Boat Building

Sandra and Steven have always enjoyed being on or near the water. They have owned several boats ranging in size from 10 feet to a 30 foot house boat.

One of the new hobbies Steven has taken up is small boat building. This started after finding plans on the internet for a variety of small plywood boats.

Steven's One Sheet Skiff

While searching the web for plans of a different mannor, I came across the web site of Herb McLeod who had plans for a small boat. Herb has recently (Spring 2002) returned to Ontario. His new web site can be found at: Herbs website.

Click on the next link to see his plan. If you right click, save target as, you can save it to your system. I used Adobe Reader to print it out on 8 1/2x11" paper.

Herb was VERY kind to publish his design and plans for a "One Sheet Skiff". I read the many testimonials and was quite impressed. I decided to print out the plans and assembly instructions and give it a try.

I have reasonable wood working skills with a hobby wood shop in my garage. I have no prior boat building experience so was a little aprehensive.

Day one

Off to the home depot to buy the luan plywood. They do not stock it in Barrie, Ontario. I did get the PL Premium Polyurethane Construction Adhesive, 2x2's, 2x4, and 1x6 spruce lumber. Canadian Tire supplied the Elmer's Polyurathane Glue and brass screws. Home Hardware/Lumber had some 1/4" Luan Mahogany floor plywood which I purchased

Day two

I started construction around 10:00 am on a Saturday. I was surprised to find it only took 40 minutes to cut out the sides (working by yourself takes some time and preparation).

Cutting the stem took another 20 minutes or so. I found that cutting the one side on the table saw worked great, but used the bandsaw on the other side as the table saw started to bind.

The sides to the bow stem took another 20 minutes. I changed the construction slightly. I figured that PL Premium by LePage which is advertised as Weatherproof would not be as good as the Elmer's Polyurethane which is Waterproof. I also used my air stapler to fasten the sides to the stem once the glue was spread on the stem. The 3/4" staples made a single handed assembly very easy.

The next step was to construct the frame and transom. Herb's plans are not too specific on the construction so I guess it is up to the individual builder. I chose to use half lap joints with polyurethane glue and a combination of staples and screws.

After stopping for a coffee I then attached the transom and frame to the sides.

Wow! It even looks like a boat!!!

So far I figure it took about 3 hours of actual shop time to get this far. Now its on to the chine logs and gunwales

Day three

Since there is never enough time for anything, I had to wait until the next weekend....

The chine logs were cut on the table saw. The gunwales rabbit was cut on the tablesaw as well.

I tried using the router table, but found that two cuts on the tablesaw was faster and produced a better rabbit. I cleaned up the rabbit on the router table.

Now its time to attach the chines...

Be careful with Polyurethane Glue! I had a bottle burst while I was gluing the boat up. While trying to squeeze the product out, I applied enough force for the bottom of the glue bottle to split and have the contents squeeze out all over. After emailing Elmer's Glue, they warned about having the product in contact with air (by unscrewing the top). When the product comes in contact with the air, it may thicken annd may start expanding witht the moisture in the air.


Back to Canadian Tire to buy LePage Universal Adhesive. The black 237 ml bottle works better than the Elmer's container. The product flows better and the bottle did not split! Both Elmer's and LePages Polyurethane glue work equally well.

Now I ran into my second problem. The chine log cracked when I tried to bend it around the boat.

Here is a great tip: Take hot water and apply to the chine logs and gunwales about 30 minutes prior to installation. Use a sponge to apply the water. You will find the spruce will bend very easily once this is done. You do not have to worry about the damp wood affecting the glue since it cures in the presence of mosture.

Once I got the cracking and glue problems fixed the chine logs and gunwales were attached.

I used drywall screws to fasten from the outside to the inside at the transom and frame for both the chine logs and the gunwales. To fasten the 1/4 to the chine/gunwales I used 5/8" brass wood screws with the polyurethane glue.

I did notice that the gunwales could be a bit longer. Next time I will machine them from 10' 1x6 instead of the 8'.

I figured it was a good idea to let the glue setup over night before trying to attach the bottom.

Day four

The bottom went on without a hitch. I used a flush trim router bit to clean up the sides.

The bottom keel went on equally as well.

A little plastic wood to fill in any screw holes and the boat is ready to sand!

The oars went really well. I used a bandsaw to cut a 1/4" slot in one end of each of the two 2x2's. Then I use the saw to taper the blade end. The bandsaw was also used to cut 1/4" in on all four sides to demark the handle. A draw knife was used to remove the square edges and make it "almost" round. Then my lathe (err...belt sander) was used to fine tune the shape to "even more almost round".

The total time so far has been two weekends of pure enjoyment!

The little boat is ready for paint.

Since I used interior plywood I will be coating the boat inside and out with a coat of fiberglass resin. I will likely color the resin to help with the painting.

Way to go Herb! Thanks for a great design!!

Boat #2

Boat number two only took one weekend to build. These boats are great! Herb emailed me and warned me that this was addictive - he was right!

For the second boat, I decided to increase the depth of the sides from 9" to 13". This required a second sheet of 1/4" but I think it may be a good idea with my weight. This required longer gunwales so 12' 1x6 were used to cut out the chines and gunwales.

I am not really happy with the lines of the boat. The original plan looks far nicer than the modified one. If I were to do this again I would:

  • Increase sides from 9" to 12"
  • Increase the rake on the bow from 5" to 6 or 7"
  • Put a proper seat in. Once I see how the center o f gravity is, I will design a seat for the boat.


    Photos of the finished boats are not ready yet since I have not painted them. I will be putting up some more "in construction" photo's so check back soon.

    Click here for OSS Construction Details photo's of boat #1. Click on the thumbnail for a larger photo.


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