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Stitch-and-Glue Boatbuilding

Learn introductory and advanced modern plywood boatbuilding techniques suitable for simple or heavy-duty boats.

Tuition: $850


The “stitch-and-glue” method is the easiest way to build a boat, as tens of thousands of amateur boatbuilders will testify. The approach, which emphasizes the use of epoxy adhesives and strategic fiberglass reinforcement combined with marine plywood, is ideal for first-timers. Yet like so many things, it’s easy to do but hard to do well. This class is about how to do it well.

Stitch-and-glue techniques date back to the advent of modern adhesives in the 1960s. The process dispenses with lofting, elaborate molds, and much of the complex joinery of traditional wooden boat building. Instead, computer-cut plywood parts are “stitched” together with loops of wire, then glued with epoxy to create a rigid and seaworthy hull.

Building guide boat in the shop

While this stitch-together approach is friendly to amateurs, in recent decades professionals have seized on the method as a way to create beautiful, free-form hull shapes with amazing strength and light weight. When pros build stitch-and-glue boats, they deploy sophisticated techniques that result in optimized structures and glittering finishes.

As the owner of Chesapeake Light Craft, John C. Harris has shipped 40,000 stitch-and-glue boat kits and built hundreds of boats in classes and in his own shop. In this class, we’ll build a modern reproduction of a traditional Maine peapod. Outwardly traditional in appearance, this 13'6" rowing/sailing boat offers many opportunities to focus on the finer points of stitch-and-glue--for example, perfectly hand-drawn fillets that look like they were molded in place, fast and clean fiberglass sheathing and reinforcement, and the use of advanced materials like peel-ply. There will be plenty of boat carpentry along the way, including spars, a rudder, and a centerboard trunk.

Whether you’re building your first boat, or looking to learn the advanced tricks that the professionals use to get “showboat” finishes, this one-week class will advance your abilities to work with wood, epoxy, and fiberglass. The boat we build together will be raffled off at the end of the week to one lucky student!

John Harris is an excellent instructor. He’s not only very experienced and knowledgeable but very generous with his time and information. I signed up for STITCH-AND-GLUE CONSTRUCTION to build up my confidence working with epoxy and fiberglass. I was able to do just that and so much more.”
D.H., Buenos Aires, Argentina
John Harris has a wealth of knowledge in boat design and construction techniques for building stitch-and-glue boats. He shared all of this with his students through daily, practical lessons, lectures, and demonstrations. The course was very well suited for both the novice and experienced boatbuilder.”
J.M., Brick, New Jersey