Building a crabpot is a very straightforward and enjoyable project provided that you take your time and have the proper tools and supplies at your disposal.
My very first crabpot took almost a whole weekend to build. I was working with a set of vague instructions and was pretty much on my own. About half-way through my first pot, I went to install the top and side piece and discovered that I had made my U-bends in the wrong place and the pot would not fit together properly. Starting over again from scratch, I got the crabpot together but was annoyed that my bait box did not fit right and each of the four entrance funnels was attached in different ways!
Several months, and numerous failed prototypes later, I believe that I have finally mastered the art of building a classic Chesapeake Bay crabpot. With these detailed instructions, you should be able to construct a crabpot in about an hour or two. The most important advice that I can give is to take your time and do the job right.
Notes: Crabpot wire is usually sold by the roll. Eelpot wire can usually be purchased by the roll or by the foot. Supply measurements are on the generous side so there's room for error. If you're planning to use PVC coated wire, use stainless-steel staples and smooth wire, and omit the sacrificial zinc anode.
Keystone Steel & Wire, Co. sells their crabpot wire under the brand name Red-Brand Saltwater Netting. Keystone also manufactures a single strand 11-gauge galvanized smooth wire which is ideal for framing the top of the crabpot.
New to the crabpot scene is Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) coated wire. This wire has a vinyl coating which won't rust. Some waterman claim that the new PVC crabpots catch more crabs. Riverdale Mills manufactures a quality PVC coated wire under the brand name Aquamesh.
Note: crabpot wire is not the same as regular chicken wire. Crabpot wire is heavier in gauge and is galvanized twice - before and after weaving - to resist corrosion and hold up longer in saltwater, fresh water, and marshes.
Ocean Products Research, Inc. on Virginia's Middle Peninsula carries everything you'll need to build a crabpot. They carry a complete line of galvanized wire, PVC coated wire, framing wire, staples, tools, line, buoys, you name it! Contact Terry at (800) 627-6008.
Wire is measured in "meshes" rather than standard measurements. Meshes are counted along the selvage, or finished edge, with a mesh being the distance from the top point of a complete hexagon to the bottom point. In between meshes are half-meshes, and cuts in the wire are usually made on the half-mesh of the selvage. For instance, when cutting a piece of wire three meshes long, you should count three full hexagons and cut on the half-mesh after the third hexagon. See Figure 1.
Remember these important tips:
Pieces & Parts
Here is a list of the individual pieces of wire that you'll need to build your crabpot.
From the roll of crabpot wire:
From the roll of eelpot wire:
Building your Crabpot
Click "Start Here" to begin your project. You will be given detailed step-by-step instructions how to build your crabpot.
Note: the following pages are graphic-intensive and may take a minute or two to fully load.
If you'd prefer to jump directly to a particular section, the links are provided below:
Step 1. Cut and Shape the "U" Pieces
Step 2. Cut and Shape the Parlor
Step 4. Cut and Shape the Bait-Box
Step 6. Install the Bait-Box
Step 7. Attach Upper "U" Piece
Step 8. Install Entrance Funnels
Step 9. Frame the Crabpot
Step 10. Install Cull Rings and Closure Hook
Step 11. Optional Bait-Box Door
If all went well, you should now be the proud owner of a genuine Chesapeake Bay style crabpot. Hopefully it was time well spent, and hopefully you'll have a better respect for the watermen who build hundreds, if not thousands, of these crabpots in order to make a living.
Please let me know how your crabpot turned out! And if you have any pointers, I'd be happy to listen and perhaps add them to this site.
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