View Full Version : First time boat builder--Help!

07-16-2001, 11:00 PM
I need advise regarding my first project. I have beginning woodworking skills. My family has always enjoyed sailing/canoeing/rowing. Now I would like to build my first wooden boat. I am open to all suggestions! Are kits a good introduction? (If so, where do I begin) Thanks for the help.

Phil Young
07-17-2001, 12:31 AM
Welcome. The tradition here is to answer a question with a lot of other questions.

Where will you build the boat, where will you use it, who will use it, how much do you want to spend, time and money, what tools do you have, do you want to buy lots more, or get by with basic household tools, do you want modern or traditional, do you want sail oar paddle or motor. Thats a start. Ask an incomplete question and you'll get some incomplete answers

ken mcclure
07-17-2001, 08:49 AM
And while we're asking questions:

What kind of boats do you like?
How will you use the boat...evenings? weekends? does it need to have a head (bathroom)? a galley? (kitchen) sleeping quarters?

How many people will be on the boat?

Where will you use the boat? local river? lake? ocean? protected water or unprotected?

How large an area do you have to build in?

It does seem to get a bit complicated, but that's all part of the fun. If you dig into the listings of books available through WoodenBoat, you will find a bunch that can give you ideas. Here's a couple suggestions:

Gardner's books on Building Small Craft, and Wooden Boats to Build and Use

The series on Thirty, Forty, and Fifty Wooden Boat designs

Iain Oughtred's boatbuilding book.

Greg Roessels boatbuilding book.

And any more that capture your interest.

There are also a couple books on canoe building there.

Yes, a kit can be a good introduction if you can find a kit for a boat that suits your needs.

Good luck!

07-17-2001, 09:22 AM
Hey Gamble, a kit can be an excellent way to break into boat building. Check out www.flounderbay.com (http://www.flounderbay.com) for kits, advice, boatbuilding material, etc. The owner's of Flounder Bay are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Their business is located in Anacortes, since you live in Enumclaw (according to your profile)you could pack up the family and go up there for a Saturday drive and check them out for yourself, it's a fun place. Give 'em a call first to confirm business hours. They have a variety of kits to choose from if you haven't already decided on a design. Good luck.

[This message has been edited by RGM (edited 07-17-2001).]

Mike in SC
07-17-2001, 09:50 AM
Gamble- I've just finished "The Weekend Skiff" (15' dory style, plywood/epoxy)utilizing the book by the same name which is available from the WB Bookstore. Although I've pretty extensive woodworking skills, I beieve it is about as easy a boat to build as you will find. The end result is a VERY attractive boat suitable for small bays, ponds, etc. The book also shows a sailing version, but I'm a bit leary as I think it would be tough to right after a dump unless you put a lot of thought into adding flotation and where. In addition to being easy to build (I've added a lot of extra touches and it's taken 2 months of free time, say 50 hours), the finished boat is less than $500.00, includeing a decent pair of oars. Tool requirements are modest (you will want to pick up as good a jigsaw as you can afford). The book is only $25.00 and is very easy to follow. Whatever you decide, good luck and enjoy!

Keith Wilson
07-17-2001, 09:59 AM
You might want to check out Dynamite Payson's website at:

Payson's a Maine lobsterman turned boatbuilder (and a really great guy, BTW) who sells plans for boats designed by Phil Bolger. He has also written books about building boats which are good for beginners. These designs are about as easy to build as a boat can be, and are a good place to start. I started by building a Bolger Gypsy, more years ago that I want to contemplate, when all I knew about boats was that the pointy end went in front. Be warned however, for some folks (myself included) boatbuilding is a bit more addictive than heroin.

We could be a lot more specifically helpful if you'd answer the excellent questions in previous posts, and tell us what sort of boat you're interested in, and for what use.

[This message has been edited by Keith Wilson (edited 07-17-2001).]

07-21-2001, 03:23 AM
Get yourself some cheap door skin (i.e. really thin and cheap plywood)or cardboard, some drafting tools, a hot-glue gun and make some models from whatever plans catch your eye (check out the library). You will find that there is a big difference between the way something looks in 2-D (the plans) and 3-D. A design which doesn't look like much on paper is a beauty in 3-D. The models don't have to be long term efforts to be rewarding (figure mabey a half-hour from start to finish) and you will learn alot about reading plans and building from scratch.

Of course, one of the lessons you might learn from building models is that you would rather build from a kit. As has been mentioned, there are some really good kits out there. If you go the kit route, you will be saving a fair amount of time and money if you buy the complete kit (the version with everything you need) instead of condemning yourself to driving all over creation looking for the stuff.

Bob Cleek
07-21-2001, 01:01 PM
Remember, boats and wives are like waffles... you always have to throw the first one out!

ken mcclure
07-21-2001, 06:33 PM
Of course some of us have to throw out the first two or three.

Jeff Kelety
07-21-2001, 08:37 PM
<My family has always enjoyed sailing/canoeing/rowing. >

Now, if by family, you mean kids, there are a whole additional set of parameters to consider.

- What kinds of boating do the kids enjoy: sporty sailing, quick trips to a destination for climbing, beach combing, food (lots of this), etc.

- Now really important: assuming the presence of a wife, what kind of boating will she enjoy if you intend this to be a family endeavor. (As you may surmise from some of the above, the wives often come kicking and screaming (if at all) into this realm of typically male activity.

All the water craft I've acquired and built have, by necessity, been considered from a kid vantage point. The more the kids enjoyed it, the more time I get on the water, as the rule in our house is that a parent is pretty much free to do what they want as long as one or more (preferably more) children are in attendance. So my Folkboat, though compact, can now (some $$$ later) comfortably hold three kids ("...and a piggy we stole from the shed") quite comfortably. There are cubbies for their books, art, etc. And there are plenty of quick local destinations (i.e. <2 hours sail) that provide great overnights.

So you get the picture. Good luck.


07-22-2001, 07:45 AM
Visit web site duckworksmagazine. Read the article about BBdg for amateurs. Make a model first.B