I love my big 17' Jerry Briggs-inspired Grand Canyon dory from Andy Hutchinson's plans, but she's way too big for day runs.  Time to build a little boat.

10'-6" LOA

60" beam

36" floor width

~23" deep at the oarlocks

I made three paper mockups, and two smaller 1:12 tagboard mockups.  One final 1:6 cardboard mockup before committing to plywood:


Cut the plywood. One piece ripped diagonally lengthwise, the bow panels out of the width of another sheet.  Side panels 11'-10"


I was having a hard time getting straight scarfs with my saw jig, so I cleaned them up from here with a ROS and 60-grit. You want the ramps to all touch the previous sheet and the glue lines parallel. The top piece was really ugly and got re-cut entirely. This isn't fancy AA marine ply, just $30 AC ply from the box store. Not worried about knots; I'll be glassing the entire boat inside and out.


I like woodgrain.  Used a latex exterior stain.  Oil based stains can interfere with the epoxy joint.


Epoxy on the joint faces and clamped/screwed for the night.


Views: 326

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

i eagerly await the progress on your build. As a kayaker before I was a drift boater I miss the ability to go out and play in the water in a large drift boat. While still possible it isn't quite the same. I like to use the hard chine on my boat to make turns, cut into eddies and just play! I really like Brad Dimock's little boats and would enjoy getting to boat in one of them sometime.


I see you're in Spokane. I'm in Kalispell.  Come visit!

I started kayaking 23 years ago, rafting 17 years ago.  Dories 2 years ago.  Rafts have nothing on dories and drifters.  I'm enjoying Class II rivers that I'd always ignored before.  You'll love the way a little dory feels and surfing small waves, making eddy turns, and as you said, "just play"!

First rafting trip was in the summer of 1968, almost died! Waited a few years and took rafting classes at EWU. Had a blast and learned how to read rivers. Started teaching outdoor recreation at Spokane Community College and was invited to teach rafting classes. Soon was running multi-day summer river trips on the Grande Ronde and the Lower Main Salmon Rivers. The emphasis on the trips was on learning about how to go rafting, prevent issues and be good to the environment. A death in the scuba program at the school created a fear of liability issues in the administration. Moved on to personal kayaking and canoeing. Taught canoeing trips for the city of Spokane, mainly to upper Priest Lake. Also started guiding professionally on the Lower Salmon River for EWU. Great times for four years or so.

Also became very active in the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club. Evolved into a whitewater solo canoe instructor accredited by the American Canoe Association. Each step of the way the skills and abilities grew exponentially. I was blessed.

Life intruded and backed off rafting for a few years. I got a job with a guy who had a drift boat but had no idea how to run rivers with it. Now I had a chance to get back on the water, albeit a lot less challenging than before but still a great time. Fewer trips but still on the water.

I had always liked my cousins Greg Tatman boat he had built. Unfortunately he trashed it on the Yakima River, moving water requires skills to be successful. Stated looking for a way to buy or build my own. About this time I bought a used drift boat but made a poor purchase. You can find pictures of that boat and its' story in these pages.

Found an un-built Greg Tatman kit in Bellingham for $750! Drug it home and after three and half years got it finished in 2011. Greatly enjoyed fishing from it and floating a variety of rivers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Got paid to take a photographer down some of the river that Lewis and Clark traveled for the purposes of photo documentation of their travels from a riverine perspective.

In 2014 at 63 years old I got invited on a Grand Canyon float. No one asked how long it had been since I rowed big whitewater, neglected to tell them almost thirty years! It was a great trip, what a place. Old rafting and whitewater skills soon got polished up and did fine until Upset Rapid. A third of the way down Upset I suddenly found my self struggling alongside the raft in huge waves! No one could figure out how to use a throw rope, I finally made my way to shore, half drowned and quite shook up! First time I had ever left a boat on river unplanned.

I had been reading about Lava Falls since an early story in Life Magazine. All the stories that followed that one developed a fear of Lava. The book, Great Drops, enhanced that fear. I had the choice to row or not row. I chose to not row, even though I had run everything but Upset in fine form. Made it through Lava, a few splashes but still upright. I loved that trip.

I have been endeavoring to refinish the interior and exterior of my boat for a couple of years. Finally got the finish on but still need to reinstall the furniture and build floor boards. I am looking forward to floating more laid back streams this year!

We will have to float a river or two in Monata or Idaho this summer. Are you perhaps a fly fisherman?

Rick Newman

I grew up in Great Falls MT (hence the name of my dory) on the Missouri.  Dad was an avid (bait/spinner) trout fisherman.  Lots of subsistence fishing for trout and ice fishing for perch, I think I ate my lifetime share before age 15.  Dad LOVES fishing, I never got into it, but LOVE water.  Rivers, streams, oceans, inlets, lakes, I love water.

Started building wooden sea kayaks in 1997, traveled to both coasts and New Zealand instructing.  Had daughters in 2001 and 2003 and looked closer to home for water-based recreation.  Fortunate to live in the Flathead valley with amazing lakes and rivers.  More sea kayaking all over Flathead lake (especially calling in "sick" on lake wind advisory days to go surfing) and started whitewater kayaking on the MF Flathead.  Got an invite to check out the Lochsa in 2009 and was hooked on big whitewater.

Now my kids are just out of HS and a HS senior, and I have more time, but less inclination to chase huge whitewater.  Dories have shown me the magic in smaller, quieter rivers, but the Grand is still at the top of my bucket list.  Also loved the Main Salmon in my dory and am planning a longer dory-only Main/Lower Salmon trip in mid June...but am more than ever drawn to the waters I'd previously missed in my search for local big foamy water.

Had a magical float from below St. Regis to the Flathead/Clark Fork confluence at Paradise just this past October, and would eagerly do it again.  Also want to check out the St. Joe and NF Clearwater. :)

So..while I had my lifetime of fishing earlier in life, I did buy a fly rod this spring and got the line wet 3 of the 38 days I was on the water!

The water is where it is! After many years of whitewater a very close friend of mine introduced me to the waters off Vancouver Island. He was into fiberglass and made limited numbers. They have been used in many waters and enjoyed by many. My first trip in Barkely Sound was magical! Years earlier we also di some scuba diving in Puget Sound. What a wonderful world it is underwater. Grew up fishing in vary small streams in the Cascades. Fish were small but plentiful and taught me a lot. We didn't depend upon fish for sustenance, but did value the annual harvests of deer and elk. Time spent in the mountains, forest thickets and sagebrush. I have been fortunate to enjoy many outdoor environments and to also earn a living working there.

For the last few years I have been active with the Spokane Fly Fishers. Fishing, helping run the administrative side of the club and teaching fly fishing and fly casting. I can show you the beauty of the St. Joe River having spent many days up there fishing and guiding. Working as a camp cook showed me an entirely different side of the st. Joe country. Our camps were a few miles off the river and we took our hunters to to the forests, ridges, the canyons and mountains above the river.

Steelheading reintroduced me to the waters of the Grande Ronde River and occasionally a beautiful steelhead on the end of my line. We live in an outstanding region with many different environments to visit and enjoy.

I drove to the Grand canyon and back in 2014 and greatly enjoyed the desert environment. I had always wanted to visit the huge sandstone escarpments that played a big part in my TV viewing in the cowboy and Indian movies of my youth. I plan to revisit and explore more of that country over the next few winters and springs.

We live in a great place that can be explored by drift boats, I have been fortunate enough to enjoy much of what is available but I have not yet pegged my fun meter enough. We need to get together and enjoy the wild places and beautiful rivers available to us soon.

Rick Newman

Day 3:

Sanding to show the grain, final cutting and fairing panels, glassing the inside faces.

The stain covered the grain a bit too much.  Some quick work with 120 grit exposed the grain on the harder summer grain, the softer summer grain took the stain deeper and stayed gray.


Did a little creative sanding to get the grain to line up between the different panels


Planing the rolling bevel on the bowpost.  76° included angle at the base, 108° included angle at the top.


76° angle at the base


108° at the top where the panels flare out


Good stuff, you are going to have a good boat when you are done.


The rough cut for the bottom of the side panels has a flat spot


Planed out for a fair curve.  No measurement tools were harmed or even touched in this step. haha


Top (sheer) cut out.


The sheer faired


Glass on the inside faces.  Had some delamination in one spot, so it got the "ceiling press".


You may have noticed that I'm just using common exterior grade 1/4" AC douglas fir plywood.  The glue is the same, and it's made in the same Roseburg, Oregon factory.  The A face is the same quality as marine ply.  The core isn't bad.  The inside C face has the knots you can see...but everything visible on the inside will be painted.

With fiberglass inside and out, the wood has less need for strength, and it's actually more of a core material. If I were building a plank on frame boat, AA or AB or BS1088 Marine ply would be a MUST. If this were a customer boat and not my play boat, I'd also be using marine ply. And...it was available locally, the boat is a prototype, and not a Steinway piano...let's go boatin'!

I'm really shooting to get this in the water by about April to feel how it does in the water, and decide if the design is good or if it's back to Cardboard Aided Design!

I think you are on to something. I would enjoy rowing that boat down a river if I had a chance. While they can be wonderful to look at the real joy is in the opportunities they provide to get on the river!


Got the panels connected.  Feeling like it’s a bit too deep.

the big Briggs has 29”tall sides at the oarlocks.  The Lil Bastard is 19” and IMHO a tad shallow.

sitting at sides.


May trim to ~22.5”.

Open to discussion!61747

My instant reaction is; are you going to be boating in technical whitewater where higher sides will help keep waves out or will you bee in more mellow, placid water? I think that your boat is going to be such a kick to row that it will lead you to bigger water and waves. A true play boat. You might check with Mark Stuber since he has already built something similar.


Well...yeah..  Not primarily intended only for technical whitewater, but will find myself in technical whitewater sooner than later.  Would I row this on the Lochsa or St. Joe?  Yes, yes I would.  Good question, Rick.

The high bow makes a MUCH bigger difference than the side height.  And it will be a self-bailer.  The Lil Bastard has a ~10" lower bow and is a REALLY wet ride.  So much comes over the bow I haven't really noticed any excessive water coming over the sides.  in my big boat, the only waves that get in the sides are confused reaction waves, the big flare in the bow tends to knife through big water and ride over the waves.

So it's an aesthetic question as much as performance. 

yeah, had a great conversation with Mark a couple months ago.


© 2021   Created by Randy Dersham.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service