A while ago I found Bill Weller’s Flapdoodle design for a folding dinghy here on Duckworks. I got
the plans and started the project. After about six
month of working on the little boat I had my folding
Why did I make a boat that many would consider a
novelty? Among the reasons for choosing this design
are the following:
- a small mess-about boat without a motor that
wouldn’t require a trailer or pose an outdoor
- a boat for occasional day time use.
- capacity for one adult.
- a seat that would allow me to keep my hips, legs
and torso at close to 90 degrees. You guessed it,
I am not as limber as I used to be. Getting into
and out of a kayak is not as easy or as fun as it
- made of wood.
- no fiberglass.
Bill’s design seemed to fit all my requirements.
So I started.
My little dinghy is made out of exterior grade luan.
This is not the most durable or reliable material
to use for a hull. However, I am not the first person
to make a boat out of this relatively inexpensive
material. I watched the supply at the lumber yard
until I saw a shipment that looked good and bought
five 4’ x 8’ sheets. I cut out the pieces
and painted each side with at least two coats of outdoor
I glued Dacron to the outside of the four hull plates
to provide a small degree of added abrasion protection
Perhaps the most unique part of my construction of
this dinghy is that I sewed the hull together with
50 lb test mono fishing line.
I covered these flexible hinges with PVC cloth, sealed
with caulk and secured with batten boards.
The exterior paint was just Rustoleum--red for the
bottom, black for the hinge covers, and white for
The same PVC cloth covered the bow and stern, completing
the hull’s seal against water.
My own website
offers a lot more information and pictures about how
I built my “Barquito” The little
boat draws a crowd when I take the folded hull and
the pieces of the boat out of my Honda CRV. The question
I get asked most often is “Did you really make
that?” When I am out on the water, those in
kayaks and canoes paddle over and say, “Nice
boat you’ve got there.” I think so, too.
I have been out on the lake for hours at a time.
Not a drop of water has come through the hull or the
hinges. This is a boat to enjoy using, but it can’t
be kept in the water or moored.
Is it a durable boat? I hope it lasts several
seasons of light use. It is not a work boat.
Is it stable? It is a bit tender when I
get in and out of it. But once I am seated it is very
stable. I have never felt afraid in it when out on
the water. The design itself provides added strength
when all the pieces are assembled to form the hull
Could it be used in open water? I feel
comfortable using it on protected lakes.
Can you stand up in the boat to fish? No.
Was it easy to build? Sewing the hull took
time. But I like working with wood, so I enjoyed the
project. Other boats can be built quicker, some in
a weekend or two. This project took me 6 about months,
working off and on.
Can you sail this dinghy? Bill Weller claims
What is its best use? Just messing around.
Are you glad you built it? Yes!
Plans available at: