Building my first Drift Boat - 16' Double-Ender with Transom

Hello folks,

I stepped foot in a McKenzie style drift boat for the first time nearly ten years ago, and have been wanting to own one ever since. I have decided (finally) to start building my first drift boat; the Original McKenzie Double Ender with Transom. 

I purchased Rogers book, as well as the plans from 'The Rivers Touch' and I have been taking small steps towards starting the project for over a year now: building a shop space, purchasing tools, researching, cold calling strangers for advice, gathering materials etc. 

I started last week, and have learned a few important things already:

  1. Scarf joints are not as scary as they look (I wish I hadn't have waited so long).
  2. Being a complete beginner at something is rough - somehow I forgot that.
  3. This website and the contributions made by all of you is invaluable. I contemplated not posting but then realized that it would be selfish not to give back.

I am open to as much advice, suggestions, criticisms, stories and photos as possible!

My goal is to have this boat on the water by the Winter of 2021 (changed from 2017 haha)

So, here goes. I hope you enjoy watching me work through my first technical wood project ever ;). Maybe this can help a newcomer like me down the road.

Thanks All, 


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April 2020 - Decided to steam bend the chines (a pain to do, but glad I did):

August 2021 - Chine fitted, glued, planed and sanded:

August 2021 - Scarfing and gluing the bottom panel. Thanks to Mike Bakers videos, I used a scarf jig and router and glued it according to his videos. It worked well. 

I moved the puppy before using the tools and sending wood chips everywhere haha.  

August 2021 - Cutting out the bottom after tracing it out.

I dry-fitted it to be sure, and I think I may have been too conservative and left over 1/4" which may be a pain to fare. Oh well, lesson learned!

Next I will mark the frame's center lines, and glass the bottom with 6oz cloth. Hopefully it won't be too difficult to bend once it's been glassed!

That's it - up to date! Please comment and share ideas. I will soon be posting more specific questions regarding the following topics: 

  1. Using chopped fiberglass and or wood flour for filling holes in the floating chine (I have a lot of space between my frame notches and the frame, and I'm worried about it
  2. building vs buying a drift boat trailer (and converting an old tent trailer chassis into a drift boat trailer)
  3. Glassing the bottom - 6 oz of 4 layers vs 20 oz cloth (I can't find 20 oz in Canada).

Thanks all!

Hello All, The bottom is now on. I glassed the inside with 6oz cloth. I used 5200 on the bottoms of the frames and chine, and even though I did a good job taping, I think there will be a lot to clean up when I flip it over. That was a lot of nails! Next is glassing the bottom. 

I have a lot of 6oz woven fabric, but after reading a few posts it seems like 20 oz Triax is better than 2 or 3 layers of 6 oz fabric. Is that right? 

I plan wrap the fabric around a rounded edge for about 4 inches along the side panel, and attaché the chine after that. Thoughts? Pics to come, my phone is trying to insert them sideways :)

I haven't used 20oz triax myself, but you may find it difficult to wrap it up the sides. Louis Sauzedde has an interesting approach to that problem in this video.

You had also mentioned difficulty getting 20oz in Canada - one popular cloth here is 1708 biaxial, easily available from US suppliers. 

To make the job of fiberglassing the bottom of my framed drift boat easier, instead of triax, I used three layers of 6 oz cloth with the weave of the cloth set at varying angles to each other. It makes sense that this adds to the strength of the fiberglass on the bottom so that's what I did. It was very easy to finish the bottom that way. While I'm not experienced beyond the one boat I built I do not understand why for the style boat you were building you would fiberglass around the angle created by the bottom of the boat and the side where they join at the chine. It is extremely difficult to wrap fiberglass around a sharp corner and not get bubbles in the epoxy where the fiberglass tries to lift up. If you want a really strong joint you can slather 3M 5200 caulk or one of the more removable high quality type Marine caulks before you install your oak chine guards and then glass the bottom of your boat. That allows you to extend the glass and epoxy across the joint where the chine guard butts up against the plywood bottom. Go around with a single edge razor blade or a fresh utility knife blade just as the epoxy is starting to stiffen up and you can slice excess material away and get a real professional looking edge. I hope this contributes and I'm also interested to hear what more experience builders might say.

I forgot to mention that because I'm on the East Coast where virtually no one makes or stocks drift boat trailers, I had a frame made at a professional welding shop using plans from In the end the price was reasonable and I'm very happy with the product that I got. 

I'll check out that trailer plans link - Might be the best way to go. Thanks again 

Thanks for the info JC! That makes sense about the angle of the woven fabric.

About the wrapping of the fiberglass and the rounded edge, I am referring to info I found on this thread, and below is a pic (hope you don't mind the link if you're out there Randy :). Also, I'm not settled on the idea, but it seems to me like a great approach.

So the narrative helps me understand the rationale. It looks like part of the benefit of the method you are looking at is the edge of the fiberglass is not exposed to forces that would separate it from the bottom or side of the boat.


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