In the Summer of 2011, we bought a small used sailboat. It's a nice little boat, and it was fun enough to inspire me for my next project... to build a small plywood sailing skiff. My goal is to get my boys involved in this project.
This is the boat we bought; it's an Interlake 18 (a class racing boat from Ohio area)...
We bought the plans from the Wooden Boat Store in Maine, and the skiff is the Pooduck Skiff designed by Joel White (a naval architect from NY, and son of E.B. White). The plans are for a 13 foot boat which can be sailed or simply rowed. This design is popular and very similar to the Shellback Dinghy, which is very popular and has quite a bit of available publications documenting its construction. Since this is my first boat build, I will need that guidance.
There are several images of the Pooduck Skiff on the internet, so I'll refrain from stealing one and posting it here. However, there are several videos on YouTube as well, and I've already done my share of watching and daydreaming. OK, on with the build...
The first step was to take the plans and copy them to plotter paper (so we wouldn't ruin the original plans) and then copy that to plywood. We used film plotter paper so we could see through, similar to tracing paper but much sturdier.
A common complaint from other builders is that the "centerline is off" on the plans. Once we traced the originals, we flipped them left to right and found that the left and right sides are simply different. As you can see below, the left side flipped onto the right doesn't match. So what we did was to split the difference.
Before you can build the boat, you have to build a jig to hold the boat. The center frame and the forward stem is used in the jig and becomes a permanent part of the boat, so we had to build those first.
First step: cut a bending jig to laminate the frame around.
We took the plans and tacked them to some plywood. Along the curve we needed cut out, we used a nail to mark several holes (this pokes holes through the plans which is why we made copies first). Once you remove the plans, you simply connect the dots.
After this bending jig was cut out, we cut several holes in the jig for clamps.
Now I didn't take pictures of the lamination process, it was a hard and frantic job. What we did is we cut a good board of 1-1/2" thick Douglas fir into 1/8" strips. Each strip was coated in epoxy and then stacked until we had about a 2" stack. This stack is then bent around this bending jig and clamped in place. When the epoxy sets up, you have a nice curved frame piece.
It's a heck of a messy job. Epoxy gets everywhere and sticks to everything. And since you don't want epoxy on your skin, I was wearing protective gloves and long sleeves. The jig was covered in plastic (otherwise the jig and the frame would become one).
The next step was to plane down the sides of the frame. Some use a hand plane, some use a planer. I used a router on a stand.
The same process was performed for the stem (the front edge of the boat).
Eli is happy to see you...
And he's thinking about growing a mustache...
Getting rid of his brothers "Pac Man" style...
Enough goofing around, this is what the building jig looks like when set up...
The plans call for plywood that is longer than eight feet long. The common solution is to scarf two sheets together. This entails beveling the ends at an 8:1 slope and then epoxying them.
After a little sanding, they looked good.
When epoxied together, you have a board that is almost 16 feet long.
Traditionally, one would "loft" the curves from the plans. This entails using coordinates to measure a series of points that you would then connect by drawing a smooth curve. It was easier for me to do this on the computer and plot out a large sheet. The boys could then use this plot to poke a bunch of holes and connect the dots.
This was done for the bottom piece...
And here they are marking all the lapstrakes (the sides).
BUILDING THE HULL
The bottom is the first to get connected to the construction jig. This was screwed in place.
The edges were then planed at an angle to match the angle of the garboard (the first strake).
This planing and sanding continues until the strake lays flush on the previous board; It overlaps the previous board, thus the term "lapstrake". This continues for each following board.
By leaving the overlapped edges square, it forms chines. The bottom, however, gets sanded flush.
Everything is epoxied and temporarily held together with screws...
At this point, it's removed from the construction jig...
...and carried into an already crowded garage.
Now that we are out of the rain, we can fair the chines a little...
The lapstrakes were trimmed where they met the transom...
At this point, the front edge of the hull is planed down and the outer stem is placed.
BUILDING A SHED
What I really need is another 2,400 square foot shop (but I left mine in Illinois when we moved). Given the space limitations at our new house, 200 square feet will have to do...
Our new boathouse...
After hiding from the weather for a few months, we are back at it. At this point, we cut and installed the breasthook, the knees, the gunwales, and rub rail...
(Eli's just blowing dust around with a leaf blower)
DAGGERBOARD AND RUDDER
I read on the internet where some stated that they were "whittling another boat". I didn't know what they meant until I started building. This isn't like building shelves, where you cut a board and then install a board. This is cut, fit up, remove, trim, fit up, remove, trim, fit up, remove, trim, and then install. Yikes.
The plans call for a centerboard (a keel that swings down into place), but the simpler option is to install a daggerboard (this just slides down into place). The centerboard requires a weight, a sealed pivot pin, but will swing up out of the way when you hit something below the water. The daggerboard is simpler, but will break or rip the boat apart if you hit something below water. Like a fool, I went with the daggerboard.
Cut and whittle...
Here I'm working on the daggerboard, the daggerboard trunk, and the rudder. I epoxied the interior of the trunk to seal it; hopefully it will last longer than if I painted it.
Daggerboard trunk installed.
With the trunk installed, I can slice a big hole in a perfectly good hull.
Stitching up a sail:
Laminating mast material (when it came time to whittle these into the mast and spars, I forgot to take pictures):
Cutting the keel:
Oops... It was left out in the weather without interior paint, and apparently that's not good. Time to redo the gunwhales and finish the interior:
New coat of Rustoleum (it's oil based and it's easy to acquire!):