Alright, admittedly I have a boat building problem. Not a little one, a big one. This build started because I didn’t like my completely serviceable, durable, and most importantly, paid-for metal sled. She pounded if there was a cat’s paw of wind on the water, and never did smell quite right after we pulled 800 deceased carp out of our lake last summer. It had a nice 4 stroke on it, comfy seats, and a canvas top. Unfortunately, I need to be building boats, all the time…

I decided to sell that boat off in pieces, and set some parameters to live within. The boat needed to be hellaciously tough, cheap to build, easy to replace parts on, require no ordering of parts, and it must get as good or better fuel economy. So, off to the local lumber shops I went.

MDO for the sheet goods, #1 common construction fir for framing, and a little spruce for the rubrails.

An hour later, the transom was cut out and laid up.

A few minutes after that, the side panels are cut as a matching pair.

Cut up the butt blocks, glue and screw them, and your sides are ready to cure up overnight for more action the next morning.


Hell, the wife isn’t home yet, might as well slap the sternposts on and get a little more done!

Wake up in the morning, what do we have? Two sides, ready to bend on. Cut up your stem at the angle identified on the plans, and you’ve got yourself all the parts you need to make a boat shaped space-eater in your shop.

PL Premium glue and cheap deck screws are all it takes.

Here is where your project will go differently than mine. You will know that you need to either glue your butt block with epoxy, or you will know to put a fiberglass butt block on both sides of your joint. Otherwise…

Better quality MDO with fewer voids, and a more balanced approach to the joint will keep you from having to disassemble the structure, scrape the glue off, break apart the butt block, scrape and sand it clean, then re-prep all the boards, cut a new butt block, and re-glue everything together.

Even with a catastrophic failure, I was only out a few hours work.


So here’s my solution; I opted to lay a little glass on the outside of the joint. In hindsight, just because I am very comfortable with doing it, I’d glass both sides of the joint with 17oz 45/45 biax in a patch roughly the size of the butt blocks suggested. It’s cleaner, more fair, and really doesn’t add much other than time.


Of course I have the junk laying around the shop as scraps, so that’s a bit biased, eh?


Exactly one day after having the big CRACK, we are back to assembling the hull. This time it is a much quieter affair.


All you need is a spanish windlass (read: stick and rope), but I used a comealong because I’m lazy and it has a big lever on it.


Smear glue, bang screws into sternposts, done and done! Oh, and the designer said the transom falls over once or twice while doing this procedure. I thought I was smarter than he was by putting some bracing up. Any guesses what happened? It fell. Moral of the story, I’m not that smart.

Chines are a quick cut and fit, not at all the daunting task most people think they are. It literally will take an hour longer to put the chines inside rather than outside, and it makes the outside of the boat smoother to boot.

Quick and easy.


The transom is stiffened with a big chunk of 2×8 fir. This boat is industrial strength, no little weak bits are found anywhere.

A key feature of the project is a small, light engine. Another key for my needs personally is cheap and cheap. Luckily, Craigslist never fails. 30hp E-rude that runs just fine, with controls (that turned out not to interface with this engine) and steering setup all together, so off I went to pick it up.


Once home, why not keep working on the boat? The bottom panels go on in 3 pieces. Mark, cut to shape with a little overage, and glue/screw. The seams are lapped with 2×8 construction grade fir lumber, making for super duty butt blocks that also stiffen the bottom substantially.

Do that 3 times, and you’ve got a boat.


Now once again, your never-humble narrator shows you the wrong way to do things. This saves you both time and money because I do the idiotic stuff and you bang the boat out error free. When putting your screws in, make sure you have plenty of room at the chine. If not, you will boneheadedly pull your saw into a screw head and start a slow cascade of teeth falling off.


Way to go stupid…

Flat out the stem.


Round over the chines.


For longevity, putty up your screw heads, this is your most likely source for water intrusion and a little extra time goes a long way here to make a boat you aren’t burning in a year.

There will be a few offcut bits that are pretty handy. I took one that was tripping me in a pile of sawdust most of one day and put it to work as the sacrificial outer stem. You think you’re so tough, you’re gonna prove it now, Mr. Stick…

Lastly for the bottom, lay on the designed bottom runners. They add something for the hull to sit on when she’s on the ground, aid immensely in tracking, and add not a little to hull stiffness.


Leave a Reply