*     *     *
OffCenterHarbor.com is a membership website with over 1,000 videos and articles on boat handling, repairs, maintenance, boat building, dream boats and more.

Sign up above to learn more, and get 10 of our best videos.

*     *     *

Preview: Stitch And Glue Boatbuilding At The WoodenBoat School

November 30, 2011

We take you to the WoodenBoat School for family week. Families from around the world have come here to assemble Chesapeake Light Craft’s Wood Duck kayak kit with instructor Eric Schade, the boat’s designer. We get an in-depth look at the process through the eyes of 10-year-old aspiring boatbuilder Andrew Benaugh. Over the course of six incredible days you can watch eight kayaks go together from unpacking to launching.

Get Free Videos Start Free Trial Members Sign In


– When I came down here after supper for the boat building orientation and I saw that scraps of wood and I’m like, “How is this ever gonna become a boat?” I can picture a boat, and I can see the straps of wood. The two thoughts together don’t really mix.

– [Narrator] Stitch and glue boats go together easy and fast. They’re perfect for the first-time builder. Kits with pre-cut plywood panels come in a wide range of boats: boats you can paddle, sail, and row, and also use for fishing. Stitch and glue boats are affordable and strong, can be seaworthy, and are handsome to look at. The shapes coming from this process are to die for.

– For these boats to be pulled out of a cardboard box, stitched together, glued up and finished, and put overboard in a week’s time, baffles me.

– [Narrator] Here at the WoodenBoat School, with Andrew’s help, we’ll show you what stitch and glue is all about. During Family Week 2010, parents and grandparents, working with their kids and grandkids, turned out close to 20 boats, beginning on Monday and launching and paddling on Saturday. Andrew Benagh and his dad Jeff make up one of the teams.

– [Instructor] Now just soak the insides too.

– [Narrator] Ed Keenan has brought his grandsons, Jack and Thomas, and the three of them will also work together to create a wood dug. Here, they’re puzzling over how the first mold gets placed in the spread-apart bottom panels. Building stitch and glue boats is a lot like putting the peels of a banana back together after you’ve eaten the fruit. Both the peels and the panels have to be carefully fitted together, then held edge-to-edge to create the desired shape. In building a boat, we first join together the pre-drilled panel edges, using short pieces of twisted-together copper wire. Andrew soon found that his skill level spiked when his tongue came out of his mouth. It’s a wicked floppy setup at the beginning, but as each panel gets wired on, and the wires tightened, the thing begins to stiffen up and really look like a boat.

– [Instructor] Then you leave it, startthe boat.

– [Narrator] With all the panel edges butted together and all the wires tightened, thickened epoxy gets injected into all the joints.

– At the end of the first day the boat was looking like a boat.

– We’re cutting the wires from yesterday that we put on to hold the boat together before we epoxy’ed. Now we have to take ’em out.

– [Instructor] You want to remove the bulbs left by the epoxy around the wires and any drips that we have left over. The reason to remove the drips and bulbs is we’re going to fiberglass and epoxy the inside seams later on as you make the boat strong. This is just to hold it together, the epoxy we put on yesterday just holds the boat together. The epoxy we put on today will make it strong and watertight.

– [Narrator] Wood dugs are one of Eric Schade’s many stitch and glue designs, and he’s helped people build lots of them. Seeing here how he goes about each step makes the process easier for the first-time builder. If you don’t have an instructor like Eric at your side, and you’re building one of these in your own garage, there’s an instruction book that comes with each kit that helps explain through each process along the way.

– It seemed hard at first, but now the steps are getting easier and easier so, I feel like the boat building, it’s getting easier and easier.

– The guys have done a nice job doing a fillet on these joints, now we’re gonna put fiberglass tape on the joint. The fiberglass has no adhesive of its own. We’re gonna use the epoxy to hold it down. So we’re just gonna lay it in place over the joint and stick it into the epoxy that we put in there earlier. Clear epoxy, we’re just gonna mix it up, not add anything.

– [Boat Builder] Okay. And the paint brushes on top of the table over there, you’re gonna paint it in, saturate this here, and you wanna give it a thin coat on the rest of the boat. We can use the plastic squeegees to

– [Builder] Squish it around.

– [Eric] Squish it around.

– [Narrator] Andrew and his dad now join the deck to the hull. The edges get stuck together with thickened epoxy.

– We’re gonna use this stretch tape to hold the deck onto the hold while the epoxy cures. The stretch tape, just go round and round, stretching it as you go. Now, this isn’t quite lined up, so use the putty knife to pry the panel out into place so you get a nice alignment there. And it’ll stay if we’ve got enough tape on there.

– Just was being amused by the fact that the boat that those pieces of wood had turned into a boat.

– My goodness!

– We’ve made good progress in two days.

– This is unbelievable! You’re two days into this process and there’s hulls here? I can’t believe it. You’re making me a real believer in this stitch and glue technique.

– It’s a wonderful thing, the stitch and glue boats, they’re quick to build, we hope to have these in the water by Saturday.

– I’m gonna balance the boats on their edge so that we can do an epoxy filler on the inside seams between the deck and the hull. I just screwed a paintbrush, cut the handle off, screwed it to the end of a stick. So. In this, I’m just gonna take and push that epoxy up and along that joint, it’ll make a little filler. This is our fiberglass that we stuck in the cup here, and you notice it’s all saturated with epoxy, almost all the way through. So now what we do, I’m gonna put the cup back down, I’ll take this and I’m gonna unroll it like a window shade. Have the window shade down and the roller up and I’m just gonna lay it into the seam, then use my fingers, I can just push it right in. And I’ve got a taped seam.

– Trace the hatch.

– [Narrator] After only two days, you have your basic boat. The hatch gets marked, it’s open and cut, the cut-out pieces laid aside for now. With the boat upside-down, its exterior gets scraped, planed, and then sanded smooth for the fiberglass sheathing.

– [Eric] We’re spreading fiberglass cloth on the bottom to reinforce the boat and to give it some armor against New England’s rocks. We just pour it. Then we take the plastic squeegee and we spread it out.

– [Narrator] Day four begins by turning the boat over and cutting the excess cloth off the sheer line. Sand the sheer smooth and fair. And then, sheet the deck the same as you did the hull.

– We owe it to the younger generations to spend time with them and show them things that perhaps they’re not getting at school. And then the other thing is it keeps me alive Children aremiracles.

– [Narrator] On the bench, spread thickened epoxy over the four pieces that make up the cockpit coaming the rim.

– [Instructor] Coat the epoxy on here.

– [Narrator] Move the unit to the deck and clamp it there with little spring clamps.

– [Interviewer] When you first saw it in the kit, what were you thinking?

– How’s that gonna be a boat? Well each step makes sense, and doable. Everything was totally doable for anybody.

– [Interviewer] Yeah. Even first-timers?

– First time, first time. Totally ignorant.

– [Interviewer] You haven’t built a boat before? No study? How to build a…

– No. No. Nothing, nothing.

– It came together pretty quick. I was surprised how much we did in four days. It’s only the fourth day, and we’re pretty much done.

– [Interviewer] So, are you pretty proud of yourself?

– Yeah

– [Interviewer] Yeah? Why?

– Because that was just a really big thing that we did this week, and it was hard.



Get Immediate Access, Plus
10 More of Our Best Videos

Your email is safe with us.
We'll NEVER share it, and we DON'T spam.

or …


Start Free Trial

Get Instant Access as a Member to the Entire Site

  • Access all 1000 videos/articles
  • No risk! Cancel anytime
  • Get a nice discount if you join