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Page Title: Construction Methods



Glued Plywood Lapstrake Construction

Glued lapstrake plywood construction (GLPC) was developed sometime after WWII and became popular with power boat builders such as Chris Craft and others in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Its shortcoming at that time was rot. The plywood was susceptible to rot because there was nothing besides paint to keep the water from soaking into the edge grain of the wood. Still, it proved to be a cost effective way to build a durable, handsome boat.

picture of glued lapstrake boat under constructionIn the late 1970’s epoxy pioneers, the Gougeon brothers, came out with a book on boat construction which added their West System® epoxy resins to the GLPC construction method, and everything changed. Wood epoxy saturation treatment very effectively seals the edge grain of the plywood so that rot is no longer an issue even with boats left in the water for long periods of time. The boats also stay light and stiff because they don’t soak up water. Because the planks are glued together there are no leaks and far fewer fasteners.

Glued lapstrake plywood construction can be achieved using a number of techniques picture of a dory made in 1980 including stitch and glue. However, I prefer the systems developed by Joel White, Tom Hill (Ultralight Boatbuilding, 1987) and John Brooks (How to Build Glued-Lapstrake Wooden Boats, 2004) as well as tricks I have developed over the years. Typically, my boats have a thicker bottom plank or a wide keel to give the boat a wider glue seam at the gar-board plank as well as to give it a tougher bottom. The bottom is then glassed up to the top of the gar-board planks with 3 oz. or 4 oz. glass cloth. I prefer mahogany for transoms, gunwales and seat stringers; clear pine for seats; and cedar or teak for floor boards. The boats receive two coats of epoxy inside and out followed by four coats or more of paint or varnish. Seat systems, sail rigs, centerboards, rudders and oars can be simple or traditional (fancy) depending on the customer’s preference.

Salt Pond Rowing (GLPC) boats tend to be extremely durable, low maintenance, and long lived. My first dory was built in 1980 and is still in use and still lookin’ fine.


Strip Plank Construction
The Slipper in the water

I have heard that strip plank construction started in the late 1940ʻs when mills began producing production windows and doors. A waste material of these mills were long strips of wood that the local fisherman-boatbuilders began using to build fishing boats. They would edge nail the strips together over sawn frames using a bedding compound in between the strips.

Modern strip planking was developed for canoe building using epoxy and fiberglass to enhance the strength of the boats. In modern strip planking we mill strips with a cove on one side of the strip and a bead on the other side so that the strips lock together. The strips on a Salt Pond Slipper are 3/4 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick. I use western red cedar for the strips above the water line and white cedar below the water line.

Planking is started at the sheer. Each plank is glued to the previous plank and clamped to the molds. When the planking reaches the water line the planks are trimmed to the water line and planking continues in white cedar.

When the planking is done and the outer keel and stem have been glued in place the hull is sanded smooth and epoxy coated and glassed. The hull is then removed from the molds, sanded smooth on the inside and epoxied and glassed inside. The hull can then be finished out with rails, knees, and interior.

The result is a very light, strong, and beautiful boat.

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