Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Rick's LilJon10 Row


Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version.

Update: 12-20-02: Putting on Skids and Skeg




















   Rick is building a LilJon10 rowing version in Alabama. He will also be using an electric trolling motor on it, I think. He is dealing with as much rain as David has been.  As you can see he is really coming along. Go Rick Go. Below are some of the comments he has made in the emails that accompany the pictures he sends.


Hey Steve,

Congrats on the Chugger!

I decided to go ahead and build a jonboat, maybe learn a few things to use on the next one, and have a usable (fishable) boat in the meantime.

Not a whole lot to look at right now since I'm waiting for the butt splices to dry, but if you can use these photos on yourwebsite, have at it.

I built two simple jigs for cutting plywood-- I can't saw a straight line freehand worth a flip. An old fold-up lunchroom-type table makes a pretty good portable workbench since my one-car garage is full of um, stuff. Here;s the setup for 4' and shorter cuts

Sides and bottom layed out, ready for butt boards (note dogwood leaves and pine straw blowing all over the place)

If the side pieces aren't -exactly- the same width, no reason for panic (though I did). Since this splice is 2 feet from the end it'll be somewhere in the curve up to the transom. I'll just line up one edge and make that the bottom since it's gonna be cut off anyway

Taking a page from David Bede's book, I plan to make the butt board joint with PL Premium, twine and staples. No particular reason other than it seems to make sense, I can save my marine epoxy for glassing the outside, and I happen to have a lot of 1/2" staples on hand. Boatbuilding is new to me-- staples I understand! Here we go, hope it works

Here are the three joints, stapled, twined, and PL'ed to death, complete with trash bags confiscated from the kitchen so the plywood won't be permanent additions to my driveway. Hope the cat stays away for a few hours

A crummy closeup of one of the side panel joints waiting to cure-- I left 1 1/2" at the top for inwales and 3/4" at the bottom for the 1X2 chine logs.

Some observations so far:

1. It was a lot harder to come up with decent plywood and clear straight lumber than I'd counted on. Home Depot and Lowe's are the big chains down here, and I've been to both in several cities in Alabama over the past week looking for materials. When I could find 1/4" plywood that was clear, it was warped. The only pile of Luan I found that looked good had very thin outer plies. I ended up digging through a huge pile of 1/4" Luan this morning at Lowe's in Birmingham to find 3 usable sheets.

2. Too bad the Skil saw I got for father's day uses a different rip fence than all the -other- Skil saws-- I'll have to order one or else come up with some genius idea for a homemade one-- else I'd have bought a 12' 2X4 and ripped my own chine logs and outwales. Conclusion-- a table saw would be great to have, even in this situation.

3.. I should have started on boats years ago...

Well, there you have it for the moment. Since I have to work outside and am a slave to the weather on the weekends (two hurricanes in a week), I hope to have the sides cut out and the bottom glued on by dark tomorrow. We'll see.

Enjoy the Chugger, I look forward to seeing photos of it on the water. I haven't given up on a skiff, I just wanted to build something -now-, while I had the time and the weather is good.

Hope the photos are useful, though they're pretty boring for anybody who's ever done this-- but photos like that are what made me decide that maybe I could build a boat-- we'll see if that's true! Thanks for all your help, I'll keep you posted.


Hey Steve,

I guess you'd have to be an SEC college football fan to get the joke, but if I have to name this boat, that'll be the name.
I'm finding ways to correct all the mistakes I'm making, but this thing may be a boat yet. I decided to try the 3/4" square molding and it was much easier to handle than 1X2 stock for the chine logs. I managed to get both sides glued/screwed with the chine logs today, and this is finally beginning to look "boaty", as my daughter said.
Note the curve toward the end with the butt plate is a bit more abrupt-- that's because I let the cut wander a bit when the waste started to drag on the saw blade- but both ends with the butt plates are the same, so I hope it'll be OK.
I also did not take into consideration that leaving 3/4" at the bottom of the butt plate for clearance of the chine log would only work if the bottom panels were -straight-. Had to deal with that 40 grit paper on an orbital sander did the job. Not an exact fit, but PL came to the rescue later.
Went ahead and glassed the other side of the bottom's butt joint. Here's a good example of everything but the kitchen sink used as a weight-- paint cans, a vise, my circular saw and case, and a rock from the driveway I had a little epoxy left over and used that to start the coat on one of the sides.

Did a few bonehead things:

1. That brilliant idea about putting blocks cut from 2X4 stock onto the transom neatly cut to the same 15 degree bevel as the transom? Worked great-- only I put them on the outside of the transoms. Have to cut new transoms. I realized that mistake about a half hour after doing the second one, thought I might be able to salvage it if I took the screws out and smacked the blocks with a hammer. Quit after the first block came off, tearing a large piece of plywood with it. PL don't play.

2. Cut the 8' part of the bottom to 41 7/8", the 2' extension to 42" even. Must have clamped the guide to the wrong side of the wood. Will trim the 2' part to 41 7/8" wide-- have to cut new transoms anyway.

3. One end's transom will be 6 5/8" high, the other will have to be 6 3/8". Not sure how I did that.

I hope I'm not losing too much in carrying capacity by building this with the same (or nearly the same) rocker on both ends. Guess I'll go ahead and put a skeg on it while I'm doing all this. Well, this may turn out to be a good example of how NOT to build one of your designs, but I'll keep you posted. Should have another photo or two by the time you're back from guard camp.

See you later,


Hey Steve,

Here's the latest, though I had to stop once again due to rain.Well, it's shaping up to look like a big sandbox. Hope to flip it over and brace it square if the rain will blow over today.Note the ever-present blue polytarp.With no table saw to cut bevel rips and no rip fence available for my Skil saw (I finally broke down and ordered one) I cut blocks and screwed/glued them to the inside of the transoms. Since I'm using 1/4" ply maybe I can get away with it.
Oh, that crappy plywood is the B/C I'm using for a platform across the sawhorses
Not much in the Sleek European Styling department, but I hope it does what I want it to do. Not sinking would be good for a start! What it mostly looks like (It's not SUPPOSED to rain in October in Alabama) Having to work outside is a real drag, I'd hoped to be a lot farther along by now. I'll keep you posted, maybe I can get this thing finished by the end of the month.
see you later,

Hey Steve,

I was able to spend just about all day on the boat today-- had planned to put in about 4 hours tomorrow as well, but got a phone call and will on the road to my hometown (6 hours round trip) to attend a funeral tomorrow. Oh well, guess this is where it will stay until next weekend.
Built and installed the forward bulkhead, will attach the forward end of the 1X12 seat to the shelf-- shelf is reinforced from behind with 1X2 stock. Filled all the countersunk screw holes with Bondo, still not sanded down in these photos. Lovely, eh? Ran a bead of Liquid Nails heavy duty contruction adhesive on the sides of the bulkheads and along all the mating surfaces on the side of the bulkhead that will be inside the tank. I was out of PL Premium and didn't want to use any more epoxy than I had to. This won't be seen anway, so if I have to gouge it back out and epoxy it it won't show. Not sure how this stuff will be when it's cured, but it stayed right in a nice bead, no bubbling like PL-- does remind me of the PL 200 I used on my oak floors in the house though. Went ahead and glued in (with epoxy) the center thwart, here are both of them drying-- I drilled holes through the side panels and ran 1 1/4" deck screws from the outside into the 1X2's on the side. I'll remove them and fill the holes after I filet the bulkhead and thwart: I settled on 18" for the depth of the forward tank/deck, so the long seat will be 4' long-- hopefully that will give me enough flexibility to handle most situations. I haven't done this before. so I don't know. Ha, this is pretty neat-- building your own boat with the option of doing anything you want-- but not knowing for sure what effects you'll have by doing certain things. Oh, well, I'll find out.
See you later, Rick


{Dec 7, 2002}

Hey Steve,

Amidst cleaning gutters, raking pine straw, hanging Christmas lights, and a few other things I managed to spend a bit
of time on the boat today. Spent most of the time trying to recover from what seemed like a good idea at the time: To filet
the forward side of the center thwart using single pieces of glass to cover both the upright 1X2 pieces and the one running across which will be the seat support. What a mess it turned out to be. It might have been ok if I'd cut darts in the glass tape or used short pieces for the uprights in between the crosspieces. As it turned out, the sawdust/epoxy filets were too thin and the goop pooled at the bottom of the joints, leaving plenty of air under the tape where a filet had been when I put the tape down. Pretty crummy looking-- so I spent a lot of time cleaning that up with lots of grinding, sanding, and choice words: Acually, this photo makes it look a lot better than it was! The taped seams on the bulkheads were fine as were the seams on the other side of the thwart. Since it was too cold to use epoxy this afternoon (note hands turning blue!) I decided to try a Michalak trick and replace those filets with Bondo filets using making tape for borders. Looks pretty good, just sanded the filets with 100 grit wrapped over a pencil. Hope I can get the new epoxy and tape down tomorrow.

I did get the outwales on today-- screws and Titebond. Hope to get more tomorrow and one day be able to send
you photos that look like a decent boat!

See you later,


{Dec 8}

Hey Steve,

I blew off all family responsibilities today and worked on the boat a while. Got the two rear bulkheads built and installed:
These will be the rear seat/tank, and will enclose the bottom butt joint. I buttered the sides of the bulkhead 1X2s with Our Friend PL Premium, and put in two deck screws temporarily until I filet and tape the seams. I can't remember where I saw someone using drywall screws and small plywood pads for clamps but I thought I'd give that a try. Didn't remember that until after I had already fastened in the rear bulkhead. I won't filet/tape the inside of the tank, but I ran
a PL bead on all mating surfaces-- the concrete blocks are being used to keep the inside of the bulkhead ply against the bottom support while the PL sets up.

If you look close at the rear bulkhead, you'll see a screw-up. I was proud of myself at measuring the bevel there at exactly 9 degrees and felt like I was actually accomplishing something when I set up the chop saw. Only when I dry fit the bulkhead did I realize I had attached the pieces with the bevels backwards, and the Titebond had already set. So... I just filled the gap with PL, it'll be on the inside anyway, thank God!

I'll have to haul it back inside the garage tomorrow, and if we get a break with the temperature I'll filet/tape/epoxy the seams along with the ones on the center thwart I'm having to re-do. I'll be deer hunting next weekend (and it's supposed to rain anyway), so this may be it as far as any sawing, fitting, etc., for a little while.

Stay warm up there-- see you later,



Well, I had to haul the boat back inside due to some very nasty weather, so that precluded any drilling, sawing, etc. So I started thinking, which is nearly always a dangerous thing. I had the skeg ready to be installed, 5 1/2" high, made of two 1/4" pieces PL'd together. Michalak states in the specs for his Robote to install the skeg with Bondo or other fast setting putty, then filet and epoxy it with two layers of tape. Wellll, I figured if that would work on the V-bottom Robote, it ought to
work on a flat-bottom LilJon. So, I mixed up some Bondo with extra hardener so it'd set up quick and held the skeg in place (and square) for a minute or so. Then I recalled Michalak had built a bunch of boats with Bondo filets, and that the prototype Toto had been Bondo filets with epoxy on the taped seams. So... I masked off the edges of the skeg so I'd have about a 3/4" filet, mixed up some more Bondo, layed down the filets and removed the tape. Sanding them is easy with a piece of 60 grit wrapped around a piece of broomstick, but they're pretty smooth as-is from the tongue depressor applicator. We had a Christmas party at the house tonight so I didn't have time to glass and epoxy the seams, but I'll get to that this weekend. I hope the 1/2" thick skeg will be enough. I guess if it splits off the first time it bumps a stump I'll know it was a bad idea. I plan to glass the outer edges also, so maybe that will make up for the thinner than normal skeg. I forgot to get in any of the photos-- not much room to turn around in my little one car garage. I'll see if I can remember to do that this weekend.

See you later,


Hey Steve,

I was able to take a long lunch today and get the first coat of primer on the LilJon-- Actually, this is the McCloskey
paint made by Valspar that Walmart sells that's supposed to be exterior primer and paint all in one. Pretty splotchy
in some places since it's the first coat, but it seems to be sticking to the sanded epoxy very well. The plan is
to put one more coat on the outside of the hull, then put the final color (still haven't decided on that) on, 3 coats.
The interior will be this paint, and I'll probably make the gunwales some other color.

Still have a little more construction work on the inside-- hopefully this Spring won't be as wet as last Fall!

See you later,