I have a couple of sets of plans for dories that I have to chose from. As I am extremely close to saltwater I'm more interested in larger boats but thought I might get some good input on using plywood for striping a sawn framed dory vs hanging large scarfed panels solo at my 71yrs of age and all of the disabilities that come with it. I've not seen any postings on this subject and came across a posting similar on this site re: striping a drift boat with a sawn frame but using cedar. I'm not against using solid lumbar but what is most available here is douglar fir and I'm not quite sure if I want to use that species. Any input will be most welcomed. Hope I've chosen the right place to post this. First day on this site.

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Stripping a framed hull is a lot more time consuming than plywood panels.  You'll end up with a beautiful boat and it's a lot easier on the body using wooden strips.  I did a 16 ft. DB with cedar strips and launched it last fall.  I am 69 yrs. and can understand your concerns about handeling scarfed panels by yourself.  You can do a search for my build here, it's Dorf's Wooden Drift Boat and see the entire build to get an understanding of what you'll get into.

Using plywood as a stripping material opens up a real bag of worms in my opinion.  You'll end up with a bunch of edge grain on every strip and really increase the possibilities for long term problems if it isn;t sealed and maintained.



Hello Dorf,

Thanks for the reply. I seriously do not believe that handling 20-23ft scarfed panels is within my grasp. I have had major back surgery and still have a missing disc and it's not going to get better. Striping it was my only alternative working solo and I was looking for a material such as ply strips as an alternative to western red cedar which I believe is too soft for such a large hull even with a glass overlay. I understand that stripping is a time consuming process but at least one can pick up a strip vs a scarfed panel of that length unless one is in their 20's to maybe 50's but when one reaches their 60's and has had "Arthur" reside in their person the bone structure usually has been degraded.

I'm a realist and realize that panels are not within my abilities, subesequently I was interested in stripping plywood panels for the use of laying the topsides if applicable. I know that it's not the norm but before I discard it I would like to ascertain if it has been used previously. I could use doug fir as it's readily available in a clear grade and cut the lumbar into 1/2" thick strips of say an 1.5" to 3" width and then lay them on the topsides. Using bead/cove would allow the application of epoxy and pinning them with Raptor composite fasteners would allow me to handle them.

My only other option would be to scarf the panels and join them on the frame as i laid each panel. The scarf line could be joined with composite staples to hold them while the epoxy set up. Still a tricky procedure at best.

Perhaps my best bet is to scuttle the project and just buy an older used fiberglass hull and remodel it to my needs or as close as possible. I'm still hoping that someone out there may have had an actually hand in using ply strips and find out what their success was. Maybe a call to West will bring about useful information as they are the ones that would have attempted it if anyone has. 

Alan:  It sounds like you want to build a classic dory such as Swampscott , Cape Cod or Amesbury for use in salt water; and are thinking of "plank on frame"-carvel- planks flush at the seams.  Have you considered lapstreak/clinker built with  plywood "planks"?  This style might have 3-6  planks from garboard to shear around 4-6" wide.  While not as light as a 3" strip it might be manageable.  Several books might be help out.  "Ultralight Boat Building" by Thomas J Hill,"Clinker Plywood Boat Building" by Iain Oughtred or WoodenBoat Magazine Issue #240 &241.

Dorf is the expert on strip construction-it might drive me nuts to try it.

Good luck

Hello Mr. Long,

Actually I have been looking at the dories by Jeff Spira. One called Winchester (flat bottom) and one called Chesapeake (v-bottom) and the Clemente a sister hull to the Chesapeake. Both v-bottoms are 24ft in length and I was going to reduce the length by 10% with the Clemente as it has an 8ft + beam and would allow more room for a pilot house 9ft long and utilize an Armstrong bracket in order to use all of the deck space. 

As for clinker style, I may attempt building the Long Point by Hill at some point in time. That is a very nice little one person fishing hull for calm bays. Its weight is within reason for turning over with perhaps three or four persons and certainly easy enough for about all vehicles to tow. I have the SF Bay system to use, subsequently the larger dories as even in "good wx" San Pablo Bay can kick up some nasty chop due to its shallow depths/wind. Good for sturgeon, but can be hell on boats if they are really small craft under 18ft. I have Hills books and will purchase his DVD as comments on it have been very positive. 

There's more than one way to strip build i've found out, but it may not meet everyones approval. My biggest concern with stripping ply was the exposure of the laminations that one would be dealing with. Using bead/cove and widths of up to 2 inches (the thinner the more flex),  I had in mind that a liberal coating of both surfaces prior to the actual glueing would penetrate the edges and the second coat would be the adhesion and additional sealing of the edges. If this is not correct, then the use of doug. fir would be my second choice due to availability. A heavier hull due to the fir's weight is not really a concern imho as a heavier hull provides a more comfortable ride in rougher conditions even if it's out in open water. Lighter is faster, but going fast in rough conditions is expensive on fuel and costly on obtaining hulls that will provide that speed. Unfortunately I do not have that style of income. Plus I like comfort over speed. :>) I guess the biggest question is, "Is it appropriate to strip a sawn frame?". If not, I'll move on.

Thank you for your input.

Alan, the types of construction you and Lawrence are discussing a much more often subjects on woodenboatforum.com. YOu might stop by over there and look around. I know tht Dorf and Lawrence also visit there from time to time. Ever since I got bit by the wooden boat bug I have been studying and learning from the folks over there. Good luck on your build.

Rick Newman

Thanks Rick,

I belong to the wooden boat forum. I was a long time subscriber to the wooden boat rag but got tired of all of the rag tops and little power. Cut it off after many years. Good forum sometimes just the same. Sometimes when you jump into that abyis it gets real mucky. I don't want to start something that gets way off base and provides little results. I'll search the forum to see if that subject has been approached. Very good suggestion just the same.


The stripping over frame is very doable, in my opinion.  There's a guy here in Michigan who builds Cedar Strip DB's with 2/14" wide cedar/w bead and cove.  His name is Phil Croft (http://www.croffcraft.com/ ).  

Based on what I saw when I looked at one of his boats I used 1/4" x 2 1/4" strips of White Ash (had lots of Cheap Ash) for the bottom of my drift boat.  I scarfed 8' lumber to get 14' long strips.  I added a second layer to the first to achieve a 1/2 thick bottom.  It went a lot faster and I think could work for a 20+ ft. boat.


ps: Anyone can buy a glass boat but a hand built wooden boat has much more class! IMHO!

Hello Dorf,

Thanks for the url on croft craft. Pretty interesting mini-dory :>). That DB has a really flat bottom and with the beam that it carries it looks like it could float on tissue paper thin water.

I agree with your assessment of using strips of ply and lean towards using the doug. fir as it's pretty tough material as well as a good shock absorber coming along side of docks,  game warden boats and the USCG. DF is used for so much in our locale it makes it readily available and at a price that's not too bad. Make the sawn frame with epoxy/Raptor composite nails and then seal the complete frames with epoxy prior to putting them on the strong back. Then with bead/cove strip the topsides, perhaps seal one side of the strips prior to laying them on the sides to save sealing the inside up after planking. I don't believe it would stiffen the strips up to any extent and sure would save the messy job of putting on epoxy after turning the hull. Just some touch up here and there. 

Pretty interesting as to how you brought up the thickness on your bottom. I believe that would not have occurred to me. Good use when you have a lot of any species of wood and can seal it up with the epoxy. Have you used any of the Raptor fasteners? I have been in favor of them since I first found out about them. I need to step up and purchase a couple of pnuematic guns to at least get some time in with them for familiarization. I plan on using the Raptors as much as possible as one does not have to take them out as they will sand down if need be and they will never corrode thus saving a lot of time and elbow grease. The designer of the dories that I'm interested in, Jeff Spira, seems intrigued with them as well. If I can get things moving forward towards my target date, I may be the first to use them on one of his designs. Staples, pins, and finish nails should be the fasteners needed to make the build. They can replace a lot of clamps, but not all. 

I tried your "button" in order to look at your DB build but it didn't take me there. As I'm not used to this site I'm fumbling around at the moment (first day). What would I find it under? Would like to peruse it. 

Coming to your neck of the woods within the next two years. My "war dept." wants to tour MI, especially the top of the State and then work back down to the ferry to go over to WI to visit some of my family (Waukesha) and on to MN to see a friend of mine. I'm looking forward to the MI tour when she puts it together. She's the tour director in my adobe.

Good chatting with you.  Alan


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