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Build your dream boat #32…

A while back in the Build Your Dream Boat series #12 email, I talked about a man who was confused about the Barrelback design. If you’ll recall, he had just received his plans and was confused with them. He’s a smart guy, but just felt perplexed.

One of our builders sent in a response that I think is just awesome and explains how he was somewhat confused with his plans too. Read on to learn how he overcame that confusion…

On reading your #12 newsletter, I had to smile. I  too had a “holy cow” moment when I was looking over my new set of boat plans. Then I thought there were too many drawings and not enough dimensions to go around, and I was even more confused. Fortunately, I had picked the Power-Row Skiff so I had one flat surface to use as a reference. After much head-scratching, I cut out the forms and the transom. Then I built the space-frame and mounted the forms, transom and the stem where the drawing said to put them.

Still scratching my head, I attached the keel, which tied the stem to the transom across all the forms. At this point I was taking it all on faith, hoping the written instructions were going to work.

After that point, I sat down and looked at it for awhile. I read Payson’s book on Instant Boats, and he finds a ‘thinking chair’ to be an essential part of the shop. Now I know what he meant. After some time in the chair looking from the plans to the barely attached pieces on the shop floor in front of me, the light clicked and I could see how the rest had to fit together.

Power-Row Skiff

Michael’s Power-Row Skiff

The rest of the inverted construction phase went pretty well. The part I most feared, getting the side planking to meet on the bow, came together just fine. The gap at the plywood’s end ranged from zero to 1/8″. The plywood screwed down to the stem itself tight with no odd bends or twists at all.

I just put the fiberglass on the bottom this morning. I have no doubt I will be able to finish this project in good order. My next boat is going to be a Minuet. No straight lines anywhere, which is what prompted me to try something simpler–and I wanted a fishing boat anyway.

If the Minuet turns out to not be big enough, I’ll build a Fancy Free, or a similar boat.

On that subject, others who favor stitch & glue have called the chine logs and frame system old-fashoned and out of date. You carry plans for both construction methods. It might be useful if someday you could go through the advantages and disadvantages for both methods.

The only stitch & glue boat I’m familiar with was a nightmare of sanding tight internal curves smooth enough to have a hope of getting the fiberglass tape to lay down flat.  But the chine logs that were supposed to be oh-so-hard to cut correctly took about 30 seconds each on the table saw. The area that didn’t come out quite the way I thought it should took another minute on each side with a power plane. “This is supposed to be difficult?” I thought.  Quite a change from that first “holy cow!” moment.

Michael Spangler
Soap Lake WA

I hope that helps to understand that sometimes you just have to start. Many times just looking at the plans and reading the instructions doesn’t fully become clear until you start building. I still think that any person considering building a boat should get my dad’s book, Boatbuilding with Plywood. It’s an easy read and really clarifies the whole process.


Glen-L Word of the Week

The junction of the planking at the forward end of a typical hull. The member to which the planking attaches at this junction.


Until next time, build more boats… Glen-L boats that is!


Your Thoughts?

One Response to A Confused Boat Builder Shares

  1. Marty Risley says:

    You know what would be great with plans besides Patterns? Table of offsets or the actual dimensions of at least the Frame, Molds,. If I had any one of these it would be so easy for me to place in my CAD/CAM program an machine almost all pieces, even the hull if the planking is plywood. I love your boats but I can do more with offsets than patterns.

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