What does it take to build a boat kit?
It really comes down to three things:
My goal is to have you successfully build the kit, which takes a decent amount of each of the above things. I am assuming that, if you are reading this, you have at least some motivation or curiosity (a prerequisite).
If not, here is a photo for motivation:
Everyone asks, how long does it take to build a dory? The answer is a big “it depends.” There are a huge number of steps and a lot of sanding involved. If you wanted to knock out a utilitarian boat without nice finishes, with a bunch of friends or helpers, you could probably do it in a month (maybe less). Given that these kits are not cheap, and that professionally build Grand Canyon Dories typically sell for north of $20,000, it’s worth spending a decent amount of time.
What is decent? I would say at a minumum, a day a week with 1-2 people for 6-12 months to build a nice dory. If you can commit a morning and evening in addition, you can cut down that timeline dramatically. Many of the fiberglassing steps require an initial application followed by 6-10 hours to let the epoxy tack up, and then a “flow coat.” So having it conveniently located near where you live or work can really help.
The CNC cut kit does dramatically decrease the time required to build the hull, but does not decrease the amount of time spent sanding, epoxying, sanding, fairing, sanding, installing hardware, and finishing (paint / varnish). These are the things that you will look at every time you row the boat, so think about how much effort you want to put into them. Some of them (paint) are also things that you can re-do over time. Depending on your desired level of finished, building the hull and internal reinforcements is typically 25-50% of the total build time.
So, can I say how long it will take? Not really. Be prepared to dive into this project for an absolute minimum of a few months, but you’re better off budgeting 6 months to a year. You can knock it out quickly, but the beauty is really in spending some quality time building a quality boat that will last you the rest of your life.
You need a space to build the boat.
One benefit of the pre-cut kit is that you don’t need a huge air conditioned / heated shop full of expensive tools. You do still need an at least semi-enclosed space, between 50 and 80 degrees, with a minimum of 16’ x 10’ and a 7’+ ceiling (this only works if you have a garage door, 10’x20′ is a better minimum and 20’x20′ ideal). You also need to make sure that you can get the finished boat out of your space- don’t build it in a third floor apartment living room unless you have a big door and good rigging skills.
You only need basic tools- no big tools are needed.
It’s best if you can find a shop space close to where you live. Many of the steps take minimal time (maybe 30 minutes to paint), but require work to be completed both in the morning and the evening. Epoxy has quite specific re-coating times and re-coating outside of the time windows can lead to poor bonding.
You will need electricity, ideally some way to heat the shop (a small radiator works well) and good lighting. Invest in a few LED clamp lights to use under and around the boat. This is particularly useful for fairing, when you need to see any bumps in the finish. If you are in a wet place, a dehumidifier can be useful during fiberglassing.
How much will it all cost? It depends. See “Ordering” for current pricing. The kit only includes the wood components, oar towers, and manual, as well as support during your build.
Other costs include:
- Epoxy Additives
This doesn’t include electricity, shop space, or beer. All things that you will probably need to build one of these.
There are a variety of options for each of the listed items, from cheap epoxy to barrel aged triple IPA. In very rough numbers though, the kit typically costs between 1/2 and 2/3 of the finished cost of the boat, not including a trailer or oars.
If you are picking up a boat kit in Oregon you should consider buying a high quality trailer built in the area and putting your kit on it to get home. I can point you in the right direction for the best drift boat trailers out there, just 2 hrs from our shop.