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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UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethene) is one tough material, can't be molded, formed only machined.  It needs to be machined with sharp cutters and takes a bit of effort, more than we can do with our hands (chisels and knives).  You can take the oar lock blocks and with a 4 jaw chuck in a metal lathe, drill your holes and then face the top surface to get concentric tool marks. With a sharp tool bit (carbide) and real fine feed, minimum marks will result.


PS:  I agree with Brad, enjoy your boat and be proud of it.  You built it, know all the minor faults (we can't see) and you'll be in a better position to make any necessary repairs.  I schmucked mine up on the first trip and now don't worry anymore, It's a boat not a child!

Thats why I have chosen to never really use my boat, just park it at the launches and use my waders :)

Good stuff about the blocks. I have a line on some of that here in Mich, I still might just get it instead of wood blocks and inserts. I`ll know to not worry about the tool marks from cutting it.


You can buy or make flanged bushings and glue them in a wooden block.  Delrin or UHMW works good for bushings.  Don't use nylon as it's hydroscopic (absorbs water) and will swell up and decrease the hole diameter for the oarlocks if the clearance is too tight.

Just another tidbit from the,


Here's my seven cents' worth on bushings and such. It may be jaded by the fact that I row for a living all summer and put stuff to an abnormal standard. I've had oars stuck into a hole drilled in a piece of wood, a hunk of aluminum, fancy delrin sleeves, thick UHMV (or whatever that acronym is). And a few other things. Something inevitably wears out in short order. If it is not the hole, it is the shaft of the oarlocks. (My current bronze casting fodder is a few hundred pounds of used oarlocks from local outfitters, most with worn out shafts) My goal is a rattle-free, greasy-smooth, easy-turning oarlocks. My buddy Moki invented a system back in the seventies, using available technology. Cut one-inch strips of used (you can use new ones too, but we didn't have any) ZipLok bags. Wrap them around the shaft of the oarlocks until it can be twisted into its housing, regardless of what that housing is made of. You'll have the smoothest rowing oarlocks in town all trip long. And since even with the fancy Delrin sleeves, the oarlock shafts were wearing out after a trip or two and had to be ziploked to get rid of the rattle, I've gone retro and just drill a hole in whatever the oar stand is made of, and expect to be zip locking.

Work progresses. This is the fun stuff, the details that will be seen - but it's so much slower, trying to decide exactly how it should look, where the hardware should go, seat placement etc. Here are a couple of shots. 

next comes the fly line deck and the anchor rig, then I'll start on floorboards. 

Top drawer work! You are truly a craftsman. Have you or your intended front seat fly fisherperson stood at the knee brace to see where and how it fits? Some folks find that the tradional height kneebraces can be too low. Just a thought, sort of like trying on clothes before you buy them, make sure they fit.

Rick N


Good point - I had noticed some other folks designs had made an effort to avoid this problem. I didn't do anything other than put as much arch into the thwart as I though looked reasonable. Perhaps a remodel after season one will be in order. 

Take a look in the website at the pictures on my page of boats from the past shows.

I'm wondering what others have used for fly line deck material. I'm thinking about 1/4" ply with reinforcing strips glued to the underside - max load I"m planning on is a 45 lb dog up there. 3/8" is another option. 

The material I am familiar with .25 inch and a reinforcing strip screwed and glued through the ply. When I installed mine I found we had to bend it in a very slight arch. It was also supported on either side with cleats. Even though you dog weighs 45 pounds his jumping onto the deck might result in a higher momentary load, perhaps double his weight depending how he gets there.

Rick N

If the ply(deck) is getting epoxy then glass the underside at the same time, this will stiffen it a lot 1/4 ply is plenty with glass underneath,

If no epoxy then just a cross brace dadoed into bottom of ply.

It seems like everyone I have had in my boat treats the deck as a seat.  I have a friend who pushes 200 # and likes to sit on it facing me while were moving downriver to another fishing hole.  Being hard of hearing it helps understanding his questions and comments.  A side benefit, eh.

My deck is 1/4 plywood with 1/4 strips of different woods and is epoxied and glassed both sides.  A bit over done but am glad I did it this way.



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