Boatbuilding news, building tips, and builder feedback

A place to share YOUR boat building story

Glen-L Marine Designs - 9152 Rosecrans Ave. - Bellflower, CA 90706

In this issue

GLEN-L Update
  • We at Glen-L are looking forward to the 4th of July when we'll get togther with family and friends for some good times, and to spend a little time reflecting on how blessed we are to live in the greatest country on God's green earth.
  • We hope that you, too, will celebrate our independence, and say a prayer for all of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen who are serving and sacrificing in order to keep us safe here at home. Whether or not you agree with their current mission, I'm sure that you'll join us at Glen-L in praying for their safety and provision, and the successful completion of their mission so that their return home will be sooner rather than later.
  • What a country! - God Bless America!

Until next month . . .      

* Independence Day July 4th *

O n July 4, 1776, we claimed our independence from Britain and Democracy was born. Every day thousands leave their homeland to come to the "land of the free and the home of the brave" so they can begin their American Dream.

The United States is truly a diverse nation made up of dynamic people. Each year on July 4, Americans celebrate that freedom and independence with boating, barbecues, picnics, and family gatherings. Through the Internet we are learning about and communicating with people of different nations, with different languages and different races throughout the world. Bringing the world closer with understanding and knowledge can only benefit all nations.

We invite all nations to celebrate with Americans on this Fourth of July.

Happy Birthday, America!

Two to Nashville

Lake Barkley and the Cumberland River
by Ray Macke

It was a beautiful spring evening on the Nashville municipal boat dock. The sun had set a few hours earlier and we had just returned from a stroll across the Shelby Street Bridge. The bridge overlooks the downtown area as well as the dock and offers an exceptional view of the city lights at night.

error-file:tidyout.logReturning to Therapy we settled into our lawn chairs planning to sit on the dock and watch a movie on the DVD player. I noticed the piercing spotlight of a tow making its way up the narrow stream towards us, knowing it would be passing in a few minutes. Our backs were to the bridge when we suddenly heard a loud splash.

My first though was, “What did they throw off the bridge?” It had sort of a pop like a wide piece of wood hitting the water. We turned to look as the splash was subsiding and after a few seconds something slowly bobbed to the surface. It took a moment but then I realized it was a person. We had a jumper! I quickly looked downstream and the barge is still coming. “This is going to be interesting,” I thought.


Editor's Note: Therapy is Ray Macke's Cabin Skiff. For more of
his adventures, see the WebLetter Index of Articles under Cabin Skiff.

Boatbuilder of the Month

Gene Hall - Tunnel Mite

Gene's Story . . .

I have recently finished the Tunnel Mite. Started in Sept. '07, I am proud to say my Tunnel Mite is ready for sea trials. Just had it titled and registered (a word to the wise, keep ALL receipts, you'll need them for that purpose). Glen-L was kind enough to send me a copy of all my receipts that I have used with them in purchasing material.

The building process went pretty straight forward, with the usual speed bumps to overcome, but all in all it went well. I am very pleased with the way it turned out, considering this is my first boat building project. That being said I flipped the boat over (after having the bottom completely done), and dove in on the topsides. Making templates for the combing and decking, it wasn't long before I had them on - fastening the decking to the combing sides proved to be a little tricky. I used both screws and nails; in the process, I found using the screws proved to be a little easier than hammering the nails in.

Anyway it all went well. I (as others have done) have raised the dashboard 3 inches; gives you a little more room and looks better asceticaly. Added some additional bracing to the transom (since I plan on using a 25 hp motor ) giving me a little more peace of mind. I painted the boat in yellow, red and blue and added some graphics(hoping it would look more like an older vintage Hydro), and am happy with the results. I have since added a new 25 hp Yamaha, which weighs in at about 110 pounds, and a new trailer adapted to fit the Tunnel Mite (not as hard as I had thought).

Next step - FULL THROTTLE!

Things I have learned:
  1. You can fall off a 3' stepladder just as easy as an 8 footer.
  2. (More often than not) paint thinner is flammable.
  3. Anything that has "stainless" written on it is expensive.
  4. Building a boat is a great experience!
My thanks to Glen-L for all the help.

Sea trails are to begin around May 30th. I am open to discussing the building with anyone starting this project.

Middle River, MD

Editor's Note: See the complete story of
Gene Hall's Tunnel Mite build and more photos here.

Designer's Notebook: So You Want to be a Boat Designer?

S o you want to get into the boat design business. You work in a clean environment; you do what you want to do (hopefully) more than anything else and you can make scads(?) of money. Sounds like a dream made possible if it were true.

Most successful designers have some background in drafting, a good eye, and at least some engineering or aptitude for it. It does take a little more than hanging out a shingle that states you are a yacht designer. Some can be fortunate enough to start off as an apprentice in a design office but most firms want a person with more than just a desire to be a yacht designer. Schooling is available although very limited when it comes to small boats. A few colleges have courses but most relate to larger designs. "Westlawn School of Yacht Design" was founded by Gerald Taylor White in Westlawn, New Jersey somewhere around 1930. It was the only real avenue to take if you were interested in pleasure boat design from that period on. The company exists today with the name "Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology" ( and has broadened its scope to many phases of yacht design. There are also a limited number of colleges that offer specialized courses in yacht design.

Boats are built from wood, fiberglass, steel, aluminum, and tomorrow probably some new "super stuff." It has long been our opinion that anyone who designs for any given material should have some practical knowledge on how to put it together. This can be debunked by many in the field who never get their hands dirty. It depends who you design for. A yard that builds steel boats is surely going to know more than the designer as to how it is put together. However, those who design for the amateur builder should be able to be conversant with the problems that may occur.

Okay, now you have filled all of the above minor problems. We call them "minor" as the name of the game is to make money (what an evil thought!). Of course there are a zillion guys out there that have the same idea. How do you succeed over all that competition? We will let you in on a little secret…..damned if we know. Most small designers have the design business on the side; they also have a regular paying job. Those who go at it full time probably are not getting rich, unless they hit the Lottery or make it "big" in Vegas.

You are probably thinking "but GLEN L did it." True, so it can be done. However, we had advantages that most don't have. First of all, an independent income from a previous job that kept us at least in beans for several years. No overhead and the willingness to do most anything in the field to make a buck such as making custom boat fittings (sand cast patterns), take off the lines from an existing boat, design a group of cabins for them, produce stock designs, and once in a great while a custom design. Marketing a small skiff, custom built to our design, and selling them to dealers brought in a few bucks. GLEN L was also fortunate to hook up with several magazines, notably Popular Mechanics, and did DIY designs for several small boats. The pay wasn't much but the publicity and resultant sale of plans did much to expand our enterprise.

Looking back, the biggest thing we had going for us was luck and being at the right place at the right time. From day one we built boats and as time went on, we were able to have a complete shop to build testing prototypes. Not many design firms were so lucky as to build boats from their designs, try various building methods and products, and then test the boat. This also played big with the boating magazines. We not only had designed the boat but had actually built and tested the darned thing. The basic tools a yacht designer required were limited and relatively inexpensive. Standard drafting tools, some splines and weights, plus a few French curves and you were in business. It must be emphasized that a good eraser was also an important ingredient. Today the computer rules supreme. A good computer with a boat design program along with a cad set-up is the new trend. Yes, some still work by hand but the electronic marvel is much faster, albeit more expensive. The cost of a computer alone will more than pay for a fine set of hand drafting supplies.

From our standpoint, designing and building boats has been our life and it's been a good one. GLEN L has developed into a family business with the newcomers' enthusiasm being contagious and very pleasing. So from our standpoint, boat design has been a life of fun.

Could you be so lucky?

Boat Plans

I believe most new builders experience some trepidation when they get a look at the boat plans they ordered. Up to that point it's wishes and fantasies; after that it's all about commitment.

It is all too easy to set the plans aside and wait for the "right" time. But that won't get you on the water in your own boat.

I have had those feelings too, so I wrote this poem to hopefully encourage a new builder to take that first construction step.

T he boat plans that I ordered
They arrived one summer day
I looked them over quickly
Then I thought, “No Way”

This is much too complicated
For a simple soul like me
I could never build a vessel
With pieces of a tree

My fears got the best of me
I laid those plans away
My dreams were put on hold
Till some distant future day

But something kept on nagging
And dragging at my mind
To leave a project unfinished
... I'm really not that kind

I got them out and looked again
At those plans I barely knew
I badly wanted to build that boat
And make my dream come true

Figuring one step at a time
It didn’t look so bad
If I made it to the very end
I’m sure I would be glad

Well, I did build that boat
To make a long story short
My fears were all unfounded
Seems I’m just the worrying sort

Now if you have a set of plans
But don’t think you can cope
Listen to my story, friend
And do not give up hope

Don’t store away those plans
To ignore and let them lie
You really can build that boat
Go on, give those plans a try


Photos sent in since the last WebLetter...

Seasick Solutions

So you've tried everything to prevent your little water warrior's face from turning green? Maybe these simple answers will do the trick.

by David G. Brown

Q: My kids love to get out on the water, but one always becomes seasick. We've tried almost everything. Any suggestions?

A: The only sure cure is to sit under an oak tree. However, it's not practical to carry an oak tree to sea. During my 15 years of running a sailboat race committee boat, I had a different "crew" every race. We would sit anchored until the last boat finished, sometimes hours after the first-place boat. Naturally, I gathered a lot of experience with seasickness and learned some "tricks" to reduce problems.

Don't go out with an empty stomach. Hunger tends to feed that queasy feeling. Avoid a greasy breakfast; skip the corned beef hash in favor of pancakes or waffles. While underway, have snacks available. Bland, salty pretzels work best, because they help settle the stomach and stay crisp in the moist atmosphere. Chips work, but can go stale too quickly. Peanuts and trail mixes are also good choices.

For good-tasting medicine, take along some of Grandma's old-fashioned ginger snaps. Homemade cookies baked with real ginger are the best snack of all. Ginger root has a demonstrated ability to calm queasy digestive systems. If you don't want to bake ginger snaps, look for anti-nausea pills and chewing gums containing ginger root or ginger oil.

Encourage potential victims to drink water to prevent dehydration. Soda pop settles some stomachs, but distresses others. If the victim wants a fizzy drink, consider Vernor's brand ginger ale. For some reason it seems to work better than ginger ales intended for primary use as a bar mix.

There are anti-seasickness pills, like Dramamine or Bonine, available. These must be taken before going on the water so they have time to take effect before feeling nauseous. Beware: Most people do get drowsy when they take these pills. MotionEaze is a natural formula applied behind each ear. It's said to be effective even after the onset of seasickness.

Wristbands work by applying pressure to a specific point on the arm near the wrist. They're claimed safe for children and have no drug side effects. Simple bands cost under $10 and are reusable.

Assign a member of the crew to keep watch over anyone who's known to get seasick. The first symptom will be listlessness. The victim will withdraw from conversations, so act now or get the bucket later. Victims should be encouraged to sit out in fresh air where they can see the horizon. Keep them chatting, and never allow victims to stare down into the boat.

Harold the boatbuilder

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."

-- Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company

Shop Talk: Is it Time to Get a Fresh Edge?


by Steve Scott

Beginning boatbuilders are told often about the importance of keeping tools sharp. Deciding when to stop and resharpen or replace a tool ultimately depends on how much poor performance you’re willing to accept. Applying that lesson, however, takes practice. For starters, how can you tell when a tool is losing its edge?

Christian Becksvoort calls the descent from sharp to dull “a gentle, downward curve, with steadily declining results and ever more effort required.” Is it time to get a fresh edge?

We asked Becksvoort and others to describe some indicators that it is time to sharpen. the three warning signs: effort, results, and tool condition.

How hard are you working?
When deciding whether a tool is losing its edge, “my first clue is an increase in cutting resistance,” says Garrett Hack.

Simply put, a dull cutting edge on a hand or power tool requires more force to cut the wood. On router tables, for instance, a dull bit means you’ll have to exert more pressure to keep the wood against the fence.

“A dull bit will tend to push the material away,” Roland Johnson says. “A sharp bit just cuts.” In similar fashion, a dull jointer knife wants to lift a board off the table.

You’ll have to push harder to move stock through a cut if a bandsaw or tablesaw blade is dull. A dull tablesaw blade requires extra effort even if cleaned of gum and pitch, Becksvoort says.

On the bandsaw, you’ll find yourself pushing the blade against the rear thrust bearing as you force stock through a cut, according to Gary Rogowski. this is more apparent with thicker stock.

With handplanes, Hack says, a dull edge is most noticeable on end grain. And dull chisels are harder to handle.

“On long grain I have to push harder,” says Hack, “and I sometimes lose control because the dull edge wants to dive into the fibers rather than sever them.”

Becksvoort sharpens his chisels after one large section of work or two or three smaller pieces.

What do the results look like?
If increased effort is the first sign of a dulled edge, poor results are the surest.

Jointers and planers will leave tearout when blades are dull. Becksvoort changes them after two to four months of frequent use. the dulled blades give the wood a polished appearance that is “very shiny, but not particularly smooth.”

A router with a dull bit can burn the stock, but that also can happen with a slow feed rate. A surer sign, Hack notes, is a cut with feathery or splintered edges.

On the bandsaw, Rogowski says, a dull blade will wander and yield a wavy cut, or begin to drift increasingly to one side.

With chisels, Becksvoort finds that when chopping slots, “I begin to get an unacceptable amount of tearing as I chop down across the grain.”

Hack gauges the sharpness of a handplane edge “by looking at the shaving and by feeling the surface.” On long grain, he looks for tearout and a dull or slightly rough surface. “the shavings no longer come off as a continuous thin ribbon but are getting sliced down their length at each nick, or they have holes where tearouts occur.”

How does the tool look? If you are still unsure that you have a dull blade, look at the edge itself.

On plane irons and chisels, a dull blade will reflect a line of light at the cutting edge. Dull sawteeth are much harder to see. they won’t look or feel any blunter than sharp ones. but if a good cleaning doesn’t improve their cutting ability, you’ll know the edge is suffering.

Recent email:

Subject: Mailing List
Date: 17 May 2008

Please add my new email address to your mailing list - I don't want to miss ANY of my Glen-L messages! I really LOVE your product line, your web site, and just reading everything you guys write . . .

When I was a kid (I am 43 now) I had a cherished Glen-L catalog that I probably picked up used at a garage sale and darn near wore it out flipping through the pages thinking (dreaming) of building one of your boats. I wonder how many others can say the same thing, lots probably.

Thank you for your assistance and keep the newsletters coming!

-- Paul Wescott
Buena Park, CA

Subject: Fathers' Day
Date: 13 June 2008

Happy Father's Day to Mr. Glen L. Witt (and all the other Glen-L dads).

-- James Degges

Subject: Thank you
Date: 15 May 2008

Thanks very much for you correspondence. Boatbuilding 101 has been saved to be used when I can.

I really enjoy receiving your email correspondence because I think that the people at Glen-L enjoy what they are doing.

I work for an old family business, (not my family or I'd be living on a boat) and appreciate that you keep the values alive.

Kindest regards,

-- Bob Burke

Subject: Glen-L
Date: 26 May 2008

Dear Darla,

I am a student at the Kings School Australia. I am 16 years old and am so excited about my Zip. I am building one of your boats for my major project for my HSC (High School Certificate).

I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to build such a fine boat. I also wanted to try to keep you informed on how my boat is going and send some photos of the boat. I also wanted to know how to do that???

Thank you again.

-- Charlie Boyce
Bowral, Australia

Editor's Note: As we've already informed Charlie, anyone can review the progress of other builders as well as post their own build updates on the website by following the instructions at our Project Registry. All builders can also post pictures of their boats, from the very start of their build through completion and cruising the lakes or high seas of their choice at our Customer Photos area by following the instructions at How to Submit Photos.

Subject: Plugging Screw Heads
Date: 30 May 2008

Actually in Algonac we used shellac not varnish to "glue" the plugs in place - works better, less mess, dries fast, and the shellac sands out so your stain job has no problems. With varnish or glue you have to be real careful. Also, the plugs come out easier and don't mess up the counterbore if you're removing planks later. I still use shellac, but these days I use a small Japanese pull saw to cut the plugs flush - getting modern I guess, but I still finish up with an extra sharp chisel, then sand lightly.

You are right about cutting your own plugs. Don't buy a bag of bungs at West Marine - they were cut in Taiwan and are all dried out and won't fit your counterbores.

Bill Thomas
Marine City, Michigan

Date: 2 June 2008

My father and a friend of his built a Thunderbolt about 35 years ago. My father's friend passed and dad finished it in the 70's. It was water-worthy until the late 80's when the engine blew and he parked it behind the barn. For many years I bugged him to dig it out.

He even had many opportunities to sell it but always decided to keep it. Last summer I offered to store it at a friend's shop, where it is now. He is now 80 years old and without his knowledge I am restoring it. You can see pictures of it at I thought it would be a quick paint and float, but now have found the rot as you can see in the pictures. Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted. My intentions are to give the old boy a ride in his senior years now.

Also as a family history my uncle built one of the Thunderbolts back about the same time give or take a few years, but it has long since left the family, last seen in a field in Ontario somewhere. He has now gone on to supercats, working up through the ranks, he now owns a 55' MTI,; a little out of my league.

I love our Glen-L Thunderbolt.

Pleasure sharing this with you and I hope you're interested in updates of the progress.


-- Randy Milligan
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Subject: Lake Arrowhead Wooden Boat Show
Date: 9 June, 2008

Hello Gayle, Good to see you at the Arrowhead Show. Thanks again for the T Shirt.

Building Nautianne several years ago was one of the most challenging, rewarding, most fun things I have ever undertaken. I highly recommend this type of project for woodworkers with some experience (by experience, I mean being able to cut wood and fit pieces together.. ). That was my first attempt at building a boat. Thanks again,

-- Jim Kirkpatrick
Bakersfield, California

Subject: Business Comments
Date: 5 June 2008

Dear Glen,

I wanted to pass along my comments about your business, the WebLetter, and let you know that I think John is doing a fine job as Barry's replacement.

I have been admiring your designs for close on to half a century. I am delighted that such quality plans have endured and your family business has thrived to make them available to new generations of boat builders.

A few years ago I started getting your WebLetter. I firmly believe the WebLetter helps to bring your clients together to share their boat-building experiences. But more than that, it adds a personal touch that strengthens the bond between designer and builders. It also introduces potential builders to ideas, boat building tips and, of course, stories about boats that will help them get into boat building.

You have created a fine company. My best wishes and hopes that it will continue for generations to come.

-- Jerry Foster
San Jose, California

Subject: My First Glen-L Boat
Date: 11 June 2008

Gayle, I built my first Glen-L boat back in the early '60s with my brother in my parents' back yard, which at the time upset them to no end. I recall it was an 18 foot outboard runabout, which I left to my brother when I moved to Colorado in 1970.

In 1971, I started the Bonanza as a 17 foot, canted-transom version. I installed a 327 Chevy v-8 and launched it in 1973. It was a great boat and my kids grew up with us using the heck out of it for many years.

After losing my wife to cancer in '04 I lost interest in just about everything, including the Bonanza. Last year I gave the boat to my grandson who is in the process of refinishing and repowering it. I helped him last summer with a lot of the work, and he says it will be ready in a month or so to put in the water. I find it hard to believe that this boat has lasted so many years, at last count 35, and will go on for many more. I would say this is some kind of tribute to your father's designs.

In closing, I want to let you know that I am now 72 years old and building your version of the Sea Knight, of which I have been in contact with you recently. I'm sorry to say this will probably be my last Glen-L boat (If I live long enough to finish it).

Thank you for the informative newsletters, keep them coming.

-- Walt Stafford
Littleton, Colorado

Subject: Eight Ball Stitch & Glue
Date: 25 June 2008

I recently completed the Eight Ball SG in the sailing version. Construction took about 1 1/2 months of evening and weekend time. The plans and construction process are very straight forward.

I already have the plans for the Cruisette and will begin on it later this fall. I will forward pics on it as the construction process moves along.

Thanks for the excellent plans and a very rewarding experience.

-- Steve Sage
Bland, Virginia

Subject: Console Skiff
Date: 14 June 2008

I am at the moment building a Tolman Widebody skiff, stretched out to 24 ft, and going back to basics with a shaft driven diesel using a V box.

I am always looking for my next build, let's just say that I enjoy the journey from birth to creation, and I am a firm believer that boats, whether they be a sail boat or launch, all have a life and soul built into them. I enjoy the smell of wood and epoxy - not so much the paint, but also the smell of the sea, and the comradship that has developed with over 40 yrs of sailing and fishing.

To take a boat that you have built and given life to, becomes a part of your family, and when it is admired and talked about, so much the better!!

-- Les Wheeler
New Zealand

eMail of the Month

Subject: A Learning Experience
Date: 13 June 2008

About 12 months ago I completed building the Glen-L 15. It has great lines and is admired when I go out sailing. I did a so-so job on the details but I will improve as I go.

Several weeks ago my wife and I went out sailing on a beautiful day but without too much wind. On our way back to the ramp up the estuary channel I had sailed as far as I could go, so decided to start up the little 4 HP Evinrude just to give a little boost back home.

I then went forward to drop the sails leaving my wife at the tiller, steering with the motor running. My mistake was to cleat down the main sheet when I went forward. Just as I was about to lower the mainsail a puff of wind came up, the boom moved slightly knocking me on my backside as the boat started to heel over. My wife, not used to being at the tiller in circumstances such as this, failed to steer into the wind or release the mainsheet from the cleat. The result being that while I was looking at blue sky the motor and wind combined to heel us over further and further as if in slow-mo until the water came in over the gunnels and did not stop until the motor konked out. The result being all our gear started floating on the ebb tide and my wife and I went swimming together for the first time in years.

Fortunately, the channel is well used and two fellows in power boats came to our assistance, gathered up our shoes, paddles etc. as they started to float away and then towed us over close to the sand bank beside the mangroves. Thanks to these gentlemen we finally got back to the ramp after a 3 hour sail had extended to 6.

By the way, I accept full responsibility.

My first day sailing resulted in a dismast because one of the swages had not been properly clamped. Well, that’s two unfortunate instances; I am waiting for the third.


-- David Whitney
Sydney, Australia

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