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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I’ve been obsessing over the design for a small, shallow water skiff for a couple years now, and I finally pulled the trigger and got the ball rolling. I’m in the Big Bend region of Florida and want something that will let me fly fish the tidal creeks by myself, spin fish with 2-3 people, cruise the rivers with my wife and son, and camp from. Shallow draft, versatility, and seaworthiness are the goals.

After looking at a variety of plans, I ended up basing this on Spira’s Ka-Joe design. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but the ply on frame designs allow for very easy modifications. I ended up shortening the boat, widening the rear, adding more V throughout, and a different transom design. It will be between 17’-17’8” long depending on how the nose shapes up, 58” max beam, 48” max bottom width tapering to 44” at the transom.

I’m attempting to incorporate some features of the higher end poling skiffs. Most of them feature 2-3 degrees of deadrise, so I added 2 degrees into the frames, and am building a curved transom with a steeper rake as Beavertail and some of Chris Morejohn’s designs are using.

The frames have been built and sitting in my shop for a few months as I’ve been tweaking them, and I have a bunch of jobs lined up where we aren’t working out of my shop for awhile, so I ordered the fiberglass and epoxy over the weekend and threw a strong back together today. If all goes well tomorrow I will have the frames squared up and clamped in place, as well as the chine logs and keelson mounted.

I still have to build the transom and have been debating the shear height. Currently it is 22” at the bow and tapers down to 17” from midway back. I know that’s higher than most poling skiffs, but I really want to be able to venture into open waters when the wind picks up a bit. There are a lot of exposed areas here that will get 2’ rolling whitecaps with 15 mph winds and aren’t safe in a low shear skiff. Hopefully I don’t regret building it that tall and it ending up poling horribly. If it does I can always chop it down.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Not a ton of progress today, had to build a range hood for a customer’s job since my employee couldn’t figure it out. I got all the frames lined up and clamped, the keelson ripped and screwed in place and the lower chine logs screwed on. They will come back off and be glued on when the epoxy I ordered shows up.

I’m happy that so far, all my measurements have ended up within 1/16”, hopefully that will keep things from turning into a pain down the road. It’s been awhile since I’ve built a boat so I’ve forgotten certain things about it.

I still have to build the transom, due to the angle the motor will end up sitting 4” further back from the edge of the running surface than normal, so I think I can raise the motor at least another inch over the standard of setting the anti-ventilation plate 1” above the bottom. A 20” tall transom would put it 2 1/2” above the bottom of the hull and give me a 3” prop to pad height.

I’m not sure how the nose is going to shape up yet either, right now it looks like the waterline length will be right at 16’. I added a bit more V to the front of the boat also, I’m trying to get a sharp entry but still keep the chines completely under water.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My fiberglass and epoxy order was waiting for me at my shop this morning, but it’s also 45 degrees so I’m probably not going to be able to glue anything up today.

I realized I’m going to have an issue with my bilge pumps due to the keelson design. It runs the full length of the boat all the way back to the transom and sticks up about 1 1/4” off the bottom. I’m planning to run 2 plugs, one on either side of it. I’m also planning to run 2 bilge pumps, one with a float switch and one with an on/off switch, wired and fused separately. However, the one with the float switch isn’t going to be able to drain the 1 1/4” of water sitting below the top of the keelson on the other side of the hull.

Obviously I can drill a weep hole through the keelson, but they always end up getting plugged and it’s going to be all the way under the rear deck. Option #2 is cutting a groove in the top of the keelson to lower the 1 1/4” distance down to 3/4” or so, but it creates a weak point in the running surface. Option #3 is sloping the entire back of the boat up to flush with the top of the keelson, and assuming that the boat trims to the rear, the water will flow back there evenly. It may hold more water though at certain times since the bilge pumps will be mounted higher. Option #4 is wire both sides with float switches, and an on/off switch to override them in case they fail. Down side to this is that both pumps would end up running regularly, which draws more from the battery and doesn’t leave me a “new” pump mounted for emergency needs. Option #5 is I’m overthinking all of this like everything else about the boat, leave it alone, and just let the motion of the ocean slosh the little bit of water over the keelson? Thinking that one sounds the best...
 

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Lowcountry Degen
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I think I'm understanding this question correctly, but forgive me if my answer is nonsense :D

How about pouring some foam and glassing over it to flatten the bottom of the bilge area to be even with the top of the keelson? It would be completely sealed, and you might want to make some of it with wood rather than foam/glass (thinking bilge pump mounting areas), but I think it would fix your issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I think I'm understanding this question correctly, but forgive me if my answer is nonsense :D

How about pouring some foam and glassing over it to flatten the bottom of the bilge area to be even with the top of the keelson? It would be completely sealed, and you might want to make some of it with wood rather than foam/glass (thinking bilge pump mounting areas), but I think it would fix your issue.
Thanks for the reply, that’s pretty close to my option #3, except you might be talking about filling the whole bottom level. That would work nicely but I always worry about fiberglassed foam cracking and soaking up water. It seems like it always happens, just like wiring corroding.

I think my drain plugs have solved the issue for me, or rather accomodatinf them will. The flanges are 2” diameter so they will sit above the bottom of the hull on the inside. I think I’ll add a short 3-4” angled wood block from the transom to the floor that slopes up so water drains out completely when tilted up on the trailer. This should also help water transfer sides as long as the boat is moving around at all.

The front frames all requires the notches being cut at an angle in order for the chine logs to sit in them correctly. An oscillating multi tool worked perfectly, I just eyeballed the angle and the width of the gap, marked a line, and trimmed them out.

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I also got the pieces for the transom cut out, it’s turning into a work of art since I choose to complicate everything :). I wanted a curved transom like some of the newer skiffs have, and I increased the angle to 18 degrees instead of the standard 12. I had a piece of a 2x12 from another job that bowed significantly sitting on a shelf in my shop, it worked perfectly for the transom. It has a 3/4” curve over the 51” top span. The outer pieces will sit flush with the corners, they aren’t positioned properly in the photos. It will get a layer of 1/2” plywood on the outside and 3 layers of 6 oz glass. I’m debating drilling down from the ear the motor will mount on and gluing some dowels in with epoxy to lessen any chance of it breaking with the grain, but the glass may suffice.

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Lowcountry Degen
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Looking good! Yes, I was talking about the whole bottom level. I think if it's glassed correctly you won't have a problem. I think water intrusion to foam-filled areas is usually (I would guess like 99%) from people drilling through the glass to mount things, then water getting in that way. If you make sure to put wood or thick glass slugs in the location of the screws, I don't think you would have an issue. Then again, I've built exactly zero boats from scratch so take this with a grain of salt :D
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Worked on the boat for a couple hours this morning, had to set some tile this afternoon. The nose ended up being 26” high with the way the frames were built and notched, so I cut it back down to the 22” I wanted. The structure isn’t all there yet, but the lines are. I’ll cut the parts of the frames that overhang when I pull the chine logs off to glue up. It will end up being 17’ 8” unless I shorten the back of the boat a little. Trying to decide if I want it to go straight in the garage or if I’m fine with it being angled.

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Since this is a budget build, I plan to show what I’ve spent on it also. I’m leaning towards not including the cost of the strongback and consumables like rollers, brushes, sand paper, etc. Technically they aren’t “part of” the boat though they’re required to build it, and I’m sure I won’t accurately track all the trips to the store for small things. Thoughts?
 

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I'm following this one. Always liked the Chesapeake deadrise look. This kinda reminds me of one. Bow looks like it will be quiet, chine in the water at rest. I Looked at the design, looks cool with the wood boat look, not sure of the terms, but the slatted foor and all. What kind of wood are the frames, they look good. Good luck on the project!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm following this one. Always liked the Chesapeake deadrise look. This kinda reminds me of one. Bow looks like it will be quiet, chine in the water at rest. I Looked at the design, looks cool with the wood boat look, not sure of the terms, but the slatted foor and all. What kind of wood are the frames, they look good. Good luck on the project!
Thanks, I’m hoping it is quiet and performs well, I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about hull design. My experience with canoes, pirogues, and paddle craft has been helpful and I’m pretty sure it will pole efficiently also.

The frames, keelson, and chine logs are all southern yellow pine. I chose it based on its strength, rot resistance, cost, and availability. It is much harder than other pines or softwoods, it’s almost in between them and hardwoods like oak. The down side is that it’s heavier than other options, but the stack of frames only weighs about 25 lbs all together if I had to guess. The keelson has some weight to it, close to 40 lbs according to the calculator I used, but being centered in the lowest point of the hull it acts as ballast. Really light narrow boats can get squirrelly when the weight is high, this should help slow the rocking motion hopefully.

I’d like for the hull to come in around 350 lbs, but that’s probably optimistic given that I haven’t been trying to cut weight hard, so I’ll be happy if it’s sub 400 lbs. I should still have a 4” draft fully loaded with 2 guys in it.
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Try to keep a daily journal tracking the hours, materials and expendables you spend on the boat. I wish I had, but journaling upsets my ADD, so I didn't even try. It is cool data to have and it allows you to sanity check anyone who decides to "save money by building a boat".

I only managed to calculate two prices. One price was the cost of materials that became "boat". It was very accurate. I sent copies of those receipts to the state so they could see I paid sales tax and to set the value of the boat for future tax purposes (around $1600 if I remember properly). I only managed to track my big receipts for expendables and that cost plus materials was above $3K. That didn't count trailer, parts to repair my free motor or any of the many times I just grabbed another pack of chip brushes, another can of acetone, etc. while I was at Lowe's for something else.

Once you finish and total the hours and multiple them by minimum wage (you seem to be a better carpenter than me, so you can charge yourself more than minimum), the cost of a dinky little skiff will gag you, but it is fun to say BS like "that little thing is as expensive as a Hell's Bay and the waiting list was 3 years long".

Nate
 

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I Love microskiff.com!
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Discussion Starter #15
Try to keep a daily journal tracking the hours, materials and expendables you spend on the boat. I wish I had, but journaling upsets my ADD, so I didn't even try. It is cool data to have and it allows you to sanity check anyone who decides to "save money by building a boat".

I only managed to calculate two prices. One price was the cost of materials that became "boat". It was very accurate. I sent copies of those receipts to the state so they could see I paid sales tax and to set the value of the boat for future tax purposes (around $1600 if I remember properly). I only managed to track my big receipts for expendables and that cost plus materials was above $3K. That didn't count trailer, parts to repair my free motor or any of the many times I just grabbed another pack of chip brushes, another can of acetone, etc. while I was at Lowe's for something else.

Once you finish and total the hours and multiple them by minimum wage (you seem to be a better carpenter than me, so you can charge yourself more than minimum), the cost of a dinky little skiff will gag you, but it is fun to say BS like "that little thing is as expensive as a Hell's Bay and the waiting list was 3 years long".

Nate
Thanks for the reply, I’ve read through your build a couple times. Mine’s not really being done to “save money” in terms of just getting on the water, there’s no beating a Jon boat or Gheenoe for that. What I do hope to end up with is something that works nearly as well as a Hell’s Bay Glades Skiff or East Cape Glide for a fraction of the price. Figure at least $20k on the used market, if I can end up with a $2k motor and $500 trailer, I expect to be under $5k all in. One of the budget hang ups at this point is the poling platform, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

There are also some unique things I plan to do on this skiff that would take a lot of work on a factory skiff. I’m trying to toe the line between being as versatile as possible without compromising any single ability too much. Hopefully it all pans out.

While it is a budget build, I don’t want to cut so many corners that I end up with something that’s frustrating to use. When it comes to rigging, most of the items can be put on another boat in the future if this one ends up not sufficiently meeting my needs and turns into a duck killer.

Obviously, you can’t count on even minimum wage for your labor hours. I am trying to crank it out as quickly as I can though before I get frustrated with it and it becomes a chore, and do as much of the work as possible at my shop while my guys are working on paying jobs.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
BUDGET...

I’ll update this post throughout the build and try to be as accurate as I can. I’m not going to do any running totals, but I’ll add it up at the end. I’ll break it down into categories to see where the money is going. Multiple items will be expressed with (x2,3,etc), and the number at the end of the line is the total. I’m also not going to include sales tax as it’s easier to read the lines on each receipt, it’s 7.5% here.

Hull

1x4x8 furring strips for frames (x10) $21.80
2x10x16 for keelson and chine logs $16.71
2x10x8 for bow stem and transom knee $8.18
5mm Lauan plywood for hull (x8) $111.84
Raka 3 gallon epoxy kit, 30 yds 6 oz cloth, and fairing materials $412.83
Raka 3 gallon epoxy kit $193.83
4” 6 oz fiberglass tape $39.95

Jamestown distributors fairing compound, primer, hull paint $242.50

Power
Minn Kota Edge 45 trolling motor $269.99
Minn Kota Zinc Anode $15.00
Johnson 25 hp Electric start 2-stroke $800

Rigging

Bote Tackle Rack grab bar/dual vertical rod holder $10.00 (Keys honeymoon find)
Interstate Group 27 deep cycle battery $50.00
NOCO battery box $8.94
Sea dog stainless steel retained drain plugs (x2) $36.58
TRAC trolling motor connectors (x2) $28.98
Recessed cup holders (x4) $8.00
Attwood 6 gallon gas tank with gauge $59.99
Moeller tank fitting $10.57
BRP fuel line/primer bulb assembly $47.80
Minn Kota transom trolling motor bracket $74.99
Bow eye $16.95
Stern eyes (x2) $17.98
Bilge pump thru hull fittings (x2) $41.98
Anchor locker hinges $10.89
Johnson SPX 1250 bilge pumps (x2) $76.48


Consumables

Spira International Ka-Joe plans (heavily modified) $59.99
Strongback materials $32.86
Bondo spreaders (x2) $7.94
Nitrile gloves (x2) $15.96
15 pc chip brushes (x2) $19.96
Clear plastic mixing cups (x2) $5.98

Trailer
15” tires and rims $139.80
Southwest wheel 3,500 lb 4” drop axle $199.92
Camco retractable transom tie downs $19.67
Camco 1,500 lb tongue jack $38.31
Camco 2,000 lb winch $34.57
Buyers 2” coupler $20.57
24” receiver tube $33.72
Poly bow stop $14.64
Poly keel roller $18.00
Keel roller shaft $7.99
Keel roller bracket $18.78


Free/Scraps
2x12 for transom pieces
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It’s warm enough now to start working with epoxy, I still have to glue the chine logs and keelson to the frame, but realized I need to stain the frames first. If I get epoxy runs on them they won’t take the stain.

I’m going to pick up my plywood also, since there’s good quality stuff in stock and the moment and I don’t want to be scrounging through crap when I’m ready for it. I was planning to use 1/4” BCX, but I saw that several guys on here used 5mm Launn glassed on both sides. With a layer of 6 oz glass on the inside and 2 layers outside, will that be strong enough? With the keelson and 2 degree deadrise I shouldn’t have oil canning issues, but I do expect this boat to hit oyster bars. Hopefully push pole speeds on most trips, but a full throttle impact is likely someday. The plans call for 3/8” ply with one layer of 6 oz glass on the outside, I’d rather use more glass and thinner ply.

Next question, I’d prefer to glass the backsides of the panels before I put them on the frames. I think if I mount them when the epoxy has started tacking up I’ll be able to bend the ply fine, but I’m worried that it may kink and come loose from the plywood on the inside of the bends. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get it to bend once it’s glassed on the inside, unless I mount it to the frames, then make external plywood forms that hold it in its proper shape while I remove it to glass. Thoughts?
 

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Mostly Harmless
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3/8" ply is spec'd because only one side is glassed. If you are glassing both sides, you could use 1/4" ply for the sides. I'd keep the 3/8" ply for the bottom.

1/4" BCX is usually pretty ugly. It is generally 3 ply, has some impressive voids in the middle ply and a ton of knots and fissures on the C side. I wouldn't expect it to bend fair and getting a good bond to the C side will be miserable. Find good looking 1/4"/6 mm. luan at a minimum. I don't think you need more than a layer of 6 oz. inside and out for this hull. The seams along the keel and chines will also have a layer of 12 oz. biax tape. Those are your high impact areas and that is heavy enough lamination for a light, low power skiff. I haven't scratched to wood despite hitting stumps and rocks.

I would advise you to not glass the hull panels prior to assembly. That adds a ton of complexity to the build. You'll have to lay out the panels perfectly flat so no wonkiness becomes permanent, glass it and then have the time in the same day to reattach it to the frame. If you wait too long due to anything, the panel will stiffen and fight the bend. Additionally, that layer of glass will throw off every measurement you made up to this point. You'd built pretty accurately thus far (+/- 1/16"), so the change will be more of a headache than all us +/- 1/4" accurate guys.

This is a ply-on-frame hull. The big perk of this technique is that you just screw the parts together, glass the outside, paint the inside and get on the water. You are considering taking away from that simplicity. Stitch-and-glue is bit more complex in comparison (no matter what Bateau.com says) because the you have to make temp frames, then remove them while keeping the hull true, glass the inside and then install the permanent frames. I feel you end up with a lighter, stiffer boat where the wood is better protected from the elements using stich-and-glue, but this comes at the expense of time.

In ply-on-frame, the frames provides much of the rigidity, whereas the composite sandwich provides much of the rigidity in a stitch-and-glue hull. You don't need as many frames as spec'd if you glass the interior. If you are going to add a layer of glass on the inside, I'd use the frames as a male mold to complete the outside using the stitch-and-glue technique, then flip it into a cradle and glass the inside without the frames in place. You could then reduce your frames by half and remove all the fasteners. This is a serious change from the designer's intent, but so is glassing the interior. I wouldn't be a bit scared to do it, but the designer would tell you it is a bad idea.

Nate
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
3/8" ply is spec'd because only one side is glassed. If you are glassing both sides, you could use 1/4" ply for the sides. I'd keep the 3/8" ply for the bottom.

1/4" BCX is usually pretty ugly. It is generally 3 ply, has some impressive voids in the middle ply and a ton of knots and fissures on the C side. I wouldn't expect it to bend fair and getting a good bond to the C side will be miserable. Find good looking 1/4"/6 mm. luan at a minimum. I don't think you need more than a layer of 6 oz. inside and out for this hull. The seams along the keel and chines will also have a layer of 12 oz. biax tape. Those are your high impact areas and that is heavy enough lamination for a light, low power skiff. I haven't scratched to wood despite hitting stumps and rocks.

I would advise you to not glass the hull panels prior to assembly. That adds a ton of complexity to the build. You'll have to lay out the panels perfectly flat so no wonkiness becomes permanent, glass it and then have the time in the same day to reattach it to the frame. If you wait too long due to anything, the panel will stiffen and fight the bend. Additionally, that layer of glass will throw off every measurement you made up to this point. You'd built pretty accurately thus far (+/- 1/16"), so the change will be more of a headache than all us +/- 1/4" accurate guys.

This is a ply-on-frame hull. The big perk of this technique is that you just screw the parts together, glass the outside, paint the inside and get on the water. You are considering taking away from that simplicity. Stitch-and-glue is bit more complex in comparison (no matter what Bateau.com says) because the you have to make temp frames, then remove them while keeping the hull true, glass the inside and then install the permanent frames. I feel you end up with a lighter, stiffer boat where the wood is better protected from the elements using stich-and-glue, but this comes at the expense of time.

In ply-on-frame, the frames provides much of the rigidity, whereas the composite sandwich provides much of the rigidity in a stitch-and-glue hull. You don't need as many frames as spec'd if you glass the interior. If you are going to add a layer of glass on the inside, I'd use the frames as a male mold to complete the outside using the stitch-and-glue technique, then flip it into a cradle and glass the inside without the frames in place. You could then reduce your frames by half and remove all the fasteners. This is a serious change from the designer's intent, but so is glassing the interior. I wouldn't be a bit scared to do it, but the designer would tell you it is a bad idea.

Nate
Thanks for the reply Nate. This current batch of BCX has none of the missing knot holes on the C side, it’s actually really clean. It is only 3 plies though and had some small voids visible at the edges. I used 5mm Luan on a pirogue I built, but it seems really fragile, though I only glassed the chines.

I agree that stitch and glue is superior, but in addition to being much more expensive in materials costs, it’s really difficult to modify the dimensions since the panel curves dictate the shape.

I think the 6 oz cloth on the inside will be thin enough to not throw any measurements out of whack, I had hoped it would be easier to glass the whole panel rather than trying to cut the glass to fit between the frames. It might be easier to cut it while it’s still on the roll with a grinder as opposed to following the weave with scissors though.

I’m well outside the original design by now anyways, so when it comes to glass and ply thickness the best I have to go on are similar boats.

Honestly, I expect this boat to last me a few years and depending on how it meets my needs, replace it with Bateau’s LM18 or FS17.
 
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