Kicking the tires and dieing to light the fires.

Submitted byTnic onThu, 05/07/2020 - 02:06

Well ok, maybe fire isn't such a good thing around wooden boats.

Anyway, I'm stuck on the wrong side of The Pond until TPTB let us fly home again, but have pulled the trigger on the plans (and companion dvds) for a Laughing Loon, Georgian Bay.  I plan to build his & hers boats for my bride and I.

I'm sure Rob includes all or most of the info I need in the plans, but I won't see that until well, later.  My burning questions right now are;

1- How to get the form drawings from the nested/stacked version to separate sheets?  I've seen carbon paper used to trace the forms out on paper and Rob mentioned in an email I could get copies made as well.

2- How much wood will I need for a 16.5' kayak?

3- How much epoxy will I need?  Recommendations as to which brand would also be appreciated.  MAS?  West Systems?  Are the measuring pumps in the kits worth using?

4- In the description Rob siad to expect about 300 hours and $500 - $700 in materials.  Would it be safe to assume that figure is a little more these days?  Maybe closer to $1000?

Well, I guess that'll do for now.  I appreciate any and all advise & info offered.




1) Have the prints copied full size, cut out each paper form and spray glue to MDF. Cut and sand to shape

2) See "material needed estimate" on Guillemot home page

3) Have always used West Systems - 2 gallons epoxy, 2 qts. hardener, 5.5 oz. silica filler (I use ROS dust for filler as it matches the boat better) Pumps work excellent. One set will last for several boats. (The pumps are not included in any "kit." they are purchased separately) 

4) After building several boats it takes me around 150 hrs. labor to complete a boat so 300 would be good for a beginner. Fancy rudder or skeg = more time, fancy cockpit rim = more time. As far as materials cost it totally depends on the materials. Buy 2x4's and cut your own strips vs. buy ready made, buy cheap wood or really expensive, cheap seat or expensive, etc., etc. 

5) Question you did not ask = How much are you going to spend for golf clubs / skeet shot guns / boat motors / race car parts / gaming computers / etc. Like all these hobbies/sports, boatbuilding is a hobby, a learning experience, a challenge to improve yourself in some particular way. There are two questions never asked concerning one's hobby. 1) How much is this going to cost ?  and 2) How long is this going to take ? 

"Enjoy the trip, it is many times more enjoyable than the destination"


Thu, 05/07/2020 - 11:52

I use carbon paper to trace the half-form plans on to poster paper (aka Bristol board, aka thin cardboard). Cut out the cardboard  half-plan and trace around it on to your wood form material. (It's a good idea to check whether your designer has drawn the plans to the inside or outside of the boat - to the outside is traditional, so you will need to 'subtract' the strip (and glass) thickness.)

Traditional plans show only half the boat cross-section at each station. Using half-sections ensures symmetry - when you flip the cardboard, you repeat exactly the same errors on the other side. :)

I tried gluing paper to form material, but had bad luck with 'losing the line' while cutting and sanding the forms. Spray contact cement is expensive and nasty to work with, and water based (PVA) glues will allow the paper plan copies to stretch.

But, other folks seem to do very well using those methods.

I do get a single copy made of the original plans to use as the 'shop plans'.

I use pine for forms - pre-glued shelf material from the big box lumberyard. It holds staples well, better than the MDF I used to use. If you aren't using staples, MDF - nasty stuff- will do. Or those plywood doors from the kitchen demolition.... Voids are a big problem with most plywood.

Epoxy - use one of the 'big name' epoxies popular with kayak builders. If you are going to follow a 'method' from your designer, try to use the same epoxy brand. Some of the 'this is the (only) RIGHT way to do it' instructions only work well with low (or high) viscosity epoxies. Different brands do have different working properties.

Definitely pumps for epoxy.

Good luck with hot melt glue.

Also, unless you and your lady are similar-sized people, it's very unlikely that the same boat will suit you both. 

Cost: In my experience, usually similar to a used commercial kayak. I build boats for my enjoyment of the process and the satisfaction of paddling something I built myself. It's also possible to build kayak types that aren't easily found commercially, if you build them yourself.

Use the 'saving money' argument if you need to justify the project to others, but don't fool yourself!!


Thu, 05/07/2020 - 11:55

Know you are doing this like your ancestors who built wooden boats centuries ago. 

Using full width paper plans?




Thu, 05/07/2020 - 15:14


You are correct, of course. 

A couple of thoughts:

I only started seeing full width (actual size) sections in plans about 20 years ago, and mostly in the kayak/canoe strip building world, though some designers of bigger boats were offering full-size mylar patterns at about that time. Apparently transferring from half-plans (or - horrors- lofting from Offsets) was 'too much work' for many builders. 

Even for those small craft that were built from plans (vs. 'by eye and by family secrets'), I don't know if many used paper as part of the full-size patterns. Traditional lofting on a floor usually involves transferring the lines from the floor direct to wood for cutting molds (using nail heads or some similar 'trick').  

Off-topic but perhaps for 'historical interest' ,  from way way back in 1977, here's a sample of what a small boat plan looked like (From Gardner):

Gardner skiff

And this plan shows the panel layouts for a plywood boat, so the plan is more 'user friendly' than most.