My first glimpse of a drift boat was on the Cal Salmon as a kayaker in the late 70s - i was intrigued by the way the boat rode through the wave trains and could handle the water. I got a better look a bit later on a couple of Rogue trips, watching them through Blossom Bar... I thought I'd like to try that. The idea of building one was cemented a few years ago after a visit to Andy Hutchinson's shop and seeing his build of a decked boat in sapele - what a beautiful boat. So as a start, I got Roger's book and built a model, getting an idea of how things went together and where the challenges might be. This spring, I traveled to Flagstaff to attend Brad Dimock's class, where I met an incredible variety of skilled folks, all interested in building - not to mention a shop to die for. Then it was off to Oregon and the wooden boat festival. I stopped in Bend, where I picked up a trailer and a bunch of great information from Mike Baker - now I had a trailer, and needed a boat. Materials were a bit of a challenge - I originally wanted Port Orford Cedar for the frames - in Bend, there's a reliable supply from Orepac, but in Victor, where I live, no such luck. I ended up with Alaskan Yellow Cedar for about $7/bf. Hydrotek was next on the list. McBeath lists it on their web page, but there was a 2 month wait, so I ended up getting mine from Edensaw. Following Brad's lead, I'm using epoxy from Resin Research. Now for the fun stuff...

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After several coats of Daly's teak oil on the interior, it's back to carpentry, and on to gunwales. I've never been confident in my ability to run a 1/4" bolt through the gunwales and frames without blowing out, especially at frames 1 and 9. I saw a detail I really liked on Mike Baker's boats, so off we go. First, trim the frames

then make 18 little pieces of walnut

and cut a dado into them to receive the top of the frame

then do a final fit and screw them in place, so when I have the epoxy mixed, there'll be as little fiddling around as possible

next, I'll but a couple of coats of oil on them before I epoxy them to the top of the frames. Next, I prepped some outwales with a walnut stripe down the center

glued them up, and cut scarf joints on the ends. Next step is to figure out how I'm going to terminate the ends of the inwales at stem and transom. 

Superb detail, love the walnut. Thats gonna really be sharp.

The outwales went on smoothly, and I kinda like the look

Next, the inwales - and the question of how to terminate them. I had some 8/4 walnut - the grain looked good for knees at the transom -

but since knees were an afterthought, first I had to chop out part of the transom frame. 

but with a multitool, a sharp chisel and a heat gun, all went well. For parts like this, especially at the bow (or is it the stern?) where you need to sneak up on the fit, I use a template guided router. 

after a bit of fiddling, and a couple of coats of Daly's...

now I'm ready to install the inwales. 

I figured since you havent posted for a bit you were up to something good. Wow, now I dont even want to finish my boat!! But i will, too far into it now.

Thanks - but that's 'cause I'm only showing you the good stuff - you should see the mistakes - they're really ugly. More on that in the next post. 

I promised Mike Thomas I'd post some of the ugly stuff, so...

If you've been following this build, you may remember my earlier screwup

I got careless when predrilling the holes for the ringshanks on frames 7-9 on one side of the boat. I had the idea I could snip off the ends of the nails, then use a fat nailset to bury the remaining end and fill the hole. I've never like the way wood filler ages - as the wood changes color, the filler doesn't, making it tough to hide the repair - so I had another idea. 

At this point, I'll remind you of something you already know - it's easy to fix something in a way that makes it worse, then repeat in a descending spiral of frustration. 

At any rate, I came up with another idea - I'd made a putty out of epoxy and cedar sawdust - that way the repair would age with the wood and be invisible. After all, the ceder sawdust matches the frames, and the epoxy is clear, right? Unfortunately, reality intruded on a perfectly reasonable theory. When the epoxy set, the repair looked worse than the original damage.

I stared at it for a few weeks. My wife told me "It's OK, no one will notice", but every time I looked at the boat, it was pretty much all I saw, so I had another idea. I made up a mortising jig

routed out a mortise, and filled it with yellow cedar...

and then sanded it flush

of course, when you put some finish on it, all the blemishes jump out...

but at this point, I'm just gonna have to be happy with the result. Next time, I'll be extra careful when I predrill the ringshank holes...

I dont know how you can sleep at night!! just kidding. There is another option to fix that, that comes to mind, rip a 1/16" veneer strip and epoxy it over the entire side. There will still be a pencil line on the edge, but might not even notice it :)

Once you get the fly line deck and knee brace in it should look ok.Good spot for a piece of foam to stick your flies in.

Hi David,
I just caught up on your build. Beautiful! A couple shot look like they came from my shop, with the clamps and techniques. I am flattered. Regarding the cosmetic blemishes--go out and crash your boat a few times and do the repairs. You'll get over the blemishes. They're not museum pieces--they are sweet, fun, beautiful work boats. The blemishes and scars are line the smile wrinkles in your face or the scars on your shins--proof that you are having a better time than most.

Brad

Thanks for the comment - I picked up a lot from your boatbuilding class last year - and hope to get more this year! I also got a lot from my visit to Oregon, specifically meeting Mike Baker and attending the wooden boat festival. And of course, Roger Fletcher's excellent book. That, along with basic woodworking skills and a bunch of tools, got this boat to where it is, for better or worse. I got as good a start as I could. But I have a HUGE amount of respect for the folks that I've seen who start a build with limited skills and access to information - that takes a whole lot of courage. 

I have some UHMW I'm planning to use as oarlock blocks - I'm trying to get rid of the milling marks, but sanding with 120 looks like it just puts a dull finish on it. 

Any suggestions?

If you're going to use the boat much, that shiny surface is going to get all scratched up anyhow. Dull finishes don't show blemishes.

For the same reason, there is no gloss paint nor any varnish on any of my boats. All woodwork is an easily maintained oil finish. All paint is Kirby semi-gloss. Dull is beautiful.

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