Resource Guide for the Amateur Boat Builder

handplane2At the end of every summer I start the process of searching for something to keep my sanity intact over the coming 6 – 8 months of non-sailing season. That usually takes the form of a new boat building project. I have said it numerous times that boat building is therapy. Each time I embark on this internet adventure, I typically end up falling back on the same handful of websites when searching for boat plans, tools, supplies, materials, and advice. Sure, I will waste a number of hours going to some new places or chiming in on a new forum or blog, but when it comes to game time and placing orders for what I need, I always go back to what I have used in the past. The Resource Guide is my attempt at saving you from having to waste that time and provide you with my list of the online tools that I use.

One task I find daunting each time I build a boat is the gathering of materials. You’ve decided on a boat to build and you’ve ordered the full plans or at least the study plans. With those plans, there is a material list. The first thing to do is to decipher the language.  If you are not familiar with lumber or nautical terminology, you will need to figure out exactly what is being asked for.  Not everybody knows what a “pintle and gudgeon” is.  I find Google very helpful in translating. For example, the Bolger Bobcat called for “1.5-inch Plank Stock.” I had an idea, but wasn’t quite sure what size “plank stock” is. So I did a Google search for “what size is plank lumber” and came up with this, It may take some trial and error of different search terms, but the information is out there somewhere.  Once you’ve translated those things into your language (ie. 1.5″ x 10″ plank), you can then enter it that way into your own spreadsheet material list.  If you have a hard time figuring out what something is, feel free to email me.

So once I’ve figured out all of the materials I needed, it’s time to start purchasing and collecting everything.  One thing I find very frustrating is moving along on a project and then having to stop short because you don’t have the correct tool, or fastener, or piece of lumber.  It is likely so frustrating to me because of my home situation.  I have 3 kids under 8-years-old.  My wife and I both work.  The time to disappear into the basement for boat work is tough to come by, so when I do get down there, I want to get as much done as I can.  To prevent the dreaded stops, I try to save up all of my money and to purchase just about all of the supplies before starting on the project.

In language that I can understand, I will list everything I need to buy in an Excel spreadsheet.  Now, don’t get intimidated by the term “spreadsheet.”  It is just a glorified list.  I use some very simple formulas in Excel, but you certainly do not need to.  If you do not have Excel, you don’t need to go out and contribute to Bill Gates fortune.  You can sign up for a Google Account and use their spreadsheet software in Google Docs.  The spreadsheet should have multiple columns with item description, quantity, price, where to purchase, notes, and whatever else you think is relevant.  I start by listing the items.  I then go onto my staple websites (more in the Resource Guide) and start searching for the lowest price or best fit.  I will then make sure I list where I found each item in my spreadhseet so I don’t have to go re-search for it once I am ready to buy.  If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet I used for the Bolger Bobcat please shoot me an email.  It is a good example of the format I use in this process and you can feel free to delete my content and use it as your template.

I am planning on having the Resource Guide ready to go by the end of this month.  The folks that are already on my Monthly Newsletter list when I release the Resource Guide will get advanced copies.  If you would like to be on the advanced copy list, please sign up here!  As always, I do not SPAM or share your information.  I hate SPAM!

Thank you for reading!




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