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Thread: question about boat building

  1. #1
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    Default question about boat building

    I love wooden boats and noticed harder to find so I was thinking about building one, My issue is I looked at plans for many, I am actually most interested in a whitehaul or jolly boat style wooden row boat 14-17ft. I have found a few designs but they say estimated cost is in the thousands to build, not sure if thats correct and have found some kits which are stitch and glue like the chester yawl from clc boats but notice even for a 1600 dollar kit the material they use the wood is thin as hell in my opinion. Does it really cost lots of money just to build a row boat like that and as for the stitch and glue boats how thick should the hull be with wood and fiberglass layers?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Yes it costs that much, and the hull thickness depends on the materials used and strength desired. The thin marine plywood is good because if you're rowing that whitehall, weight is bad. Thick wood can be nice at times, but is more expensive and usually harder to build with for hulls.

    Try watching some YouTube videos on boatbuilding and you'll learn why things are the way they are.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Quote Originally Posted by harrykane140693 View Post
    . . . I am actually most interested in a whitehaul or jolly boat style wooden row boat 14-17ft. . . .Does it really cost lots of money just to build a row boat like that
    As Thorne says - yes.

    But, skin-on-frame boats can typically be built for far less money than their counterparts in wood, and they go together much faster and with less mess.

    gaboats.com has a number of skin-on-frame rowing designs that one should be able to build for relatively little cash. Or you might google "Shenandoah Whitehall" for something less delicate, as well as easier and quicker to build. I hear it's a nice boat.

    Good luck!
    Dave

  4. #4
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Skin on frame is a great way to try boatbuilding with a minimum of time and money investment.

    Once you decide you love it, the cost of clear cedar for a skiff build might seem a little more within reason.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    The thing about building a boat is that the cost is spread out over a long period of time so it doesn't seem as bad
    Ya know, 20 bucks here, 30 bucks there (well maybe a little more than that...), but it's not like forking over $1500 or $2000 like right now!
    regards
    pvg

  6. #6
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    The other thing about building a boat is that it can be done more cheaply by using cheaper materials. There is a sound argument to be made for using the best available (e.g. BS1088 marine plywood)which will be pricey but durable and high-quality, and last (with care) for many years.

    There is another argument that, if low cost is a priority, then you can use other material. For example, my first wooden boat was a Bolger Cartopper built of 1/4" luan plywood and fiberglass resin instead of epoxy. It lasted 10 years and then I sold it, still in good shape. Probably less than $300 invested.

    I've also seen good results from using the non-marine plywood made of Baltic birch that is available in big-box stores like Menard's. This is about half the price of marine ply. It has 5 thick plies (the 1/4" stuff) and few if any voids, and though it is noticeably heavier than other plywoods, it has proven durable and very suitable for a boat that's trailer-sailed and stored indoors. I also built a flat-bottomed skiff of this stuff, 14' 6" long, for about $300 including the cost of the polytarp sail. I used PLP Premium instead of expoxy, again much cheaper. I then sailed that boat more than 1,000 miles, camp-cruising the Great Lakes and the Texas coast. My current boat was built of radiata pine (many here will tell you that you can't build a boat of radiata without it rotting away the first time you glance at it) with Baltic birch bulkheads, using epoxy. It cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 (an 18' Whitehall) not counting the sail.

    So, does a boat NEED to be that expensive? No. Are the more expensive materials better? No doubt. In the case of sails, I'd say real sails are worth it despite being far more expensive than polytarp. Epoxy, I'd say, is also worth the cost. But then again, I sailed for 1,000 miles with polytarp sails and PLP Premium, so it can be done.

    Only you can decide how high a priority to put on low cost.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Edit to add: If you are looking specifically at kits, then I think you'll find only the more expensive, higher quality materials. You can build more cheaply from plans without the kit, generally. Unless you value the time a kit will save you.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Kits are expensive because the kit producer really, really wants your boat to turn out well and be durable. Not skimping on materials is a major hedge in that direction. As WI-Tom points out plan building can be cheaper and sometimes by a lot. I'm not sure what materials are readily available in Oz but here the States I've built several boat from plans for about 2/5ths the price of the equivalent kit. I'm fortunate to live semi-close to a lumber yard that stocks boat building woods.

    Not all material that goes into a boat need to be brand name, especially goods like epoxy. Hardware is a another place that cash can be saved, especially on dayboats. It doesn't need to built to ocean-crossing standards because almost all of it can easily be replaced if and when the need arises. The only problem with substituting specified materials is that it takes a bit of experience to understand what compromises are acceptable.

    Before attempting a sophisticated plan built boat you should have a modicum of woodworking skills and access to decent tools. A boat like a Whitehall is probably not the best project to cut your woodworking teeth on.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Yevsky View Post
    Before attempting a sophisticated plan built boat you should have a modicum of woodworking skills and access to decent tools. A boat like a Whitehall is probably not the best project to cut your woodworking teeth on.
    I tend to agree, though darroch proved it can be done very well indeed by a novice builder. But them ARE curvy boats.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    I would advise you to seriously consider not building unless you absolutely are hung up on building your own craft.
    Instead I would advise you look around for something used that may need a little work ,such as small repairs ,painting ect. depending on your abilities.

    There is a small tightly knit group of forum members in this country some of whom would love to help you out in achieving your dream of finding you a suitable craft. While it may not be your dream boat and you might have to travel a bit you will be out on the water enjoying .

    This is is what I am talking about just bought this Tammie Norrie in Brisbane as a package motor trailer and boat.
    I was probably lucky with most previous buyers being scared of by the fear of rot, due to her rough looking condition.
    I flogged the motor and kept a great trailer with a boat investment of around $200.
    I have roughly 60 hours in restoration and will possibly double that. Minimal amounts of money for some paint epoxy with most other materials left over scraps or bartered.

    [IMG][/IMG]
    Last edited by auscruisertom; 10-14-2018 at 03:26 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Quote Originally Posted by pvg View Post
    The thing about building a boat is that the cost is spread out over a long period of time so it doesn't seem as bad
    Ya know, 20 bucks here, 30 bucks there (well maybe a little more than that...), but it's not like forking over $1500 or $2000 like right now!
    regards
    pvg
    .... so true..... and it scales up to bigger boats. The cost is mainly labour - which is huge, untill the final fit out when you need to buy a bunch of stuff.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  12. #12
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    plywood made of Baltic birch that is available in big-box stores like Menard's.
    IMO, Baltic Birch is not a good idea.

    Explodes in water.



    Perhaps you are thinking of Chinese Birch?

    The Chinese panels contain 5 plies in a 1/4" panel PLUS the surface plies, and they are laid up with waterproof glue. Lotsa voids, though, and the finish veneers are extremely thin.



    I have never seen Baltic Birch plywood available at the Big Box.

    The Baltic looks very similar to the Chinese, but every ply is the same thickness, and is for interior use ONLY.

    The Baltic used to be available in 5' X 5' sheets ONLY, and they were as much as 1/2" out of square, measured on the diagonals.

    Baltic has become available in 4 X 8s, over the past ten years or so, and the squareness is almost reliable now, but I feel very strongly that it is a poor choice for boats.

    There used to be a product called 'Finnish Birch' that was visually identical to the Baltic, but was laid up with waterproof glue. I haven't seen any of that in decades.

    If I were to use Big Box plywood in a boat, I would go with 'underlayment grade'.

    It is laid up with waterproof glue, with no voids, and is intended for use under vinyl flooring.

    Best of luck to Harry Kane!
    Rattling the teacups.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    There is some plywood available at our local homedepot that is called sandeply. This stuff is not even water resistant. Any offcut that I've left outdoors has shown signs of delamination within days. It does make for stable interior (as in inside a warm house) cabinet drawers and such.

    Another caution about using low cost material that Wi-Tom failed to mention even though he has a good deal of experience: Boats built of this stuff can give you a lot of lip. They have a propensity to talk back and want to go their own way. This must be true.... I read it in a book.

    Jeff

  14. #14
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    Another caution about using low cost material that Wi-Tom failed to mention even though he has a good deal of experience: Boats built of this stuff can give you a lot of lip. They have a propensity to talk back and want to go their own way. This must be true.... I read it in a book.

    Jeff
    Maybe the problem there was not using bad ENOUGH materials. That way the darn boat could have sunk quickly and left me in peace.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 10-14-2018 at 03:58 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Quote Originally Posted by oznabrag View Post
    IMO, Baltic Birch is not a good idea.

    Explodes in water.
    I just wish someone had told me that before I sailed more than 1,000 miles (including multi-week trips in the Great Lakes, and a run of the Texas 200) in this boat with a Baltic birch hull, bulkheads, and deck:

    DSCF0803.jpg

    And before I managed to spend 7 years and well over 1,000 miles (including a successful Everglades Challenge, another Texas 200, and several multi-week trips on the Great Lakes) in my brother's boat (planks, decks, and bulkheads of Baltic birch):

    DSCF8023.jpg

    And certainly before I managed 600 miles over the first two summers of my Alaska (bulkheads and decks of Baltic birch):

    DSCN2834.jpg

    I'm no plywood expert, but the stuff I'm talking about is labeled "Baltic birch," it's sold at Menard's and Lowes around Wisconsin, and it's good stuff. Five thick plies in the 1/4" size, no voids, very pleasant to work with. Yes, it's heavy. But it has held up very well indeed under latex porch & floor enamel, at half the price of marine ply.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 10-14-2018 at 04:03 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Gentlemen, no need to get excited. Everybody is right. Some of you seem to think that "baltic birch" is some kind of protected trademark designating one specific product. That's false, "baltic birch" is an american marketing name applied to birch plywood. Where it actually comes from and how it was manufactured seems to be inconsecvential to american vendors. In fact birch ply is manufactured in all quality variations from C/WG with interior or exterior glue (basicly crap for patterns or crates) to A/A with resorcinol glue (aircraft quality). What you want for boatbuilding is a ply with all equal thickness layers, reasonably defect free faces and a dark glueline. Fortunately this is common to find and translates usually into a specification of B/BB (II/III, S/BB), AW100 (EN 314-2/class 3 Exterior), 5-35 plys, 6-80mm or 1/4-3 3/20 inches. Higher grades then B/BB and thicknesses under 6mm (1/4 inch) are usually reserved for real certified aircraft ply and custom runs for furniture manufacturers, meaning you won't find it at hardware stores, and buying under a pallet is difficult.
    "Baltic" usually means that it comes somewhere out of Eastern Europe (including all of the former Soviet Union), "Finnish" means it's manufactured somewhere by a finnish owned firm like the former FinnForest now Mätsa Group, or UPM (Wisa ply).
    As noted this stuff is heavy, depending on manufacturer the density varies between 670 and almost 800 kg/m^3 (41.8-49.9lb/ft^3).
    Birch as a wood species is classified exactly the same "non-durable" as okoume, so the same precautions apply, seal all edges, coat surfaces.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: question about boat building

    Harry kane, since you seem to have sufficient building space to consider bulky boats ( bulky for given length, that is) and seem to be mainly concerned about cost and weight, you might want to consider using a locally sourced wood of lighter weight than plywood, to start with.
    Thin plywood is most likely going to need an epoxy/glass skin, so strip building with Paulownia is going give you the greater scantlings you prefer, at the same time as benefitting from the sealing of a composite skin, while offering reduced weight.
    This way( skinned strip build), you have a wider selection of plans to choose from..... having seen rowing dinghys built from enlarged plans taken from book pages, I know it is quite possible, even though I have not gone that route myself.
    Last edited by Lugalong; 10-15-2018 at 02:39 PM.

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