By Alec Jordan - Easy Wemyss, Kirkcaldy - Scotland

Photos: Building the Oughtred Puffin – the full set of pictures can be found HERE

Important part – making sure all the parts are labelled!

click images to enlarge

Iain Oughtred has long had a reputation for designing beautiful and sea-worthy boats, but amongst the home boatbuilding fraternity, the apparent difficulties and risks of building classic clinker ply boats have put many off attempting a build of one of his masterpieces.

Moulds, apron and transom mounted on the building frame ready to start fairing.

About five years ago, I was already producing kits for the stitch and tape designs of Paul Fisher, when I decided to have a go at building one of Iain’s designs.  After a considerable amount of expensive marine plywood had been consigned to the off-cuts box for use as kindling for the winter fire, I decided to sit down and try to work out a way of using a plate development programme to make up glued lapstrake kits on the CNC router.

Fairing the transom…

We started with the Feather Pram, being the smallest boat in his catalogue, and a few days later after a lot of experimentation on the CAD system, I marked out the planks and molds on some very cheap plywood and MDF, and started putting it together.  As this boat was not intended to go on the water, I used some quick setting glue, and a few hours later, the first Feather Pram was built, proving that the basic method worked.

…and the apron.

When I spoke to Iain about this, he was less than impresssed, and did not really seem to believe me.  The next step was to build a real boat with CNC cut planks and moulds.  A few days later, it was wrapped up, strapped to the roof rack, and taken up to the Isle of Skye for Iain to actually see it in the flesh.  Duly impressed, Iain gave me his blessing, and since then we have created kits for more than half of his design catalogue, with several variations along the way.

Gluing up the planking.

After an abortive start to having the kits cut in the US in 2005, we are now cutting them in the USA again, and these kits have already made their way to Vermont, Texas, and Washington State.  Had it not been for the recession, they would have gone to Florida and Maryland as well, but that is the price of the bankers folly!

and clamping while it sets.

Why Glued Lapstrake?

There are considerable advantages in building in Glued Lapstrake compared to Stitch & Tape.  The first is that you will use a great deal less epoxy than you might with S&T.  Providing that you are careful with your application of epoxy, there will be a LOT less fairing and filling, so the working environment will be more pleasant as well.  Without the tape to fair, it is much easier to obtain a good finish, and when you have finished your boat, most (but not all) people will think it is a more attractive boat.  The downside, especially for newbies, is that there is a higher level of woodworking skill required, but with patience and forethought, a first timer will be able to produce a very good result, as some of the pictures show.

The finished boat.

When we first started producing the kits, I had thought that they would be extremely demanding in terms of the initial setup of the building frame, but in fact, we have found that they are a great deal more forgiving than first anticipated.  There are two cases to illustrate that point.  The first was that Feather Pram: I had secured the bow transom at the wrong angle, and found the laps getting smaller and smaller as I planked over the bilges.  As we came up to the sheerstrake however, the laps returned to their correct widths, and we have a usable boat.  The second example is an Auk build, where our customer set up the molds ½” further apart than he should have.  By the time he realised that there was something wrong, two pairs of planks were already glued up on the moulds, and we had to make up a plan quickly.  The scarph joints were shortened, and the boat went together with just the sheerstrake needing a few inches of scrap ply scarphed onto the end.  We changed the kit documentation after that episode!

Example Pictures


Oughtred Wee Rob Canoe

Other Designers

With the word having spread that we had successfully kitted the Oughtred designs, the phone started ringing with requests to kit other designers boats, so we have now made up glued lapstrake kits for Duck Trap’s Christmas Wherry and Duck Trap Wherry, the Whisstock 074, and Paul Fisher’s 9 & 15ft Northumbrian Cobles.  We are more than happy to make up kits for other designs, but we will only do this with the permission of the copyright holder.  Before you ask, sadly, Phil Bolger said “No”.  I had hoped to get over the Pond see him this summer to try to persuade him otherwise, but his sad passing locks this possibility away for good.

Oughtred Tirrik

So, what do you get in the kit…

At present, the kits consist only of the plywood planking, and the molds over which the hull is built.  We also supply full size patterns for the Apron and Transom which differ very slightly from Iain’s plans as we re-loft the hull in our CAD system.  There are notes regarding the specific kit, but for planking  the hull, there is a guide on our website.  For all the other detail, we recommend Iain’s Clinker Plywood Boatbuilding Manual ISBN 0-937822-61-2. 

Oughtred Humble Bee – awaiting Paint

You will need to supply all the other timbers, fixings, epoxy, fittings etc.  The kits are shipped in flat pack 8x4 sheets with the parts being held in place in the plywood sheets by tabs.

Arctic Tern

The kits are sold by us in the UK, and cut in Maine using Bruynzeel BS1088 Gaboon ply.  We do care strongly about the quality of the kits, and we will happily answer any questions you have about the them, either before you buy, or while you are building.  If necessary, we will call you back if you need to speak to us to clarify some point.

Oughtred Auk

If you are reading this from Australia or New Zealand, the kits are also being cut in Australia by NISBoats.

Selway Fisher15ft Coble in Clinker Ply


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