Building the Dory Tender

Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3 :: Part 4

My last article for was about a glued lapstrake catboat I built last year. You can read about the history, design and construction of that boat in the how-to section of this website. Marc Bauer, a friend and naval architect, has created a set of lines drawings of that boat and a plans package. I stand ready to loft the boat full-size for any clients who might want to build the catboat, as well as answer any questions you may have about that design. Soon after finishing the catboat Marc wrote me to say he had designed a small dory for glued lapstrake construction. It turned out that another friend of mine wanted to build his first small boat and I suggested he try Marc's dory.

For more about the catboat, visit:

Or visit:

Marc's drawings came with full size patterns for the frames, transom, stem and the knees which brace the stem and transom to the bottom (hence they establish the proper angle for each). My friend Tom was committed to building this boat on the cheap, and so he bought a sheet of 3/4" CDX plywood for the bottom (the cheapest US construction grade) and 1/4" luan plywood for the planking. These were in the thicknesses that Marc recommended, but none of the material was marine grade (Marc recommended marine plywood). Tom also had a pile of planks in his chicken coop of indeterminate species: I originally thought it was walnut but now I think its butternut.

Using the same technique we use in marking out the half model, Tom lays the frame patterns over pattern stock and uses the push pin to transfer marks to the material. He then connected the dots with straights edges and battens and we sawed the frames to shape. I thought that it was easy enough to make patterns for all the parts in case there was a need to make this boat again. One technique I have also seen is to glue the paper plans directly to a sheet of thin plywood and then saw patterns out on the bandsaw. Either way having a pattern of as many parts as possible will always pay for itself if you build another boat.

Eight foot plywood was not quite enough for the dory's bottom, so we scarfed an offcut to give us the proper length. Here I was using lamps to accelerate the curing of the epoxy. The piece of plywood running from right to left is another scrap I used as a clamp pad.

Marc's plans included not only the outline of the transom but provided reference lines for beveling the transom to receive the planking, lines which we followed and worked perfectly when we planked the hull.

The frames were glued and fastened with bronze ring nails at the gussets. We cut a 2 x 6 to the curve of the bottom plank and notched it to receive the frames. Marc's design calls for the three main sawn frames (no moulds needed) and then later, when the planking is complete, intermediate bent frames are installed.

Transom connected to the bottom by the stern knee.

Marc's patterns also gave the bevel for the stem. He didn't design this boat with an outer stem, which I think we will add later to give it a more traditional look. The bottom plank is bent here over the strongback with clamps. Eventually we screwed it to the strongback and filled the screw holes later when the boat was removed.

One of the bigger jobs is beveling the edge of the plywood bottom. There are not a lot of reference points to work with here. You have the bevels on the stem and transom which are not much help, so you have to depend on the frames, which only give you three reference points per side.

Cross spalls are absolutely required across the frames ends and then fastened in some way to keep all the frames lined up. Eventually when bending the planks on, particularly the garboards, a tremendous amount of force is exerted on the assembly, so everything has to be braced so that it doesn't move.

Oooops! Nothing like a power plane for doing a lot of damage quickly. Tom was beveling the bottoms' edge when the plane took a divit out of the edge of the transom. But this is what Dutchmen are for. Any ABB readers who can provide the etymology of that word are welcome to get in touch with me.

continues >>> Part 2

Douglas Brooks ( is a boatbuilder, writer and researcher specializing in the construction of traditional wooden boats for museums and private clients. He lives with his wife Catherine in Vergennes, Vermont.

© Copyright 2009 by Douglas Brooks

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