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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

Note: This is a five-day course ending Friday afternoon.


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.

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.

As the owner of Chesapeake Light Craft, John Harris has shipped 26,000 stitch-and-glue kits and built hundreds of boats in classes and in his own shop. In this class, students will build an attractive, 13′6″ peapod of Harris’s design. This traditional and popular design offers many opportunities to focus on the finer points of stitch-and-glue, including perfectly hand-drawn fillets that look like they were molded in place; fast and clean fiberglass sheathing and reinforcement; the use of advanced materials like peel-ply, and hollow wood-epoxy spars.

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