Talking with a potential customer for a Drake 19 recently brought up a common question. Do I have the skills to build from plans? And, Should I build from plans or from a kit?
To build from plans, the primary skills needed are plans reading and problem solving skills, or put another way, you have to figure things out on your own. Chase Small Craft plans have a ton of information, but there is no manual for how to read the plans and extract the info needed to make parts, set up the boat, and so on. I provide full size patterns for most of the parts, which allows the builder to transfer the shapes to wood and cut out, saving some measurement and layout time, but it still means there is a lot of cutting involved. Plans builders do have access to the information supplied to kit builders, so they do have a manual and timber list to assist them. And I am only a phone call away if they have questions.
In our shop we only build boats from kits. The reasons are bountiful, but here are the top 5:
- the strongback is part of the kit and everything jigs and interlocks together.
- the planks are precut with the scarfs saving a great deal of effort and time
- bulkheads, frames, and stems/transoms are both precut and designed to integrate into the building jig seamlessly
- when you turn the boat over, the major structure is already installed in the boat
- you'll knock down on the building time by about 25% allowing you to put more time into painting and fitting out the boat
These are the perks for building with a precut plywood kit. We haven't even begun discussing the advantages of a complete kit!