View Full Version : Bolger designs - plank on frame?

12-19-2003, 09:13 AM
Dear forum users,

I am rather new to the whole topic of boat building and design - and looking arround at different type of boats, I realised that I do like the square type designs by Bolger (and other similar ones). What I do like about them is the simplicity of lines, rugged look (and behaviour I hope), the flat bottom and the (apparent) simplicity of construction. However, I prefer traditional plank on frame construction methods - so, I was wondering - is it possible to build these type of boats in carvel construction? - as, say, some old fashion dutch style boats, or old scows, skiffs etc. Can these designs be built in carvel straight from the existing plans, or they would need serious adaptiation (e.g. beyond the means of a beginner). Are there any people who have attempted something like this already? Are there any similar designs (old or new) which have been drawn specifically for plank on frame? To be more precise, I am refering to boats such as Micro, AF2 (by Michalak) and similar types of hull.

I know my post is rather vague, and that there are a large number of variables - such as the expertise of the builder, what the boat is to be used for, the type of timber to be used and others - but any oppinions or guidance in this direction is much appreciated.

Many thanks for taking the time to read my post, and possibly to reply,


Bruce Hooke
12-19-2003, 09:28 AM
My brief take is that the designs you are looking at derive a lot of their simplicity from being built out of plywood, so a direct conversion of these designs to plank-on-frame would either require major changes in the design or result in a very difficult to build boat, or both.

HOWEVER, there are lots of simple designs that were designed for plank-on-frame, in many cases before the invention of modern plywood! Remember, in the old days boats were designed to get a job done rather than look pretty, so speed of construction was essential. Dories, flat-bottom skiffs, sharpies, and punts were all designed to be simple and quick to build.

How do you envision using this boat?

12-19-2003, 09:41 AM
Hi Bruce,

Thanks for your reply.

Looking around the web, something like Michalak's Jewelbox is very close to what I envisage use wise. Of what they say on the Duckworks Magazine website, it seems that one of the owners took his to Mexico and arround USA coast. In other words a boat which is not really blue-water worthy, but still can get through some waves/open water situation. I didn't mention before that, but I am interested in sailing as motive power. Something unpretencious, not great performance, maybe some sort of a day/camp sailer - not really an open boat, not really a long range cruiser - just in between. I know I am streching it a bit, since flat-bottom's are not the greatest sailers, but I don't expect shocking performance - more like, something that works.


12-19-2003, 11:43 AM

Well, if you are looking for plank on frame, and a cheap to build boat for single handing, or perhaps for 2 then I would say just get George Buehler's book, Backyard Boatbuilding and toss together a Hagar, whose plans are in the book.

Hagar is a simple, easy to put together, 28 foot by 8ft beam 8000lb boat that is dirt easy to build if you do it the buehler way. Sure she may only last 20 years, but heck, if you just want her for coasting that should be ok right? Toss her together quick from Douglas fir and pine, hot dipped galvanized screws and concrete/scrap iron ballast. Paint her with lots of red lead paint. Seal her up with a good quality enamel. Antifoul. Cedar bucket. Go sailing.

If you are looking for really shallow draught, then I'd say get a tom colvin plank on frame design sharpie.

Don't try to convert a plywood design to plank on frame. Plywood is a laminated material and has very different properties from real wood. If you really want to do it, though, you could pay the designer to do it.


Mark Van
12-19-2003, 11:51 AM
Look at Atkins designs, there are a lot of traditional built skiffs other simple boats. If you are willing to build plank-on-frame, there is no excuse to not have a nice looking boat.

12-19-2003, 11:56 AM

Thanks for that. Incidently, I'm just waiting for Buheler's book to arrive through post, so I'll make sure to check it out.

As regarding the Atkin designs, is there any source on or off the Internet which would list the boats designed by the Atkins - I don't know of any book in print which would contain such thing? How would you go about choosing a certain design, if you don't know what is available?


12-19-2003, 12:07 PM
Like others say, planked boats are typically more robustly framed to support the planks which are always trying to move around on you. Glued plywood boats amount to monocoque hulls that don't need to be supported as much by heavy framing. Plenty of nice simple boxy designs out there for traditional construction though. How about something like the Riverside dinghy?

12-19-2003, 12:15 PM
Not really sure what you mean. I've done a search on the web for "riverside dinghy", but didn't come up with anything.

On the other hand, anybody has, or has seen on the web anywhere a picture of a Buehler's Hagar finished/real?


[ 12-19-2003, 01:18 PM: Message edited by: seb ]

Tar Devil
12-19-2003, 12:22 PM
There are several simple skiffs and punts in Ed Monk's book "How to Build Wooden Boats." These all employ plank on frame construction.

Ed Monk (http://www.woodenboatstore.com/store/prodinfo.asp?number=300-311&variation=&aitem=20&mitem=54)



12-19-2003, 12:32 PM
Thanks again to all who pitched in with their advice. It does seem that what I am after is some of the older, more traditional designs - somthing like Chapelle, Atkin, Buehler, and even Monk's little book.

If anybody has any other ideas down this line - traditional construction, simplicity, workability (and not necessarely performance) and simplicity of use, I greatly appreciate any post. Obviously, I prefer flat bottom sailing craft. Any other books (in print) like Buehler's, Chappele's and Monk's - on traditional craft? I know Bud Machintosh's book, but he seems to be leaning more on the "fine craft" side for may tastes and capabilities.

Many thanks,


[ 12-19-2003, 01:40 PM: Message edited by: seb ]

Bob Cleek
12-19-2003, 12:55 PM
Try to find a copy of "Simplified Boatbuilding" by Sucher, forward by Chapelle. It's probably out of print, but worth searching out. He divides the book into flat bottoms, round bottoms, and so on. Includes plans and discussion of traditional construction methods. Just what you are looking for.

I'd also recommend the "30-40-50 Boat Plans" series by WoodenBoat (Go back to the "store" on the WB homepage.) These are only "study plans," but they have the full plans available for all of these. You will likely find something in there and all the plans included are well proven designs.

Finally, at the risk of raising the ire of the "stitch-n-glooers" in here, I'd urge you to steer clear of Buehler's "Backyard Boatbuilding" approach. Not that there aren't interesting "quick and dirty" solutions in it, but it's just that... quick and dirty crap. The time, skill, craft and effort that goes into building any boat shouldn't be wasted on lousey materials and designs for the sake of making the enterprise attractive to those not willing to make the commitment to learn how to do things the right way. I know there are those who take great pride and satisfaction in building "quick and dirty" boats, and more power to them. Still and all, the end result has little resale value and rarely performs up to expectations.

Take your time. There are thousands of designs out there. Surely there is exactly the one you want. There are many boats like you describe. These haven't been popular with the manufacturers, except maybe with the exception of the Drascomb Luggers, but they are wonderful boats to sail and enjoy. There's much wisdom in your wanting a boat that does the job you expect of it. There's no need to lust after an ocean cruising yacht if what you really want to do is go gunkholing in creeks and estuaries (which is a lot more interesting than day after day of 360 degree horizons!)

Take a look at the many centerboard sharpie designs out there. If you are somewhat ambitious and don't mind curves, look at Gilmer's "Blue Moon" design (WoodenBoat sells the plans.) Also check out the Laurent Giles website (laurentgiles.co.uk). They have several stock designs similar to what you are seeking, some designed for home builders. BTW, don't let the curves throw you. It's no more difficult to build a round bottomed boat than it is a hard chine boat, no matter what the plywood sellers tell you.

12-19-2003, 12:56 PM
Harry Sucher wrote a book (out of print, I believe) called 'V-Bottom Boats'. It may have designs you'd find interesting.

12-19-2003, 01:01 PM
Bob Cleek is right about the name of the Sucher book, although I think he wrote more than one.

Mark Van
12-20-2003, 12:03 PM
Sucher wrote two simplified boatbuiding books, the flat-bottomed boat and the V-bottomed boat. The first third of the books are identical.