This small boat under construction is resting on a table outdoors. The hull is not quite complete, but parts of it have been roughly sanded.

Building a Powerboat

After building a cedar strip canoe in 2020 and enjoying it in 2021, I realized I wanted to build another boat. According to my design specifications, it had to be electric powered, fast, classy, and fit in the back of my car. After some long hours with Google, I came to love the lines of classic wooden barrel back boats, and when I found a design called the Belle Isle (a full-size 23-foot design is available from Glen-L) I decided that would be my inspiration.

The Belle Isle

I took the design and scaled it down to six feet long. It was still big enough to hold one person (me) or maybe two small children. And it would fit in my car. I also found a supply of beautiful cherry wood, which happened to come from a tree in my parents’ backyard. I didn’t mill it myself, but I am thrilled to say that all the cherry in my boat came from this single tree.

Construction was not easy, especially since I didn’t have any guidance except for the canoe I built a couple years ago, but I managed. I think.

Right away with this project I realized that I needed some more clamps! This style is great and I found a deal on Amazon for a boatload of them.

a box of clamps, each labeled with the Workpro brand name

Apparently one of my signature moves when building boats is the bookmatched bow inlay. For this boat, I found a very nice piece of cherry containing heartwood and new wood, a small knot, and a beautiful scar. This made for a lovely centerpiece in the foredeck of the boat.

My other favorite detail is on the stern of the boat, where I was able to cut all the strips out of a single board and keep the grain matched to highlight some swirls and other intricacies of the woodgrain. If anyone would be “distracted by the wood grain” this would be why.

Wooden boat under construction. The aft is fully assembled and rough sanding is in process. This view highlights the grain pattern of the cherry strips.
Sanding in progress on the stern of the boat. Distracted by the wood grain, anyone?

Stay tuned for finishing the boat and (hopefully) getting it wet.



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