Hi, started a build with no solid plans. Built my strongback, laying out the ribs, got the spacing but hoping someone could give me a idea what to go with for the height for the side ribs. I`m thinking 2 ft (or less) in the frt and tapering smaller to the transom? (but how much). Does that make sense to get 2 sides out of the 4` ply?

Also someone suggested I dado the ribs so I started doing that. I got 2 done and decided it was a bad idea when it comes time to attach the chine with no meat to screw too. Any thoughts?

Can anyone suggest how high to set the ribs for the rocker, I`m guessing starting in the center? Thanks much, Mike

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Mike: As to the sides- you can get both sides out of 4' wide scarfed PW.  The 17'x54" DB I made had a 18' long scarfed sheet that was cut 30" on one end and 18" at the transom. Remember that if you use PW with  "A" and "B" faces  the port outside will be one grade and the starboard will be the opposite- no big deal if you are painting the boat.  As to the dado/1/2 lap joints.  A common method in building ribs for a dory is to miter the bottom/rib joint at around 45 deg and cover each side with a gusset that is screwed/glued or bolted. Makes for a very strong joint but increases the weight and fitting the chine more difficult.

The picture of the strongback has me confused.  Is it absolutely flat and horizontal?  If so, how do you get the rocker in the bottom?

Keep us posted

I built a good strongback. I was using it flat to figure out my rib widths and spacing which I have done. I need to figure out the heights of the side ribs, then I will box them up to get the rocker, which I also dont know how high to start with the center.

I`m gonna scrap those center rib and the transom rib that I dado`d and just put them side by side. I dont want to add the extra weight, and notching for the chine logs through 2 1/4" is too much. I liked the dado idea that guy had, but just doesnt work out.

Thanks for the tip going 18" at the transom. If I get a frt rib height I might be able to draft the dimensions for all the ribs.

I'd by some plans or Roger Fletchers book if I were you.  The cost will be less that $100.

Ive got plans for a original Woodie Hindman 16` Mckenzie from a book "drift boats and river dories".But they are not to scale so I cant get those side heights, and the spacing is different, and I dont want to go that big. All I need is a few missing links and I should be on the way.


You can take the frame dimensions from Roger Fletcher's book and lay them out on poster board or any other media and from there you can determine the lengths of the side elements of the frames.  This is as easy as it gets.


Hey, I think you just opened a door. After looking at those plans again, it gives a baseline to sheer, and then baseline to chine. I can subtract the chine from the sheer and get the heights. Even though that boat was longer, I can go with the same height sides. Thanks Dorf

Using a strongback is a  difficult & unnecessary way to build a drift boat. It sounds like you have modeled your boat because you are already making frames. Attach your stem to the sides and starting clamping in the frames, the boat will take its shape based on the frames (this is all done upside down of course). There was a builder back in the day who half lapped his frames like you are doing (his name escapes me at the moment) and it worked fine. The chine is easier to fit that way cuz the rib is only 3/4" thick. You don't need to screw the chine into the rib, this is called a floating chine.

Hope this helps.


Ive seen that method done, but I dont have the ribs figured out to be able to do it like that. I got my start from a guy that has built a couple boats. He advised me to
 work off the strongback and half lap the ribs. So maybe that is a good idea. I thought I had to secure the chine to them so I figured it wouldnt work. I could put a temp block next to each rib to hold the chine till I get to the plywood maybe?

He said just go 24" on the rib sides, and cut them down later, but I want to taper them and just be done with them, and not have to remove them to recut. So to figure out the heights would be huge. I`m making the bottom 12` long, so the boat will be around 14`. I started in the middle and put the ribs 14" on center. If I had a height for the transom and a height for the stem or maybe the frt rib, I could draw it out to scale and figure all the rib heights

Many thanks to anyone that can lead me along.

I did a search on here for the "floating chine". I found a little info. It sounds good and I really like the 1/2 lap look of the ribs even though its alot of routering, saw dust and cramped fingers..I`m ok with that. And just notching the 3/4" would be nice. So if I go with the floating chine, does that chine get set into place after I get the plywood on the sides? (didnt find a answer for that)

It seems I`m doing more research than building right now and I`m sure I`m over thinking everything. But, limited budget so I cant afford to be scrapping too much and its harder when you have OCD..

So my next step is getting the ribs assembled, getting them blocked up for the rocker, planing all the bevels to the sides and bottom, then notching for the chines. This might take a while ;)

Hey Mike,

When building the traditional way yes the chine goes in after the frames are attached. Not really sure when building with a strong back, kinda think the chine goes on first then the sides. I helped some students at lapine High school build some boats on a strong back and it seems it was done that way (it was a while ago).



Take a look at my Post "Dorf's Wooden Drift Boat"  it's been a while since I posted anything on it so it'll be faster doing a search for it.  What you are trying to do is very close to what I have done.  If you skim through it you'll see an examples of things close to what your wanting to do.



Wow, very nice. I am trying to do close to what you did, sorta, but I`ll use  fastners. I read the entire thread last night. You got pretty serious with your stronback. I am going to dado my ribs together and start doing more of them today, the router does a really nice job with that. looked like you offset the chine screws a little to get more bite out of the seam, and I`ll probably 2 pc my chines like that too. I`m confused at the way you notched the top of your ribs though, it worked out ok, not sure what to do about that though myself. Looking at other ribs, I think I put my drain holes too close to center, but should still drain good. Then I need to figure out the rocker heights off the strongback. Baby steps for me I guess. I`ll be going back to the beginning of your thread today. Thanks


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