The Boat: The Most With The Least?
Posted by Hal in Projects

When I went looking for plans for small, home-built boats, I found a whole community of people working on the question–can you build a usable boat with a single sheet of plywood? The answer is a qualified but enthusiastic YES. It’s qualified because you’re pushing the limits of marine architecture–we don’t know yet how much weight this plan will actually carry, though it’s said to be sufficient for one adult or a couple of kids. We’ll see! But we’re assured that it can be done.

This picture shows the majority of what the plan calls for. The basis is a single 4×8 sheet of 1/4-inch plywood (and you can see how flexible that material is by the waves it formed just lying in the grass). Eight lengths of 1×2 make up the framework, a scrap of 2×4 is used for the stem and the oarlock mounts, and another scrap of plywood will make the seat. I threw in two shovel handles to speed up fabrication for the oars (the local boat dealers wanted $30 a pair and more for “boughten” oars, and that’s about what we paid for everything in the picture–oar handles included!).  Not in the picture are a box of screws and a tube of glue (about $7.50 for the two of them), a scrap of Styrofoam insulation (part of the seat), caulk and paint, and a pair of oar locks we bought from the boat dealer (you can fabricate your own from wood but I thought we’d get better results with metal parts this first try).  While I haven’t tallied everything yet–after all, we’re not done yet–I’m guessing we’ll have this boat built and a few things left over for less than $60–and some fun putting it all together!

By the way, you usually see these projects built on sawhorses. We’re using a couple of folding tables with a piece of plywood and an old door as a work bench. You could build it right on the floor for that matter, but it’s a lot easier working standing up than crawling around in the sawdust!