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Thread: First wood boat build, need advice

  1. #1
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    Default First wood boat build, need advice

    I've been building steel ships for 30 years, so I'm not exactly new to the trade, but never attempted a plywood boat. I've researched this for years, only to be discouraged by the price of plywood and epoxy. But now I have made up my mind to build my own design and ready for some constructive criticism from you old salts. I am an avid Float Tube fisherman, and hate fishing from my Kayak, so I'm building my own U-shaped Pontoon style of float tube with trolling motor. Since an average float tube cost less than 300$ I don't want to spend that much on my first build. Now the main question, since I'm wanting to keep the price as low as possible, I'm Not using Marine ply or Epoxy, I have already designed a frame that will interlock all the edges of the plywood, so no ends will be exposed. I don't care if it only lasts a few years, it will give me a chance to better my design for future builds. I'm using Poplar Luan 5 mm, to stay as light as possible. I would rather spend the majority of the money on primer and paint, please advise me about what would work the best. Also can I use 4-5 coats of polyurethane instead of epoxy. I'm not a cheap skate, I just don't want to waste money on something I've never done before, Epoxy and cloth just seem like a big headache for such a small project, the boats only 6'x4' and each Pontoon will have three watertight sections. Please help me make the best choice on the Preservatives, Thanks, Jerry

  2. #2
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Yardsale View Post
    I've been building steel ships for 30 years, so I'm not exactly new to the trade, but never attempted a plywood boat. I've researched this for years, only to be discouraged by the price of plywood and epoxy. But now I have made up my mind to build my own design and ready for some constructive criticism from you old salts. I am an avid Float Tube fisherman, and hate fishing from my Kayak, so I'm building my own U-shaped Pontoon style of float tube with trolling motor. Since an average float tube cost less than 300$ I don't want to spend that much on my first build. Now the main question, since I'm wanting to keep the price as low as possible, I'm Not using Marine ply or Epoxy, I have already designed a frame that will interlock all the edges of the plywood, so no ends will be exposed. I don't care if it only lasts a few years, it will give me a chance to better my design for future builds. I'm using Poplar Luan 5 mm, to stay as light as possible. I would rather spend the majority of the money on primer and paint, please advise me about what would work the best. Also can I use 4-5 coats of polyurethane instead of epoxy. I'm not a cheap skate, I just don't want to waste money on something I've never done before, Epoxy and cloth just seem like a big headache for such a small project, the boats only 6'x4' and each Pontoon will have three watertight sections. Please help me make the best choice on the Preservatives, Thanks, Jerry
    Just build a proper small boat with proper materials and be done with it.

    Or buy a used one. 6 x 4 ft is a piddly size for a useful boat.

    Why are you wanting to re- invent the wheel ?
    If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Steel shipbuilding in Kentucky not a union job Im guessing?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    I think that if you are experimenting with cheap plywood, you should coat it with epoxy. That will help it's longevity, though it may have other failings. Then use house paint, which will save some money. For an experiment, I would suggest skin on frame construction. That will be quick and inexpensive. I also suggest you look at the duckworks website, it has many ideas for simple home-building. Good luck, keep us posted.

  5. #5
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    Northern Europe
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Jeeez, forget the epoxy and use polyester resin. Get a copy of Pysons "instant boats" from a library, and if you cant be convinced to build a Bolger Nymph from instructions in the book, at least all the other details are in there. My "disposable" test boat has spent 6 months afloat and a winter outside under snow, held together with nails and 10 year old polyester resin. Save the epoxy and decent paint for a boat that you will keep.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    not poplar luan!

  7. #7
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    Fredericksburg, Virginia
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    You could use PL Premium 3X for glue, plus Porch and Floor Alkyd Enamel for finish. Dampen wood and allow to dry before gluing. Thin first coat of paint with xylene as a primer, then apply two topcoats (all on consecutive days). You can add Portland cement to the paint to give non-skid surface. Also, you can make a paint/Portland cement paste to fill gaps if needed. This is as cheap as it gets. The luan ply will not be durable once water gets into it. It will warp if shown a photograph of water prior to painting.

    I like the type of boat you are going to build. It is a great small water fishing boat. Make sure the waterplane area of the pontoons is sufficient to provide stability in both the athwartships and fore-and-aft directions. You might want to copy an existing design or calculate the metacentric heights yourself.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    And welcome! We love pics. Of your plans or something interesting fin your career in bodybuilding. Sounds like you might like a puddle duck.

  9. #9
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    Apr 2014
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Skiff Man View Post
    You could use PL Premium 3X for glue
    From Loctite PL Premium on 3X..

    "NOT RECOMMENDED FOr
    • Water submersion applications"

    http://m.loctiteproducts.com/p/12/0/...ction-Adhesive

  10. #10
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    Aug 2014
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    PL Premium 3X works great for trailered boats. It's never failed any of my submerged tests, but I don't consider it a substitute for epoxy.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Welcome,

    By the time you coat or soak your boat with preservative, you might as well spend for marine materials in the first place.

    If disposable is really OK by you, that's cool. Don't waste time or money trying to make it last longer. Fish it until it rots and then burn it so no one gets hurt.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  12. #12
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    Apr 2014
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    then burn it so no one gets hurt
    I've done that. No. Wait. That was the plan....

    To haul lumber to a boat-only access site I built a POS barge/scow. The plan was to use the scow to haul lumber then burn the scow on the beach. We hauled the lumber, then, when it was time to burn the scow, my brother said, "Wait, haul the scow back to town." He turned it upside down and put it on stilts. It is a tool shed.

    Full story at https://moremotecabin.blogspot.com/2...ove-cabin.html





    Last edited by Mo 'Poxy; 03-24-2018 at 11:45 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Mo 'Poxy View Post
    I've done that. No. Wait. That was the plan....

    To haul lumber to a boat-only access site I built a POS barge/scow. The plan was to use the scow to haul lumber then burn the scow on the beach. We hauled the lumber, then, when it was time to burn the scow, my brother said, "Wait, haul the scow back to town." He turned it upside down and put it on stilts. It is a tool shed.

    Full story at https://moremotecabin.blogspot.com/2...ove-cabin.html
    a time honored tradition!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Luan will last about 4 hours in water before it falls apart.

  15. #15
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    Frenchman's Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by navydog View Post
    Luan will last about 4 hours in water before it falls apart.
    I have lined the cockpit of my signboard prototype boat in luan ply and it already lasted two years. I'm hoping to get another season out of it. During the first summer when I built my prototype, I just "painted" some Lepage "weather resistant" glue on it, no top coating of any kind. During the winter I wrapped it into a tarp without ventilation and took it out too late in the spring. The area painted with the glue had all turned moldy on the surface and the non-waterproof plywood (without varnish or paint) had started to delaminate a bit around the edges. However, the edges also had the gunwales screwed on (again I didn't bother varnishing those), so this wasn't a structural problem. The second summer I washed the mold off, put a coat or two of varnish on the exposed surfaces. In the fall it went under a tarp again, this time more ventilated.

    I haven't taken it out yet, but will know in about a month or so how it survived.

    I think that even non-waterproof ply, if painted with latex primer and latex (acrylic) house paint and stored upside down, covered or inside, should last long enough to figure out if your boat design itself is worthwhile.

    But I wouldn't expect it to make a good shed roof afterward.

    In the end I decided to spring for some marine plywood for my more permanent boats.

    If you are self designing, expect some amount of serial boatbuilding before you like what you get.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    I thought about designing my own boat. I am a retired engineer, and engineers are supposed to know how to design everything. After reading and thinking I decided that after designing and building about six boats I might get one that was almost ok.

    Life is too short. So, now I am finishing a boat designed by a real NA, Rauel Parker. I recommend you do the same.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: First wood boat build, need advice

    Forget plywood, unless we are on the plywooden boat forum and build you a plank on frame skiff. Try Uncle Gabe's skiff from Sam Rabl's book. Go on amazon, it is titled Boatbuilding in Your Own Backyard. Building a boat is a great excuse to buy some tools. All of the info is there in the book. Have some fun and don't overthink it.

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