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Thread: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

  1. #1
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    Default Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    I'm thinking of building a flat-bottomed swamp boat, of the type I see called "jon" or "john" boat. A good example may be seen at
    http://www.gatorboats.com/Big-Mamma-Boat-Plans.htm

    I'd like to make it a bit shorter than the example -- more car-toppable. Anyway, the point is that all the plans and examples I've seen are for/of plywood.
    Can such a boat be built of lumber, as in lapstrake or clinker-built?
    Would it be foolish and uselessly difficult to build such a boat the harder way? (I presume that building this type of boat with plywood would be easier than building with real wood.) I don't much like plywood; it's cheating. And I have almost no experience with power tools, having done all my woodworking with hand tools alone. I figure plywood calls for a power saw, if nothing else.
    Plywood just doesn't seem as rewarding, somehow.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg C View Post
    ....Can such a boat be built of lumber, as in lapstrake or clinker-built?...


    Sure. And with no more difficulty that in plywood. Basically this is a cross between a low-sided, flat-bottomed pram and a punt with larger transoms.

    You could build it in clinker, but with only 15" sides, you don't have to go to that much trouble. Just use 5/8-3/4" cedar for the sides and edgejoin them into one piece using epoxy. Same with the transoms, only I'd go 3/4-7/8".

    You can either crossplank the bottom (easier) or plank it longitudinally. With either method, caulking seams and cotton is the easiest method to make the bottom watertight, and adding some minor framing members to distribute the weight of passengers would be beneficial.

    WP Stephens classic Canoe and Boat Building (Dover Press reprint of the 1898 original) has the proportions and construction details for a shapely punt with a longitudinal, batten-seam bottom in its flat-bottomed boat section very similar to your jonboat. John Gardner's Volume 1 also has a couple of punt designs that aren't as pretty but provide more details on scantlings, caulking and framing than Stephens.
    Last edited by Bob Smalser; 12-22-2009 at 01:05 AM.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    You could build this one without the sailing rig.

    http://www.boat-links.com/Atkinco/Sail/LittlePeter.html


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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?



    Got this off the internet...some time...can't remember where. You could straighten the run aft along with widening it if you choose.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    You'll need to be strong, and have a well-anchored roofrack to cartop a solid wood boat. It can be done, particularly with a short-topped car, but if you want to build with solid wood (an excellent choice!), you'll want to consider getting a used boat trailer.

    I have a dory skiff built from fir over oak frames, and love it. But it would take 6 strong men to get it up on top of even a small car - and said car would need a welded lumber rack as standard roofracks aren't rated for that much weight.
    Last edited by Thorne; 12-22-2009 at 12:49 PM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=100683

    A thread about ladybug, detailed in a recent article of Wooden Boat. Might fit the bill, though a bit heavy.
    In fact, if you can saw a penciled line, apply glue, drive nails, and bring a modest measure of patience to the task, you can build and launch a smart and able craft in as few as 40 work hours. You need not be driven by lack of tools, materials, skills, or time to abandon in frustration a project you conceived in a spirit of pleasurable anticipation.

    -Dynamite Payson

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewisboats View Post

    Got this off the internet...some time...can't remember where. You could straighten the run aft along with widening it if you choose.
    third boat down, three pages of punt drawings. including the one posted earlier.
    http://duckboats.net.nmsrv.com/specs/other.html

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Thank you all. I appreciate you sharing your ideas and knowledge.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    I sorta like the Gators. But I'd use Okoumme.
    The Water is Wide. I Can Cross Over.

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    Default Re: Okoumme

    What is Okoumme? (Google turns up confusing, non-definitive results.)

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Here is W.P. Stephens book online " Canoes and Boatbuilding for Amateurs " courtesy of Dan Miller

    http://dragonflycanoe.com/stephens/index.html

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Okoume is the lightest marine plywood ... usually available at most ply supply houses.

    Here is the basic cross section of my skiff designed by Tracy Obrien.







    Trying to rule out plywood for the boat you want is not very practical. If I were going to build a jon boat.....consider the following
    I know you said lumber... but...If you want to get lots of strength/weight...
    You could build a very light strong jon boat with Okoume ply and epoxy. My fishing skiff shown above... shows a basic design with sheer decks that "close the box" so to speak, and make for a very stiff strong hull. This would allow you to have a boat precisely the dimensions you want. You could change the bottom to flat... get rid of the floor... shorten the length... shorten the sides (freeboard)... add a light bench in the middle... change the side ply to 3mm, the bottom to 6mm... and make the sheer decks with a width of 3-4" (six 5/8" strips on each side of the boat extending from bow to stern)... fabricate a few ply knees and you would have a much better designed jon than those in the drawings you show. The engineering of narrow sheer decks makes for a very stiff monocoque structure that can be very light and strong. The strips on my sheer deck are 3/4" x 3/4" Honduras Mahogany. You could make yours smaller, say 5/8"x5/8" doug fir strips, four across, running the length of the boat, as seen above. You could get by with 4 smaller knees on each side of the sheer. Just an idea to consider.

    You can contact Tracy at www.tracyobrien.com
    I'd bet you could have a simple jon (flat panel designs) designed for a very reasonable price and with this type of boat, you would use minimal materials for lots of strength. You could keep the weight down by selection of materials and efficient epoxy work.

    Another suggestion... You can take a look at Dave Nichols "Little Laker" (65lbs) , a very pretty glued ply lap... very light and strong...

    http://arrowheadboats.com/boats/

    Good luck,

    RodB
    Last edited by RodB; 12-23-2009 at 09:06 AM.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    You can dislike plywood as much as you like but it's engineering characteristics say you can build far lighter with ply than you ever could with lumber. If you want to cartop plywood is the answer. To build something similar in lumber will increase weight by about 60%.
    Plywood, being more dimensionally stable and much stiffer in relation to it's thickness can be assembled with glass and epoxy resin. With lumber the scantlings have to be about double and the glue and screw method of assembly is what is called for.
    An S&G plywood Jon can be made using only " and 3/8" plywood and only the transom need be 3/4" which can be made from 2 layers of 3/8".
    When you ask for cartopability you are entering different realm. Cartopping a boat over about 110 lb. is not practical unless you can guarantee you'll always have enough big time muscle to get the boat back on your ride. Even with plywood and S&G the boat would have to be rather short. No more than 12 feet.
    Here's a 12 footer with a 115 lb. weight. This is for a bare-bones hull with no paint or hardware. A similar hull built with lumber would be about 200 lb.
    http://www.bateau.com/studyplans/GF1....htm?prod=GF12
    Both the old way and the new way have their benefits. It's up to you to decide which way to go.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    What Chuck said...

    RodB
    Last edited by RodB; 12-23-2009 at 09:08 AM.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Greg C - this is not meant as an attack on you personally, but we get a LOT of requests for recommendations for boats that can carry multiple people, sail and motor, and be cartopped. After much typing by all concerned, most of the posters then change their minds and don't require cartopping -- as the other design requirements are more important.

    I'm just about ready to assign a number to the new-builder posts that include cartopping as a requirement, #127 perhaps. It would be like the old story about the group that kept telling the same jokes so many times that they numbered them all to avoid having to tell the joke and punchline over and over. That way they only had to say, "Hey, guys! #32" and everyone would crack up laughing...

    As someone who owns (and has owned) a number of small boats and trailers, I clearly understand that boat trailers can be expensive, a hassle to register and store, and not fun to maintain. But for most boats larger and heavier than a big canoe, the hassle and danger of loading, unloading, and dealing with high winds make cartopping a poor choice when compared to the convenience and safety of trailering.

    If cartopping is an absolute and unavoidable requirement for this jonboat build, then plywood or thin-strip-built will be the only way to keep the weight manageable.

    But if, as is SO often the case, cartopping is just a "wouldn't it be nice" sorta thing, then the boat can be built from solid wood or whatever and launched from a trailer like 95% of most wooden boats.

    I've cartopped canoes on a lot of different vehicles for several thousand miles, VW poptop campers being the majority, and have no problem with either the concept or the work involved. But larger wooden boats are a very different thing, and the bigger they get, the less likely cartopping becomes.
    Last edited by Thorne; 12-23-2009 at 09:47 AM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    I'm sure you've already figured this out Greg, but whether the boat weighs 120lbs or 190lbs is kind of moot, as you aren't gonna put either boat on a car rack either single-handed or easily. We're not talking about a 40lb kayak here. Plus the lighter boat won't handle as well in the water and as it's carried upside down, you have to find room somewhere on the car for your oars, pole and other gear.

    Small trailers OTOH, are cheap, can be pulled by the smallest car, and the boat is easily launched and retrieved single-handed.

    As the entry price for a new trailer is 200 bucks for a Harbor Freight you can build bunks for....

    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=42708



    ....to 400 bucks for a ready-made galvanized boat trailer.....

    http://www.kingtrailers.com/trailers...l?catId=158082



    ....there is little reason not to have one.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Trailers are great .
    Learning to back one up is a useful skill (amaze your friends and neighbors.)
    But Harbor Freight's chinese trailers don't have much of a reputation.
    If I had to chose between Bob's two choices, I'd go for the galvanized proper boat trailer in a heartbeat.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    What Tom said. I went the HF trailer route, and after extensive & expensive mods I have a rusty trailer with dodgy bearings that only occasionally loses metal parts onto the roadway.

    Much better to get an American-made (local-made is even better) boat trailer, galvanized if you'll launch in brackish or salt water. Lots of 'em on Craigslist, with or without boats.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    One thing I noticed learning to back a trailer is that if the trailer is short, it wants to dart about when backing in a hyperactive ADHD sort of way. The long tongue on boat trailers , apart from fitting the boat, seems to be calmer, less twitchy backing.
    When you can back up a long twisty driveway and around a corner, you've made the big time

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    My H/F trailers are 8 and 5 years old and narry a problem with either barring those stupid splicer thingies it came with that I used instead of wiring it properly to start with.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    I saw something like this on Skeppsholmen in Stockholm not long ago. A simple but really pretty solid wood punt used as a tender. I think it was clinker planked, which seems like the easiest for round hulls, but in this thread I was thinking about building a simple feed trough-like punt, just to get some water under me at the nearest pond while I'm working on Nina.

    As for cartopping, it's not really worth the elbow grease you'll be spending not enjoying being out in your boat. Unless it's really light, like a skin on frame canoe.
    1947 Nordic Folkboat "Nina"

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    That Little Peter may just be the right one.

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Well, I guess it's the trailer, then. I didn't mention I have a strong interest in ancestral tradition. It's got to be "real" wood, low-tech so to speak, so I guess it'll be heavy. Trailer away!
    Let me tell you the story some time of my friend and I trying to back up a trailer at the municipal dump. No experience, but how hard can it be?... Pretty entertaining for everybody there!

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    I must say again thank you to everyone who replied. Thorne and Bob Smalser and BarnacleGrim, you have convinced me that trailerable is the way to go, and so it will be.
    Hmm... Maybe the one-station skiff instead of a jon boat? Decisions...

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    If your going to spend the time and the money, you might as well do some homework... and choose a design in type and dimensions that will fulfill your needs without any doubt...! If you choose wisely, you will end up getting years of use out of it and it will probably be easier to sell someday because of its increased versatility.

    RodB

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    I built a Devlin Peeper as my first boat. It's a 12' pointed bow flat bottom skiff. I think it's pretty quick for a 12'. I've been cartopping it thus far and for this reason seldom use it. It's just a pain in the neck and back. I have never weighed mine, but the as designed it supposed to weigh about 88 lbs I think. If I had it on a trailer, I would be happy if it weighed 125 lbs.

    Consider whether you want to be able to stand and pole the boat at times. For me, this is important and is not easily done in the Peeper. This is one of the reasons I'm considering building Little Peter.

    On the other hand, I built the Peeper to serve as a tender for a larger boat, yet to be built. It may be ideal for this purpose, but I want to be able to stand comfortably and Little Peter has much more interior volume for the same length.

    I just offer my experience in hopes it will help you pick the right design.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Since you've given in on the trailer(we knew you would, they all do eventually) I'd like to toss Sedge into your considerations pile. It was originally designed to be built out of lumber. I was going to build mine out of ply but my plans have changed and I'm planning on a Catspaw dinghy now so I can teach my daughter to sail.

    Doug

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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Now we are back at the starting gate again, so need some info to make any decent suggestions. How will you use the boat, on what waters, with how many crew / cargo, under what conditions, with what propulsion?

    Playing around on the local small lake with a paddle and pole with one person is vastly different from using a 10hp outboard to motor across to offshore islands with small children and a dog aboard. As Dr. Evil says, "Honestly, throw me a bone here!"
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    With all the focus on trailers, weight and cartop-ability it might be easy to overlook what will happen if you build a design intended for plywood out of solid stock. Since it will be heavier, it will have less load carrying capacity. If it's ever kept in the water for extended periods it will get much heavier due to the water taken up by the lumber. In other words, it would be unwise to chose a plywood design then build it out of solid wood.
    Goat Island Skiff and Simmons Sea Skiff construction photos here:

    http://s176.photobucket.com/albums/w...esMan/?start=0

    and here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/37973275@N03/

    "All kings are not the same."

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    If you order the plans for Little Peter or Sedge, you get a How to Build article with it. You will have to loft them, also. If you've never had a boat in this size range, I can tell you that Sedge is a lot more boat than Little Peter. The biggest disadvantage I see to building LIttle Peter is that I cannot find where one has ever been built so you cannot go look at one or try it out or ask someone about it's performance.

    Also, Little Peter is built batten seam and Sedge is lapstrake.

    Someone above mentioned Harry Bryan's Ladybug. The article about it in new Small Boats states that it is quite tender.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Are the lighter, plywood designs "better"? Depends on how you intend to use the boat. What works for a racing shell doesn't necessarily in a shrimp boat.

    This is a simple cargo scow used to carry balks of recovered lumber winched across mud flats. Here shown with its end decks removed being reinforced for even heavier loads.



    It's 15' long, built heavy of Doug Fir, Port Orford and Western Red Cedar, and weighs well over 200lbs. I could also build the same hull that would be (theoretically) equally strong from quarter-inch plywood, light plywood gussets, fabric and glass to weigh in at a hundred pounds or less.

    Of the two hulls, which do you think you'd rather stand up in for hours at a time to pole and fish from on a windy tidal flat? Try it and see for yourself.
    Last edited by Bob Smalser; 12-28-2009 at 01:27 PM.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    Quote Originally Posted by SScoville View Post
    Also, Little Peter is built batten seam and Sedge is lapstrake..
    Sedge can be built lap but doesn't have to be. One of the reasons I initially chose the boat is that it's such an easy design to customize without compromising the integrity. I still plan to build it someday but I have a jon boat already and really want a sailboat in my stable. As for lofting- Being a flat bottomed, flat sided, and flat ended boat, lofting isn't a very daunting task.

    Doug

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    i built a wider version of the river jon out of 1x yellow pine from the local lumber yard, we call her the "river mule"
    she is 4' wide and 16' long and i keep her trailered
    i'll try and post a photo
    http://http://bp2.blogger.com/_bVfGg...river+flat.jpg

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Building a john boat -- of lumber?

    the photo link may not have worked but i have the construction photos on my blog
    sixteenacrewood.blogspot.com
    click the 2008 photos in the right hand column

    she is over 3 yrs old and i would not change a thing
    i use a 25lb thrust trolling motor and a 435 amp hr battery

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