How To Build A Simple, Inexpensive Fishing Boat

Thought I would post this here. This will give you a better idea of how I build these little boats. This is from another site where I originally posted it about a year ago. I still have and use this boat reguarly. This one is built using framing logs. The others I build are stitch and glue, Two completly different ways to build a boat.

This one is designed by a "real" boat designer and modified by another. Gavin Atkin from the UK designed a simple boat called a Mouse Boat. The idea, a one sheet plywood build, usable, simple boat that kids could build. They have groups for boat builders and many of them build the same type boat. This particular boat caught the attention of many amature boat builders for it's simplicity in design and cheap cost to build (an intro into boat building). Then another builder pen named Shorty Pen (David Routh) created another boat based on the same design called a Flats Rat. His was built using simpler methods and was a much beefier boat (as in much more free board and could hold much more weight). So I decided to go with a Flats Rat. I can provide much more detail about anything, but this is photo intensive essay of how to build one on my part. ...less typing for me.

First the supplies. Two sheets of luan (5mm) plywood, 5 1x2's, a 16 oz bottle of Titebond II and some screws..actually the screws were worthless and used 7/8" stainless steel nails. Total cost $40.00.

First I had to make a batten. Just a flexable piece of something to trace a long line. I knew I had room to cut 2" from one of the sheets of plywood.
This is used to draw the line for the side of the hull.
All I had is a jig saw so I used one sheet as a guide for the cut.

Then based on the measurments from the free plans, you draw lines every foot on one of the sheets of ply wood. The measure up as given from each foot line. Mark it and nail a small nail at each intersection. Use your batten you cut (in my case) and duck tape the batten to each nail.

Use that to draw your line to cut the sides of the boat. Double stack the plywood to cut both sides at once.
Then on to the 1x2's. Cut each one in half lenght wise. So they actually become 3/4"x3/4"'s. All I had was the jig saw but a table saw would make things much easier and straighter.

Each piece of the boat needs framing to hold the pieces together. That is what the 3/4"'s are for. They are not easy to bend, but two need to be bent and nailed to the sides of the hull (bottom side) as they are nailed and glued.

I used the ledge of the garage lip and my feet to bend nail, and glue as I went.
Then to frame out the top. No need to bend wood so just glue and weight.

Finished sides.

Then the same with the all the transomes.

Now the hard part. How to make straight wood bend without steam or ovens. The chime logs (the 3/4 I bent for the bottom edge of the sides) was hard enough. Here is a pic of the distance between the bow and stern vs. where they should be.

Here is another shot as if the front was as it should be. See how far the back is seperated.

I did not see any instructions on how to get beyond this point, but my solution..tie downs!!!

Worked like a charm. I guess big ass clamps would work, but I don't have any.
Here is the shape acheived after the bend.

Notice two things. I left the tie downs on for two days to make sure the glue cured properly. That wood is under some serious stress at this point. Also (second) since the boat is only 8', it can be leaned against any corner of a garage (or apartment ) vs a 12, 14, or 16 foot boat.
Tie downs removed and over all shape of boat.


Now at this point it is held together, but it is still fragile until I get some cross supports. I had to trim some of the framing logs to fit the bottom and decks so I used the batten to help secure the frame at this point.

By the way, this gives you an idea of how much "dry storage"/saftey air boxes this thing has. I'm 6' and 200 lbs. That back air box is the size of a large suit case.

Trimming the framing logs to fit the bottom and top peices. You can see the collection of saws I used..yes this is my first time but I figured it out.

I swore I had pictures of installing the bottom but I don't. It was a sheet layed on the frame (frame upside down) and I nailed, glued and cut as I went. Here is the trimmed up bottom installed. This really helps secure things up.

Side view.
Now the next big step was to make covers for the air boxes. No big deal. They don't give you measurments because each one is different at this point. Just lay the boat upside down, slide the left over wood under the ends of the boat and trace with a pencil the lines to cut for the decks/air box covers.

Now to seal things. Every corner got a caulk type seal to every seam (pl 200).

Now to add some keels. This part was difficult and I had to try various means to apply them (no nails or hull penetrations, just glue). My first attempt failed, but adding 2 car batteries, a case of sodas, brickes and two gallons of water I got them to bend, though slowly as I glued and moved on. They are not needed, but they serve three main purposes. They stiffen the bottom, make it track better and help protect the bottom when dragged on shore. PIA but worth it in the long run.

Oh and did I add they need to be straight as can be. If not the boat is always going to want to turn one way or another. Even thought the glue stains make them look crooked (I'm learning) they do measure straight.
Now another big expense on this thing. Two deck plates at $15.00 for each that is $30.00. Almost what I paid to get to this point.

Finally time for paint. Glidden Porch and Floor does the trick. $25.00 per gallon. Plenty to finish this project. First to paint the insides of the air boxes...2 coats.

Same with the underside of the air box cover/decks. Notice how I taped off 3/4" on each (decks and air boxes on boat). The glue stickes to wood not paint.

First coat of paint top side. Second coat was applied later. Looks much better.

Under side.

Final coat (both top and bottom) deck plates in a finshed boat!!!

Fits in the back of my Ford Ranger with no additional racks.

And ready to fish.

Now to work on the accessories...


TuN3R, Since I made this post as one thread, I would like to delete the other three threads I did (Part 2 thru 4) but I don't see the option. Can you remove them?
Thanks TuN3R, I appreciate the postive comments. This was the first boat I built. I have built 4 more since this one. I just wanted to show everyone how easy it really is to build these things. The principals of building a small or a big one are pretty much the same. The only difference is a big boat would cost more (more materials) and take longer to build. I build these because I wanted a small boat that I could easily handle by myself, easy to store, and fits in the back of my truck with no racks, or bed extenders. Also I did not want to deal with a trailer. I can have this thing loaded and be on the road in less than 15 minutes.


Staff member
Well i just need Andy to say Let's go i am ready to drive at your place even tomorrow morning if you are free :) I think Andy is free too and try those out anywhere you want to :p
Sorry, tomorrow is Friday. I will be at work. I work at a bank, so I literally work banker's hours. Monday-Friday. I should be open Saturady or Sunday though.


New Member
ok, got back, go see bank fishing for the report on Converse area. As for saturday, it is suppose to rain really hard that day due to the storm coming, but others say scattered tstorms, so dont know about Saturday, Sunday is suppose to be clear so maybe we can do it then if everyone is good.
Thanks everyone for your replies! I tried in the past to get a group together to do a "class" for boat building. First we would need the room and some simple tools. Everyone would pay for the supplies to build thier own boat (probably around $150.00) and I would teach everyone step by step as you build your boat. I never got enough interest in the past, but if some of you are interested, let me know.