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2-Scarfing and Lofting the Wooden Fishing Boat

The wooden boat project begins with the impossible task of converting 8 ft plywood into 16 ft boat parts.  Perhaps it should have been obvious-plywood only comes in 8 foot sheets.  There is a simple process to marry the ends of two boards together.      

Scarfing.  The joint is called a scarf.  Simply, taper the ends of two equal thickness pieces of plywood, and epoxy them together.  Simple, kind of... Instructions were very specific about being patient and taking time to perfecting this joint.  I should have been more patient, but the weather was very hot, and I was using a friend's, tools and workshop.  I wanted to move as quickly as possible.  So the joint has aesthetic issues, but it is extremely strong.  Perhaps even stronger than the plywood itself.  The result are two plywood sheets 15 feet 6 inches long  x 4 feet wide.  One is about 1/2 inch thick for the bottom and transom, The other is about 3/8 inch thick for the sides.

Scarfing the ply wood.

Lofting. Drawing the basic shape on the bottom was done done easily with a few tricks from my friend, Marcus Parker.  The proper term is lofting.  This is a pre-CAD method.  It is surprisingly effective and inexpensive, and I didn't have to bring my computer to the wood shop...The plans gave a measurement from the centerline at every foot.  These marks were quickly drawn onto the 1/2 inch board.  Then we put screws into the marks.  And we bent a long-thin piece of scrap wood around the screws to easily draw the graceful ark.  Once drawn, it was easily cut with a saber saw.


The sides were formed from one very long, straight cut.  The Festool system was very effective, and made a perfect 16 foot cut.  When the sides were book matched on top of each other, they were within an 1/8 inch of mirror image. Not bad for hand tools!  We cut the bow and stern shapes with sides stacked.

Side Panels, note scar on front edge.

You can see a scar on the top side panel (Both are stacked together.)  Again, not a functional problem.  I'll just call it character mark.  At this point, we have a feel for the real size of the boat.  Bigger than expected.  I transported these parts back to my wood shop.  

I was off to a great start, but I had needed a nudge to begin.  I had owned the plans for years.  I had owned the plywood for 12 months.   And screwing up the plywood would be an expensive mistake.  If it had not been for Marcus Parker's boat making knowledge and great tools, I would have never started. 



Allen Wyatt
Allen Wyatt


1 Response


May 26, 2018

I know I’m pretty late to this, but I just wanted to say this is looking great Allen. Is there an update post? If there is, I can’t seem to find it. I’d love to build a nice wooden boat for myself when I go out onto the water – been looking for some good plans and how-to resources and I came across this program Not sure if you’ve heard of it before or if you have an opinion on it, but I’m going to be doing some more digging to see if it has merit. Thanks for documenting your boatbuilding journey.

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