View Full Version : Stitch&Glue vs. Glued Lapstrake Dory
01-06-2002, 12:08 AM
I am considering building a swampscott style
dory in either Glued Lap or Stitch and Glue.
I have repaired small boats and can do farm carpentry but I am a beginner at boat building. I will be building from plans by
either Ian Oughtred (glue lap) or Paul Fisher (stich and glue) but cannot decide on the method to use.
I know I could do the stich and glue but would much prefer the aesthetic of a lap boat.
WHAT IS THE REAL time and talent difference between the two, assuming you are working from the same quality of plan?
I have read Ian Oughtred's glue lap book as well as Sam Devlin's stitch and glue book and I am still on the fence.
01-06-2002, 09:24 AM
From my readings (I qualify that because I don't have a lot of practical experience yet) I decided on the glued lap over stitch and glue because of the structural differences.
The glued laps actually form "mini-stringers" at each lap, adding to the overall strength of the structure, whereas the stitch 'n glue depends on the epoxy/fiberglass reinforcements at the joins.
I also like the looks of the lapstrake.
As to the work involved it depends, I guess, on whether you want to insert and remove the wire stitches and do the fiberglass work vs. planing down the plank lands and fitting the planks.
01-06-2002, 12:36 PM
I have done a lot of fiberglass/epoxy work and I am confident in my abilites with it but it is messy and the worst part of the job is laying on the full sized fabric on the outside of the hull.
I am very intimidated by the glue lapstrake since it does require a lot more woodwork and precision cutting, but I do want to learn those skills and I do want a boat that is of a somewhat traditional style.
The stitch and glue boats I have seen are very nice and light, but the appearance of wood under the thick clear epoxy coating is not appealing. If I did a stitch and glue I would paint everything but the solid pieces: breasthook, gunnels and thwarts.
01-06-2002, 01:28 PM
I've built the lapstrake Acorn, and a stitch and glue kayak, both with very good results. The Acorn was much more satisfying to build, although it took longer. Both boats look great and both are sturdy. Oughtred draws excellent plans that are easy to follow. If you have patience, a good hand plane or two, and keep your blades sharp, I'm sure that the lapstrake would not be too much of a challenge. In my view, the longer time frame for building a lapstrake boat is of little consequence, since half the fun is the building project itself :) Good luck!
01-06-2002, 03:52 PM
I agree with Jonas, 100%. The first and only boat I built was glued lap construction. It wasn't difficult, but takes patience to get the fits just right. Even if you don't get them perfect, there's enough epoxy in the laps to fill some pretty big gaps. I think it's much prettier than stich and glue, can be made with no ******, and is probably stronger for the weight than S'nG. If you're extra careful, you can even have a bright finish.
01-06-2002, 04:52 PM
Grab a copy of Tom Hill's Ultralight Boatbuilding. I built two of his Charlotte canoes. With the jig and his slight modification to a block plane you can produce perfect winding bevels and not have to depend upon thickend epoxy. One also could rent a copy of his video via the WoodenBoat store.
01-07-2002, 10:39 AM
I've been looking into building a Swampscott Dory also, and have read both of the books you mention. A book I am currently reading and would recommend is John Gardner's "The Dory Book". Anyway, my vote goes to lapstrake because the final result would be much nicer and probably not much difference in building time as so much of the time goes to finishing and outfitting.
My only boatbuilding project so far is a strip-built kayak, and over half of the building time came after the basic woodwork construction of the hull and deck.
01-07-2002, 11:13 AM
I have read Gardner's book twice now getting ready for the project. I have also read the Oughtred's clinker ply book as well as Sam Devlin's stitch and tape book and they are all three great books with very helpful illustrations. I have ordered the Hill book to use also. I have contacted Paul Fisher (www.selway-fisher.com) about getting plans for his Swampscott 16 in glue lap. He will modify any of his plans to suit for a reasonable fee.
If you go with glued laps , I think it's worth buying a low angle block plane for the occasion . There are threads on sharpening if you search .I like the Japanese waterstones , going at least as fine as 4000 grit . If you have the right tool ,really sharp ,planeing the bevels is a peasant exercise .
01-07-2002, 02:32 PM
Iíve built a couple of boats by both methods, and I prefer lapstrake. It's not much harder, if at all. The main difference in concept is that the shape of a taped-seam hull is usually determined by the shape of the panels, rather than the mold. The building form for taped-seam hulls is generally minimal or nonexistent, where for lapstrake construction itís usually pretty extensive, more so for some methods than others. The main decision here is whether to define the plank shapes with stringers on the mold (Tom Hillís method) or spile the planks as Iain Oughtred recommends. I prefer the former, if only because I can play with the plank lines on the mold. I get the heebie-jeebies cutting into a $60 sheet of plywood unless I KNOW the shape is right. Often on dories, the plank edges are defined on the plans, so it would matter less.
Once the mold is built, Iíd say the amount of work is about equal, perhaps a little less for lapstrake, actually. Taped-seam construction is tolerant of very sloppy fits, but requires a tedious amount of sanding to get a decent finish; you might say it substitutes drudgery for accuracy. (Iíve heard that one can reduce the amount of sanding by using peel-ply, but Iíve never tried it.) Glued lapstrake, OTOH, needs a minimum of sanding, at least if you use an heat gun and scraper to take off the epoxy drips on the inside of the hull.
01-07-2002, 09:43 PM
To nearly eliminate clean-up while gluing I judiciously apply masking tape (3M Blue) to the wood either side of the joint. After everything is clamped into place I go back with a putty knife and quickly remove the squeeze-out. A quick wipe with a paper towel and pull up the tape. Beautiful clean joint with no further attention needed.
Now that does mean a lot of taping before hand. You can see what I mean when I was laying ply on frame at
Don't forget to put easy to grab tabs on the tape to facilitate their removal later.
01-07-2002, 11:21 PM
That tape tip is timely! I was just thinking yesterday about that very issue, while pondering the list of things to do as soon as the weather breaks.
Yes, it was a slow day watching the forecasted 1 to 3 inches of snow turn into 8 inches of actual snow.
01-08-2002, 12:19 AM
I think I will go with the Thomas Hill method as that is what the designer of the boat is recommending. I have ordered "Ultralight Boatbuilding" from Amazon.com to prepare.
There are a few used copies available there if anyone is looking for one.
01-09-2002, 01:14 PM
A word of encouragement. I completed a Chamberlain dory skiff last year adapting Tom Hill's methods to plans drawn by the late John Gardner. I was quite concerned about my abilities to do the job because this was my first ever boat and I live in a remote area with no one with any experience to give me a hand. I followed Tom Hill's book method meticulously and I can say that everything went beautifully. The only thing I modified from Tom's method was that instead of clamping the epoxied laps I used John Brooks' method of screwing battens along the laps to the underlying mold ribbands thus squeezing the laps tight during glueup. This is described in John Brooks' article on building "Ellen" in WB 156 to 158 with the cover photo of issue 156 clearly showing the screwed batten to the lap. This technique eliminates the need to purchase a large number of deepthroat clamps for the lap glue ups. Finally, I was very apprehensive about planing the lap bevels but this part of the job became a pleasant and easy task and all bevels turned out perfectly using the Tom Hill method described in his book. If I did it..anyone can !!! http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif
01-11-2002, 02:24 PM
Did you work from the plans in the book or order larger plans from Mystic Seaport?
01-20-2002, 02:58 PM
I used the plans obtained from the Mystic museum. The plans I found did not substantially differ from those in Gardner's books and I lofted the plans. Retrospectively, I really did not benefit a whole lot by bying the plans. The reason I chose to build this boat was that when I attended the Wooden Boat Show at Mystic I saw this boat in the water as a tender to a launch and I was really taken with the lines.
I used 3/8 inch Meranti for the bottom and 1/4 inch for the planks but this necessitated a chine log which the plans did not call for since traditionally these boats were built from heavier stuff. I did not want to stitch and glue the bottom to the garboard. I will try to insert a picture here of the final product:
01-20-2002, 07:25 PM
I am in the process of building an Acorn, and having recently finished planking, I can speak with, if not authority, then at least a fresh set of memories on the process.
I have NO experience building ANYTHING, let alone a boat (although I did reconstruct a china plate with Elmer's Glue-all once) and while I made mistakes along the way, I am very well pleased with my progress so far. ( See it at http://fatguysbuildingboats.tripod.com/acornjournal.html )
I love the shape and lines of a lap-strake boat, and can't quite bring myself to appreciate the boxy stitch & tape designs I've seen, so I took a deep breath and decided to tackle the Acorn rather than build something I didn't really want. I'm very glad I did.
In short, if I can build the Acorn and have a good time doing so, anybody can. Don't let your lack of experience stop you from doing what you want. You'll very likely surprise yourself with what you accomplish.
01-24-2002, 12:20 PM
Great site Kevin (fatguysbuildingboats). I have not had a chance to look through it all, but I will.
01-24-2002, 12:58 PM
Another way to get cheap clamps is to slice off ~3in sections of 6in dia.(or larger if necassary) PVC pipe. Next slit them axially to make "C-clamps". Less than $10 for thirty clamps.
01-24-2002, 12:59 PM
I'm a fan of stitch and glue but don't think it's right for all boats. With S&G, it is difficult to get the lines fair on a multi-chine hull so that there are no wiggles in the joint between adjacent strakes. With lapstrake, the edge is wood and can be kept fair. With S&G, where the edge is kind of hidden beneath tape, filler and epoxy, it takes care to keep it fair.
Besides, even on a perfect job, lapstrake looks better. I like Tom Hill's method.
[This message has been edited by Tom Lathrop (edited 01-24-2002).]
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