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 Rick,

I live in Idaho Falls. Coeur d’Alene is 490 miles away. I’ve only used my drift boat on the Snake and Salmon Rivers. And a few small lakes around Challis, Idaho. But I only use it once or twice a summer. 


Fair enough, half the fun of having a wooden drift boat is building it. My boat is in pieces awaiting a refinish of the interior. A week-long trip on the Missouri River in the wet season introduced a great deal of Montana Gumbo into on and all over the interior. It and winter weather have caused the original finish from 2009 and 2010 to come off. I scraped, sanded and cleaned up quite a bit of it but back pain slowed me down. I am feeling much better now and look forward to warmer weather to complete the task!

Rick Newman

I’ve been working on it since mid-November. I’m doing a complete frames-up restoration. This is what it looks like now. 

It looks like it actually is in great shape. I have frequently attended the annual wooden boat show held on the docks at the Coeur d' Alene resort with completed restorations. It is a ton of work to achieve the quality of jobs that I have viewed. Keep up the good work.

Rick Newman


The wood is in great condition. Everything is very loose, but that turns out to be a good thing because it made it very easy to disassemble. Nearly all the caulking is dry and brittle and loose; no bonding at all. And most of the wood screws are loose with several broken. Generally, after I get the wood screws out, the wood practically falls off. I plan to attend one or two of the boat shows this summer to get some ideas and to scope it out. I’m hoping to be done in 2021. 

Good luck, have you seen Greg Hatten's speedboat restoration project?


I want to put in a recommendation plug for this product; Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES). It’s a very low viscosity two part epoxy. It really absorbs into the wood. Reminds me of acetone. I need a respirator when working with it. It’s very very stinky in a bad way. Smith’s also makes a putty to fill in missing voids. These products are designed for repairing old damaged wood. But it is expensive at about $300 for two gallons. 

So far I’ve used it on some of the internal frames that are hidden when the boat is assembled. 

The new 200 HP Chevrolet 350 marine engine arrived. This boat ain’t meant to be a drift boat. I couldn’t salvage the original 185 HP Chevrolet 283 engine, it was too corroded on the cooling water side. 


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