his evolving site includes some of our most popular DIY boats all the way back to Popular Science magazine in 1979. Aside from the boating press we’ve published in Family Handyman, Workbench and Mechanix Illustrated. I was a contributing editor to the original Small Boat Journal and Marya as a graphic artist did illustration. We also designed and built projects for the American Plywood Association for 10 years and worked for Outdoor Life magazine for 25 years doing boats and DIY projects for amateur builders. We’ve published over 200 project articles, three DIY boating books for International Marine and Rodale Press and in the process we’ve designed and built well over 100 small boats for clients.
I was fortunate to serve a traditional wood boatbuilding apprenticeship building plank on frame workboats and yachts and also eventually worked at various shipyards with many talented shipwrights doing repair and new construction. I studied with Westlawn School of Yacht Design for a few years and just long enough to realize I belonged out in the shop instead of a design office.
We have traditional classics modified to be built in ply/epoxy, also non-traditional and crossover types using both traditional and ply/epoxy technique. Most of these boats can be cartopped due to the lightweight advantages of ply/epoxy. All of our more recent plans are detailed with sketches, photos, material sources and step-by-step, tips and discussion of options. The Maxi-Mac as an example includes over 40 pages in a spiral bound shop manual format. Hundreds of versions of the Max boat have been built and as seen in builders photos most are quite different. Plans are written with first time builders in mind and we encourage customizing to suit intended usage, so long as safety is uppermost.
We have also applied the advantages of ply/epoxy techniques to hot tubs, saunas, furniture, heirloom toys, truck campers, cabins and houses. The availability and predictable engineering and ease of repair of these new materials can result in stronger, lighter, longer lasting projects and require much reduced maintenance over the long term. We built some of the first lightweight ply/epoxy dories for commercial use by Grand Canyon Dories which replaced aluminum and fiberglass versions. Considering all the boats we’ve built and owned from 34 footers down to the simplest car toppers, the smaller designs have been the most enjoyable, most fun to build, least expensive, carefree and rewarding.