Last summer the older Scouts went on a 142 mile bicycle ride (and we floated the Colorado, but we did that as a ward, so it doesn’t count). This year they want to go down to Lake Powell and go boat camping. Of course, I am thrilled. Adventures on the water are my favorite types of adventure. However, we don’t have any boats, and we don’t have a lot of money to spend on boats or boat rentals.
Sam Howard, the Young Men’s President, talked to another scouter at round table who had made boats out of PVC pipe and stretch wrap and took a similar trip. The trip sounded cool, but I didn’t like the sound of the boats. Apparently they sprung lots of leaks. Plus I know that PVC is neither and strong or as rigid as wood, and it is comparatively heavy to boot. When I saw the pictures of the boats I was convinced that I could do something much better in wood. I just needed something easy enough that the scouts could build it.
My first thought was Michalak’s Piragua. I already had the plans, and with its external chine log construction I am sure that it is dead simple to build. However, the boat I really wanted to build was the Michalak Toto. That boat is just a little bit more refined, and I was pretty sure that I could tape it together with duct tape and then fiberglass the panels together with Fibatape and Tite Bond II. This type of construction worked well enough on my mouse boat, and it is also pretty easy. Loft the boat onto plywood. Cut out the pieces, and tape them together.
The problem with the Toto is that it really only holds one boy, and transporting twelve thirteen-foot boats is much harder than transporting six sixteen-foot boats. Since we would be boating together I also became less concerned about flotation chambers as well. I needed an inexpensive canoe that would hold at least two boys and their gear. My short list included Michalak Larsboat and Storer’s Quick Canoe. Both of these boats would float enough weight. Between the two the nod went to Storer as his canoe was specifically designed to be easy to put together. The one downside is that Storer wants $50 for his plans, and I am not even sure that gives you the right to build as many canoes as you want. Plus, I really wanted chine log construction, if I could get it. I know how hard my bows are on gear, and while my mouse boat has held up well to their abuse, I can’t help but see the taped seams as a potential weakness. It would be a different story if I was willing to use epoxy, but that’s simply too much hassle and expense for this sort of build.
Fortunately, I came across Andy Linn’s excellent article on the Lazy Weekend Canoe, and I knew I had my boat. External chine log construction means that I wouldn’t need any fancy epoxy, and I would still end up with a boat with armored chines. Plus the build looks dead simple.
So I got permission from KaeLynn, and I headed off to Lowes for three sheets of cheap underlayment plywood and a 16 foot 2×8.
Once again the Monster van came in handy. It swallowed the material with ease. I don’t think that I could have brought the 16 foot board home if I didn’t have the big van.
Once I got the materials home I could get to cutting. First I spent quite bit of time testing out my new circular saw on a scrap piece of 2×6.
Once I had played around with my new circular saw for a bit I started cutting plywood. Cutting the plywood with the circular saw did not work out well for me. Perhaps if I hadn’t used a crooked 2×3 board as a fence I would have been happier with the cuts. Luckily the Lazy Weekend has plenty of ways to juggle the plywood cuts so that you can get the panels you want. In fact, I drew up an alternative set of cut plans that guarantees that all of the 14 inch wide side panels have a factory edge at the bottom.
I was able to get just about everything cut out in just under 4 hours. That included a lot of playing with my new circular saw. I was surprised at how well the rips on the circular saw came out. Don’t get me wrong. I still want a table saw. However, I don’t have room right now for a table saw even if I had the funds. Being able to cut out the gunnels and chine log without having to bug my neighbor was worth the expense and the extra work crawling around on the floor.