Hello to all.  My name is Ted and I just recently joined the Forum. I've spent numerous hours reading Forum posts to gain as much knowledge as possible about building a drift boat before I take on the project myself.

I ordered a set of Don Hill plans last week and they'll be sitting in my mailbox in the next couple of days. I like most first time builders, have lots of questions and I'm hoping I can lean on some of you to help answer some I'll surly have. I'll do my best to keep them to a minimum!

I'm going to build the 16 Standard boat. I have woodworking experience, and a shop with most all of the wood working equipment I'll need to take on the project. I also have sources for all the materials I need.

I've already decided on Hydrotec 1/4 and 1/2 marine plywood for the skins and West System for Epoxy.  My choices of hardwoods is my first issue.  I have a source for Ash, White Oak, and Douglas Fir. Since D Fir is so nice to work with I'd like to use it in the frames, and if possible elsewhere.  But I'm thinking the hardness of Ash or W Oak might wear better and therefore a better choice in some places?  I love wood but it's not esthetics, it's what works the best.  Any Suggestions?

I'm NOT a great photographer nor writer but I'll try to post some pictures and thoughts of the build. I hope I can contribute and look forward to communicating with all. 




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I would use white oak for inner and outer chines and either ash or white oak for gunnels. Doug fir gunnels may get banged up. 


Thanks much for the reply. I thought so. The Fir is a bit on the soft side and I agree Ash is a better choice. I found a source for 4 quarter Ash in 16 -18' lengths which will work out very nicely. Lumber this length usually comes in wider width, should be mostly clear, and will help reduce scrap. The price of $4.12 bd.ft. was pretty nice too. Jointing and planing it will probably require some help.

I've pretty much decided to use Ash on all all of the structural parts and Fir in the places like the floors and cabinetry.  I'll make the final decision as I get into the build.

I’d use Doug fir for the frames. Ash would just be unnecessary weight. Those long lengths will make for some easy gunnels!

I'm with Bennett on the choice of white oak for outer chines or anywhere else that's going to get banged up. One not-so-good thing about Doug Fir - especially CVG - is its tendency to split. Yellow Cedar, if you can get it, is a great choice for frames. Don't rule out mahogany - I used it for chine logs as well as some other internal stuff. 


I agree with you and Bennett regarding the choice of materials.  I gave the Fir consideration because it weathers very well and is very nice to work with. I thought, being so straight grained, bending it would would make the chines and gunnels a bit easier to install. I'm going to get a good deal of use from the boat so doing things RFT is the only way to go. 


To all,

Well I got the plans in the mail on Thursday and spent an entire evening going over them. (Don Hill 16' Standard Boat). The plans provide dimension drawings, charts and figures, for everything, and generally there's information about the basic build. They are far from dimension CAD drawing, and there going to take time to go through to understand things before I get started.   Unfortunately, I already have issues which are showstoppers. I'm hoping I can get some help before I do anything.

First and foremost, the plans state "recommend but not necessary" coating the hull parts (plywood sides and bottoms) with none or one coat of epoxy, and also stating no epoxy necessary on any of the ribs or seats. I almost ordered cloth and 5 gallons of 105 West System and Hardener to do as Guy Fredrickson and most others did in their builds. This just doesn't seem right?  Please some help!!!!!

I used 1.5 gallons I believe. 6 oz cloth on the sides, 19 oz triax on the bottom. Epoxy coated the inside floor. 

Five gallons seems a bit much. I followed rule not to coat all sides of the wood with epoxy, thus allowing any moisture to migrate out. So, a coat of epoxy (no glass) on the outside of the hull, but teak oil on the inside. A good rule of thumb is 1 oz of epoxy to each oz of glass, so a yard of 6 oz will wet out with 6 oz of epoxy. I bought the epoxy in 1 gal increments, but I forget now how much I used in total. 

Well it's been some time since I updated what I’ve been doing. I'm moving slower than I expected. I quickly realize there’s lots of new information to deal with and getting things set up right is taking more time than expected. One of my slowdowns was understanding the plans I purchased. They left something to be desired and I had lots of questions which took time to work through. I made a number of updates and changes and hopefully now have a good plan of attack. I’ll have lots of questions and I'm finding plenty of help is available.
My shop has limited space so I need to do things intelligently. I looked both on line and on the forum to get ideas of the jigs and fixtures I’ll need to cut all the angles required for the frames, scarfing the 1/4” sides and 1/2” bottom plywood, and making the handrails and chines.

I’ve decided on Douglas Fir for the frames and most other parts of the boat and Ash for the chines and handrails and structural stuff. I had the opportunity to purchase 16’ lengths of ruff stock but quickly realized their to long to get through my table saw. I choose 10 footers and I’ll scarf as required. Picture below is the 5/4 clear Ash 12” x 10’ which I machined to 1” and varies widths. I jointed and planed all the D Fir and got ready to start making the frames.


I quickly found there was a fair amount of layout work to do before I could start machining the frames. I looked at a number of jigs to cut the taper and angles. I decided to build a very simple jig for my table saw. A sled against the table saw fence with three large toggle clamps was my choice. I cut the required taper and angles for each frame onto the sled making it unique to each part. It made alignment marks for every part quite easy. Cutting a new angle for each frame did make the jig about an inch narrower by the last frame. It was accurate and worked well. My chop saw cut everything else.


More frame pics.


I put the frames together Tuesday using 3M 5200 cement. The adhesive looks like it will take some time to dry.

I’ll cut the chine notches when the frames are dry. Thinking of epoxying the base of the frames where they rest against the bottom of the boat. Think they'll be more susceptible to being exposed to standing water. Any thoughts on the idea?

Wednesday I cut the chines into the frames. I used my multi tool to make the cuts. Cutting the notches was a little more involved and as usual took a little longer than I had anticipated. I’m finding everything takes a little more time than expected and it’s becoming the SOP for boat building. Thankfully it’s enjoyable.

Now onto scarfing the plywood!


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