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DIY stitch and glue Drift Boat Building -- Drift Boat Blueprints -- Online Plans

Buffalo Boat

These plans include drawings, various tool and material lists, full sized patterns, and written instructions for two separate but related methods of boat building plywood-fiberglass and balsawood-fiberglass construction. Plywood-fiberglass construction is quick, easy, and well suited for the beginning boat builder.

Fiberglassing is essential in the construction of the ribless boat since the glass fabric and epoxy resin give the boat structural strength as well as a tough and durable finish. Epoxy resin is used for all the gluing in the boat as well as for fiberglassing. Polyester resin, which is used in the construction of "all-fiberglass" boats, is not suitable for wood- fiberglass construction because polyester resin does not adhere well to wood. There are a number of epoxy resin systems on the market that are suitable for boat building, but these instructions assume the use of Gougeon Brother's WEST SYSTEM epoxy products. Read through the entire text of these instructions before beginning any work.

How long will it take?

I once built five boats in 30 days flat. But I can't build a single boat any faster due to gluing/fiberglass hardening times. A friend of mine--an MSU art teacher--built a boat from my plans that was perfect. It was prettier than any I ever built myself. It took him 6 months, working intermittant evenings and weekends.

Montana Riverboats

Sandy Pittendrigh

118 Erik Bozeman, Mt. 59715

Specifications: Sandy's Buffalo Boat

centerline length--------------------11'

gunwale length----------------------12'

bottom width-------------------------48"


height at the oarlocks------------24"


Plywood Fiberglass-------------Approximately 210 lbs.

capacity-----------------------------three persons, 825 lbs.


Chine The curved line formed by the junction of the side and the bottom of the boat.


A thirty inch piece of hardwood, triangular in its cross-section, that joins the two side panels at the front of the boat.


The wedge-shaped piece of plywood (or balsawood) that joins the two side panels at both ends of the boat.


The temporary form on which the hull of the boat is built. The strongback consists of three trapezoid-shaped stations that conform to the shape of the boat. These trapezoidal stations are made from 1"x6" pine boards, chip board or plywood. My use of the term strongback has caused some confusion. There really is no strongback. There are three temporary ribs that give shape to the boat during construction.


A length of 1"x6" pine board that forms one side of a trapezoidal strongback station. Each trapezoidal strongback station consists of four cords the top cord, the bottom cord, and two matching side cords.


The top edge of the side of the boat.


The distance across the gunwales at the widest part of the boat.


The hardening process of resin and hardener. As resin begins to harden, it is said to "kick."

Part One Tool and Material lists

Woodworking tools

You will need a hand saw, and either a portable power circular saw (skillsaw) or a power saber saw. A table saw is handy, but not absolutely necessary. You will also need a minimum of eight C-clamps for installing wooden gunwales. These c-clamps must have a minimum throat depth of two inches and a minimum opening of three inches. The more C-clamps you have, the better. Most rental shops rent C-clamps. I use up to 30 C-clamps per side, when constructing balsawood gunwales. Other necessary tools include a power drill and assorted bits (including a phillips head screw driver bit), an orbital sander, flat wood rasp, paint scraper, bevel square, spirit level, hacksaw, a smooth faced hammer, and a sharp block plane. A sharp block plane is a key tool. Keeping it sharp is essential. Buy a carborundum water stone or a fine India oil stone and hone the blade frequently. A small abrasive wheel in an electric drill can be used to re-grind a plane blade if repeated honing has rounded off the cutting edge of the blade. You will also need several sheets of 50, 80 and 100 grit silicon carbide floor surfacing paper, and a few sheets of 180 grit aluminum oxide paper. Rental shops that rent floor surfacing equipment also sell silicon carbide floor surfacing paper.

Table Saws

If you want to build a boat it helps to have a table saw. The table saw isn't a requirement, but it does make it easier to do good work, especially when making gunwales and seat parts.

For those who don't have a table saw and who don't want to buy one, you can make one, with a piece of chipboard and an old skillsaw:

skill saw table saw

...bolt the skillsaw to one side of the chipboard. Hold the trigger down semi-permanently with a nylon strap-tie (you turn the saw on and off by plugging it in to a live receptacle). Then plunge the blade through the chipboard, turn the chipboard over, put it on saw horses and then use clamps and a straight edge to make an adjustable guide parallel to the blade.

It takes a little longer (than a real table saw) to set up each new cut, but it does cut with a staight even line--does just what you need for cutting gunwales out of 1x10 stock or for what ever else.

Plywood, Wood and Hardware materials (Plywood-Fiberglass Construction)

NOTE: full-length plywood has become impossible to find. You will

have to buy 4x8 and 5x10 foot sheets and do your own

scarfing, which is time consuming but not hard.

1 sheet 4'x12'x1/4" AA fir, marine plywood or 4'x16'x5mm (please read the Plywood-README page!) marine mahogany

1 sheet 4'x12'x3/8" AA fir, marine plywood or 5'x16'x9mm marine mahogany

4 1"x2"x12' oak, ash, or fir boards for gunwales

8 1"x6"x12' #2 pine boards for the strongback

2 sheets 3/8" CDX plywood for strongback corner gussets

up to 50' of 1"x4" mahogany, oak, fir, or ash for seat frames and other interior parts

Edensaw Lumber

in Port Townsend Washinton is a good source for marine plywood.


The Harbor Sales Company

in Baltimore Maryland is also a good source for marine plywood. Harbor sales has a wide variety of plywoods in stock, and they will crate and ship small plywood orders anywhere. The address and phone number for the Harbor Sales Co. is

Harbor Sales 1-800-345-1712 1400 Russel St. Baltimore Maryland 21230


Gougeon Brothers Inc. (517)-684-7286 706 Martin St. Bay City, Michigan 48706

WEST SYSTEM Technical Manual

5 gallons #105 resin

1 gallon #205 hardener

1 pair mini pumps

1 gallon #850 WEST SYSTEM solvent

1 bag #403 microfibers

1 bag #406 colodial silica

1 bag #407 micro balloons

1 bag #423 graphite powder

1 roll 6" fiberglass tape

84 linear feet of 48-50" wide six-ten ounce fabric