Notes on building a skin-on-frame Adirondack Guideboat


Updated 2022-08-14

Note: This is a work in progress. Still a lot to add.

Why skin-on-frame and not 100% wood?

  • Skin-on-frame is much lighter. 45lbs vs 80+ lbs. A single person can pick it up and move it, put it on the car, etc.

Required reading

Things to buy

Build by Stage + notes

Step 1: Cutting Stock

Step 2: Laminating Ribs 

  • 14 layups (includes two zeros plus all the rest), 6 full plus about 3 ½ per.   Should come out to 105 pieces.
  • Harbor Freight 11 In. Swivel Pad Locking Pliers work GREAT for clamping. Use Tin Caps with tape to keep the clamps from leaving marks.
  • Mark the center line in sharpie before slicing ribs so all center lines are the same.
  • Laminate enough ½ pieces to make sure the corners are covered.
  • Ribs 0 – 6 ten plies, 7-9 we did all12  (definitely not less than 10 ply for 0-6), sometimes 11-13

Step 3: Bottom Board

  • Maybe try a nail on both ends to find centerline. Centerline and station perpendicular lines on top all marked before cutting to shape.
  • Only need station lines on the top side because we pilot our holes 
  • Bevel pattern on bottom, bevel 
  • We used marine ply stems. Cedar flat sawn boards were expensive as hell and broke.

Step 4: Mounting bottom board

  • Best to try to level it at this point- side to side
  • Oil everything – Ribs, gunwales, stringers, bottom board, BEFORE attaching them.
  • Attaching ribs
    • Rather than relying on measurements to determine screw locations, we setup the rib in place, traced the outline, removed it, and then piloted holes from the inside to the outside to get precise screw locations. 
  • Ribs: Getting the shoulder to the edge is key. If it is off, attaching the stringers is difficult.

Step 5: Attaching gunwale (center mark at rib 00)

  • Use airplane jig, 14” on center. Bottom of airplane wings to top of gunwales at 00.
  • At rib 6 top of airplane wings to top of gunwale
  • Clamp all ribs. Start at center and move fore and aft centering ribs using spacer blocks.
  • Attach to stems roughly 3 3/8 inches from top of stem to top of gunwale.  Cut angles, epoxy, screw and lash, in that order.
  • Pilot and countersink screw ribs only in the middle of the gunwale.

Step 6: Stringers

  • For the future, use the marks on the rib templates 0, 3, 7, and 10 to mark where stringers should go.
  • Nailing the stringers with the boat upside down is 5x easier than crawling underneath to nail them.
  • Skip the nice brass nails and use a brad nail gun. The boat will rot before the stainless nails rust.

Step 7: Stems

Step 8: Decks

Step 9: Coating

Step 9: Skinning

  • Drape over the boat, pin along the bottom board.
  • Wet with a spray bottle, pull tight, and staple along the gunwale. Use lots of stapes. Every inch. Don’t worry, there will be an outerwale. This is a two-person job.
  • Stapling on the stems?

Step 10: Coating with urethane

Step 11: Outerwales + seats + hardware