No experience- Want to start small. Very small.

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by speedracer264, May 7, 2013.

  1. speedracer264
    Joined: May 2013
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    Location: South Florida

    speedracer264 Junior Member

    Hi all,

    I have absolutely no experience with building, repairing or even working on any type of boat. Despite this, building my own wooden boat has always been a dream of mine. My ultimate goal would be to build a 20-30 ft cruiser. (something like this Atkin & Co. 28ft cruiser: http://atkinboatplans.com/Cruisers/Flyaway.html, or maybe )

    I know the standard advice is to start with something small and easy to build like a flatbottom row-boat. However, I really dont have any use/ interest in something like that. My idea was to start small. Possibly choose a boat design that I liked and build a quarter model. This way I could learn a little bit about the building process itself, the time commitment and financial commitment and maybe even convince my family that im not crazy. Then possibly work my way up to a larger scale and ultimately the full scale.

    Has anybody done this before or know where I can purchase plans that have been scaled down accurately? Please let me know if this is even a possibility. Also I am new to the forum so I apologize if this has been addressed before. Please help me with constructive advice. I appreciate all of the help I can get.
     
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Plans are not full size. When you loft them, you can decide what scale to use, which determines the final size.
     
  3. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Following Gonzos scale comment, you certainly could use thin plywood to loft out any boat plan on, and assemble it as a model.

    It doesnt really provide actual boatbuilding experience, just familiarity with the design components and fiddling with very thin ply.

    You may end up building a few small boats that dont really interest you, but the practice with real materials will be invaluable.
    The sooner you get to practice with real materials ( plywood, epoxy, fibreglass, screws, timber etc)
     
  4. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    missinginaction Senior Member

    Keep in mind that 28 feet sounds fairly small but when it's you that's doing the work it's fairly large. You'll need a place to build. Do you have a building? If not you'll need some type of shelter. You'll need tools. Table saw, Jig Saw, compound Miter Saw, Drills, a Planer comes in really handy, Drill Press, Sanders (you'll wear out a few good ones, at least I have) a ton of clamps, lot's of building tools like t-squares, angle gauges, levels, bevel gauges, carpenters squares, chisels, A decent laser level comes in handy, screw gun (or guns) and quite a few things that don't come to mind right now.

    Of course I haven't mentioned the materials that will actually become the boat.

    Since I'm assuming you'll want that boat to last you'll use epoxy right? In that case you'll need plenty of protective gear and roughly 1,000,000 disposable protective vinyl and/or latex gloves. OK, Maybe a million is a bit on the high side but you'll use plenty.

    My point is be prepared for what you are getting yourself into. The #1 lesson that I've learned over the past 5 years is that boats are expensive for a reason. Labor! Boats tend also to be curved, which greatly complicates the building process.....more thinking, more labor.

    Starting small is a good idea, but building something as a model for me would not be a very attractive idea. As Rwatson said, you're just working with smaller/thinner parts but the process would be the same. If you are a good forward thinker, can plan a project well ahead and are persevering to the point of having obsessive compulsive disorder then go for it.

    persevering - present participle of per·se·vere
    Verb
    Continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success.

    Before you build though, think long about the boat you want and why you want to build it. IMO if you have more than one younger kid, a full time job or a wife that wants you around be very concerned.

    Just some thoughts from someone who's actually been at the restoration game for a good 5 years now.

    Good Luck

    MIA
     
  5. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Arlington, WA-USA

    Petros Senior Member

    welcome to the forum Speedracer,

    I would not waste time building a scale model, you will loose interest in it and as pointed out, it is not the same thing as building a useful boat.

    I would suggest finding a much smaller boat power boat, perhaps a runabout or even a mini racer of some sort, that uses the same construction method as your dream boat. this will give you direct building experience in the method you want, allow you to enjoy the fruits of your hard work without too much money invested, and if you choose a well known and popular design, you should be able to sell it after you are done with it at a good price. this will fund your next boat.

    you might try a cracker box boat like this one:

    [​IMG]

    or a small runabout, this is a glen-L design "squirt", only 10 ft long:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. speedracer264
    Joined: May 2013
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    Location: South Florida

    speedracer264 Junior Member

    Thank you

    Thank you guys for the great advice. I love the Glen-L "squirt" design. That definitely sounds like the way to go for me. I have an empty two-car garage- do you think that is enough space/ventilation, etc. for building that 10ft runabout? Also, im located in Ft. Lauderdale- not sure how much use I would have with something like that (maybe run it up and down a few channels on the intracoastal?) but that would definitely keep my interest rather than a model.

    Just a question- for someone who's new to this, can any of you recommend a good place to start learning (other than forums, books, etc?). Like physical places I can go hang around where the people are friendly and I can pick up a few tips here and there? Like I said im located in South Florida. Thanks a lot fellas.
     
  7. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    Go find a boat building shop and get a job there !!
    I took the plunge long time ago and jumped from a comfortable job as automotive spare parts manager to a bum on the shop floor making glass boats !!
    I learned very quickly the basics and in a very short while became a leading hand and not long after a shop foreman that eventually lead to factory manager of one of the biggest glass shops !!
    All this even lead me to project manager on a couple of recent jobs !:)
     
  8. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Tunnels advice is good, but maybe you want to keep your own job for a bit.

    I hope you can find a 'hangout' in your area ( Boat Clubs, Yacht Clubs, Fishing Clubs etc) - but do check out YouTube for "howto's", buy a few books, and keep in touch with this forum. A lot of knowledgeable people will share their expertise with luck.

    Its not obvious, but these is a lot of great advice stored in the backpages of this site, so practice your 'search' tool.
     
  9. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    look for local boat building schools run by rec departments or marinas, I am sure there are some in your area. some will allow you to work on your boat under their supervision and using their tools, some run classes where everyone builds the same design of a simple row boat that can be completed in two or three days. either way you will get the experience you need. There are also usually general wood working classes you can take, usually focused on hobby furniture making, but still very useful for you.

    I would just get started. go to a local wood working supply store and tell them what you are doing. Show them your plans, they can recommend what tools you will need. Start with smaller parts that do not show and are not structurally critical, and than work up from there. by the time you get about 10 or 12 parts into it, your skills will improve. by the time you are done, you will be ready for the big project.

    good luck. Post pictures as you go!
     
  10. WestVanHan
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    Advertise on Craigslist in your general area...offering free assistance to anyone building a boat in exchange for learning.
    Or other forums as well.

    You won't get paid-but wasting gallons of expensive chemicals/square yards of materials,harming your health,buying the wrong tools,etc etc will likely cost multitudes more than personal boat building experiments.

    Just ask my neighbour-years ago-whose 25' and 3 year project literally broke apart and sank on the second day of use...
     
  11. speedracer264
    Joined: May 2013
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    speedracer264 Junior Member

    Great advice... i'd like to keep my job so i'll look into the alternatives- craiglist and the local woodworking school is a great idea. Thanks for the fair warning also WestVanHan... that sounds awful.

    My plan is to start sometime in July. In the mean time, i'll be trying to learn as much as I can as quick as I can. I will absolutely post pictures (most likely for advice "does this look right?" kind of stuff). You guys are great, I appreciate the help.
     
  12. thudpucker
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    thudpucker Senior Member

    Do one of Lewis's Jon Boats.
    Simple enough to re-do whatever you learned not to do it that way!
     
  13. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Arlington, WA-USA

    Petros Senior Member

    If it takes more than a weekend to build, than I would just go for the Squirt. At only 10 ft, it can not take too long nor cost too much to build, and a 2 car garage should be more than enough room for both the boat, and materials and your power tools. It looks like a blast to drive, and if you make it nice, you will have no trouble selling it when the time comes.

    Speaking of tools, what do you own as far as wood working tools?
     
  14. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    all takes time !!

    When I commit to any job its 110% so starting at the bottom and doing anything and everything that was thrown my way I surpassed the other 2 guys that started same time I did and in a short time became there boss . Of course wages went up as each step was taken up the ladder after just one year it was time to go to another company as I had learned all they had and was thirsty for more knowledge and experience !! got to the stage of spending just 3 or 4 months in any one place to absorb what I could and move again !! after a while I was rung up and asked to come work and implant what I had learned !! time to get picky and only worked where I wanted to ,was also a good way to find out what the companies were developing in the way of new products as well ! amazing how open they will be if they want what you know !!
    The thing of being on a trial basis for 3 months ,I reversed what was said and told them "I give you a week and if I am not satisfied I leave " !! that used to raise a few eye browse with management !! they never had the tables turned on them before!! But it worked and knew I meant business !! :D does not take 3 months to know if some one is any good or not !! even in less than a week you can tell if a person knows what they said or not !!
     

  15. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    To learn boatbuilding it is ideal to work in a small shop. That will get you experience in all aspects of the job. Big companies specialize workers for higher efficiency. It may make you climb the corporate ladder, but will not teach you all the different trades involved. Check out PAR, a forum member, and offer to help him for free. That was my way of starting in boatbuiding and repair at the age of eleven.
     
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