In the Don Hill and McKenzie boats are the ribs glued in or glued and screwed? I don't see filled screw holes on most boat photos. This gave me the impression that the ribs were free form excepting the chine and gunnels. I would love to hear from builders about this. 

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The bottom of my boat, following the instruction that came with my (excellent!) Wood River Boat Works kit, was what I followed. The bottom is screwed and glued with 3M 5200 adhesive caulk to the bottom of the frames and the sides are simply screwed. If I ever had to replace parts that are glued with that stuff, I suspect I will cut out lots of material from around the frames, remove screws, and reduce away the glued sections with a grinder, belt sander, small plane or the like.  

I built the above boat as therapy while recovering from some serious hand surgery. Beauty and fit and finish was not possible and so wasn't not important. Basically built it with my left hand in five weeks. It works great and is built out of 3/8 Plytanium pine ply from Home Depot ($14/sheet). At the same time I learned the basics of fly fishing. 

It occurred to me that a conventional build might be allot more lung friendly since when I build with S&G I usually create allot of sanding work due to carelessness. I wondered if a framed boat might be a cleaner build. 

Have you built any stitch and glue boats and if so how does it compare to framed style? How long was your build in hours?


Okay, some one else better informed may likely step in here with a better answer as I am a first timer with the boat I built. In rough, or maybe even specific terms, I think the Oracle for diy stitch and glue drift boats is Sandy Pittendrigh at Sandy's approach is a moving target. He is always looking at a new idea. This site appears to focus on the traditional McKenzie frame style of boat. I bought a kit, which was the wood parts precut with plywood sides, bottom and gunnels already scarfed for me. Bought epoxy, fiberglass, fasteners etc on my own. Saved me a ton of time over working from scratch and addressed issue of having access to a really good table saw to cut frames pieces and work area needed to scarf plywood. Don't worry, it leaves plenty of work to be done. There was not a lot of sanding except to prep wood for finish. FYI, when I needed to sand materials prior to finishing with epoxy or varnish, I set my work items outside and had a big box fan blowing sawdust away from me. Worked really well. I wont try to defend or rationalize S&G versus framed boats. I will offer that after building the framed boat, I am confident I can replace the stem cap, chines, bottom, most frame elements and even side panels if the boat suffered sufficient damage to merit such work. I have a friend who has guided full time in the Henrys fork area for 35 years. He likes rowing and fishing out of my boat! A frame boat gives you light weight, and a edge along the chine that really helps the boat track and quarter across the flow of a river really well.  

I probably have 80 hours into finishing my boat. It went really fast. I did it the first summer after retirement from full time employment, but I did not get engrossed in working on it all the time. It was a really fun project. 

Yes of course the boat I built was Sandys Buffalo Boat. Lovely little thing. It went fast because I used cheap materials and fast tactics. No fine woodworking. Cut it out, stitched it, filleted, sanded and painted. It works. Not terribly pretty. 

I'm using the wrong oars for now because its all I have. I'll be making the correct ones as soon as I''m sure of what I want. 

The traditional boats often look better and draw more attention if that is a worthwhile goal.

I have 300-ish hours in my decked S&G Grand Canyon dory.

I had previous experience building wood/fiberglass kayaks (both S&G and stripper) so S&G was an obvious choice for me.

Both construction types have pros and cons, but I would agree that framed is a quicker, more organic build.

Build new oars Don! They are a quick and rewarding project. IMHO you can learn as much building them as an entire boat.


When I built my McKenzie boat I fastened the sides to the frames with thickened epoxy and silicone bronze nails - that seems to be a fairly standard method. 

Dave did you clamp it and let it cure and then nail it? Could you explain your process and is all glue hidden?

It's funny, until I joined yesterday I was under the impression that the sides were free floating with the exception of the gunnels and the chine. Now that I know that the frames are screwed (allot of extra work) I don't see any advantage for having frames at all. my boat is frameless and there aren't any issues.

I love all these boats and am happy to learn.

Don, my impression is that it is not common to glue or epoxy the sides to the frames. Frames making building without lots of glass and epoxy practical. There is an upside to that, which is subject to (unresolvable??!!) debate. Both techniques have great merit. My boat is light relative to anything in its size category, and has a sort of cutting edge along the chine as a function of the construction technique. This offers some handling advantages, so I am happy.  I looked very hard at the stitch and glue method and opted for precut materials from Kurt Selisch so I could get going on a project, leaving behind analysis paralysis. 

Don - Here's the sequence I followed:

1. Install each frame and the transom, securing each frame at the chine and gunwale with temporary screws. 

2. At each frame, predrill holes for the nails, mask the inside of hull to handle epoxy squeezeout, and clamp alignment blocks on either side of the frame.

3. Remove the frame, apply thickened epoxy, re-install the frame using screws to re-establish alignment and drive the nails.

More info and pictures here.

One difference I've noticed between the folks building dories - the Grand Canyon folks build with the knowledge that they will need to disassemble to repair at some point. In addition, the boats take much less abuse when they are moved to and from the river, compared to folks in the northwest running rivers like the Owyhee, Deschutes and John Day. So for instance they use slot head screws (easier to remove goo from the head) and might screw the sides to the frames instead of using nails and epoxy. 

Thats not a boat David. Boats are supposed to have glue and glop carelessly dripped all over and carelessly sanded off, lol. 

Seriously that was a great tutorial and will come in handy on my next build. 

Which boat was it?

It's a double ender with a transom, straight out of Roger Fletcher's book Drift Boats and River Dories. If you don't already have a copy, pick one up. It's not only an indispensable reference, it's also interesting reading. 

Everyone seems to be telling me that so I will soon do that. 


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