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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Martinac. I made a trip to MacBeath Hardwoods in Salt Lake City. It was 99F around noon time. This is what $1000.00 worth of lumber looks like. White Oak, almost $14 per BF. Mahogany was $7.70 per BF. 

Martinac. I removed the first of six bottom stringers and sanded-clean that area of the hull. Lots of rusted nails and a few rusted wood screws. Before I lay the new stringers I’ll seal coat the plywood and epoxy fill the old holes. Excellent work to do through the hot summer months…

Martinac. I’m really struggling with how best to proceed. I understand the framing and woodwork part. My dilemma is what best to do with the existing plywood bottom. Here are some alternatives. 

1) Fiberglass the outside of the hull. This is possible, but very difficult. I’m not sure there is a good way to do overhead fiberglassing. I guess it could be done in small pieces. But this doesn’t seem like a viable option.

2) Replace the plywood. Also very difficult. This could be done on the back half of the hull. But the forward half is cold molded plywood that is shaped.

3) Add a layer of plywood to the inside bottom of the hull. I’m giving this serious consideration for the back half of the hull. But how can I fill the space between the plywood sheets? Epoxy?

4) Add a layer of fiberglass to the inside bottom of the hull. This too I’m giving serious consideration. I’m well aware of the controversy of fiberglassing old wooden boats. 

5) Seal the holes, sand the surfaces, and apply plenty of primer. This is the baseline treatment. If I do nothing else I will do this. This is probably good enough. 

The existing bottom plywood is not rotted. It’s only flaws are the numerous holes from the old nails and screws. But these can be filled. Your thoughts are welcome. 

How long do you plan on keeping and using the boat? In other words is this a lifetime fix and how frequently will it be used during that time? I presume it will be trailered and kept dry when not in use. Why not use Smith's Penetrating epoxy on the plywood, patch all homes and then prime and paint it?

Just my 2 cents, good luck and continue to keep us informed>

Rick N

Hi Rick. How are you? I’m leaning toward a single layer of fiberglass on the inside bottom of the hull and filling the holes from the outside. That way I can at least be satisfied that the plywood is sealed up before I start installing the new framework. There are hundreds of small holes between 1/16 and 1/4 inches in diameter. I’ll post a picture later. 

I have been better. In the middle of moving out and selling house. Not my idea of a fun time! Health issues are also a challenge at this time. However I have to keep moving forward!


Hi Rick. I’m sorry to hear you are dealing with troubled times. I hope you get settled and are feeling well soon. Step by step is all any of us can do. 

Thank you my friend!



I tend to agree with Rick's proposal to use Smiths Penetrating Epoxy and plug all the holes.


Martinac. Rick and Phil. Here’s a closer look at the worst areas of the plywood bottom. This is why I think it’s best to apply a layer of fiberglass to the inside surface. Then I can fill the holes from the outside against the fiberglass. 


After looking at the pictures, I agree glass is in order.  Something of a multi weave 17-20 Oz. might be in order.  The bottom sheets look like they need help!  Got a lot of holes to plug, but you've become a master with the tooth pics, just gotta find something larger in dia.   

Might you drill the holes your going to plug prior to glassing for a standard diameter dowel (1/4" or 5/16").  Might need to do this prior to glassing to keep the holes free from epoxy dripping into the holes?

But I am sure it'll turn out super as the rest of the restore has. G'Luck!


Hi Phil. I’ll clean the holes somehow. Maybe by a combination of drilling and brushing. After the fiberglass is laid, I plan to use an epoxy filler and fill the holes from the outside. So I need to do some sanding on the outside bottom before I go much farther. 


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