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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Hi Phil. Thank you very much. And it’s good to hear from you. How are things by you? How is your boat?


I have survived the past year with flying colors, no problems health wise.  Have not had the DB out yet this spring, all my fishing buddies are either "too Old" (their words not mine) or have medical problems.  So I have begun to do some maintainance on my boat, Varnish and boat soup.  I haven't touched it for 3-4 years and it's due.

FYI, I purchased one of those car canopys (Harbor Freight) and placed it in the back yard where the prevailing wind is blocked by a building and it held up great so far.  The drift Boat stays nice and dry and no sunshine on it.

keep up the good work,


Phil, I still have my drift boat. But I only take it out nonce, once, or twice a year. Sometimes to a lake. Sometimes to the Snake River of the Salmon River. I’m enjoying the Chris Craft project. But I don’t think I’ll keep this boat more than a few years once it’s finished. I want to take it to a wooden boat show in western Idaho (for some reason this has been on my bucket list since I was in my 20s). But after that’s out of system I’ll probably sell it. 

  1. Chris Craft. Some examples of troubled planks. Many of the old wood screw holes are in bad condition. The planks are only 1/2 inch thick. And wood screws have to go back in these holes. Not so much below the waterline because that gets covered with fiberglass and paint. But the bright sides are another matter. The stained and varnished mahogany needs to look good. So on all the planks I’m sealing the inside surfaces with Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer, then a layer of fiberglass. All the old wood screw holes are then filled with Smith’s Fill-It Epoxy Filler. Then, on the bright sides, the new wood screw holes are drilled into the old filled holes. 


What type of stain are you planning on using on the Bright Side,  Water based or oil based?  I was talking to a classic boat restorer yesterday and he recommended a water based stain.  Just curious if you have used either in the past and what's your preference.  I am assisting a friend building a wooden mahogany 1916 John Hacker runabout design and we'll are getting close to the final sanding. 

I’m going to use a gel stain from the Lake Oswego Boat Company. This selection is based on the how-to videos posted by the Snake Mountain Boatworks. These videos have been an excellent source of information for me. I highly recommend them to you. But I don’t have any direct experience yet with gel stain.

From the videos... sometimes bleaching followed by two coats of gel stain are needed to get an even color. 


Check out...


They make a stain for that boat manufacturer. 

Chris Craft. The difference a light sanding makes. Bright side plank. I’m very fortunate that the planks are in good shape. 

Chris Craft. A couple planks on the starboard side. 

Chris Craft. The planks are dry fit! Still some detail work to do. A few more repairs and some trimming to give 1/8-inch gaps. 

Martinac. I’m back on the Martinac. First order of business is to finish repairs on the transom. Today I just squared-up all the rough cuts I made last year. After the transom I’ll start working on the interior bottom frames. 

Martinac. I’m still working on the transom. Bottom plywood. 1/2-inch thick. 
Interior plywood backing. Two layers of 1/2-inch thick. 
Interior mahogany frame member. 1-1/4 inch thick. 
Outer transom plywood. 3/4-inch thick. 
More to do...


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