View Full Version : The First Build

Level 40 Oarlock
07-15-2012, 03:22 AM

My brother and I have become enamored with wooden boats and have decided to begin building them ourselves, as buying them is bloody expensive. We have decided to start small, with the Spira Booth Bay mini-dory, which seems simple enough for two amateurs such as ourselves, and if we are successful in our initial venture, we may just keep on building.

As this is our first foray into the world of wooden boat construction, we figured it would be wise to leverage the collective knowledge of the internets, specifically this here forum.

We have come up with a list of things we could use some help with, any information you could give us would be greatly appreciated!

1. We have both just recently moved to the Seattle area; where can we find a reliable wood supply, specifically reasonably priced ply?
2. Has anyone here built the Booth Bay? We are looking for approximate build times/prices/tips and/or tricks
3. Our biggest concern is with the epoxy and fiberglass cloth; are there any good resources that you could direct us to that would help make sure we don't botch the job? Personal anecdotes are always welcome as well.
4. Are there any questions that we are not asking that we should be?

We're very excited to start cranking this little puppy out, and are planning to get started at the beginning of August, and hopefully get her on the water before the vicious Seattle winter.

07-15-2012, 05:13 AM

This is a $40 book that they put up for free. It is the "WEST" system bible and covers most everything you need to know. However...there are many others out there that do it somewhat differently and are just as successful. There are many ways to skin the S&G cat and most are pretty good.

Baja Mike
07-15-2012, 07:12 AM
This is a hard one to reply to ...... everyone has their own opinions ..... and it feels more than a little intrusive to subject my opions on someone else .... however here it is anyway ......

I am an amateur finishing up my third build (27' St. Pierre Dory from Nexus Marine plans) ..... my first two builds were 16' and 18' Banks Dories from John Gardners "The Dory Book" (i chose sailing/rowing versions)...... The hardest part for me is always ..... deciding which to build .... since I love the classic dories i have been sticking with them ..... the boat you choose has to do what you want it to do and capable of handling the waters you want to navigate ......

For my first build I wanted something two people could cruise around coastal and inland waters of the Gulf Coast ..... thus the Banks Dories .... I wanted to learn to build from tables of offsets and lofting ..... was never attracted to stitch and glue and know very little about it ..... I like the coldmold system of Epoxy over marine plywood and have had very successful results with it ......

Once you have your design settled (Booth Bay??) .... jump up and start .... a quick call to any local lumberyard will tell you who handles marine plywood or any product you intend to use ..... Seattle is loaded with great resources .... You can Google info on any product or method you can dream of ....

There are lots of Epoxy options out there as you will see but the West System products are hard to beat for quality and availability .... lots of info from them on learning to use them .....

one of the first issues you will confront as an amateur builder is learning to scarf plywood ..... don't be intimidated by it .... much easier than it appears ..... lots of articles on the net on the different methods ......

Jeff Spira whom promotes the Booth Bay is an excellent source of information and always willing to work with amateurs ..... I am working with him on my next build .... a 23' Banks Dory based on a Dynamite Payson design with a through-the-transom motor well ....

Grab your plans ...... list of materials ..... a few tools .... get started .......

Good luck and happy building ......

Baja Mike

"There is no reward in the next life ...... for not building a boat in this one" ....unknown

07-15-2012, 07:22 AM
My first build was a little dory that was so tippy that I ended up building a pontoon for it. I have no experience with Spira's Mini Dory but I suspect it will not be a pleasure to use for two grown men or is the boat for the kids?

Check out Ross Lillistone's Flint. It's a lot more boat for just a little more trouble. It can be rowed, sailed or motored and is unsinkable if built to the plan.



07-15-2012, 10:42 AM
Level 40 Oarlock, your name brings me great joy. BY:D

I've had great luck with Edensaw Lumber- they deliver orders over $200 for free (and in the case of my orders, I've received my order within 2 day of placing it). I've ordered meranti and okoume from them and have been very pleased with what they've delivered. Also, they're good about returns. As someone who doesn't have a truck, they've really been a wonderful asset to me.

A bit of a sidenote- there's a book (it's not instructive, more therapeutic) that I picked up just before starting my build, it's called The Year of the Boat, and it's written by a local author. I found it to be motivating, touching, and hilarious- once you've been bitten by the building bug there's no turning back. And I think the author (Lawrence Cheek) managed to capture the descent into building quite marvelously. There's a lot of great local references in there, too, if you're into that sort of thing. :)

Best of luck on your build!

wizbang 13
07-15-2012, 11:12 AM
Building them is not cheaper than buying them.

07-15-2012, 04:10 PM
Building them is not cheaper than buying them.
Built Hartley ts16 for about $18k and average market value of 2nd hand boats was about $7k
presently building another boat that I could buy for about half what my budget is for building.
Look around at market before you commit and get it surveyed.

07-15-2012, 04:29 PM
I'm very new to this Board myself, but in the short time I have been reading initial posts and responses, I have found certain folks to be aggressive deflaters of new balloons. Of course you can buy someone else's troubles for less than you can build your dream. Pick one or the other. If it's to build, proceed with vigor!

07-15-2012, 04:32 PM
I guess cost depends a lot on what you build. I've built a bunch of sea kayaks and double-paddle canoes--materials cost somewhere between $150-$300, substantially less (by 10x?) than buying the finished boat, if you don't count labor of course. But then, its not labor, its fun.

moored to death
07-17-2012, 03:37 PM
Good afternoon all,
I am the other brother on this adventure into boat building. First let me say thank you to all who responded for your feedback and advice. We are currently in the process of finding a reputable and reasonably priced lumber supplier and on the hunt for the basic tools we will require for our build. From my best guess, we will need a jig-saw, a circular saw, a drill w/phillips head bit, a plane, a lot of sand paper, and even more clamps. Is there anything not on that list that should be or any suggestions for specific clamp brands/types or lumber dealers in the Seattle area?
Thanks again for all your help, this is such a great community here.

07-17-2012, 04:41 PM
There are guys who read and respond to this Board who are serious builders. Their advice to other serious, experienced builders is not to be taken lightly. Their advice to novice, "recreational" builders is sometimes daunting. Do Not, for example, give them a list of lumber yard tools to criticize- You will find out what you need as your build progresses. Most of small boat building is common sense, if you have any proclivity for woodworking at all. The rest is epoxy! Get going- get dirty- and post pictures. (Even the serious​ guys like pictures!)

Frank R
07-18-2012, 04:58 PM
You can read up on working with epoxy but at some point you have to learn by doing.

I recommend building two shoeboxes out of thin plywood. Practice the filleting, taping, and fiberglassing on the first box.

Think about what you did right and wrong, then fillet, tape, and fiberglass the second one so the results are better.

Proceed with your boat building.

07-18-2012, 05:14 PM
Moored, there are always other tools, but when you say "a plane" I think, there are lots of types of planes (and you might need a few of them) but whatever you have for planes you need to have sharp blades if they are going to make good cuts to lines, square or bevel. For sharp blades you need good sharpening equipment. There are different approaches to sharpening, but the object is the same. Sharp. I look for polished faces with none of the bright flecks that show a nick in the edge. With such edges your knives (plane blades, chisels, saws, whatever) will work with you not against you.

J. Spira
07-21-2012, 10:10 AM
This was posted on my Facebook page about a Crawdad v-bottom jon boat. I'm sure the Boothbay is both faster and cheaper:
Flipped and on the trailer. I still need to build some proper bunks for the trailer and finish the inside of the boat, but so far I am into it for about 45 hours and $238 including epoxy and I'll have about a gallon of epoxy leftover. Let me also add that I have done 100% of this project solo without one minute of assistance. I say that to encourage others that the design is simple enough to build without help, even the flip! I'm betting that two guys working together could build one over two weekends easy!
- George S.


07-21-2012, 10:49 AM
Welcome to the forum.

Edensaw Woods is the go-to choice ( BTW I am in Everett, and they told me $300 order+ to avoid shipping charges ), also check out Compton Lumber and Crossut Hardwoods. Fisheries Supply is where I get my epoxy. Stonway Hardware for fasteners if you source locally. For hand tools, Craigslist is your friend, but Hardwick's on Roosevelt Way is a temple of tools.