MOTHER's Dinghy: How to Build a Homemade Boat

How to build a homemade boat. MOTHER's dinghy design is a great winter project to work on, includes step-by-step instructions, boat diagram and boat photos.

| September/October 1985

How to build a homemade boat. Buy two 4 by 8 sheets of 1/4 inch plywood, and you can start this rewarding winter workship project. (See the boat building diagram and boat photos in the image gallery.)

There aren't too many homesites in North America that aren't within easy driving distance of a good-sized body of water, So it's a safe bet that those of you who don't own a boat had, over the past summer, occasion to wish you did. And there are several reasons why right now would be a good time to begin a boat-building project. Here's how to build a homemade boat.

For one, the winter months ahead will provide some freedom form the constant demands of yard and garden work ( and from the tempetation to simply be outdoor in fine weather) and thus should allow plenty of time for the slow-and-steady woodworkers among us to have our hand-built watercraft ready for launch next spring. In addition, if you decide to buckle down and get right to this project, you'll be able to have a special Christmas gift ready to give a watersmitten youngster . . . or a fine little fowling boat for your own winter duck hunts.

You shouldn't find MOTHER's dinghy too difficult to construct. Research staffers Dennis Burkholder and Clarence Goosen built the brightly painted beauty shown here in just four days . . . and most of that time was spent waiting for glue to dry!

Your first task will be to collect two 4 feet by 8 feet sheets of 1/4 inch marine plywood (we used a less expensive plywood when building the two prototypes used to refine our design, and those boats have held up well so far, but we can't make any estimate of their long-term reliability), about 160 feet of 3/4 inch by 1-1/8 inch flexible, clear-grained hardwood (we recommend oak, and ripped our strips from ten-foot 3/4 inch by 8 inch boards), a foot or so of 3/4 inch by 8 inch hardwood for the motor-mount brace (you'll measure it for exact fit later), about 500 No. 6 by 3/4 inch brass wood screws, two dozen No. 8 by 1-1/2 inch brass wood screws (nickle-plated fasteners can also be used), and a supply of plastic resin glue.

To begin, scribe a centerline down each sheet of plywood (it'll serve as a reference point for several of the measurements to come). Then go on to mark the cutting lines for one of the boat's sides. To do so, select a long, straight-grained strip of 1-1/8 inch by 3/4 inch hardwood to use as a straightedge. (Keep this strip separate, because the same one should be used to draw the curves for the boat's bottom later.) Clamp its center to one of your plywood sheets, placing the clamp about 1/8 inch in from the edge at a point 3 feet 6-1/2 inch from one end (that end will be the boat's stern). Then, with a friend's help, bend the hardwood into a bow, clamping it so that its outer edges intersect the edges of the plywood 3 inch from the corner in the stern and 5-1/8 inch from the corner in the bow. With that done, scribe a line along the outer surface of the hardwood strip.

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