Hello Everyone,


My name is Guy and this is my first post in this forum.  I am here because I want to build a wooden drift boat and, undoubtedly, I will occasionally need advice of the pool of experts and experienced drift boat builders on this forum.


In preparation for this project I have read and studied three books: Drift Boats and River Dories by R. L. Fletcher, Boatbuilding with Plywood by G. L. Witt, and Covering Wooden Boats with Fiberglass by A. H. Vaitses.  I have also developed my own set of construction plans based off of the "Original McKenzie Double-Ender with Transom" in Fletcher's book.  I used and MS Excel spreadsheet to calculate all of the dimensions, cut angles, compound angles, and bevel angles of all frame components and I used Pilot3D software to calculate the as-cut dimensions of the plywood sides and bottom.  At this point I am pretty comfortable with the mechanics of construction and I think that I am just about ready to start purchasing lumber.


Presently, I plan to use Meranti Hydro-Tek plywood; 1/4-in. on the sides and 1/2-in. on the bottom.  I found plenty of places to purchase these materials, but they are all far away from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and as a result shipping costs more than the materials.  Are any of you aware of a business within a few hundred miles of Idaho Falls that sells this plywood?  I have a few requests in to the local lumber companies, but I have yet to talk with someone who has heard of this material before.


I also plan to use Port Orford Cedar (CVG) for the straight frame sections and White Oak (quater sawn) for the bent frame sections (chine logs and sheer rails).


Thank you, Guy

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Chris Craft. This is as far as I go. There is nothing left to take apart that hasn’t already been taken apart. Once I clean up the side planks and seam rails, it’s all reassembly moving forward. But I will strengthen a few sections of the frames by adding wood. 

Chris Craft. I’m re-enforcing the four frames underneath the bow deck. Some of the original frames are only 1.5 inches tall at the thinnest section and span 64 inches. All of these original frames had failed by the time I bought the boat. The bow deck was collapsed by at least 1/2 inch. The bow deck has to hold the weight of the windshield and the weight of anyone who climbs on it. I think the original frames were grossly undersized. 

Chris Craft. A little more fitting to do on the new frames. It will be much stronger than it was. Several months ago I had a good conversation with a man that’s done boat work his whole life. He gave me some good advice. One of the things he said that I took to heart was, “Chris Craft didn’t always do it right.” He said the carpentry on the earlier pre-war (WWII) boats was much better than the post-war boats. That gave me liberty to think about how I could improve and strengthen this boat. So my work isn’t “preservation”. It’s more restoration and modernization. 

I’ve watched a lot of videos from Snake Mountain Boatworks that have been very helpful on this project. However, his philosophy is more about preserving as much as he can of the original boat. 

Guy, are you also changing the type of wood for your frames in the front? It looks like some nice, fine grained wood that should provide a lot of strength.


Hi Rick. I’m just adding extra wood frames to support the original wood frames. All the original wood is still there. I’m using mahogany lumber I bought from Edensaw Woods. 

Chris Craft. Porcupine’ing the port side frames and gunwale. 

Chris Craft. I finished porcupine’ing the sides and since these pictures I trimmed all the toothpicks. 

Chris Craft. After trimming the toothpicks and lightly sanding and cleaning all the side frames, I’m applying at least two coats of Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. In these pictures the port frames are coated and the starboard frames are still bare. The sealer really darkens the mahogany. None of this will be visible when the boat is completed. 

Chris Craft. Here are a few pictures on make patterns of the existing frames for the purpose of adding additional wood to strengthen the frames. In this case it is pretty easy to make accurate patterns. I’m using a thick paper. I use tape to hold the paper in place to completely cover the side of the frame where the new wood will go. Sometimes I cut various pieces of paper to make this part easier. 
Then I carefully trace the outline of the frame onto the paper using a sharpened pencil. This is a good time to be accurate. Then I cut out the pattern with scissors. 
When the patterns are done I lay them out on the wood to get the best economy of wood. Make sure the grain of the wood is running in the correct direction for the application. 
This shows why I’m concerned about some of the frames. This bow frame is 7/8 inch thick and less than 2 inches wide. There were four wood screws in that small area. 

Frames traced and reading to cut. 

Chris Craft. Frames cut. Next I’ll do the fine fitting. 

It is going to be a fine boat!

Rick N


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