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Stitch-and-Glue Construction

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

August 11 – August 17
Brooklin, Maine
John Harris
Experience Level
Activity Level

This is a five-day course ending Friday

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.

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 45,000 stitch-and-glue boat kits and built hundreds of boats in classes and in his own shop. In this class, we’ll build an elegant camp-cruising dinghy, rigged for sail and oar, with room to sleep on the floorboards beneath a boom tent. This swift, stable, and ergonomic 15-footer 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, too, 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.

“Intrepid Fox” is John’s design for a small (14’9″), highly optimized camp-cruiser that sails fast, rows well, and has the option to carry a small outboard engine on the transom centerline. There are ergonomic bench seats for sailing, and the aluminum centerboard is offset to port to create a palatial sleeping berth on the floorboards amidships.Yawl and sloop rigs will be available as well.


  • Who is this course best suited for?

    This course is appropriate for someone with little or no experience.  The course is designed around the idea that you have not done this before or know very little about the subject.  Students should pay more attention to suggested readings or videos to help familiarize themselves ahead of time.

    This course involves a moderate level of activity throughout the week including: standing and working sometimes throughout the day, some hand planing or sanding, working on group projects that require occasional participation.

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