View Full Version : Things I have learned building a wooden boat

Dave Gray
08-26-2006, 02:56 PM
1. Measuring once is a sure bet that you will be cutting twice
2. You can't dry fit enough times
3. Admit mistakes and do it over
4. If you first decided to paint and didn't erase the pencil marks before you laid down a coat of epoxy, then, after much deliberation and envy of those boats of sheen displayed by fellow forumites you decide you would rather varnish so you sand everything down, don't worry, the distressed look is in for furniture so it should be OK on a boat
5. Masking tape is there for a reason
6. It takes you twice as long to finish a job done in a hurry, including one off jigs
7.Those 1/2 pint jars I got at the Goodwill for 29 cents are great for storing varnish - this after having two quarts skin over and harden up on me due to the painfully slow pace of building this boat
8. No matter how hard you try, epoxy always drips
9. Using heat on epoxy drips with a scraper brings a feeling of bliss
10. Sanding epoxy is monotonous, tedious, never ending and brings a feeling of sorrow
11. Never buy brass half oval in a roll
12. Polysuflide is good, 5200 is evil.
13. Never, never take off the ruler from your combo sliding square, no matter what you tell yourself.

I'm sure I have missed a few and no doubt the rest of you can help me out. And of course, I am still learning.

Karl A. Hilbert
08-26-2006, 03:08 PM
6. It takes you twice as long to finish a job done in a hurry,

So true!

Peter Malcolm Jardine
08-26-2006, 03:14 PM
Don't forget this one:

Bring Money

Richard Smith
08-26-2006, 07:41 PM
Epoxy, paint, glue, etc. never will spill onto your cruddy work clothes. BUT, try to get one little job done in your good clothes, and you will end up with goop all over yourself.

08-26-2006, 09:10 PM
If the design you're building leaves a lot of details up to the builder, take your time. The first three ideas you have for such a detail will be lousy. After four or so, you could have something worthwhile.
Anyone want to share their details of a glued-up 8' (Windsurfer on steroids) wishbone boom?

08-27-2006, 10:32 AM
For every hour you spend actually building you will spend three trying to figure out how to do the next step. Actually, this can be the most enjoyable part.

08-27-2006, 03:27 PM
well said Alan
Hence, the moaning chair. I'm thinking of putting wheels on mine so I can positions it anywhere I need to so as to be able to gaze at my work and think about it without having to get up and go over to the problem to check it out once more before getting another idea. The problem is that my moaning chair is a couch!!! I may be prone to leaning over and from there it's only a short step to being asleep.......HMMMM how to solve this one?

08-27-2006, 06:27 PM
Take notes of where you were and what you were going to have to do before the next obvious step if you arent going to be able to get back to the project for a spell. Example: I need to remove that dummy screw from the keel into the jig before I put the bottom plank on. I had left my project sit for 3 months at one point and almost installed the false keel over the 3" long deck screw I had installed as a clamp to hold the keelson in place until the glue had set up.

Lie to your friends and tell them you wont be home all weekend when you have plans to get something done on the boat. Something about being outdoors around a monumental project that just sends a msg to friends saying...."Bring a casual six'r and sit around talking about why it takes so long to build a boat,how the weather is sposed to turn to poo next weekend and I'd help ya sand but...."

How much one's dog, suddenly can't do without your companionship when you have epoxy or paint mixed in a container, on a work table about happy,wagging, tail height.Also,your lower color schemes including bottom paints should match said dog's fur color.

Avoid fibreglass layups when neighbor on the other side of the fence is using his garden hose(or is even outside at all) and decides his avacado tree needs foliar irrigation. Throwing your body in front of it doesn't do much good,you just look sillier when you are angry and wet.

Identify ALL living creatures that come to visit in the night when the light is in your face. I mistook a raccon that was sitting on my boat while I was setting up the transom for a neighborhood cat that used to visit in much the same way. "nice kitty...nice kitty...oh SH..!".

If building outdoors in a weatherly place such as FL.,Practice the visqueen shuffle(visqueen drills are not a bad idea) and have your plan of attack well planned. Make mental allowances for wind and lightning. Have the film folded strategically and in the right direction. The "plan B" visqueen still on the roll is no good to you in the event of a worse scenario.

Epoxy mixed with dirt/debris shoeprints are a mutha to get off vinyl flooring once it's hardened.

maa. melee
08-27-2006, 07:25 PM
A camera is sometimes the most powerful tool in your arsenal. Try explaining dry rot that isn't quite dry and not really rot....

Lubbers are always willing to learn something new...taking the time to teach a friend or child the fine art of all things nautical is priceless.

A piece of lumber you save for 20 years on stickers disappears a week before you actually need it...

08-27-2006, 09:13 PM
9. Using heat on epoxy drips with a scraper brings a feeling of bliss

Well, I hope that feeling of bliss isn't from the fumes!;)

Texas Boater
08-27-2006, 09:52 PM
A clear coated wooden board can be easily painted if you change your mind or mess up the finish, but removing paint to clear coat is a real bear!
Plan twice and act once!

08-28-2006, 12:13 PM

A finger full of Dolfinite will buy you enough time to figure out how to correctly fix that darn leak.

08-28-2006, 03:29 PM
Always buy extra material so you don't spend valuable building hours running back to the lumberyard.

08-28-2006, 08:58 PM
Always make a "practice piece" before screwing up the good (expensive) wood. I re-learned Dave's rule number one this evening, again, and was glad I was practicing on shelf pine and not fouling up some very nice mahogony.

A lot of wisdom on this thread.....or is that experience?


Texas Boater
08-28-2006, 09:37 PM
Haste make waste!
No matter how much others may push you to finish, taking things slow and cautious have saved me a lot of waste!

08-29-2006, 09:21 PM
From The Bruce Roberts book on Boatbuilding-

Materials are always less expensive when you can pick them up at your leisure rather than when you need them.

SO-Always have one eye open for a bargain if it's something that you can use for your boat.

08-30-2006, 08:29 PM
Newer, never set a deadline for launching the boat, on pain of a hundred disappointments and the snickers of the kibitzers.

08-30-2006, 09:22 PM
I'm approaching the end of a five-year project with a few tens of thousands in materials and components in it. In addition to not getting into such nonsense again, I've resolved that on the next one, i will:
Do a careful take-offs of the major materials involved at the outset. If there will be 2,000 BF of cedar or 50 gallons of epoxy, buy it all up front. For any stuff you're buying in volume, get it all early. Don't forget consumables like abrasives, solvents and paint. The savings can be considerable.
Get your shop space as good as it's going to be at the outset. Deciding halfway through to add more lighting realizes half the benefit for the same cost.
Be good to the helpers you abuse.
Work out the systems early on. Have, in the back of your mind, the major-cost components you'll need. One of my major vendors has periodic 'panic' price reductions. That's the time to buy the winches, engines, and other such jewelry. Also, you might come across something in the used market that works. Having in hand the engine that's different than planned but just as good and a heck of a deal makes the adaptation easier.
Talk to your major subcontractors (sailmakers, etc) early, so you can get into their calendar at the best time.
Think ahead and keep your notes. It may take some archeology, but they'll be useful. I hate it when I've invented the same dumb idea twice and need to think again why it was dumb.

08-30-2006, 11:49 PM
When you complete the current boat project and finally get on the water, the real boat of your dreams will turn up for a fraction of the price.

08-31-2006, 09:11 AM
concrete saw rentals are expensive

08-31-2006, 09:48 AM
The best advice I ever got was this: If you want to get it done, do something every day to move it ahead.

Oh, and never eat prunes when you're hungry. But that's another thread.

- Norm

S/V Laura Ellen
08-31-2006, 09:53 AM
Oh, and never eat prunes when you're hungry. But that's another thread. - Norm

Sounds like he's "been there, done that".:eek: :D

Bill Perkins
08-31-2006, 10:47 AM
When you complete the current boat project and finally get on the water, the real boat of your dreams will turn up for a fraction of the price.

But that brings to mind my favorite epigram from Bob Smalser :" You don't build skills by hiring work out ."

Andrew S/Y Rocquette
09-01-2006, 07:45 AM
...ever launched a boat on schedule, and he sorta had to.... ;)

09-01-2006, 10:24 AM
Some lessons I learned building a boat.
*Never ever try to do something by a certain time - that will lead to poor judgment or mistakes. Several folks covered this one already.
*Always take plenty of pictures - a cheap digital camera is your friend.
*Have the boat construction site as close as possible to where you live. Building the boat in the carport or somewhere you have to pass by on the way to work and see the boat every day will help keep the enthusiasm going.
*Always wear a full facemask, ear protection and gloves. The goop, dust, flying bits, and loud noises can ruin your day or the rest of your life.
*A few minutes of thought and planning can save a few hours of work.
*Start early in the day. Daylight is a most precious commodity.
*Designers can get cranky really quickly if they think you are messing with their design.

Vernon Hunt
09-01-2006, 05:51 PM
:D Never build a 19' boat in a 20' shed! Hard to get far enough away to see what your doing.

Ken Hutchins
09-01-2006, 06:56 PM
Never walk around the framed in deck with various pieces of wood lying on it, sooner or later you WILL step on an unsupported piece of wood,:o said wood will flip up, :eek: you will go down :eek: and in the scramble to prevent straddling a deck beam with subsequent sore gronicle consequences, you will fall overboard.:eek:
Hopefully like me when you do this you will make a semi soft landing on the staging :eek: and not fall a great distance to a hard surface.:eek:
Note semi soft still enough to really hurt, now where is that whiskey bottle.

09-01-2006, 07:13 PM
Hm, I rarely take the ruler out of a combination square, but only because it makes more sense to reach for a tape.

Never let fear of finishing keep you from starting, unless you'd rather have a life.

Keep all in perspective, especially when you realize the last five days of work needs to be torn apart and redone.

Promise her everything, but keep the ball in the air.

Walk with a swagger. Most people won't know the difference.

More seriously, keep a good, small array of stones and files handy.

Never eat pepperoni pizza after about eight PM.

Be kind to your animals, there but for a twist of karma walks you. Imagine what they think of you.

When you gotta find it, really find it, find it well, check your math, measure at least twice.

Make love with your mouth more. Go out of your way to please your woman. That will pay dividends no one can measure.

I could go on.