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Anybody build a plywood canoe/boat/water traveling device?

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by AxesAreBetter, Dec 7, 2015.

  1. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey++

    Howdy y'all. I have been thinking on trying to put a plywood canoe or boat together for a while now, but my experience with boat building is a flat zero, and the "free online plans" have all been $20 to see the actual plans for the boat. I think that I have a pretty good idea of how to put one together, but ask the experts seemed to be a good idea.

    To meet my needs, it needs to be man portable, 10+ feet, and be able to be fished out of. It also needs to be able to pack 300lbs+ of gear.
    UncleMorgan likes this.
  2. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey Site Supporter

    Yes, flat bottom, meets your specs. But I would add enclosed seats with flotation foam.
    UncleMorgan likes this.
  3. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    Plywood is kind of heavy. When you say man portable, are you saying one man carry?
    UncleMorgan likes this.
  4. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey++

    Yeah, one man carry. My current boat is a 15ish foot aluminum row bow that is a monster amount of metal. 2 big or 3 normal men to move it more than a handful of feet. 2 banks of oars, and an incredibly poor mounting system for them.
    UncleMorgan likes this.
  5. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    It might be smarter given the weight issue to maybe explore fiberglass...really easy to work with and much lighter. Resin and fabric basically.

    UncleMorgan, Yard Dart and VisuTrac like this.
  6. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Some years ago, decades really, my dad and I built a small boxish 2 man row boat meant to be a car topped and carried boat. Maybe we overbuilt it. Bottom line we ended up getting a small trailer to haul it around. At times we man handled it up and down banks to launch or recover it. This usually accompanied volumes of swearing. I would consider a cheaper lighter aluminum flat bottom boat. They make them cheaper than you can build a back breaking plywood boat. Some aluminum boats are really heavy duty, you know what to avoid due to past experience. Even the cheap aluminum jon boats will serve you for quite awhile if you take good care of it.

    BTW, I carry oars, and a tow rope, but would suggest you consider and electric motor and good battery for primary propulsion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2015
    UncleMorgan and Airtime like this.
  7. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    Consider an ultra light boat... here are some examples... I like the balsa and glass canoe...
    Ultra Light Boats
    UncleMorgan and Pax Mentis like this.
  8. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey++

    When I could get someone down here to go fishing with me, we built a rudder for it, so one of us could provide propulsion, and the other could steer. I don't have the skills to row a bow down a winding river without someone else steering. And I inherited it in part because you can't put a motor on it without pulling the bow so far up out of the water you can flip it on you. They were using it as a watering trough when I snagged it.
    UncleMorgan likes this.
  9. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    How far are you wanting to "man portable" this boat?
  10. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    As a kid we had a small sailboat my cousin built from 1/4 inch marine plywood. It was only about 10' long and carried just two people and it was probably a 100 pounds or more. I have a 17 foot aluminum canoe that is darn near 50 years old and it can carry two people and 300 pounds of gear and it weighs about 70 pounds. There are newer materials including Kevlar that can yield a canoe that is only 30-35 pounds and easy for one to carry. By the time you buy marine ply, fiberglass and epoxy to coat it to make it more puncture and moisture resistant you may well have more money invested than buying a fair used boat. Canoes are hard to construct due to the complex curves but those curves give it strength. A flat bottom jon boat is easier to build but wide flat surfaces of plywood aren't real strong. You typically pickup a lot of weight to the ribs and stringers get the necessary strength in flat plywood designs. If you want the experience and fun of building a boat, by all means build one. But if all you want is simple and cheap water transportation, I would suggest finding a small used boat. If you want to be able to carry it, hard to beat a canoe.

    Of course you do know the two best days in the life of a boat owner....
    UncleMorgan and tacmotusn like this.
  11. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey++

    I only should need to pack it a couple hundred yards at most, and only then if I drag it all the way up to high ground to store it. I can tell you that my rowboat much weigh way in excess of a hundred pounds. Just took a look at the weight of standard plywood, and was VERY surprised it weighs as much as it does. Hadn't realized man handling it. I'm a pretty good sized dude.

    I actually have a lot of trouble finding canoes in particular, and john boats even, in this neck of the woods. They either hang on to them when they have them, or sink them in various and often extremely redneck ways. We have some sporting good stores that opened in the area the last handful of years, but I could pick up an AK for the prices on a new one.

    The closest things you get to used boats anymore are beat-the-heck-up "bass boats", and I am wanting a nonpowered unit.
  12. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey++

    Buying it, and getting rid of it?
    Airtime likes this.
  13. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    We had a Venture crew join us camping. They made a plywood canoe. It was mEn portable and heavy. Took three guys to get it in the ocean, but it held those three guys. It was heavy and it was slow. And not the most maneuverable. Thankfully, there were no big waves. Don't think they would have made it if there were. They set crab traps but were unsuccessful.

    So @AxesAreBetter, yours may turn out better. But I have my misgivings about plywood.

    We have two young grade school boys here who built there own fiberglass boat. It was a most awesome job. After all the sweat equity and money they earned to finish the boat, some asspuka(s) stole it. It was later recovered, but they stole the motor and fittings off the boat. Just those parts were a couple thousand dollars. And those boys worked hard for it. Uncool.

    By the way, "puka" is Hawaiian for hole.
    kellory and AxesAreBetter like this.
  14. Gopherman

    Gopherman Sometimes I Wish I Could Go Back to Sleep Site Supporter++

    There is a material called Marine Plywood, It is honeycombed, so its more lightweight, along with enough fiberglass cloth and resin, you could probably get something that'll float. It's been a while, but I don't think it will sink either. I just bought a canoe at Academy for $350 that meets all your needs. By the time you build something you may end up with at least that much in it without adding the labor cost.
    Craigslist is a pretty good place to find what you need pretty cheap, and you can get a tried and true vessel, I've been on the ocean and had boat trouble before, trust me when I say, "YOU CAN DIE IN A HURRY!"
    There are a lot of sites where you can get detailed prints for free if doing it yourself is what your after.
    Good luck!
    Motomom34 likes this.
  15. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I have a rig I built that will roll my 14' aluminum v-hull to the water with ease. (1 man) it is not hard to make, and I could easily make you one. Mine is going to my sister for her boat. PM me, and let's discuss it. I would need the centerline to centerline dimension of your boat at the thule-pin holes.
    Rather than change your boat, change your method. Plywood/wood boat of any design, is likely to wiegh as much or more than you aluminum boat.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  16. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    @ Witch Doctor 01:
    Thanks for the link. Some of those pictures were mouth-wateringly tasty.

    Here are free plans for a 15' plywood canoe, rated for two, that would weigh 75 lbs. Build it with lighter materials for less weight.
    Glide Easy.pdf - Google Drive

    Many free plans on line. Bless Google, from which all free knowledge flows.
  17. fmhuff

    fmhuff Monkey+++

    Of course google is always your friend. CLC is just one of many vendors with kits and plans. There are quite a few other companies as well. This link is just one of their kits weighing just 68 # and 500 # payload. They have a lot of other kits and the ones I've seen were quite well engineered.

    To be honest you might do better looking for a good used canoe. People do loose interest in their hobbies and there are many quality rigs out there that would meet your needs.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  18. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    One word

    Witch Doctor 01 likes this.
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