View Full Version : Building Biddle-a simple skiff

03-01-2017, 07:03 AM
Since there has been some threads about building "simple" skiffs lately, I'll post my efforts at building one. This 12' skiff is about as simple as it gets: attach planks to the stem, bend around a midships bulkhead or mold, attach to the transom, add a plywood bottom and voila, you have a skiff! OK, a bit more detail work to follow.

This boat was designed for me by our local boating guru and fellow TSCA member, David Wyman. I built a quick model to get a feel of how it should go together and what it should look like:

03-01-2017, 12:13 PM
Nice! I love these little skiffs. Please do post many pictures of your build.

03-01-2017, 07:00 PM
My plan is to keep this as simple as possible, knowing that any boat build would not be all that simple. I hoped to use wood and supplies that have been occupying space and dragged from NJ to Maine, keeping it simple and inexpensive. I managed to get the stem out of a hunk of white oak that was felled by Sandy, or was it Irene? And the breast hook from our apple tree.
David said the plans would work from 7'-14', I went for 12', figuring that would be about right for rowing with 2 big dogs. That meant that the bottom plywood would have to be scarfed, simple but takes some time to plane and for the epoxy to cure.
I was hoping to get by with some DF, but the local hardware stores can't get 3/8", so I ended up going to a marine supply store and got Occume. Which is much better quality but more expensive. So the simple skiff gets a better bottom.
I have a supply of cherry so that will get used for the transom and outwhales...simple skiff is sounding like it's getting fancy, but it won't be.
Didn't have any more white oak laying around so the pile of red oak will be used for inwhales and seat supports. It will be painted, so should outlast the boat.
My "wood guy" wasn't going to mill his stash of EWC for a few weeks, so I went with WRC that the local hardware store had in stock. 1x8x14, so no scarfing, but added to the cost of this simple skiff.
I was planing on building the skiff in the barn, but since it was February, and Maine, it could be months before it got warm enough to glue, epoxy or paint. So I squeezed it into my snug, but heated, workshop. By cramming the other tools to the side I had just enough room.
While it's nice working in warmth, it will be nice to get the use of my tools back, and to be able to move. But it's a simple skiff, it shouldn't take long...right?

03-01-2017, 08:48 PM
The Occume bottom was fastened with ring nails, then trimmed to fit.
Zynole-polyester with 2 coats of epoxy, one neat, one thickened with micro-balloons and talc.

The plans called for 2 cedar, or pine, planks bent over a midship ply bulkhead. I decided to use a temporary mold then add supports for a center thwart. That would keep the boat open and allow for oar storage. His plans also called for buoyancy tanks under the fore and aft seats. I'm adding rigid foam but keeping the area under the seats open for ease of maintenance and storage.
Still more to come...

03-02-2017, 01:13 AM
lots of fun

03-02-2017, 06:44 AM
Since I plan on painting this skiff (marine enamel) I need to prep the WRC. Several older threads on this forum recommend lots of BLO mixed with turps, or other oils, to accelerate drying. Some stated that the oil doesn't need to be dry to be painted over. Has anyone gone that route? If I can paint sooner than later all the better.

03-02-2017, 06:40 PM
Inwales going in. To keep it simple I was going to go for closed gunwales, but then I thought that every time I shipped water into the boat I would be cursing that shortcut, so I opted for open ones. They were fun to make and make the skiff look like it might be something.
I had never made them before, and was pondering how to do the spacing until I went back to John Brooks' book (http://www.brooksboatsdesigns.com/page21/page24/page24.html). He has put an amazing amount of tips into it, including a formula and a simple tool that made placing the spacers easy.

03-02-2017, 07:50 PM
Looking good!


03-06-2017, 06:38 PM
By Jeeze don't it get cold up here fast! Went for run, in shorts, last week, enjoying the spring like weather. When I got back I painted the interior, using what I learned in the Navy: if it doesn't move, paint it, and paint it gray. Then it began to hail, then snow flurries, then wind, and then the temps fell big time. By the next morning wind chills were -18, and that paint took a few days to dry. It was some inexpensive marine enamel that I was not happy with. Once it finally set I opted for Rust-o-leum, which covered much better, and didn't stink nearly as much.
There were a couple of coats of BLOw/terps before the paint went on.

04-23-2017, 12:08 PM
The drizzle finally stopped, sun thought about coming out and it got close to 50...good enough for a launch. Very pleased that the Biddle floats. It was a fun project, can't get much simpler than a couple of planks bent around a mold.

Bill in Oregon
04-23-2017, 01:38 PM
She's a pretty little thing. Glad you got a weather break.

04-23-2017, 03:02 PM
Lovely! Thanks for sharing.