Novice Looking for Advice on Small Wooden Boat Construction

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by oberhelr, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. oberhelr
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    oberhelr New Member

    I am considering building my first boat, but much about the early process is very confusing/intimidating. My size restraints have to be something under eight feet long, or around that, and I would like to try out lapstrake construction. I would like to use it to row and I also have a small 5hp really old mercury outboard motor that was my great-grandfather's that I would like to use with it. I was wondering if anyone had any good ideas for boats that would be fun, simple, cheap, and rewarding that fit these specifications. Thanks,
  2. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    alan white Senior Member

    Hi Ryan,

    I'd suggest the Nutshell pram designed by Joel White. It's a plan sold through WoodenBoat magazine. I think it's about 7 ft 6" or so, lapstrake, and it can be motored, rowed, or sailed.

  3. thudpucker
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    thudpucker Senior Member

    That Nutshell Pram sounds great.
    The Pram I had was out of Mechanix illustrated about 1950.

    I lived in the PacNw for years and fly fished out of that 8' pram a lot of the time.
    I liked it because I could put it inside my camper, or slip in into the back of the pickup and it rowed like a dream.

    I think that 5 Hp will be too much to mess with though. I had a 3 Hp which was just fine. But rowing was really easy and good exercise. So quiet too.
    No gas smell etc.
    I took kids out in it.
    Across the Columbia from you, in Willapa Harbor, I brought back a Deer from long island in that pram.
    I rowed it almost every place though. You'll like that better.
  4. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    rwatson Senior Member

    For a first boat, these two might be somewhat exclusive unless you have a fair bit of woodworking experience.

    I did a strip plank canoe first, and I was glad I had a bit of woodworking expertise.

    Obviously you have considered stitch and glue which is often suggested for starters, but good luck with your choice
  5. thudpucker
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    Location: Al.

    thudpucker Senior Member

    There are Reams written on the difference between Lapstrake and 'slick' sides.
    Unfortunately I never had the experience of Lapstrake.
    All my boats have been 'slick'. Some calked/planked but most of the small ones were Marine Plywood.
    There's a whole slew of Pram plans that feature 'one-sheet' of plywood design.
    My first Pram was one of them. The two negatives with it was "SMALL" Jeepers it was not something you could get up and walk around in.

    The other was the low Freeboard. I got wet everytime I put it in the water from splashing etc.
    The Single sheet design dont leave you with much freeboard....anywhere.
    But it's light and easy to handle.
    For a fist project one of those single-sheet's should be a good choice for building, but for a comfortable fishing platform, get one with a nice wide bottom and good freeboard.
    My second Pram, the good one, was a Two-sheet'r! Much better (more comfortable) pram design.
  6. ancient kayaker
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    These days with the availability of marine ply and truly waterproof glues the only reason I can see for using lapstrake construction is for appearance. Appearance is hardly a factor for a pram, I would have thought. Main use of a pram is to go from shore to a bigger boat and lash it across a deck or transom.

    I'm not denigrating the breed, they're damn useful. Just that there's not an awful lot you can do with a boat under 8 feet. If it is shaped like a boat it will only carry a child and if not it will be slow and cranky compared to a longer boat. Unless there is an over-riding reason not to, I would definitely consider something adding 2 to 4 feet which would pay dividends on speed, handling, stability and capacity.

    Joined: Mar 2009
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    Location: Ontario, Canada Junior Member


    About motorizing small boats; May I suggest an electric trawling motor? I've used one on a 12 or 13 foot wooden row boat, and they attain a fair speed. I'd say somewhat faster than a very fast rowing speed - but on a single marine battery it'll go for 4-6 hours no problem (depending on wind and water conditions, of course). Might be something to consider - no smell, little noise and most of the connivence of a gas motor.

    Give it a try. Heck, you could probably borrow a trawling motor from someone to try it out.
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