Free plans from the Chest of Books

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The Chest of Books is a new source of boatbuilding plans I haven’t been aware of before now. Here are some samples, but I’d guess that more could be found using its search engine:

Rowing skiff

15ft duck boat

12ft rowing boat

Racing sailing boat

How to build a sailboat

Don’t miss something good – subscribe to skiff – drawings and coordinates for stitch and glue

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Drawings for plotting coordinates and building the boat
– use earlier printouts for model-making

In case you’ve been wondering, in addition to working on boats and digging the garden, I have found just a little time to work on the Julie skiff. Actually what I’m sharing with you today took about four hours!

The panels are now plotted onto 8 by 4ft rectangles representing plywood sheets, I’ve used letters to label each of the key plotting points to create the shapes, and I’ve made up tables specifying their positions. It’s dull but necessary work, and we’ve now reached the point where building can begin, particularly for people who know the stitch and glue process well.

In plotting coordinates, I always begin by squaring off the material in 12in squares, which helps with the plotting itself. Don’t be surprised if the material is a little longer than 96 inches – for some reason, in my experience ply is always 48in wide, but a little more than 96in long.

Download the drawings and coordinates in the form of a zip file, together with almost everything else needed to build the boat: julie-skiff-zip-package (To avoid confusion, this is now the complete package, by the way.)

All that remains is my little essay describing all the files, and commenting on issues like shaping or notching the tops of the frames to accept the gapped inwales, oar placement and so on. If you’ve built a boat this way before, you won’t need to wait for my text file on this subject to begin work, and you may not need it at all. Before building, however, I would counsel building a model as described in an earlier post (see below). Phew – after all this work I do hope someone will build it, as I think she’s a handsome, practical boat for rivers, lakes and sheltered waters generally.

If on marking out you find any errors or anything that looks wrong, please let me know – if there’s any doubt, please don’t make a cut but contact me immediately at Mistakes do happen and I’ll fix any you find as quickly as I can, and as soon as my paid work allows me to be at home long enough to deal with them.

These drawings are my work and my property. Individual amateurs are permitted to build one or two boats for their own use from these drawings for themselves but commercial boatbuilders and those intending to build more than two or three boats are required to contact me for permission to build.

I would also warn that I am not a professional boat designer and accept no responsibility for any damage or loss that may result during building this boat or in its use on the water or on land. I would ask that boat users take special care and always take sensible precautions when using this boat on the water including using lifejackets.

I still plan to work up a second set of plans for more traditional-style boatbuilding, and to work up a sailing rig. After all my hard work, though, I hope I can be forgiven for having a few days off from designing and drawing!

If you build this boat – even if it’s a model – PLEASE let me know by getting in touch via

See the complete series of posts on this project:

Complete free plans package for the flat-bottomed 15ft 7in skiff skiff – drawings and coordinates for stitch and glue skiff – photos of our model, and maybe yours too? skiff – now we can make a model skiff progress
Early drawings for a 15ft 5in lightweight flat-bottomed American-style skiff

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Early drawings for a 15ft 5in lightweight flat-bottomed American-style skiff

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Preliminary drawings for a 15ft 5in flat-bottomed light rowing
skiff, 500lbs displacement

Although the 15ft light-weight American-style flat-bottomed plywood rowing skiff has become an elegant design classic, it’s perhaps surprising that there aren’t more sets of plans around. So, after some prompting by Win Cnoops of the Slipway Cooperative early this summer I’ve started work on one. It’s high time I got around to some designing again!

Here are some snaps of my early results. The waterline here is at 500lbs, and the discerning eye will be aware that the bows will be just out of the water most of the time, and that will also have noticed that the panels at the entry are quite straight, while those at the stern have more shape.

Boats like this can be relatively easy to build particularly if you go the stitch and glue route and aren’t too fussy about the finish – but they can more than repay the effort that goes into a more traditional construction and a good-quality varnish finish. They also row well and are a natural river boat, but must be used in fairly gentle wind and wave conditions.

My intention is to work up two or maybe more versions of this skiff based on the same basic hull – one will be a vanilla stitch-and-glue job that almost anyone might be able to build, while the other would have additional ‘gingerbread’ in the form of a more traditional build, more elegant seating arrangements, a shaped transom and so on.

See the whole series of posts on the skiff Juliealmost complete plans, our model, drawings for model-making, rough nesting, lines and initial drawings.

If a tender is what you’re planning to build, check out my Light Dinghy plans.

PS – It seems I’m not alone in cooking up a new set of plans. Check John Welsford’s site for what sounds like an interesting design project.

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