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Thread: Plywood Snipe build

  1. #1
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    Default Plywood Snipe build

    Started a new build which I'm pretty excited about. This is only my second build and I think the level of complexity of this boat is a close match to my skill level. I live in Dallas and am an active sailor on White Rock lake which if you are familiar with your Snipe history is home to Snipe Fleet #1. It is this fact (along with the promise of a strong local secondary market for snipes, snipe parts and snipe enthusiasts) that led me to choose this design for my second build. I was considering a SS sloop but I found construction details and materials woefully lacking. With a snipe build at least I can go buy a second hand aluminum mast or daggar board with relatively little effort if necessity or lack of motivation delivers me to that conclusion.

    One issue I discovered immediately was that availability of suitable materials. White Cedar and Juniper are not available down here so with some research I have identified a few similar species. The selections I made are also a compromise based on availability and price. I could build the whole boat out of imported white cedar which would cost as much as a new car or I could settle for long leaf pine and douglas fir which is what I have done. I also chose to build the stem from african mahogany based on weight, strength durability not to mention the cool factor of building with mahogany. The frames and Transom are made with 1" marine grade plywood, also doug fir. When making selections weight (per cubic foot) strength and rot resistance are the critical factors when selecting materials obviously handicapped by cost. The oposite senario relative to my white cedar choice could be to make the boat out of western red cedar which is cheap and light but is notoriously brittle and knotty. I think doug fir is a good compromise for the structural members of the boat. I would love to hear If anyone has another opinion.

    I lofted the frames and the transom and cut those out using a skill saw and jig saw. The frames were clamped to the "falswork" structure which was built from 2x4s and scraps. I pulled a string through my garage which was leveled and used to simulate the base line. Measurements from the base line to the frames were marked on a stick station by station then used to adjust the frames into place and the vertical dimensions checked off the stick. This was easier than using a tape measure and having to run back and forth to the plans to double check dimsions. The shear lines were marked on the frames before they were cut out and a 6 foot level was used to verify plumbness of the frames once the elevations relative to the baseline was completed. The frames are held in place exclusively with clamps on the falsework, no fasteners of any kind.

    As of this post I am slowly working out assembly of the stem. I will be laminating two layers of mahogany (6/4 thickness rough cut). I'm following the recommendations of the original 1934 plans on the design. I had lofted the stem a few weeks ago and made a template with trace paper I am using to verify my stem "block" is sized and assembled at an adequate angle. I copied the angle right off the Crosby drawings with my makeshift wooden caliper when deciding what angle to make the first cut of my mahogany board.

    Here's a link to some pics. Comments welcome!

    Deleted the Pinterest link and added flikr:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/142734.../shares/a285ZT
    Last edited by Spiritofthestorm; 05-08-2016 at 08:30 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Good thinking on the local market.

    Pinterest blocks some of the photos and I'm not planning to sign up for it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Removed the Pinterest link and provides a Flickr link. Hope that helps.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    My first sailboat was a Snipe. "Jumpin' Jive" was a fiberglass hull, wooden deck/spars beauty. One of the most fun boats I've ever owned. I did a lot of sail camping and capsized it a few times. I am looking forward to watching your build.
    Take Care,
    Steve W

    Honeoye Falls, New York
    Building a B & B Core Sound 20 Mark III "Jazz Hands"
    Spindrift 11N Suzy J Build Pictures
    A little video of the Suzy J and my youngest son

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Nice. Best of luck with the project! I built one 35 years ago. Your photos of the building jig bring back some nice memories.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Finally got the transom within official measurements. It took me a bit to figure out I was measuring from the base line to the top of the deck. I should have been measuring from the baseline to the shear line which was a few inches difference with the crown in the deck. Happy with it now... Finally.

    https://www.flickr.com/gp/142734358@N06/10Amyc

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Alaskan Yellow Cedar which is actually cypress is another choice. It is shipped all over the country. Bald Cypress which is also acceptable as a planking stock may be available in your area. The nice thing about the Cypress and cedars is that they are, usually lighter than mahogany, fir and long-leaf and are highly rot resistant. African Mahogany, is rather brittle and porous and unless you are laminating it will be a poor choice as structural material for your stem as it also does not hold fastenings as well as other woods. A better choice would be Bois d Arc, "Osage Orange", Acacia or white oak. If your boat will be used for racing, weight will be a consideration as there are weight factors involved as dictated the Snipe Assoc. My second boat was a snipe. I both raced and cruised it to the Channel Islands here. I had a cover rigged over the boom for shelter and a primes burner to cook on. I was at anchor one night and a nut ball in a power boat came by at flank speed and rolled me off the deck where I was sleeping and set me to treading water till I got back aboard. A snipe is not really a good cruising boat unless you are a hardy person who enjoys roughing it.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 05-15-2016 at 03:02 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Fun looking project!
    So, are you planking her with ply?
    If you want to plank her with timber, you have the end grain of ply frames to deal with.
    Last edited by wizbang 13; 05-15-2016 at 03:41 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Planking with 3/8 ply. .

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Here's a link to the latest progress. https://www.flickr.com/photos/142734.../shares/WPMskq

    Really im at a point now where I need to suck it up and buy some fasteners. Current questions/considerations: 1. I'm not terribly convinced silicone bronze are worth the money. I can't fathom why a high dollar stainless steel or equal screw you can buy at Home Depot buried and plugged in wood then encapsulated in epoxy and enamel are any worse than a silicone bronze fastener. Maybe if I was moring my boat in the ocean for life it would make a difference. But dry docking it on a fresh water lake? I don't want to cut corners or roll the dice I just want to be convinced. Note: I haven't bought any fasteners yet so let this be evidence that the jury is still out in my mind. 2. The 1931 Crosby drawings call for a 3" thick stem. I understand this if I use 3/4" solid planking for the haul but I'm wondering if I can get away with 1-1/2" thick on the stem since I'm using 3/8" ply haul material. Ok maybe I'm trying to cut corners here but 3" material is heavy and it will be much more work to laminate another 1-1/2" onto it. I'll probably just do that it's not THAT big of a deal and for the peace of mind, probably worth it. 3. I discovered that I am a genius for using rebar tie wire to hold my chine stringers in place until I make up my mind on wood screws and stem thickness. Damn I'm good.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Should I glue and screw every joint together? Plans don't say probably because they are old as time and pre marine adhesives. Epoxy? Or some other adhesive type. This is probably a craftsmanship question every veteran boat builder has an answer to. Appreciate any input.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    What screws did you go with? We're thinking of using the epoxy coated deck screws.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    I went with epoxy coated deck screws. This will be a dry stored fresh water boat, not too worried about it.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    After many months of collecting dust I made some goood headway on my build. Got the rabbit done on the stem as well as the shear and chine clamps installed. Looks like a boat now! Kind of.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    How much is a Snipe suppose to weight?
    1" plywood frames, 3" stem.
    That is really big compared to other boats I've been looking at in the same size.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    I obviously don't have your plans, but I am building a Lightning, which is 3 ft longer than your Snipe. Your stem is much deeper and more heavily built than the stem on my Lightning, and looks like more bulk than you need. My Lightning stem is made of WR Cedar laminations except down the middle where I need to attach the stem fitting. Also, except where loads are high, I used WR Cedar bottom and side frames that were 7/8 x 1 3/4. Both the stem and frames were OK'd by a naval architect.

    If I had followed my instincts, I would have turned my Lightning into a battleship. But, because my build was going so slow, I bought an antique Lightning so I could go sailing while doing my build. Long story short, my old Lightning taught me that a very solid boat could be built with much less heft to the structure than I imagined. My new Lightning will probably turn out 100 lbs lighter as a result.

    I don't know if you have a chance to take a close look at the structure of another wooden Snipe, but I would recommend doing that if you have a chance.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    One thing I forgot . . .

    My Lightning transom is 1/2" WR Cedar, which is probably half the weight of your transom, and it meets Lightning specs. It has a cheek frame that gives it some additional strength, and has hardwood backing blocks where the rudder gudgeons will be located, but it is very lightly built.

    I don't know if you have any plans to race your Snipe, but, in racing sailboats, it is important to minimize the weight in the ends of the boat.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Thanks for the comments. I'm building this thing per the plans as best as I can. The frames are 3/4" as well as the transom - which is what the original plans call for. The stem WAS massive in the last photos that I posted but I have since trimmed it down to about 4.5" deep x 3" wide. It will further get cut down after I plank the hull and shape the cut water. I'm intrigued that you are using WR cedar. In Texas the stock of this material is very brittle. But light and resistant to mold. I'm using quite a bit of cypress in mine because it's the closest in weight to spruce which is what is specified. Let me know how the WR cedar works out. Notwithstanding my concerns above I have considered using it.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    As a quick clarification Sitka spruce is called for but I can't find it here which is why I use cypress.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    I agree that WR Cedar can have its moments, but, back in the 1950s and 1960s, the vast majority of factory Lightnings were built with WR Cedar planking. That was certainly true at Nickels & Holman in Michigan, one of the biggest builders. In the Lightnings that Lippincott built, the planks were WR Cedar and 3/4 of the frames were WR Cedar, with mahogany used on just 3-4 frames under the mast step. And the transom as well as the planks of my 1956 Etchells-built Lightning are WR Cedar. All of those WR Cedar Lightnings have held up remarkably well. So I am confident that the WR Cedar will work out fine in my new Lightning.

    But WR Cedar has its limitations. I also used it for my chine logs, and it didn't turn out so great. It seemed like things were OK when I glued the chine log in, but a week later it split. After that happened, my mentor told me that spruce will take a curve lots better than cedar, so that would be a good thing to keep in mind. I probably should have steamed or heated the chine logs before making them take the curve of the chine . . . live and learn.

  22. #22
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    708A0967-F40A-4755-8669-A6B2039BD1F0.jpg

    Latest photos. Still tinking along.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    I’m considering WR cedar for the top side framing. Also I’m looking forward to getting the fairing process started. I’m thinking west system slow curing epoxy and micro balloons. One or two base layers of that then fiberglass cloth, more epoxy then paint. Any recommendations on a paint product? I’m going to veneer the transom with mahogany and epoxy and spar varnish that. White bottom paint.

  25. #25
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  26. #26
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Anyone have any tips on scribing the deck framing in between the sheer clamps? I made a doohickey out of 4 sticks of scrap and a couple of clamps so I could transfer the angles exactly.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Normally you wouldn't use microballoons with an initial layer of epoxy.
    Just use it full strength with no fillers.
    Microballoons make the coating less strong.
    Many would not apply a coat of epoxy first, just laminate on the glass.
    However, its your choice, others like a complete coat over the wood before laminating. You do need to make sure all endgrain is filled with epoxy.
    Some of the gaps between planking and planking to stem would be better filled with wood glued in with epoxy.
    You could also just fill the endgrain locally if the gap is small, then use a filler to make sure the surfaces are smooth. Something like wood flour to keep the strength up.

    Once you get the cloth down, then fill the weave with epoxy/ filler - microballoons work and will sand easy, but will not be as strong as using wood flour, etc. Be sure to use plenty of filler coats - you don't want to sand thru the glass at all.
    If you start seeing little white dots while sanding, you are into the glass.
    Add more "filler" coats before finishing sanding/ fairing.

    That's a nice shape to the hull.

    Did you glue the joints between planks and frame?

    I'm local if you have questions on epoxy use - 817-600-1615.

    Marc
    Last edited by upchurchmr; 07-31-2018 at 12:17 AM.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Thanks. Are you the gentleman who had reached out to me before about a wooden snipe they had on hand over in ft worth? If so I may take you up on the offer to look at the boat and see exactly how the rolled down deck was executed. If not thanks all the same for the tips.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Nope, I haven't had anything to do with a Snipe for at least 40 years.
    And then I just had a spare set of sails.

    But I have done lots of epoxy work.
    Marcs Cell 863.jpg

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Good boat and you are doing a good job. My first real sail boat was a very old Snipe that I bought from a neighbor for $100. You maybe aware that a "competitive" Snipe requires very sophisticated construction. Ignore that.

    The was a racing fleet of Snipes here, but they lost their free home and were replaced by a marina full big boats that go nowhere. There also is no mooring field or dry storage facility. Sad.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Oops I didn’t answer your question. Yes I did glue the planks to frames. I used good old wood glue.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Thanks ahp, I’m trying to keep to the specs as best I can knowing I will probably mess something up. At least I’ll be close and hopefully have a cool boat when it’s done.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    Wow Spirit, Looking good!

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Plywood Snipe build

    I bought an old snipe when I was in high school--I graduated in 1965--so you know I've had it for a long time. I didn't sail it much though and didn't get around to restoring it until my early retirement years. In 2011, I bought a second snipe almost identical to my original boat. I'm in the process now of restoring this boat to be a replica of William Crosby's famous snipe, "Also".

    Crosby designed the snipe in 1931 and became the founder and first executive officer of the Snipe class. When Crosby needed to replace his original boat in the late 1930's, he ordered up a new one from Dunphy Boats in Oshkosh, WI. His new boat had some custom features not available to the general public at the time like a daggerboard rather than a pivoting centerboard and special mahogany trim. He also was able to pull some strings and have a special number assigned to his new boat--#4000.

    My two boats, minus the custom features, are just like the famous Crosby snipe #4000 "Also". My replica boat, however, is being restored to include the daggerboard and custom trim. Crosby's boat (and my replica) has cooper/bronze hard racing bottom paint, dark blue topsides, and a white canvass deck set off with dark mahogany trim.

    I'm following your build with interest! Good luck and thanks for sharing. Snipes have fallen out of favor a bit over the years, and it's good to see a new one built--especially a wooden one!

    Jim
    Last edited by Dunphy Snipe; 11-14-2018 at 08:29 PM.

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