Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

Good Morning,

I was wondering if anybody could recommend an easy beginner kit for me ( stitch construction). I have never build a clc craft before. I do have decent basic woodworking skills. That being said, I have never lapstiched, fiberglassed or epoxied anything before. I have enough space and all the tools necessary and although I get cautioned to "NEVER RUN WITH SCISSORS", I am reasonable competent and safe.

I would love to build a CLC kit. I just can't really figure out which would be easiest for a first time builder. I plan on donating what I build to someone who would appreciate it .. at least the first one, so I don't really care what  type of kit it is... Kayak, paddleboard, canoe, dingy etc. I have a fear of starting something and not being able to finish.

I have looked at the boating bulding school at CLC but fear I wont be able to keep up with the rest of the class and might make a mistake if i hurry. I am a slow worker but precise and careful at all times. I guess I am 55 years old so maybe that is a drawback  lol

Any advice and recommedations on a first time kit would really be appreciated.

Thank you


13 replies:

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RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

Hi John,

No worries, almost all clc boats are easy to build even without basic woodworking experience. I, for example, have built a skerry without any experience.

Build a two-person boat. Peddling, rowing and sailing are much more fun for two - rowing can be very romantic.


RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

   Take a CLC course if you can. Then you are committed and learn a lot. I built an EXPEDITION WERRY in class then went on to build a Chesapeake 17, a Wood Duck and 2 SUPs. It is addicting. The SUPs are easy and don't take long to build. Good luck and have fun. Btw I am 70 and had no skills when I started.

RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

   At 70 I'm finishing my second CLC kit, a Peeler Skiff. My first was a WoodDuck 12. The CLC kits result in great boats in a reasonable time. The major issue this time of year is temperature. The epoxy is easiest to use between 65-75degF. 60F is the lower limit for reasonable cure times.

I would suggest the basic Eastport Pram as a first build. With stitch and glue you get a boat like object very early in the process which is a great incentive to finish. You can do it as plain or fancy as you want and if you are giving it away I will raise my hand right now.

I had almost zero wood working experience and non with stitch and glue or epoxy or fiberglass before starting my first five years ago. Whatever you choose this forum is a great source of experience and encouragement.

RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

I am no sort of boatwright...more of a boatwrong, really.  My adult sons (not boatwrights, either, but much better with tools than their broom-fisted father) and other family members managed built a nice Passagemaker Take-apart Dinghy without any major issues.  It was mostly about patience and careful attention to the instructions.  It was a good deal of work, but a labor of love, lots of fun, and certainly not rocket science.

Betewen the LapStitch business and the puzzle-joint scarfs, it was almost like...macic.  Seriously, the kit was so well engineered and executed that we never really doubted being able to pull it off.  Most think the results look okay:

Seriously, take a look at some of the designs, pick some that might interest you, then scroll down to look at the "Ease of Construction" meters you'll find for most of the designs, and go for it.  I don't think you'll be sorry.

.....Michael Scheibeck

RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit


I chose the Eastport Pram as my first build. Glad I did.


I'm a little further along than this now but still not ready for finishing. Almost . . .

Anyway, the Eastport Pram is going to be a great little sailing dingy for my small cruising sailboat. Looking forward to finishing over the winter and giving her a proper spring launch!

Good luck with your choice!


RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

* Rant On < For the life of me I can't find forum advice on posting pictures. I've done it before but numerous searches have left me, quite honestly, frustrated. I know someone will post a link or something directly to the instructions but I have had a terrible time trying to find them & I'm no slouch at this stuff. I found the instructions in the past & have posted photos before but can't find them again. No guide, no FAQ, nothing. > Rant Off

Sorry for the rant. (Not really)

I attempted to post a photo in my last post in this thread but it doesn't look like it worked. I'll try again & if it doesn't work this time, sorry, I'm through. Just not enough time to mess with it. Sorry John. Do believe me though when I say I'm glad I chose the Eastport Pram to start with. 


RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

OK, 1 more time:


Sorry for all the drama. :-) Anyway, I'm a little further along now but not quite ready to finish. Its been a greta 1st boat build project.


RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

   i'll push the envelope with my opinion on your question.

i'm 65, an engineer, not a "woodworker" but know my way around wood tools, a perfectionist, and like you, i fear starting projects because i can't guarantee myselif i'll finish them.

my wife came upon CLC's website while she was looking around at teardrop campers. she said she would go camping with me if i built one.  so:  game on! 

before i bought the kit, i bought the digital version of the manual.  i read it, and because it was so detailed, thourough, and loaded with pictures, i decided i could do the job.

i'm proud to say that i finished it, and i will brag a bit and say it looks wonderful.  

so, my advice is to take the plunge and buy whatever kit suits your fancy.   i think your plan to give away your first build is admirable.

if the design you choose offers the purchase of the digital version of the manual, i'd strongly advise you buy it and assure yourself that you can build it before you spring for the kit.

good luck!


RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

Don't build a boat to give away. Build a boat you really want to own and row (and maybe sail). Give it away later if you really want to, but make sure the first boat kit you buy is one that you want.

If you really want that boat, you will persevere in building it. And the biggest threat to completing the job is lack of motivation.

No matter what you build, you'll encounter some problems. You should expect them. Part of the fun of the process is figuring hout how to fix your mistakes or adapt the design to your own desires. And there's hardly anything you do that can't be fixed later. Many of the people on this forum can help you.

For what it's worth, my first CLC build was the Northeaster Dory. It's the perfect boat for me -- rowing, sailing, camp-cruising. It also has a superb manual to help you build. But the motivation to complete the build came frome my great desire to use the boat.

My second (and current) CLC kit is the Shearwater Sport Sectional. The manual for this boat is good enough, but perhaps a little less refined than that for the dory. Still, despite a couple of mistakes on my part, I got the kayak in the water for a shakedown cruise today. It's been a challenge -- cutting a nearly completed kayak apart and then trying to get it back together is frightening and filled with potential error. I think I'll be able to fix all my minor mistakes, but I might not have had the resilience to do so if I hadn't completed the dory first.

RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

   I'm on my fifth boat, easiest build was the sup kaholo 14.I find the kits with puzzle joints much easier.not only are the joints easier but all the stich holes are drilled which identifies were all the bulkheads and such go, just look for the extra don't even need a measuring tape.that being said these kits are simple,neatness and patients go further than woodworking experience

RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

   There's also the r c sailboat independence it 's scaled down but everythings pretty much the same.if your just looking for a trial run its a much less of an investment in time and money

RE: Advice on the proper beginner CLC kit

   I have some woodworking skills and jumped into building a Passagemaker Dinghy as a project for myself and my sons (9, 6, and 3 at the time) to build together.

1. Boat building has much more flexibility in measurements/precision than most other woodworking I had previously dealt with.

I had a seriously hard time with this... measurement is off by 1/8-1/2 of an inch? No problem, it's not rocket science. We'll just add a bit of additional epoxy to the seam there. In my other woodworking that would have been a disaster worth throwing the whole piece away. Here it's just "a tiny bit off, but within the realm of normal".

2. Even with children dictating what is "good enough" for alignment and/or finish you can have a boat/camper that performs very well for its class, and looks really good at 10+ feet.

I can't begin to tell you the number of compliments I have received on the dinghy my sons and I built. There are 1000 things I would have fixed/improved or simply drive me crazy at a finish level compared to my other woodworking projects, but in the boating world from a few feet back even I have to admit the boat looks spectacular compared to the mass produced competition.

3. Those measuments I mentioned earlier... 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch here and there really don't make any noticable difference in performance, and even if they do it's so minor that everyone is still impressed by the home built dinghy that "almost kept up with xxx".

My last bit of advice is don't give away your first build. It will turn out better than you expect, and you'll likely have an unexpected attachement to it. Build the kit you think you'll use. Realistically they're not THAT expensive, and if nothing else, you'll have that first project to compare to the improvement in your inevitable future builds.

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