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Boat Builders Projects


There was a suggestion to start a thread for all the boat builders - So here it is. If your building a boat tell us about it here.

Building a Bolger Bobcat (Payson Tiny Cat) catboat from CAD on up
Maslow taking a break discussion
Building a Bolger Bobcat (Payson Tiny Cat) catboat from CAD on up
Boat Builders' Meetup in Port Townsend - Wooden Boat Festival Sept 8th?

Thanks, @Bee!

While I’m not building a boat with a Maslow (yet), I am building a boat using hand tools and I can tell you that there’s a ton of room for improvement in both speed and accuracy with digital fabrication methods. With Maslow literally being the ONLY 48"x96" CNC machine in the hobbyist’s price range, it would really be a game changer. Whether you’re building one boat or a fleet, the cost of a Maslow can easily be absorbed into the price of the project. Lots of people buy a new jigsaw or random orbital sander when starting a project of this magnitude, so there goes a couple of hundred bucks (for a good non-Harbor Freight version). At $350-$500 that’s a pretty severe upgrade in your fabrication capabilities. To put things into perspective, I’ve already spent about $700 for wood and the epoxy runs about $400-$500 depending on if you can get it on sale. So a Maslow is definitely right in the ballpark.

The next issue is the availability of digital files or the ability to make them yourself. Some boat plans can be purchased as DXF files (depends on the designers fear of being ripped off), while others come as full-sized paper plans or a table of offsets. These last two can be converted to digital plans by a painstaking process of loading the data points into a drafting program. There are at least a few of us here that can help/advise with this process if needed.

The first boat I made (as both a prototype and to prove to myself I could do it) was made from big box store plywood that was a third the price of marine grade plywood. I got a lot of guff about building it out of the cheap stuff, but (1) I was able to actually build a boat instead of having to wait until I could afford the “right stuff” (2) I got 4 great years out of sailing it with my family (priceless) and (3) I proved to myself that no only could I do it, but I could do it well and sell them, make slight, non-critical modifications and most importantly (4) I could expand my repertoire to other boat, larger boats that give me more flexibility in day sailing, sail-camping, short passages, tenders for larger boats, etc.


Most welcome. Your post is appreciated. Will you be at the Makerfaire in California in May? What quantity of epoxy is that 5 gal & 10 gal? I am a fan of sailing. I’ve done very little. I do enjoy it.

Thank you


I would love to attend Maker Faire this year as a fledgling YouTuber. However, it’s probably not in the budget for me to go this year as I will be teaching several offshore sailing classes this Spring/Summer.


Have you ever been out on a tall ship?

Thank you


I’ve been out on Lady Washington, but was a tourist, not crew. It all started with partying with the crew one night at Quinn’s Lighthouse. I have also done the Great Schooner Race on SF Bay numerous times on a 70’ schooner, which the owner kept trying to sell me. As a sailboat rigger, I’ve been on tons of boats and as an instructor and charter skipper have taken out numerous monohulls and catamarans.

You don’t really learn how to sail on big boats. You need to start on a little boat (20 something feet or less). You then take that knowledge with you when you move up to big boats. The main transition being from a tiller boat to a wheel (some pronounce it “real”) boat. As the boat gets bigger, the reaction time of the boat gets slower, short circuiting your muscle memory mechanism. Small boats react ridiculously fast to inputs which very quickly teach you if what you just did helped or hurt the situation.


I’ve only been on 100ft sister ships. As a tourist they got me up to help. From there I got involved. My Wife and I were going through the program when she started having thyroid issues. The effects were loss of balance and sudden bouts of forgetting. Neither of which you want on the water. So when she got benched so did I. That is when I started thinking maybe a small craft would be good to learn on my own.

I’m partial to the Exy. Sounds like you have been around big boats too.

Thank you


I’ll add to @MidnightMaker’s comments that the other beauty of building a boat with the Maslow is the community that comes with it. With just a few Maslowians, you could design and build a “standard boat”, taking advantage of many people’s ideas and experiments. I’m not planning on a boat-building project now, but I’m eagerly watching to see what the community does.


Another thing to consider is the ability to make molds for the boat you want to build. I’m looking at building a small catamaran (Hobie-style) to teach my son on. The two hulls are based on a pair of symmetrical molds that either end up as permanent bulkheads in the finished product or molds which you form the boat parts around and then remove once the hull is rigid. I’m looking at Dudley Dix’ Oppikat and the 16’ Quattro. Both of which use a double array of triangle shapes that form either symmetrical or asymmetrical hulls. If the hulls are symmetrical, you can use the same mold to build both hulls if you need to do them one at a time. If asymmetrical, then you can build one hull, then flip the mold frame stations around to build the other. Or you can just cut out all the mold stations and build both hulls at once.

I’ve been noticing that a lot of files come as PDF’s, which is great. It not only saves paper, but you can convert PDF files to cut files pretty easily. It also may be a little bit easier for the folks that don’t know CAD.


Ha! Interesting idea. If it took 1,000 posts to design a standard frame, I can’t wait for the thread on building a boat…:sunglasses:


I’ll likely build a kayak. Maybe not this year because too much house stuff on the go. The Maslow was bought to make some cabinets, benches, outdoor furniture and other house/yard related goodies (anyone say very large copy of a balsa T-Rex?).

After that’s squared away, I’d like to make a kayak based on a few books I have. One of those books is for skin-on-frame boats, but it has a really good chapter on sizing a boat to the paddler. I’m very much interested in having a boat that’s Marty sized instead of something close enough.


I’ll add that the “standard frame” spawned dozens of variations, so it wasn’t a rigid stardard. I’d expect doubly so for a “standard boat”. :sunglasses::sunglasses:


I think it would be a difficult process if we tried to just nail down one boat design that appeals to everyone. Plus, I’m certainly not a naval architect. If we’re serious about going down this rabbit hole, I think we should discuss various boat designs that can be made with the help of a Maslow, whose plans come in a format that can be converted into cut files.

The Bobcat build thread is a great example of that. It’s in and of itself a great boat design, the parts fit within Maslow’s cutting area (with a little scarfing, tiling or puzzle joint assistance), and the OP (@Sonny_Lacey) was able to convert paper plans into a workable cut file with some know how and perseverance.

My first boat was an 11’7" Eastport Pram from CLC. I think it’s a good candidate because all the parts fit within a 96" sheet of plywood. I’m currently building the larger version, the Passagemaker dinghy. Both boats are very similar, have pretty low materials cost, are very flexible meaning they can be rowed or sailed.

I am also very tempted by the Bobcat, and the only thing that is dissuading me is that it’s primarily a daysailer, where I’m looking for something that I can load the camping gear into and head out into the San Juans with my son. For that, I would choose the NanoShip 3.0, which is still currently in development.

Some other boats I’m very interested in are the Oppikat, the FyneFour / Stornoway 12 and the Quattro beach cats.

These are all very doable designs, designed for plywood construction, seem to be very capable sailboats, with build costs that are low enough you can finance your own build, meaning if it costs $3,000 to build and you want to do it over 12 months, that’s only $250 per month on average. As a real world example of this, I would only buy a few sheets of plywood at a time, then I would make as many parts as I could out of those sheets, which would take some time. Then the next month, I’d buys some more plywood.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. My tastes have changed over the years and I’m becoming a more sophisticated consumer, so who knows where I’ll be in 5 years, especially when it can take quite a while to build a boat. I’m in a time crunch right now to get this boat built so we can enjoy it this summer. After that, I’ll just be building for fun or if I get a commission.


We also have to be careful about violating the rights of the designer. For example, I know that John Harris, founder of CLC refuses to distribute digital plans because once the genie is out of that bottle, he has no more control over it. With that in mind, I would not be able to share my cut file of one of his boats on the forum out of respect.

With that being said, there is sort of a work around. Buying plans from CLC entitles you to ONE boat, so if I built multiple boats, especially on commission, I would need to pay him some sort of royalty. That could be as expensive as the cost of another set of plans (which I don’t physically need). Or it could be some nominal fee that makes John feel warm and fuzzy about me cranking out multiple boats of his design. That’s not a bridge that I’ve had to cross with him yet, but it is a consideration.


I have / am seeing the respect of designers files in the boat community and have great respect for that.

Thank you


I would not have a problem paying for good plans, either. But, there must be a ton of boat plans, designs out of copyright, in books and magazines, considering people started building boats before recorded history. :slight_smile:

Found this site PM 38 Club that has a lot of plans taken from Popular Mechanics magazines from 50’s and 60’s. Could these not be used if you wanted to copyleft or share your plans with the community? What are the pitfalls trying to adopt older designs?


unfortunantly copyright in the US is the life of the author + 90 years, so those
designs from the 50’s and 60’s are still in copyright.

But if they are published in a magazine, that seems like that is giving
permission for people to replicate them and use them. I don’t see that putting
them into CAD files requires any different permissions than copying them
manually to larger sheets of paper would.

David Lang


Thanks for correcting me on copyright law. Perhaps I should have said that plans are in the public domain, if its in a book or magazine in your local library or been scanned online.


Lots of options @ Boat Designs


No, a book or magazine in your local library is not public domain, and just
because it’s scanned online doesn’t mean it’s legal.

As I said, those magazines were published with the intent for people to copy the
plans and use them, and should include something in them saying that it’s legal
to do so (and may say something like “legal to use for personal use” which would
mean that selling things made from those plans would be questionable)

It’s only in the public domain if it was published before 1928 (or 1929, I don’t
remember exactly) or had copyright not renewed in a small window in the 50’s
(this is why the movie McClintok is broadcast as much as it is, the owners
failed to renew the copyright on it in this small window)