dock line of choice
  • 4-6’ of 1-by-6 treated lumber

Step-by-step instructions for wood fender board:

  • Make a mark about 4” from the side edge of the board, and 2” from the bottom edge or each end of the board. Drill a hole at each mark large enough to accommodate the rope you will be using.
  • For a more finished appearance, you could also use a jigsaw to create a rounded edge.
  • Thread the rope through each of the holes and secure it with a knot of your choice. The lengths of rope needed are dictated by the height of your boat’s handrail or other attachment points from which you’ll be hanging your board.
  • Tightly secure fenders to the fender board. To use, place fenders and fender board between pilings and vessel, and secure tightly.

Protecting your vessel is always a key component of boat ownership. By adding a fender board to your safety gear, you can easily and inexpensively increase the safety of your boat. Now that you see how easy it is to build a fender board, you can confidently take on this project and keep your boat safe for years to come. If you’re looking for a custom fender check out our collection of fenders here.

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