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Building “Joe” — 15’ ski boat — Stiletto


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I’m finally building the boat I’ve wanted to build since high school: Glen-L Stiletto

I began a thread for this boat-build shortly after building my Core Sound 15 in mid-2020.  I will continue the thread in this Main Forum. 

NOTE:  The start and introduction to this build-blog is located in the B&B forum.  To read the introduction, click here (or click on the picture):


I will purchase all of the wood for Joe from B&B Yachts.  I appreciate the company and the quality of the materials they use... plus, for me, purchasing wood and materials from B&B  feels like I am “buying locally.”


So, maybe this coming summer, I can take a photo like this except that it would be me standing in a red Joe.


Flash Ahead to Family Camp 2022… a photo of my two boat builds:


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  • PadrePoint changed the title to Building “Joe” — a 15’ ski boat

The wood for Joe has been Ordered

All of the plywood and solid wood needed to build the Stiletto has been ordered today from B&B Yachts.  I do this to assure good quality of materials and to support the business. 


I also ordered today a full kit of the Spindrift 10 for my neighbor, a ninth grade girl.  I will be helping her accomplish the build during the school year, hopefully finishing by or during the next summer.  A new thread has been started in the B&B Forum for her build-blog (link below):

Setting Up My Basement Shop
I used my basement shop area in summer as a place to lay out and organize the various pieces of my Core Sound 15 build.  I brought the various pieces up to my garage as they were needed. 

With this build, I will use my basement shop to make the frames and building form.  I’ll also temporarily attach the frames and transom to the building form, and temporarily assemble (no glue) the keel, stem, chines, battens, and sheer clamps. Possibly some fairing can be started.  I might also make some paper templates to rough cut the bottom and side planking.  Then, I’ll disassemble things to move everything to my garage for the actual build. 

(I can’t do the Leroy Gibbs “build a boat in the basement” thing because, as Mark Harmon once said, “It’s a TV studio... ya just pull the completed boat out.”  ?)


Today, I cleared the shop area and placed the two new-to-me floor tools recently given by my brother-in-law: a band saw and drill press.  (They are old tools but have great names: Craftsman and Rockwell; and they work very well.)  Yesterday, I received a sanding drum set from Amazon for the drill press. It is REALLY nice to have these two great tools!




I still need to hang a couple more tarps and block up the floor joist spaces to keep dust more localized in the shop area. I’ll rig up something to utilize my ShopVac more effectively as I use the tools, and get a box fan/filter for general dust filtering in the shop. 

All Ready to Start Making Templates

My first task, while I wait for my B&B order to be readied, is to make poster board templates for the frame pieces, gussets, transom, and bow stem.  I AM READY TO START!  
I have carbon paper, stylus, straight edge rulers, my nearly 40 year old full-sized drawings (with yellowed creases), poster board, and a bench supporting an appropriately sized piece of plywood backing surface.  (I head downstate tomorrow so maybe I can start making templates on Monday.)


To finish this post... this made me think of my dad’s (Joe) Swedish immigrant mother who had the thick accent:



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I began transferring the full sized drawings to poster board using carbon paper and a stylus, then cutting them out with a scissors. I used a straight edge when I could, but with curves, I found that my hand made wobbly lines.  


Things straightened nicely when using the scissors on the wobbly lines... kind of splitting the difference as I cut.  


I think that the templates being made will produce a good clear line on the wood for bandsaw cutting and drum sanding, better than if I hand-traced the curved  lines directly from the plans to the wood. 

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The snowy and beautiful trip home from my wife’s successful oncology appointment; they started being a regular part of our lives twenty years ago. I NEVER lose appreciation for every month and year we’ve enjoyed these past couple decades; they are like “bonuses.”



The local ski hill (Granite Peak) opens for skiing tomorrow.  I plan to be there. ?

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Made 30 Templates

I traced the full sized drawings of the Frames, Transom, Knee, Stem and Breasthook onto poster board and cut them out for easier tracing onto wood.  All are “half” frames. 




This has been the least messy step of my boat build.  No cleanup, very few tools... aaah!  Time for Thanksgiving supper. 

Later—To help keep sawdust from being tracked upstairs when leaving my shop area, and to give a little cush to feet heading to the little basement bathroom from the basement’s “living/bed room” areas, I cut and fit together some pieces of carpet from an unneeded square from upstairs.  

Only one guest this Thanksgiving, a daughter, and she’s staying upstairs now we now have an extra bedroom since my mother died this summer. 


Next, I need to finish the task of blocking off the shop from the rest of the basement to prevent dust from getting everywhere (I’ll be hanging tarps and blocking the open floor joists.)


And, I went downhill skiing yesterday, but the misty, foggy, 100% humidity 37 degree air kept my glasses fogged (especially wearing a mask.)  Two runs was as much as I wanted to do.  BUT... the ski season HAS begun. 


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I’m organizing the shop a little more I set up a little epoxy station with a warming light.  


I’m going to begin making frames with 6” wide 5/4 southern yellow pine deck boards from Lowe’s.  They are pressure treated and feel sturdy.  They will be painted so the greener color doesn’t matter.


I will be getting the rest of my wood from B&B and will pick it up in North Carolina when an ordered Spindrift 10 kit is ready... the kit will go to my neighbor, a ninth grade girl who plans to build it. ?  Here is a link to her Build-blog: 


Since a few frame pieces are wider than the 5 1/2 inch deck boards, I ripped off the rounded edges of two boards and will glue them together tonight. 

On another trip to Lowe’s I noticed some drips of resin or hardener on my sleeve that happened when I moved the epoxy bottles into the new station.  And so, the messiness of a boat-build begins.  Aaurgh.  I soon need to choose sacrificial clothes to use in the build.  (Some white vinegar and acetone took care of this little issue.)


Meanwhile, my wife and visiting daughter began some Christmas decorating.  There is a stocking for each person in our family. 

That evening

I glued up the two boards to make a “wider” one for frames (wasn’t too messy). I’ll put fiberglass on the pieces when I assemble the frames. 


And, since I mixed up some epoxy, I glued the head back onto this cute little bear decoration that fell over and broke last year. Useful stuff. 


I think I will end my posts with some kind of chuckle... a “reward” for taking the time to read it. 

(My kids told me that I taught them well. )

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My wife and I were going through some of my mother’s photos. This is the 11 foot  Glen-L TNT I built in high school (taken in 1971, a couple years after I finished building it.)  The TNT is a smaller version of the Stiletto. 

The motor is a 1956 Johnson 30 hp. It was great fun to ski behind and use with friends (well, I could have done without the episode about two months before this picture was taken, when a friend pull-started the motor in-gear at full throttle, throwing him out of the boat and terrorizing people on the lake... four firemen in a 12 foot fishing boat managed to lasso it after it settled into a tight circle... it looked like a bucking bronc ? at that point.)


I brought this motor recently to an old-timer marina owner who loves old “Johnrudes”.  He will see about restoring the motor. 

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First Pieces are Cut

Wow!  Is it ever nice to have for this boat-build a full-sized band saw with some power (thanks for the gift, brother-in-law Rick!)  


I bought this drill-powered tabletop band saw back in the early 1980’s after grad school, when I wanted to start the Stiletto... but, with three kids, then four... and minimal salary... it wasn’t going to happen.  I still use this little band saw and I’m glad I had it for the CS15 build this summer.  Though I had purchased a full B&B kit, I still needed to do some band saw work, like scroll cuts in 1 1/2 inch material.  (I had to pause a few times to let the drill cool down.)



It’s been handy to have around over the years, but a real band saw will be FAR better and a lot more fun to use. 

I’m glad I took the time to make poster board templates. The pieces are easy to draw onto wood for cutting. 


The first two cuts... smooth and fast. 


The first four pieces are cut for Frame 5 and nicely fit together on the paper plans. Tomorrow, I will start making some progress on cutting frame pieces. 


My drill press (with a sanding drum) and my tabletop belt sander will touch up some of the cuts.  My new router table will be used to round-over the edges that won’t mate directly to another surface. 

And, a closing chuckle:





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17 hours ago, Chick Ludwig said:

We all have those old boating stories---good and bad. Part of the joys of boats and boating back in our younger days.


It was a wild scenario.
    While in high school I was part of the brass section of a rock band. A few of the band members joined me (and my boat pictured a couple entries above) at the lake one afternoon.  We were taking turns driving and waterskiing (we only needed on person in a skiboat in those years.). We burned up a tank of gas and had just refilled the tank for a few more hours of skiing. 
     I watched from shore while a friend drove for another skier.  The skier fell, and the driver managed to conk out the motor while trying get the skier going again.  He stood to pull-start the motor but forgot to put it into neutral.  He advanced the throttle to its stop point, thinking it was the START position, but, being in gear, it was actually started in full throttle forward. He fell over the back end into the water and the boat took off... driverless... with a fresh tank of gas.  It soon circled back and jumped all about, going around the driver for a bit... he had to push off the hull several times to avoid being run over.  I kept seeing the guy’s head disappear and reappear as the boat quickly ran around and around.
     Then, the boat straightened out and shot after the downed skier, who saw it heading his way.  He had luckily already removed his ski belt and dove straight down, watching the boat run over him twice.  It’s like the boat was possessed.  The driver had meanwhile started swimming into shore when my boat “spotted” his escape, and headed back towards him for what looked like another murderous “attempt.”

     After running over and around him again a couple times, it started randomly shooting all over the lake at about 30 mph, “chasing” boats that were veering away (a couple canoes had some furiously paddling people.) It was horror and comedy mixing together.  
     Finally, the steering cranked over and stayed in a fully turned position.  The boat was bucking all around in a tight circle, like it was wild bull in a rodeo. A bunch of us got into another guy’s 22 foot boat and we weighted the back of the boat while it made passes, running just below planing speed... we were trying to create huge waves to push it ashore or swamp it.  My boat just skipped spectacularly over the waves and continued its riotously bouncing tight-circle route. 
     Someone called the fire department who came with a twelve foot row boat with a 5hp motor. Four firemen got in (with full gear) and headed out for a rescue attempt. After several throws with a looped line to the “bucking bull” they finally lassoed the motor. All four pulled it in and held onto the rope.  Now, my boat is furiously (a full 30 hp worth) towing four big guys in their little boat behind itself in its tight circle... this is when things were really looking funny to the gathered crowd.  After a while, with the firemen trying to manhandle the beast into submission, one guy was able to reach in enough to disconnect the gas line.  The boat CONTINUED running and pulling, not wanting to quit... until the motor finally ran out of gas.  Then, they towed the boat in to the beach while the crowd applauded. The boat looked like a subdued steer hanging its head. 
    The firemen asked, “so, who’s boat is this?”  
    “Um, mine.”

    “You guys need to be more careful. Nice looking boat, by the way.  Did you make it?”


A side-note: the driver who fell out of the boat was part of the horn section (that included me) in a rock band.  (We played a lot of BS&T and Chicago music.)  One night, he drove the band’s retired post office delivery truck to a gig,  the truck was loaded up with the band’s equipment. The route took us through the middle of Minneapolis. Another band guy and I were standing behind the driver.  We didn’t have seats, let alone seat belts. The truck had a heavy smell of brake fluid because after a few stops, most of the brake fluid would leak out.  Our route was mostly Lake Street with traffic lights every two blocks.  They were coordinated lights... if you went fast enough over the speed limit you could avoid red lights... well, mostly.  His driving philosophy was to hit AS MANY GREEN LIGHTS AS POSSIBLE GOING AS FAST AS POSSIBLE... which provided some exciting and harrowing play with other slower cars... and occasional yellow and red lights.  Somehow, we made it to the gig. I managed to catch a ride home with someone else. 


That’s my story; I’m sticking to it.  Yup, I had nightmare feelings for a few days after the unoccupied flying ski-boat episode but there were no injuries and no damage (just some tired canoe paddlers.)  It has been a fun story to tell over the years and I haven’t told it for a long time.  ?


One more chuckle:


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Chick, yup, had some fun kid adventures... 


I’ve relayed a bunch of my own kid experiences to my kids... but not all ?.  My wife and I talk about differences in our youth adventures and what kids experience now. Both of us would frequently take off in the morning on our bikes, show up at lunch, head back out again until supper... doing stuff... going places... and without parental oversight or knowledge.  


Imagine doing my Minnesota Boundary Waters YMCA trip these days... two weeks in two canoes with five of us 8th grade boys and our 19 year old guide... we saw almost no people the whole time in the wilderness and acted like Lord of the Flies.  And we did some dangerous, exhilarating stuff, somehow staying just this side of disaster.  Great fun.  (I suppose sailing can have some those qualities.)

Safety (and liability) is the focus everywhere these days. Much of what we kids did wasn’t always safe... but we did learn about consequences. We wanted our kids to have some reasonably risky adventure and tried to instill in them enough awareness that they could keep themselves reasonably safe and still push at some edges. 



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Frame 5 is Ready for Gluing

The rest of the 18 pieces of frame #5 were cut out today and they will fit together well for gluing.  The band saw is great to have.5388BDEF-561B-45E8-A7AA-25401CF31C3A.thumb.jpeg.785e975d962e0db3217f6f235edf2791.jpeg


And, I love projects that produce very small scrap pieces... I like to be efficient with materials. 


Yesterday, I drove downstate to pick up my roll of fiberglass from one son. My dad came home one day in 1968 with this roll of fiberglass so that I could glass the bottom of my 11 foot boat.  I barely dented the roll with that project.   I have been hanging on to it ever since, expecting to use it on an eventual Stiletto.  Finally, I get to do use my dad’s fiberglass on the boat that will be named for him: Joe.

I also stopped yesterday in at my other son’s house to leave about 17 feet of fiberglass from the 50+ year old roll of cloth.  He will glass the inside of his canoe with it. (He already glassed the outside with what remained from my Core Sound 15 build... efficient.)

So, just how much glass cloth is left on the roll?  Is there enough for my Stiletto?  I rolled everything out on my front deck to check.  I have 3 1/2 lengths of about 16 feet, plenty for my build. FINALLY after hauling this roll for eight moves since 1968 I will use up most of what remains. 



I also assembled and started using my new router table today, rounding over edges of the gussets. (It’s always a good thing to have some kind of project that “requires” the purchase of new tools... don’t you think? ?)



The tarps to keep dust from getting into the rest of the basements were put up. Hoping they work adequately.  There should be enough space to start the assembly and fitting this winter. I’ll disassemble and reassemble (with glue) in the garage later. 

AND, I learned from Alan today that the Spindrift 10 kit is being cut and my Stiletto wood order is being assembled. I’ll make the pickup soon. 

To conclude:




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Going through some old parent-boxes, my wife ran into a photo of my dad from maybe 25 or so years ago. Thought I should include it since the boat is named for him: Joe.


I haven’t been doing much on the frames for a while but will build a few this coming week. 

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Heading to B&B for the Two Orders


I got word from Alan that the Spindrift 10 kit for my neighbor and the wood for Joe are ready for pickup... so a 2,400 mile trip is about to start.  Even though I haven’t been particularly active in the build, I’ll bring things up to date. 

First, I should report on the reattachment of the cute little Christmas bear’s head.  The operation was successful and he happily rejoined his family on the porch of our front door. 


I finished marking and cutting out the frame pieces using Lowe’s pressure treated decking boards. The plans call for 3/4 inch material and these are a full inch (5/4).  I will likely add fiberglass to the joints when I finish cutting the plywood gussets and assemble them. 






Mid way through the cutting process the shelf under my workbench collapsed and dumped hand tools onto the floor. That was worth a few exclamatory words.  I fixed the shelf yesterday.  All is well now. 


So, it’s time to get ready for my drive to B&B Yachts to get the rest of the wood. 

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I Picked Up the Wood for the Ski-Boat

I did the 2,400 mile round trip to North Carolina over 54 hours during the end of last week (I even managed to get in almost 12 hours of sleep.)  I picked up 8 full sheets of marine plywood along with five nice looking 16 foot planed boards from B&B Yachts.  I also got 9 gallons of B&B’s epoxy, 150 feet of 3 inch glass tape, a few bow eyes, a bag of micro beads, and a couple 16 foot pieces of stainless hollowback for the gunnels.  That should take care of what I need to build Joe.


I also picked up a Spindrift 10 sailboat kit for the 15 year old girl across the street.  Here is her boat-build blog:


The B&B guys helped me load and fit the 8 sheets of plywood, then they stacked the sailboat kit pieces on top of the plywood in the back of my van.  The 16 foot pieces went on top of the van. 







This is my third 2,400 mile round trip this year (2020) to B&B Yachts. The first was in April to pick up my full-kit Core Sound sailboat, which I managed to finish by August.  I received the sails in late September and had time for some sailing and to take my family out for an introductory sail on Norma T. 



This is my Norma T build-blog (click on the image):


The second trip to B&B Yachts in North Carolina was in October to experience some of the annual Messabout.  (I brought my boat back to its “conception” place.)


And this is my third 2020 trip of 2,400 miles.  The weather on this trip was great, though much of the driving was at night. The forecasts at the start of the week called for no precipitation until Saturday.  I tried to sneak by it.  But, weather, being what weather is, brought THIS into my path on Friday:


As it turned out, I drove through only 2.5 hours of rain with no snow. (4 inches of snow fell in Southern Wisconsin that night, so at least I missed the snow.)  It turned out just fine for the wood on top. The five boards are now in the garage, ready to be ripped and cut as needed.  The sailboat kit is in my neighbor’s garage.  And, the plywood will be in the van until I relocate them somewhere. 


I will slow down the build speed for a few months   My goal will be to move things from my basement into the garage in early March. 

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