Adventure Sailing: Setting Up for the Build. Pt. 1

What to do when you are ready to build?  The first order of business is to set all things in order, and there are a lot of things in a boat build.

The shop itself must be laid out, but what does that mean?   In this article I’ll work my way through all that is required.


Scarfing:  I’ll need to build each side of the boat from 3 sheets of plywood, each 8′ long by 2′ 8″ wide.  This must be done on a table that is absolutely straight and level.  I already have a work table, 8′ long by 3′ wide, and it has a lip along one side to help with alignment.  It rests upon two sawhorses, and, with another couple saw horses, will make joining the first two panels possible.   Things will get trickier with the joining of the third and final panel, mostly in that about 22 plus feet of plywood will need very solid support.  Most challenging will be that I live in a modest house built in the late a940’s for what must have been a solidly middle class family.  The garage is the only inside workspace that is long enough, though it is just barely of sufficient width.  A 1948 Chrysler, a popular car of the day, is just under 78 inches wide, and there is just enough room in my garage to open the door and get out. Just.   With the electrical service now on the garage wall, a service far larger than the house would have seen on day one, it would be a bit tight.   There are so many more outlets and electric devices in houses these days.    I’ll also need to clear out a great number of items leaning up against the walls, as well as a cabinet housing cans of paint and such.   Clean up of that space will take multiple weekends.  I’m not quite a candidate for the TV shows on hoarders.  Not quite!


I’ve started pricing the plywood, and all options appear to be between $95 and $200 a sheet.  I think I’ll spend $95!  5/8ths plywood is also a bit outside a standard size, at least for a standard lumber yard.   Luckily, here in the Northwest, we have sources such as Edensaw, a full service yard, especially for those doing boat building.   I have a challenge in that I don’t own a truck.  Our two cars are a Smart Car, which is hopeless for such things, and a Nissan Leaf, which is just barely more suitable, though it is not capable of full sheets either.   My son has a short bed pickup truck, so he will probably be my salvation.   It’s just I’ll need to have about $1000 for just 9 sheets of plywood, and I’ll need a place to put them that will allow me to move and cut them myself.   More planning required here, and I won’t really have much idea until I get the garage cleaned out.

Let me just say that the price is shocking.   “The price is shocking”.  😉

Okoume Marine Plywood - Edensaw Woods Ltd.clipular

Store Category.clipular

The boats I’ve built so far used butt joints, not scarfs, so I’ve asked my son for help.   He was a little boy while I built my Escargot, though this proved to be enough inspiration for him to spend a few years in boat building school!  He’s done such things.  He has a power planer, which will help.  Given the price of each sheet of plywood, I won’t want to mess this up.


I’ll need a few gallons of epoxy, plus those measuring plungers.

epoxy measuring pumps - Google Search.clipular (1)

On this boat there is cloth and epoxy on both sides of the hull, as I recall.   In all that is about 70 feet of hull, with two 19 foot sides, two sides each.  All 2′ 8″ wide.  Total: 4 sides of a bit under 19 feet each.   Plus the deck and bottom, let’s say another 2 panels of 19 feet each, two sides each.   Let’s round up to 140 feet of hull at 2′ 8″.  Plus fillets.

I’ll need a pack of cups, something like coffee cups will do.  Plus mixing sticks.  Thickeners:  403, 404, and 406, according to my guide on epoxy boat building.  Spreading tools.  Chisel sticks to remove excess epoxy.    Some fillet tools, too.



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I am supposed to use 12 ounce cloth on the boat.  Here is the pricing at Duckworks:

Biaxial Fiberglass Cloth - 12oz, 50- - 45-45.clipular

So, how much to buy?  The cloth is 50 inches wide, but the hull is only 32 inches, so instead of laying the roll from stem to stern, I’ll use a series of pieces that are 50 inches long, and 32 inches wide.   Rounding up I will need 5 sections per side.  For ease let’s say I make those 36 inches… 3 feet.   So for each surface I need 5 sections that are 3 feet long each… or 15 feet.   I will need one for the inside, another for the outside, then another pair for the other side.  That would be a total of 60 feet, or 20 yards.  Then there is the top and bottom, each with two sides, for 60 feet.   That top and bottom measurement is very rough, as the hull goes from 6 feet wide on the deck to less than foot feet wide or so on the bottom and then all surfaces narrow as you get to the pointed bow and stern.    Let’s round that 40 yards down to 37 yards.


I don’t mind having a bit of leftover cloth, as I do plan to build another boat someday.   I don’t want leftover epoxy, as I simply have bad luck with that lying around the shop.  Plus, it’s so expensive!  For now I will order 3 gallons, and get more as needed.

Which leaves me with a bill of almost $700 for the glass, tape not included.

Ordering.clipular (1)

So I am up to about $1700 after plywood and resins/cloth.

I’ll continue with more planning in the days to come.  Please check back.

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