I have often been asked, was it easier to build a new boat from plans or is it easier to restore an existing boat, and which gives you the most satisfaction? The answer to both of these questions, like many things has a number of variables. The answer to the second part is easy, I have no preference for either process. I get equal satisfaction from building something from nothing more than a set of plans, or taking something that once was a classic, is now in complete disrepair, and restoring it to its original beauty. Which process is easier is obviously related to the starting condition of a boat being restored. If no major deconstruction and fabrication of replacement parts is necessary, then restoration is definitely easier. But if a high percentage of the boat has to be torn apart, the boat is missing a number of original parts, and replacement is sometimes guesswork, then I feel building new is an easier process.

If you decide to build anew I feel a cedar strip boat is a good place for a novice to start. My first build was plywood on frame and it took me about 18 months to build. My second was a cedar strip and it was completed in about 6 months. A strong back (rack) on which to assemble the boat is needed for either type of boat but once that is complete, the cedar strip only requires that a set of “forms” be cut out and placed at the proper positions on the strong back and a set of “cedar strips” attached to the forms. A challenge is added if you opt to make your own cedar strips but precut strips with a bead on top and a cove on bottom are readily available from multiple sources. I bought my strips from Noah Marine in Canada. The forms were created by tracing full size patterns on to plywood and then cutting them out.

A framed boat from a set of marine architect plans can often require “lofting” to obtain the shape and measurements of the boats components. Lofting is more difficult to do and much more difficult to explain. A set of plans with full size patterns for the components greatly simplifies the process of creating them but is still significantly more labor intensive than the simple set of forms needed for the cedar strip process. Both methods often get a fiberglass coating when the wood components have been put in place and both methods require some interior finishing.

This is an extremely short discussion of a process that will take months to complete regardless of what option is chosen but a great feeling of self-esteem normally comes with completion of any of these projects.