I had been interested in trying my hand at boat building
for more than 30 years, but a couple of things keep me
from trying it until recently.
One reason was a complete lack of suitable space.
The other reason was a realization that my carpentry
skills where not up to the level required to produce
a vessel to the standards that most of the boat-building
books that I had read, and some of the wooden boat magazines
that I had purchased, had set for me.
Then about 8 or 9 years ago, I purchased a copy of
It was a revelation.
Here was a guy who was not afraid to say that “good
enough” was, indeed, good enough. That an ill-fitting
joint did not necessarily ruin a boat, and that the
lumber needed for a wood boat did not have to be an
exotic species imported from a far-off land.
Here was a book that said a solid, sea worthy boat
could be assembled by an ordinary Joe using lumberyard
Buehler’s book provides plenty of details, illustrations,
and photographs of exactly how this is done while making
it clear that there are other ways of doing it as well.
Also included in the book are small-scale copies of
a few of Buehler’s designs. These boats, like
most of those designed by him, feature simplifed “work-boat”
style construction. Most of the wood-planked designs,
for instance feature cross-planked bottoms, which require
little spiling and can utilize relatively short planks.
Sam Rabl and Weston Farmer were fans of the cross-planked
bottom, at least in their designs intended for amateur
construction. Cross-planked boats are very common in
the Chesapeake Bay area.
It should be noted that as of late the U.S. Coast Guard
has been coming down hard on cross-planked-bottom boats
due to two recent incidents, one involving fatalities,
with two inspected passenger vessels, the “El
and the “Charlotte
K”. To be fair it should be noted
that these were older, 1960’s built vessels with
apparent maintenance issues, in one case, and possible
overpowering in the other.
And Buehler points out that his designs can be built
with longitudinal bottom planking, or even plywood sheathing,
The information he provides gives one the impression
that a trip to a local auto wrecking yard or salvage
business will provide all the hardware necessary to
outfit one’s craft, and it probably will as long
as “bristol” is not a word you want associated
with your home-built boat. Galvanized home-made weldments
can substitute for expensive “marine” hardware.
About the only complaint I have with Buehler has nothing
to do with this book, but with the pricing of his plans,
which I think are a bit expensive. For example, his
Pilgrim 44 power cruiser design is priced at $975.00,
while the Reuel Parked-designed 50 ft power dory design
But that does nothing to detract from this book, which
I still have and still occasionally read, and which
I feel should be on every potential Boat builder’s
In years to come, it is certain to be counted among
the classics of boatbuilding.