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. Doing some final fitting of the “chine panels” on the port side. Seven panels from 1/4-inch plywood to better protect the chine area and provide a better surface to attach the exterior planks. 

We’re the chine panels part of the original build?

I can definitely see them making the hull stiffer, minimizing racking between the ribs and stringers..and thicker at the chines while adding very little weight

Hi Shawn.

Theses panels between the chines are not original. Originally, the boat was a “soaker bottom”. My understanding is that they were meant to stay in the water all season. In the beginning of the season, they would be leaky until the wood soaked up water, expanded, and tightened up the seams. I have no experience with that. Just what I’ve read.

When I deconstructed this bottom there was a type of canvas cloth between the bottom planks and the bottom plywood. And that area smelled of oil. And when using the heat gun, some oil seeped out of the wood.

I’m reassembling the boat with a “5200” bottom and new plywood. Everything below the waterline gets bedded in a layer of 3M 5200 marine sealer. At least 1/8-inch thick.

And I’m going to fiberglass the hull below the waterline. 

Chris Craft. I know... I know... it doesn’t look that much different than before. But the difference is that all the woodwork for the frames is finished! I’m about 15 months into this project. This week I’ll finish painting the frames. Then after that the plywood goes on. 

Chris Craft. Slowly painting the frames with Sandusky bilge paint. 

Chris Craft. Seal coating and painting the plywood panels for installation. All the plywood gets saturated with Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer and the inside surfaces will get painted now or later when the hull is flipped back upright. 

Chris Craft. Applying Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer on the plywood bottom panels with a roller. Wearing a respiratory. Lots of fumes. 

Chris Craft. The inside surfaces of the plywood bottom panels get two coats of Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer and two coats of Sandusky’s bilge paint. I figured why not paint the plywood now. I’ll touch up the bilge when the hull is back upright. 

Chris Craft. The frames are ready for the plywood! The frames as shown have 163 pieces of wood. I made 64 of those to strengthen the original frames. So the original frames had 99 pieces of wood. In addition, there are 133 1/4-20 silicon bronze carriage bolts. And I used 3M 5200 as the adhesive. 

That vessel is going to be one of the stoutest Chris Crafts that ever floated!


Thanks Rick. I hope it still floats. : )

Chris Craft. I’m installing the plywood panels between the chines. Bedding them in 3M 5200 and clamping. No fasteners for now. I apply the 5200 to the rabbit, spread around with a glue brush, apply another small bead of 5200, then attach the panel. I want just a small amount of squeeze out on the inside. 


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