Finishing cedar strip boat

I recently found a beautiful unfinished cedar strip boat in an estate sale.   The inside has been sanded but the outside of the hull has not been touched.  I'm looking for a little guidance on this project.   Do I finish sand the inside and then epoxy and fibreglass the inside hull? And then sand out the outside? I'd really like to post some photos so someone can get me going in the right direction on my boat.   

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RE: Finishing cedar strip boat

Posting photos is too complicated for me right now so comments are welcome.

RE: Finishing cedar strip boat

  What kind of boat, canoe, kayak?  Is it still on the forms?  If a kayak, is the deck on (permanently or temporarily?  Are you certain regarding the quality of the build and/or design that it is worth saving?

Generally speaking, you sand than glass the hull exterior while the boat is still on the forms.  This gives the boat strength while sanding and holds its shape while the glass cures.  Then you remove the forms and sand/glass the inside.  If it is a kayak, you must take care that the hull and deck hold shape so that they fit back together.  I/we will give better advise once you answer my questions. 


RE: Finishing cedar strip boat

   The boat is a 10' rowing/sailing boat.   I would hope I could mount a little outboard motor on the transom as well.   It is a well constructed small boat that someone put a lot of time into.   I was told it wasn't touched in 30 years.  T

RE: Finishing cedar strip boat

Sorry, but there is no easy answer to your question regarding how to proceed.  Being a row/sail boat makes the project a lot harder than if it were a kayak or canoe.  Did you happen to get any plans with the boat and/or did it come with any of the internal structure?  If not, do you even know the name of the design so that you can try to hunt down the plans?  If you can get the plans, then your path forward is easy.  If not, then you are looking at doing 80% of the design work required to make the boat useable. 

An experienced builder could probably make this hull a viable rowboat without any technical data.  The glassed bare hull will not be structurally strong enough without adding some internal structure.  Most boats that size have a center thwart with forward and aft tanks that provide strength, seating and floatation.  Sizing and positioning those items will require some thought/calculations.  The gunnel will also require strengthening.  Most boats have some type of inner and outer rails for that purpose.   Lastly, you will need to strengthen the transom to accept the weight and thrust of a motor.

Making the boat a sailboat adds a whole other layer of complexity.  You will need a centerboard or daggerboard and a way to attach it to the boat.  You will need a sail rig and a way to mount that to the boat.  You will need a rudder and tiller assembly.  Sizing and positioning of the sail rig, centerboard and rudder are all interrelated and require significant calculations to get it right.  This is something best left to an experienced designer.

Unless you have some boat building experience, I suspect that you don’t realize how much labor and expense it will take to turn this rough hull into a boat.  As a point of comparison, I am nearly complete building a 15.5’ Goat Island Skiff.  I kept a build log, and I had a rough hull at around 70 manhours.  I am now at 360 hours and expect to be just under 400 when I get it completed.  Building/adding seats, rails, spacered inwals, mast steps/partners, knees, spars, foils and all the rest takes a bunch of time.  You will have to buy materials to build all that stuff plus sails, hardware, epoxy, paint, etc. 

Another consideration is that the performance characteristics of the design itself are such an unknown.  The hull may be beautiful and very well constructed, but if the design is poor, the boat will perform poorly (unstable, heavy, slow etc).

Lastly, I have concerns regarding the boat’s shape.  Who knows how the shape of this hull has changed while it sat for 30 years without any reinforcement (no forms or bulkheads).  I know that with strip-built kayaks, you risk the bulkheads and deck not fitting if you don’t store the hull on the forms every night.

The issues/concerns above should not be viewed as reasons to not complete this boat.  Better to view them as challenges to overcome should you choose to complete it.  Here are some recommendations:

1.      Exhaust all efforts to learn more about this design.  A little bit of info will go a long way towards addressing the challenges.

2.      If you cannot get technical data, then get some help.  Maybe there is a designer in your area.  If not, then maybe there is an experienced builder nearby.  The better help that you get, the better the odds that your project will end well. 

3.      If you are unsuccessful at #1&2 above, I would suggest that you discontinue this project unless you have a HUGE emotional attachment to this particular hull.  If you just want a small boat, I’d look hard at the many wonderful known designs out there like the PMD, EP or Tenderly.  You will save yourself a great deal of trouble and get a boat with known performance.  CLC kits are a great idea for a first build.  

4.      If you are determined to proceed, then consider buying the plans for a strip-built dinghy of similar size and shape.  This would give you some ideas regarding placement of thwarts, bulkheads, tanks, mast, centerboard etc.

  I hope that this helps.  Good Luck.



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