PDRacer Duckling

IMG_7145Below are the steps I took to build the half size model of the “Simple 18” boat from Shorty’s PDRacer site.  The site is here:


I basically followed each of the steps for “Bucket Ears,” but cut the measurements by half.  There are no pictures until later in the process because I didn’t know what I was doing and I was embarrassed.  I’ve since learned that keeping a log, regardless of my skill level, is a good idea, and this is why I’m writing this page now.

  1.  I bought stuff.  This included wood, glue, tools, power tools, hardware, and everything else I would need for building my first boat.  I didn’t even have saw horses to put the wood on.  I really started from scratch here, as I’ve never really built ANYTHING on my own before.
  2. Once the plywood and supporting wood was purchased, I had to mark it and cut it.  I won’t repeat the steps since I followed exactly what Shorty did for Bucket Ears.  However, keep in mind that everything, including the wood, was half the size.
  3. Sides- MISTAKE #1- I cut the 4×8 piece of plywood in half instead of marking for the sides to be 9 inches.  24 inches divided by 2 is 12, not 9.  I cut the rest off.
  4. I marked the sides, and cut the shape of the hull.  I then cut the bulkheads from one of the other sheets of 4×8.
  5. For the chine logs, Shorty recommended on his site to rip pieces from a larger board to avoid knots.  After I broke one of the chine logs at a knot point, I really understood why.  This was my next step. I took a 2×6 and cut it down to a few 3/4″ x 8′ pieces for the logs.  MISTAKE #2- I learned that I cannot cut a straight line with a circular saw.  I suppose this takes practice.
  6. After cutting the bottom chine logs, I glued and nailed them into place.  Actually, I experimented with two techniques- the first was to use nails, the second was to use 3/4″ stainless steel screws.  I then removed the screws and filled the holes with toothpicks and wood flue.  In the future, I’ll use nails since it was quicker, (3/4″ bronze ring shank boat nails), but I do like the look and aesthetic of having NO metal on the outside of the boat.  The technique I used for attaching these was to bend the logs a little bit at a time, apply glue, nail, and continue.
  7. MISTAKE #3 occurred when I didn’t sand the outer edges of the sides before putting on the chine logs.  This would have required much less sanding than I needed to do to make sure the edges of the sides were perfectly aligned, allowing the bottom to eventually sit flush.
  8. My next step was to make the bulkheads and transoms.  I measured notches for the chine logs in the bulkheads to allow for the boards to sit flush against the sides when I installed them.  This was MISTAKE #4.  When I do this again, I think I’ll cut out a cardboard stencil of the transom, then cut the notches based on the guide.  This will be much more accurate.  This step is when I realized the combination square (a tool I had to buy) was the MOST important piece of equipment I’ve used so far.  I started the project without it, and once I purchased it, knew I’d never do anything without it again.  I applied copious amounts of glue to the chine logs, screwed them on, and let them sit for a day or so for the glue to dry.
  9. After these were finished, I was ready put the hull frame together.  I used lots of glue and nails, and eventually got it to stay up by itself.  I had a sanding session to make sure the edges were the same, and then went on to the next step.
  10. After I was sure the bottom would sit flush against the transoms and bulkheads, I put on the bottom.  This was less challenging than I expected, and because of the tight holiday shopping and visiting schedule, I accomplished this in about a half hour.  It consisted of me lining up the third and final 4×8 sheet of plywood with the chine logs, then gluing and nailing the entire board all the way around.  I used lots of glue to ensure the board would stay put.  After it dried and I flipped it over, I realized MISTAKE #5.  I forgot to remeasure the length of the chine log and bottom combined, and I used a nail that was too long to attach the bottom deck.  In some places along the interior side, a little bit of the nail was sticking out from the chine log.  Given that this boat is meant as a toy for my young children, I knew I was in trouble.  Nails and kids aren’t a good combination.  However, with a few taps on a punch tool with my hammer, I was able to remove most of the problem nails.  The other pokey nails I pounded flat and will cover with flexible corner guard molding.
  11. More sanding.
  12. Though I will not be taking this boat in the water, I decided to follow the step of sealing the flotation chambers fore and aft as practice for the next one.  I used the recommended PL 200 and covered each corner and connection that would (potentially) leak if the boat did go in the water.  This was unnecessary, but it was good for me to experience, and didn’t take too long.
  13. Before I attached the fore and aft deck boards, I decided to create a mast partner and mast step from a 2×4.  I cut out a section of the board and attached it to the side chine logs and forward transom with glue and two 5/16 sized bolts.  I then measured the distance from the bow to the edge of the 2×4 and cut a deck board to cover the whole front of the boat, and another deck board to cover the aft flotation box.  Before I attached the partner and mast step, I drilled an 1.5″ hole for the cylindrical piece of wood I’m using for the mast.  I tried the mast out, and it was a little small for the opening, but this is ok.  I’ll most likely try to fill the gap with duct tape, or maybe a more elegant method.  I then glued and nailed the deck boards to the top of the boat.  They were a pretty good fit, but required a little more sanding to even out the edges.
  14. Time for sanding.

More to come….