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Stitch-and-Glue Boatbuilding

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

Tuition: $825


The “stitch-and-glue” construction 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. But like so many things, it’s easy to do but hard to do well. This class is about how to do it well.

The stitch-and-glue techniques date back to the advent of modern adhesives in the 1960s. The basic process involves prefabricated plywood parts, which are stitched together with loops of wire, then glued with epoxy to create rigid and seaworthy hulls. The process dispenses with lofting, elaborate molds, and much of the complex joinery of traditional wooden boat building.

Building guide boat in the shop

While the method is beloved of amateurs, in recent decades professionals have seized on this type of construction as a way to create beautiful free-form hull shapes with amazing strength and light weight. While still benefiting from the speed and ease of stitch-and-glue boatbuilding, pros deploy sophisticated techniques that result in optimized structures and glittering finishes.

This year’s stitch-and-glue class will assemble a replica of the Gislinge Boat. A 7.7-meter rowing and sailing craft. The original was probably built for a Danish Chieftain around the year 1130, and excavated from a farm field in Denmark in 1993. It’s not a Viking ship, but a recent descendent. Designer, boatbuilder, and instructor John Harris chose this project because the construction techniques of these elegant Scandinavian vessels share remarkable similarities with stitch-and-glue boats of the 21st century. Then, as now, the monocoque hulls are assembled from pre-shaped planks, without a mold. Instead od oak planking and bog-iron rivets, our Gislinge Boat will be assembled from computer-cut marine plywood with wire stitches and epoxy.

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. And the boat we build together will be raffled off at the end of the week to one very 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