I have always thought it would be cool to have a fast row boat to take down to our local lake. When I saw free plans at http://koti.kapsi.fi/hvartial/scull1/scull1.htm, I thought I would give it a try. I highly recommend you studying his plans and everything on that page. All the measurements you need for the boat can be found on that page.
I used the stitch and glue method of boat building. The finished boat weighs 60 pounds and cost about $160 to build, the majority of that being 1.5 gallons of epoxy resin which was $100. Special thanks to my friend Doyle who gave me great prices on wood and fiberglass cloth as well and the use of many tools and lots of good advice!
Note: I read lots of different boat building articles and watched various boat building videos on Youtube (including this one which I have links to throughout this instructable.) There is a ton of great material out there in how to build a boat. For that reason, this is a macro view of building this boat, focusing on the major steps and specifically the pieces which I didn't get from the free plans. If you have questions, the one video I reference in multiple steps does an excellent job of detailing many major and minor points to building a stitch and glue boat.
Step 1: Disclaimers
Disclaimers and warnings
Building and using boats in inherently risky. The author (me) assumes no responsibility or any liability for any mishaps resulting from following any of the methods or procedures, or use of materials described in this text.
This is a small boat designed for use in sheltered waters. Please follow all local regulations concerning boating. Above all be sensible about the conditions, your abilities and the abilities of your children. Children should be schooled in water safety and taught to swim.
You are legally responsible for your own actions and the supervision of children in and around water. Water is dangerous and cold water more so. Always wear appropriate flotation vests when canoeing, especially if you have to share your water with power boats.
Be careful with sharp tools, power tools, glue, epoxy and splinters of wood.
Step 2: Preparing the Wood
The boat is built with just two 4' x 8' plywood sheets and few smaller pieces for the trim. I got mine from a friend. They are 1/4 inch plywood. The first step is to join the two sheets together to make one 4' x 16' piece. I joined mine with a butt block. The butt block is 1/2" plywood and is 4 1/2" wide. I attached the butt blocks to the plywood by applying PL Premium to both surfaces and then piled on the heavy weights. PL Premium expands, so after 4 hours, I went out and took off the weights and removed the excess glue that was seeping out of the sides. It is good to to this while the glue is some what sticky because once it drys, it is very hard to remove.
Step 3: Drawing the Cut Lines (lofting)
Lofting is the process of marking the lines on the wood where you will cut the panels. This video does a good job of explaining the process. The actual dimensions to use are in the above photos in both inches and millimeters. The green and yellow picture shows how to arrange the pieces so that you can get everything out of the two sheets of plywood.
Step 4: Equalizing the Pieces
Once I had the pieces are cut out, I clamped them together and ran a hand plane over them to smooth outI imperfections in my cuts and get the two pieces as close to being identical as possible. When that is done, the bottom pieces will look like something like this. Note that the gap between the pieces is normal although my lofting and cutting job could have been better!
Step 5: Stitching the Bottom Pieces Together
Stitching the two bottom panels together. Using a carpenters scribe, I made a line 3/8 of an inch from the edge of the wood. Along this line I drilled holes into which I put the wire ties to stitch the boards together. In places where the the boards bend a lot, more stitches are needed, every inch or so. On the places where there was not as much bend, every 3 inches or so was fine. I'm not going into much of the details of the stitch and glue part of this build because there are lots of great videos (including this one,) which do an excellent job of showing the steps. Note though that once you have the bottom panels stitched together, the next step will show the method I used to spread the panels and stitch on the side panels. (Hint, unlike the video, I spread the bottom panels upside down and stitched the sides on around a form.)
Step 6: Set Up Frame to Stitch on Sides
Once you have the bottom two pieces stitched together, you need a way to spread them out and stitch on the sides. I did this by taking 1/2 inch plywood and creating inside frames based on the size of the bulkheads. I screwed these pieces to 2 sawhorses and put them at the proper distance according to the plans (ie..where the bulkhead would eventually be) and then layed the stitched bottom panels on top and flattened them onto the frame with some weights. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures during this step but again, this video does an excellent job of showing the stitching and gluing process. Once I had stitched on the side panels, I was ready to put in my filets and fiberglass tape on the inside of the boat.
Step 7: Setting Up Boat for Doing Inner Fillets and Taping.
Once the pieces were stitched together with wire, I wanted to flip the boat over and do the inside fillets (ie..applying thickened epoxy to the seams between the pieces of wood) and taping the seams with fiberglass tape. To keep the correct shape of the boat, I made these outside support forms which I screwed on from the inside of the boat into the support legs. I made sure to position the legs an inch or so behind where the bulkheads will be attached so that I can install the bulkheads while it is sitting on this frame and the screws from the support legs will not be in the way. Once the support forms were securely on place I flipped the boat over and applied the fillets to the seams and then the fiberglass tape. I then cut and installed the bulkheads in the proper locations and attached them with fillets and then fiberglass tape on both sides. Again the excellent video showing the filetting process.
Step 8: Applying Fiberglass to Outer Bottom of Boat
Once the inside seams were filleted and taped with several layer of fiberglass, the hull was rigid enough that I could flip the boat over and remove the wire stitches or cut and sand them down. I then went over the bottom of the hull and sanded and smoothed the imperfections and applied slivers of wood and fillet material in places where there were gaps. I was then able to apply fiberglass cloth over the entire bottom of the hull and also taped up the outside seams. Here is a video about this step in the process. Once the fiberglass was put on, a lot of sanding was required to smooth and prepare the surface for the next layers.
Step 9: Attaching Decks
With the boat flipped upright, I could now attach the fore and aft decks. First I glued stringers (1" x 1" strips of wood) around the inside edges of the spaces forward and aft of the bulkheads. The decks were glued to these edges with PL Premium glue. I stuffed the rear deck area with empty bottles for buoyancy. For the forward deck area, someone gave me some old closed cell foam flotation which I cut to fit into the area. I would have used that for the rear deck area as well but I had already glued on that deck when I got the foam!
Once the decks where glued in place, I rounded out the edges and applied fiberglass tape to all the seams. The boat should now be quite watertight. I also put in homemade inspection ports using plastic coffee cans.
In the rear deck area, I also put several 3/4" x 3" boards across the deck to give it some strength so that nothing will break if someone steps on it or if I sit on the back such as if I had an additional person in the boat. The board closest to the bulkhead also gives me a secure location to put a bolt which is used to secure the oar lock structure.
Step 10: Attaching Rub Rail on Outside Edges
I needed to firm up the sides of the boat in order to be able to pick it up in the middle by myself. For this I deviated from the original plans and just put in external rub rails using 1.5" x 1" strips which I bent by wetting them down and putting weights in the center and setting them out in the sun. I glued them to the sides with PL Premium glue and some screws on the ends where the bending needed some extra help.
Step 11: Rowing Outrigger
I wanted to be able to use long oars on the boat along with a sliding seat. To accomplish this I took two 2.25"x1/2" pieces of wood I had laying around and joined them together to make a 90 degree angle. This is secured to the boat with a bolt on the front deck, and bolts on the sides of the oar locks.
Step 12: Sliding Seat
For the sliding seat, I took an old "Leg Magic" exercise machine we had laying in our attic and removed one of the sliding feet to use as my seat. I then made a frame slightly wider than the width of the sliding foot and attached 1 1/8" inch dowel rods as the rails. I put some wood under the center of the rails to prevent the rods from sagging under weight. The foot rest assembling is on loan from a friend. Eventually, I may put a more comfortable seat on to the sliding mechanism.
Step 13: Maiden Voyage
Took the boat out to our local small lake and christened it the Row'd Runner! Still need to paint it and put a picture of the Road Runner on the side!
She rows very fast and smooth, but is a bit tippy. A friend and I both tried to get into it but it was too unstable. Luckily we found out before we got into deep water (although we gave all the fisherman a good laugh!) I may build some cheap outriggers which should allow 2 people to use it as a canoe.
I'll try to post a video once I get it painted and back on the lake again.
Step 14: New Paint Job
Just gave the Row'd Runner a new look with white latex paint on the bottom and sides and glossy red on the top and rub rails! I'm really happy with the look.