Finding Wooden Drift Boat Plans



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Finding wooden drift boat plans was easy!

There are plenty out there to choose from. So many in fact, that a person, namely me, could go on drooling over them for 10 years easy — but I’ve decided I don’t have that kind of time.

I’ve narrowed the list down to 3 potential sources for wooden drift boat plans.

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I plan to build a home made wooden drift boat this spring. I first admitted publicly to this deep seated desire of mine a couple of articles ago. It was entitled Building A Wooden Boat.

My wife calls it wood boat lust. Whatever. I say the couple that mahoganies a boat together, manogomies a life together. She rolled her eyes and mumbled something about wishing the same could be said about mahogany furniture shopping. Personally, I think the dining room table we have now is just fine. (Don’t lean too hard on the far corner, I still need to fix that broken leg.)

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Since posting that piece, I’ve been searching out some boat plans and boat designs.

I have been in contact with several plan providers and boat builders. I’ve narrowed the list down to 3 potential sources for my plans. They have all given me permission to use photos and quotes from their websites. All nice folks. You’ll get to know a little more about them in just a minute.

 

Things To Think About

Like most of the projects one might decide they want to take on, there are tons of things to think about when deciding to build a boat.

  • Things like where will I get materials?
  • Where will I build it?
  • When can I build it?

There are some other questions I had to ask myself before settling on a type of boat and the plans to build that boat. I call them my “most of” questions.

I have no doubt that more “most of” type questions will surface during this project. We’ll cross that bridge when we can’t float under it.

 

The “Most Of” Questions

Yeah, most of. Most of the time because there is no such thing as a perfect boat that will do everything.

I know, I’ve owned several boats. Some were great on lakes but not so good on shallow rivers. Some were great for a day of water skiing, but not very comfortable when attempting to fish. Some were great for a half dozen people, others only handled two people well. Some could carry enough cargo to keep you supplied for a trip as long as the Mississippi River while others would barely float me and a fishing rod.

My point is, when it comes to boats, you gotta compromise somewhere. That’s just the way it is. I mean you can’t fly fish for trout in a Montana river from the decks of an ocean liner like The Love Boat and you’d have a hard time keeping roast pheasant under glass if you are trying to balance your dining table on a canoe during a voyage from California to Hawaii.

You have to answer the “most of” questions and decide what’s right for you — so you can build a boat that does what you need it to do, most of the time.

Here’s my list of “most of” questions and an answer for each. Right after another picture of a wooden drift boat.

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What Are Your Boat Needs… Most Of The Time?

  1. What will I use the boat for most of the time? Fishing. Mostly, fly fishing. I want a nice, stable boat that I can stand in while flyfishing.
  2. What type of water will I use the boat on, most of the time? Shallow rivers. I’m sure I’ll be tempted to launch in a pond or a lake on occasion, but most of the time, I want to be able to drift down shallow rivers. Shallow in this case means I want a boat that will float through six inches of water. Not that an entire river is ever only six inches deep, but there are many shallow riffles that I don’t want to have to drag the thing over when I’d rather be fishing.
  3. How many people do you plan to have in the boat most of the time? Two, most of the time. Me and a fishing partner or client. Sometimes, I’d like to be able to carry myself and two other people. Most of the time though, just two total.
  4. Car top or trailer? Well, since I don’t have trailer at the moment, I’m going with the car top option. Actually, the back of my pickup option. Whatever plan I choose, I need the finished product to be light enough for me to load it into the back of my truck and strap it in, by myself.
  5. Do you have most of the tools required? I have a drill, a belt sander, a compound miter saw, a jig saw, a circular saw, a chain saw, some clamps and pretty good set of hand tools including screwdrivers and wrenches and hammers and stuff like that. I wish I had a router and a table saw for this project, however I just don’t. I do know people that I can probably borrow a router and table saw from or I could always rent them for that matter if need be. You don’t have to have all of the tools, if you know where to get your hands on the ones you don’t have. It sure is nice if you have most of the tools for the project at hand.
  6. Do you have most of the skills required to complete the project? I’m gonna go with a yes on this one. I’m no furniture maker, but I have what I call framing carpenter wood working skills. I’ve been doing a ton of reading about home built boats and there are many plans out there for the limited skills woodworker / first time boat builder. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. I am 100% qualified as a beginning boat builder. I have made a couple of paper airplanes, I have framed a few houses, but I’ve never, ever built a boat. Plus, I know some pretty good woodworkers I can always invite over for a cold beer and let them offer me some pointers when I get stuck. This should work out just fine.

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3 Sources For Wooden Driftboat Plans

I mentioned earlier that I had narrowed my list of potential boat building plans sources down to 3 designers/suppliers. I’m listing each here, briefly, and will go into more detail in a later post.

Paul Butler of Butler Projects
I first learned of Paul in Outdoor Life Magazine years ago. I had to go back and search him out. Turns out it was February of 1998 when I first read about him and a little home-built wood boat he designed. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. He has added several plans to his website since I first learned of him. Paul also designs and builds other stuff you might be interested in from toys to hot tubs to hunting cabins. Paul and I have exchanged a few emails and his down to earth manor and sense of humor are great. Check him out.

Glen-L Marine Designs
I have been corresponding with Barry Witt, the Glen-L webmaster. Seems like a very nice guy. He posted a comment about looking at Glen-L for a drift boat design when I first wrote about this idea. I have known of and surfed through the Glen-L Marine Website many times in the past. They have all kinds of plans for all kinds of boaters. They also have a free e-book that I signed up for. Haven’t got to read it yet but I have downloaded it and perused through. Cool.

Montana Boatbuilders

They have some of the most beautiful drift boats, in my opinion. I have been writing back and forth with Jason Cajune of Montana Boatbuilders. He said I was welcome to use pictures and quote the site, as have Butler and Glen-L. I also told Jason I’d like to stop in their shop, located in Livingston, MT. He said no problem, come on by. I should be traveling through there about the first week of March in 2008. I hope I get to take plenty of pictures and share them here.

Well, that’s it for now. My plans now are to do a little write up on each of these three suppliers and try to figure out which of their plans best answer my “most of” questions. I’ll let you know.

Sharp Hooks and Tight Lines,

Ron

Ron

I'm a fly fishing guide in Montana. One of my greatest pleasures in life is introducing people to fly fishing -- watching them catch their first fish on a fly, and watching them 'get it' when it all comes together. I love sharing what I've learned in an easy-to-understand manner.

4 thoughts on “Finding Wooden Drift Boat Plans

  1. Montana Riverboats offers digital plans for 3 different boats (all three at once) for $25. In business since the early 1980s.

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