There are hundreds of plans for small rowboats, from the overly simple to absurdly complex. If you want to build a small rowboat, in solid lumber, that will mostly not be in the water, traditional lapstrake construction is the way to go. I used 1 x 6 cypress as my bottom planks - they are cross planked so they have a lot of seams. I think there were and are a lot of tradeoffs with this boat, but it made me learn a lot of the fundamentals of boat building along the way.
As a furniture maker, I can tell you that one of the first things you need to do, is forget most of what you've learned about what is right, and what is wrong. The secret to a good flat bottom skiff design has enough rocker so that the stem stays clear of the water and the transom also, otherwise you plow water ahead and suck it behind. To get WoodenBoat delivered to your door or computer, mobile device of choice, etc, click WB Subscriptions.
I want to build a small rowboat to get me started, hopefully teach my 10 yr old son a thing or two about using his hands.
The scope of boatbuilding is substantially larger than furniture building and requires a recalibration of goals.


I've built at least a hundred pieces of furniture and the care and concern I have for perfection in execution of a stick of furniture was a detriment when I started building boats. Trying to follow everyone else's advice will have you spinning in circles until you drill yourself to China. On boats large enough to have interior cabinetry, it's like building furniture that has to fit against the walls of a bowl.
Maybe I shouldn't mention I'm currently making an upright bass, talk about curves and lack of square lines. I found this rowboat, the lines and simplicity appealed to me, there is a slightly longer version that will probably work better.
I learned to make furniture by hand, went on to build high end custom pieces - various materials, lots of hand work, veneer, vacuum forming, fancy finishes etc. The first boat I built took months upon months upon months and I sweated every little detail, which got me no closer to my goal of a finished boat.
I finally realized that boatbuilding is a wholistic process and once I started to just trust my eye, I was able to move efficiently to each succeeding step.
I'm already rethinking the solid wood only concept, mostly about the bottom, plywood would make a lot of sense there.


I don't like plywood and epoxy - I've used this stuff quite a bit, enough to know I like solid wood and hand tools better.
The thing that appeals to me about the Forest and Stream Boat is the simplicity of the drawing and materials. After completing six boats and banging them around some, I fully realize the folly of building and finishing to excruciating standards.
My intended use would be to store it outside covered and use it in both fresh water and salt. I guess you could say that in boatbuilding you need to keep the larger picture in mind, lest perfection become the enemy of the good. I'm hoping I can use solid wood (pine, locust, white oak, cedar, cypress etc) and use caulking, paint and oils to keep it healthy and relatively water tight.



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