Picture of Build a Boat!
Over about a six month period I built a boat. The hardest decision was to design my own or build from a set of plans that were already available. I chose the latter because there were already many, many plans available.

The plans I built from are included in the book instant boatbuilding with dynamite payson, the boat is known as the bolger cartopper. A chronological build is available on my blog.

Step 1: Materials Selection

Boats can be built from a variety of materials. Typically fiberglass, wood, steel, or aluminum. This boat was built from a combination of wood and fiberglass.

Boats built from wood usually employ exotic "marine" ply or to save on cost "exterior grade" ply wood.  Since I just wanted a boat that floats and knew I would be fiber-glassing it anyway I chose a high quality 5 ply 1/4" exterior plywood available at my local lumberyard. My total cost was just under $80 for the four sheets that the bolger cartopper requires. This represents the largest materials expense in building the boat.

The rest of the boat required a small amount of douglass fir lumber,  about 200 ring shank nails, 8 yards of 6oz bidirectional fiberglass cloth, 1.5 gallons of polyester resin(If i did it again I would use epoxy resin), and some electrical fence wire(for stitching panels together).

My total cost not including engine was $300
Rodeodog5 months ago

Nice job and a great looking boat!

hiedadam (author)  Rodeodog4 months ago

Thank You. It has been donated to a boy scout troop.

quinault1 year ago

T can not build one just depends one this instucture

hiedadam (author) 1 year ago

The plans are available in the book instant boatbuilding with dynamite payson. It has several plans in it. I think I got the book from barns n noble.

However, I donated the boat to the boy scouts last year, and I am now building an airplane.

lusis9871 year ago

Could You add some plans with measurements?

tonroh171 year ago


fatmansat2 years ago
Nice work!!!!!!!!
hunter133502 years ago
how can i make the boat deeper inside or taller walls how ever you say it?
CrLz2 years ago
Beautiful build, happy boating!
zamirii3 years ago
don't forget that any boat you add a motor to in Florida has to get registered. even if it's a canoe or kayak if it has a motor mounted
GainEnergy3 years ago
I bet it was fun building your own boat! My dad in law built himself a boat and the only "problem" was that he won't let anyone else enjoy the boat. The boat is just sitting in the old church which doesn't make any sense! If building anything fun and cool, it is meant to be have fun with the project! ;) Thanks for sharing your fun project!
hiedadam (author)  GainEnergy3 years ago
I had a ton of fun with it. Right now it is just sitting in my shop though. Has been all winter. I live in Florida though, and I think next weekend will be just right to take it out.
Please do let me know how it goes. Enjoy your boat! ;)
I couldn't tell from the pictures but did you add a motor to your boat? Have you ever considered adding a small 1Hp steam powered motor?
hiedadam (author)  javajunkie19763 years ago
I did put a 3hp motor on the boat. A steam engine sounds like it could be fun though. I may have to give building one a go once my mill arrives.
pfred23 years ago
The boat is called a car topper so how much does it weigh?
hiedadam (author)  pfred23 years ago
If I had to guess mine weighs about 75 to 80 pounds possibly a bit more. So it could be car topped, but since it is four feet wide I just throw it on my trailer.
pfred2 hiedadam3 years ago
Not bad. I need to do something for a boat. I'm close to a lot of water. Bays, oceans, lakes, rivers. I mean a lot of water. they don't call this thing I'm living on a peninsula for nothing I guess.
Nice work on both the boat & the 'able. Might have to invest in those plans even though I don't have a place to build it right now. Voted for it,hope you WIN !!
hiedadam (author)  Lectric Wizard3 years ago
Thank you so much. Also get the book instant boat building with dynamite payson. Its really helpful.
Verga3 years ago
Very nice design and construction, I was also going to ask about the Gypsy, but you already answered up thread.
Excellent suggestion about using epoxy instead of polyester resin, it is much more durable, but does cost a lot more.
I like the modifications you made to the seats.
Can this one be modified to use a sailing rig?, I know the Gypsy was orginally designed for the sailing rig.
any thought about doing a canoe next?
hiedadam (author)  Verga3 years ago
Yes it can use a sailing rig, and the modifications are even included in the plans. I jst don't have anywhere locally I can sail it. I have been thinking about a strip plank canoe as the next watercraft. However, my next project will be the skybolt powered paraglider. I also have a set of plans for the sonerai II airplane. The plane might have to wait another year or two though.
Very well done indeed! I love Bolger/Payson boats - I built the Gypsy which is quite similar to the cartopper design. Unfortunately didn't take any pics of the build, thanks for putting this into an instructable for everybody, you do great work!
hiedadam (author)  andrew.spencer.23 years ago
That's really cool. I considered the gypsy, but my shop turned out to be just a little too small for me to be comfortable building it. I would love to see a pic of your completed gypsy though. Thank you for the compliment.
Yeah, my shop was a bit snug too, so I built it in woodshop in high school. I think there's a pic of me sailing it in a few of my favorite things with my wife (also named Sarah!).
lafnbear3 years ago
Is it just me, or does anyone else read these "build your own boat" 'ibles and think: "No way, just 1/4" plywood?" 1/4" doesn't seem to be enough wood between me & the watery deep...
When I was teaching kayak building, I used 1/8 inch mahogany door skin (aka lauan).
hiedadam (author)  lafnbear3 years ago
It really has to do with the compound curve the plywood has to make. If it was any thicker it wouldn't be make to make the curve. Plus it is completely covered with 6oz fiberglass which adds a ton of strength. Also it is primarily a row boat, I just added an engine to it. So it can't really go faster than hull speed or get up on plane. If I were to hit anything it won't be fast enough to hurt the boat. The only thing I ever worry about is flipping when I get in or out of it. Otherwise, it is safe and comfortable.
jimwi3 years ago
That is a Very nice boat with nice lines.I do like it. Wear did you get the plans from.
hiedadam (author)  jimwi3 years ago
I found it in a book called instant boatbuilding at barnes and noble. Please vote for me if you like it.
Beautiful Boat.
sgthied3 years ago
Great looking boat. thanks for posting..
Icon3123 years ago
Wow! I had no idea you could build a boat. Nice work.
maryh6603 years ago
Nice looking boat. Looks like fun!
l8nite3 years ago
Nice looking craft ! Thank you for sharing
hiedadam (author)  l8nite3 years ago
No problem, thank you for having a look. I had a blast building it.