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
  • Most of my life I've been, to put it bluntly, pretty useless when it comes to the mechanical parts of cars. Oh sure, I could put a pretty mean coat of wax on my car, or change a tire, or do an oil change (I once even changed the spark plugs) . . . but build something from scratch, no way!
  • As most of you already know, I am not a boatbuilder (yet!), but in the last couple of years I have become a "car guy." I've taken a very-much-less-than-perfect 1974 Datsun 260Z, and (with a little help here and there from car guys more knowledgeable/experienced than me) turned it into a sweet little ride (and it's fast!). As a matter-of-fact, just this last Saturday on the way to "Traffic Violators' School" (I told you it's fast) 5 different people commented on just how nice my "Z" is, and one commented about how "strong" it sounds.
  • The more of you boatbuilders and future boatbuilders I meet, I cannot get over how much we all have in common (boat guys and car guys). Of course, we all enjoy making something special out of nothing, but most of all we enjoy the feelings of pride and accomplishment we get, not only from completing our projects, but also so much from the process of just working on them and sharing tips and stories with other people also involved in our pursuit.
  • I want you all to know that this "car guy" WILL be a "boatbuilder guy" too one day soon. I know that if little ol' me with no prior experience can manage to muddle through a rebuild of a 30+ year old Japanese sports car, I CAN build a pretty nice boat, too . . . especially with the guidance of all you helpful builders who populate our Boatbuilder Forum!
  • I also know, that YOU, whoever you are, whatever your level of inexperience, can also build the boat of your dreams if you have the desire. Glen-L's full-size plans and patterns, along with the helpful builders in our Forum, pretty much guarantee it!

Until next month . . .      

Things To-Do with 15 Minutes

by Bill Edmundson

While reading posts in the "Boatbuilder Forum" Sailboats section I found Robert from Dallas, Texas (forum User Name "Razopp") and others had complained about finding time to work on their boats. Dale ("Smith Brother") of Indianapolis, Indiana, suggested that boatbuilding is "seven thousand 20-minute" tasks. To that Robert said he'd "have to settle for 15 minutes at a time."

Upon reflection, I put together a list of 15-minute tasks. My guess is that for every three 15-minute tasks, you save an hour on your "big" work day (something will interrupt you for the other 15 minutes). Whatever you do, don't do "Honey Do's" with your 15 minutes. They will just come up with another (they want the time, not the activity).

Things To-Do with 15 Minutes
(I tried for things that aren't too dirty or messy. I'm sure you will add to this list!)error-file:tidyout.log

  1. Mark a pattern on a frame.
  2. Make cardboard gusset patterns. (12-pack boxes work great)
  3. Dry fit the next glue job.
  4. Dry set frames on set-up/motor stringers.
  5. Use molding strips to check the symmetry of curvature, frame to frame.
  6. Take some pictures for John. John likes pictures!
  7. Mark screw locations.
  8. Drill screw pilot holes.
  9. Drill screw counter-sinks.
  10. Trim excess overhangs.
  11. Sweep.
  12. Pick up used sandpaper.
  13. Cut up bulk sandpaper.
  14. Plane that piece that's been bothering you.
  15. Make a list of things to pick up before the next work session; put it in your car.
  16. Make building log entries.
  17. Look for and mark high and low points for fairing.
  18. Get on the computer and order materials.
  19. Pick up scraps in shop.
  20. Pull staples.
  21. Wet wood down for final sanding.
  22. Do some masking for this weekend's painting.
  23. Finish that piece that you stopped on to do a "Honey Do."
  24. Layout tomorrow's work and tools.
  25. Get out the C&C (Chair and Cooler), sit down, and drink a Beer.
  26. Enjoy your work and think through your next move.
Have fun,

-- Bill Edmundson
Birmingham, Alabama


That is a GREAT list. I completely agree with what Dale said, and things have been moving more steadily along. I think a great addition to your list would be how to actually find those 15 minutes…

My examples:
  • While wife sleeps in on the weekends.
  • While Amy is taking a shower in the evening.
  • When she goes for a run (30 minutes).
  • Early mornings before work.
  • During Hockey intermissions (Dallas Stars are playing terrible right now, so I am actually missing periods too).
Anyone have any other ideas . . . ?

-- Robert Zopp
Dallas, Texas

Editor's Note: "Things To-Do with 15 Minutes" was "lifted" from an interchange between Bill Edmundson and several of our other builders in the Glen-L Boatbuilder Forum.

If you haven't yet discovered how extremely useful and entertaining is our Forum, don't miss out any longer; register today (it's FREE) so that you can immediately begin to learn and enjoy with the rest of us!

Glen-L Boatbuilders of the Month

Greg & Brad Roy - Barrelback 19, Squirt, et al...

Greg & Brad Roy of Auckland, New Zealand continue to amaze all of us here at Glen-L. Two years ago they purchased a second-hand Glen-L Tiny Titan off of an internet auction site, then fitted it with an 8-hp Yamaha and named her "Screamin' MeeMie" to use as "the kids" boat. After that Greg and a friend found a second-hand Glen-L Thunderbolt on the same auction site, purchased and fully reconditioned her over the winter then "had a great summer skiing behind "Thumpa" at the lake." Greg tells us that the experience "brought back memories of when I was an apprentice (a few years ago now) and the boss had a Thunderbolt which I fitted a 283 smallblock into for him (seems I have had a connection with Glen-L from way back)."

In 2001, prior to renovating the Tiny Titan and Thunderbolt, Greg built a Glen-L Barrelback 19. Greg told us "When I got the plans... I just started at the beginning and made the frames and it just took shape from there. It was the first boat I had ever built from scratch... I just started and it just worked. This was my dreamboat to build so I'm pleased I persevered!" Greg lengthened the craft 6" to 19'6" in order to fit in a 350 cubic inch marine Chevy V8 with a gearbox. Starting construction in early 2001 and launching "Bootlegger" on December 18, 2005, Greg completed every part except for making the fuel tank and doing the upholstery.

Greg's final project (thus far!) has been to build a Glen-L Squirt as a father and son project with 12-year old Brad. Using Kauri (a great local boatbuilding timber) for the frames, Greg decided to change the details of the deck construction to allow for a beautiful fully varnished timber deck with walnut sides (laminated squares) and walnut king-plank with stripes of mahogany and white oak veneers over the ply deck.

Using a 15-hp Johnson outboard, they launched the Squirt on January 15, which is Brad's birthday - a great present for a 12-year old. Brad and his sister Aleesha chose the name "Gangsta" in keeping with the outlaw theme and their boat "Bootlegger." Greg tells us "'gangsta' is one of the latest new words the kids use. They say 'that's really gangsta' when something is really cool, etc. 'Gangsta' and 'Bootlegger' look really good together, whether tied up to the jetty or blasting around the lake."

"There can't be that many Glen-L boats in New Zealand but we have 4 in our family - not bad I reckon. Just deciding what to build next!!"

Featured Design: Cracker Box


T he California Cracker Box is a racing runabout design popularized on the American west coast shortly after the Second World War. Approximately 15' long and raced in closed course competition with 2 persons on board, the original design placed a 283 cubic inch small-block Chevy engine (originally cannibalized from wrecked Corvettes) in the middle of a flat-bottomed boat, with driver and engine man sitting behind it with their backs almost against the transom. Power hits the water by way of a straight propeller shaft exiting the bottom of the boat.

As the class developed, boats got faster, and presently race in the 80 to 90+ mph range. Established as a class with the American Powerboat association (APBA) in 1947, the Crackerbox Class is the oldest original class in APBA.

Our Glen-L Cracker Box looks like a hot-rod; you can almost imagine a fox tail streaming behind! It's a boat that has a look that will draw specators wherever she goes. But this smokin' hot design offers more than good looks, often used in competition, achieving amazing speeds with just a small block Chevy. When you stomp on the accelerator it's easy to imagine you've left the "pack" behind and are about to take the checkered flag. She can easily handle a skier and is also the ideal boat for just cruisin' down the main drag to the admiring looks of all those around you.

A mid-mounted inboard engine drives through a reliable and efficient propeller to really dig in and move out. The aft seat location makes the riding easy. The compact Cracker Box is easy to trailer and handle, too.

This proven design can be built even if you're on a budget. You can even do your own automotive motor conversion using components available from Glen-L.

Why lose even one more day of fun and pride on the water? Order your Plans & Patterns today and start making your dream (boat) come true!

Designer's Notebook: Confessions of a Tool Junkie

Yes, some of us have a thing about tools. We're the nuts who never throw away a tool. Maybe it hasn't been used since almost forever, it's still a tool. This was brought forcibly to my attention by a hand drill hanging on the tool rack.

My woodworking tools hang on a wall rack. Each tool has a bracket custom-made to fit. It started off with a peg board, but the little wire gizmos wouldn't stay put even with the special clips, so custom-built holders were made for each tool as it was added. Most tool holders are wood but PVC plastic pipe has proven handy and easier to make a rack for holding a tool "just right." Anyway, once a holder is made for a tool it's there to stay. Throw a tool away just because it isn't used? Who would ever do that?

Anyway, back to what started this story, the hand drill. This is the old hand-crank model turning a geared wheel that in turn drives the drill or whatever is in the chuck. When did this obsolete tool get its place on the tool rack? Who knows? I have no recollection of ever having used the darned thing. Why would anyone use such a gadget when hand drills run by batteries or AC house current are on the shelf?

Those questions caused a cursory survey as to just how much "stuff" is on the rack that is seldom if ever used. There are five nice hand saws; rip, crosscut, standard-length and short ones. Great tools, each still sharp, but when were the last used? Can't remember - using portable hand electrical-powered saws is so much easier.

There are several back saws of various sizes; these are handy, albeit used infrequently. Next to them hangs coping and keyhole saws. Only a true tool junkie would keep a coping saw; but there it is with extra blades. It must have been used, but when is unknown. Both it and the keyhole saw are in good shape - they should be, they haven't been used in a long time. Those handy electric saber saws make them obsolete.

Then there is a plastic pouch with a complete set of auger bits. These are new looking, shiny bright. Again, they should be. Who would use them when spade and Forstner bits in an electric drill are much easier and quicker? But they are nice and they do have a place on the tool rack.

Hanging in a neat row is a complete set of hand screwdrivers for both slot and cross head fasteners. These are well used but what about the drawer filled with others? How about a right angle hand screwdriver or maybe a small 3" driver with a ratchet? Perhaps a round packet containing jewelers' screwdrivers (probably bought to repair eye glasses)? They're in the drawer with almost every type of screwdriver made. Big ones, short ones, even a Phillips head screw driver with a cross handle at the top almost 2' long. For some reason screw drivers are my fetish even though the drawer is seldom opened to get one - the nice set on the tool rack is handier and arranged to be grabbed in the right type and size in a hurry. And since they aren't used as pry bars they will probably last forever.

Aren't we lucky today? Hand-held, portable, electric-powered tools have replaced those obsolete hand tools, But what if that nice electrical convenience outlet doesn't spew forth that electrical juice? Or it may not exist; many of our builders do not have access to electricity. In that case those seldom-used tools are needed and the electrical-powered ones become surplus and remain on the tool rack.

But, will those seldom (if ever) used tools on the rack be thrown way?

Not by a true tool junkie.

My Boating Background

W hen I was but a lad
I learned how to use a paddle
A kayak fit me like a glove
As a cowboy to the saddle

Then I learned how to row
And found new boating pleasure
Row boats carried more stuff
Better to hold exciting treasure

Next came power boating
An outboard was a revelation
Much less effort to move it
That was a very nice sensation

But a boat that planes was best
I loved the feel of speed
Once I learned to water ski
Then power became my need

One day I tried a sailboat
And loved it on the sea
That boat really came alive
Sailing is where I longed to be

Though eventually the sails
Hung loose and did not fill
I lost the thrill of going slow
And the increasing slip fee bill

I’m back to power boating
And trailer-able you know
No more slip fees to pay
That’s really the way to go

Whatever type you choose
To get into the boating scene
Make up your mind to do it
In a Glen-L boat I mean!


Photos posted since the last WebLetter...

Harold the boatbuilder

"Dreams. Yes dreams. Smell of wood when cut or sanded, dreams become reality. Freedom at last!"

--- Alex Bekvalac, Glen-L Boatbuilder in London, England

Shop Talk: Planing Plywood & Storing Small Stuff

Planing Multiple Plywood Sheets Simultaneously

Many designs call for large, paired pieces of plywood.

I find that tipping my portable workbench, you know, the ones with the moveable longish wooden jaws, on its end and closing it on the sheets of plywood holds them together and upright. Sorry, I don't know what you call them in your country but "Workmate" is one name here.

A couple of clamps on the other end and you can plane edges to your hearts content.

Submitted by Glen-L Boatbuilder John Nieman, Victoria, Australia

Small Parts Carousel

Keeping extra nails, screws, bolts, and other hardware on hand will save trips to the website. The problem is all these parts can be difficult to store and organize. To solve this problem, build the small parts storage carousel you see in the drawing to the right.

The carousel consists of a single base unit and a set of storage units sized to hold plastic bins. The storage units rotate so you can find the part you need quickly and easily. And, as shown in the drawing to the right, you can build and stack as many units as needed for additional storage.

Base. To make it easy to access the storage bins, build a simple base (drawing below). First, cut the top and bottom shelves to size. And then connect them to the L-shaped legs and frame. Finally, add a Lazy Susan to allow the unit to rotate.

Storage Unit. Each storage unit is built from 3/4" plywood and 1/4" hardboard. Start by cutting the base and top to size. Then make four separate storage compartments to hold two different sizes of 4"-wide bins (one deep and one shallow).

The two larger compartments are made by joining two sides and a divider to a back. Dadoes in the sides and back hold the 1/4" hardboard shelves and divider (main drawing and inset below). The small center compartments are formed by connecting the backs of the large compartments by two spacers and a set of small shelves. Here again, dadoes hold the shelves in position.

To use the carousel, just slide in the bins and fill them with small parts. Then a spin is all it takes to find the part you need.

Recent email:

Subject: WOW!
Date: 13 February 2009

WOW! Just opened WebLetter 109 and got blown away by the spread on our Malahini. Thank you so much - it is awesome to be recognized like this.

Now, if we can only win an award at an ACBS show, we’d all have something to brag about!

-- George & Betty Redden
Staunton, Virginia

Subject: Glen-L WebLetter
Date: 14 February 2009

Loved the pictures of the Ke-Pau. When you have the next larger model plans please let me know. I've got the lake and the great-grandchildren!

-- Bob Reibel

Subject: Glen-L WebLetter
Date: 13 February 2009

I really enjoy getting the WebLetter - is my life that pathetic that I wait around for it with nothing else to do? No. It's that the letter is that good! What a surprise to read about making your own fittings. I suggested it on my blog a few months ago...for me done with a system of removal and then heat treatment (annealing) of stainless. All in due time.

You guys do a great job! Keep up the good work!!!

-- Craig Larson
Swan River, Manitoba, Canada

Subject: FYI
Date: 13 February 2009

FYI, you folks are great. Building my Glen-L boat was a defining time in my life.

-- John T Dutton

Subject: Good morning and happy Friday!
Date: 13 February 2009

I just wanted to tell you guys that I am so excited! Just ordered one of your tee-shirts for Chuck Hughes, my brother-in-law whose birthday is next Tuesday, February 17th! I felt it only appropriate that he wear the tee shirt of the boat builder that designed the boat he is building! The Sherwood Queen was the choice he made. It is absolutely looking wonderful! The hull and cabin are done, painting is pretty much finished and he's varnishing like crazy.

We're getting together on Saturday for a birthday celebration! My sister's husband will be so very excited to get this tee-shirt!!!!! His boat using your plans is almost finished. It's very bitter sweet in that it has been delightful watching it being built and the meticulous work he has put into it. At the same time, it will be sad to see it come to an end….which is why I'm going to recruit him to build me a kayak!!!! Not quite as grand as the Sherwood Queen that he is building now but it certainly will do!

I'm going through your plans and kits to see what will be next on his list to build! All I can say, it's definitely going to be a boat for me!

Have a wonderful weekend!!!!

-- Carol Bennion
El Cajon, California

eMail of the Month

Subject: Project Registration
Date: 16 February 2009

Hello, My name is Matthew Trent. I am building one of your Fancy Free designs, and would like to register the build. I hope to name the boat after my mother in honor of what must have been the most stressful years of her life, birth to graduation! I suppose the name is up to the powers that be. Perhaps I should invest in a sacrificial lamb and a really good bottle of rum! It couldn't hurt.

I live in Tacoma, Washington and sail weekly on the Pacific Northwest's biggest protected saltwater pond. That's right; the good ole Puget Sound. You could spend a lifetime gunkholing her shores and never see it all, though it's a worthy enough mission objective to ensure many thousands of hours at the till. Har..Har!

I recently retired from the Army and have chosen in sound body and mind (if I can use the two statements in the same sentence!) to build a boat myself. I have owned many old Woodie's, but never delved any deeper than light restoration. This project promises to be a deeply fulfilling use of my newly acquired "freedom."

I currently have the frames located on the form, stem and transom braced, and started the centerboard trunk today. It isn't a large percentage of the build, but having gotten this far in just two weeks I feel I'm well ahead of schedule.

-- Matthew Trent
Tacoma, Washington

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