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Building “Joe” — 15’ ski boat — Stiletto


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

Frame pieces are Ready for Gluing

After a little break from boat-work, I put in a day to cut the 20 gussets that will join the 30+ other frame pieces. I rounded-over all of the edges that do not butt into plywood or other frame pieces. (I didn’t do this in my high school build and my building the CS15 gave me the idea.)  I also cut 20 pieces of fiberglass to provide a layer on both sides of the side frame pieces and under all of the gussets.  The frames are all cut from a full 1 inch pressure-treated stock (plans call for 3/4” stock.)  I might as well build this boat as though it will last at least as long as my high school boat, which is on its 52nd year!! ?


By the way, since I just mentioned the boat I built in high school, I recently found a mechanic who was able to get the 1958 30hp Johnson outboard running again after its 25 years of dormancy.  He even got the electric start working (I hadn’t used it since 1968.)  In spring my son can remount the now-working motor on his 52 year-old 11 foot mini-ski-boat (I gave him the boat seven years ago.). He plans to repaint the motor to original colors. I had brushed on red and white Rustoleum in high school, matching the red/white I had in the hull. 


I managed to do a dumb error when I ran a circular saw through some plywood today. It’s particularly dumb since I KNOW BETTER!  (Yes, yes, I’ve done it before.)  So, notice the new saw kerf in my workbench top. ?



I will fill it tomorrow with some thickened epoxy. It’s nice to have this option available to me... new for me since starting to build boats this year. 

Another little project I’m doing is to assemble one of those cleverly made laser-cut wooden puzzles... a novelty for the grandkids... and anyone easily amused. This one has more than 200 pieces. (Updates will come on my progress.)  It isn’t “hard” but takes some care and spatial thinking. It’s fun to do. 


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Frames are Assembled and Sanded

Family isn’t around this year due to COVID realities. So, I put in a couple hours on Christmas Eve Day to apply my belt sander to the glued up frames.  I had assembled them on Monday and Tuesday with a layer of glass on each side of the joint areas (and side frames) and thickened epoxy to glue the joint gussets to the frame pieces. 

Yesterday, I finally took the plywood out of my van and moved it into my garage until I begin using it in Spring... maybe as early as March. 

The plywood is against the wall and out of the way, but I’ll leave the 16 foot 1x8 boards on the floor, sort of out of the way.  (Note my dormant ski stuff on the floor; I find that I just don’t enjoy so much skiing with a mask on... I cut out my ski trip plans this year but I will get keep getting out to the local hill.)


B&B made some great scarfs in the 9mm (3/8”) plywood that I’ll use for bottom planking.  I know many say “it’s an easy process... just set it up the ply and start doing it.”  I felt insecure about sufficiently succeeding and I prefer using the four scarfs B&B made for me. 


When I bought my wood from B&B Yachts I’d added to the order a couple pieces of 16 foot stainless steel hollowback for rub rails on the gunwales. They only had one piece available and we thought about whether a second piece might be shipped somehow when it comes in, possibly rolling it into a ring. Then, a couple shorter pieces were found... “will this work?”  I really wanted full 16 foot piece without a spliced-break.  Alan suggested that he could weld together the two found pieces in 15-20 minutes. Wow (I’ve never welded but have always thought it hard to make it look nice.)  He expertly did the job and ground the welded joint smooth. It looked flawless, though when looking closely one could see a slightly different surface in the 8 inch area around the weld.  (Told ya it’s hard to see —below right — unless the light reflects just so... it’s perfectly acceptable and I appreciated Alan’s quick work.)4E569173-9CEE-40EC-816A-6E5C282286E9.thumb.jpeg.a67a3c719f7fec8ac6020cbb9a577ff1.jpeg


Yesterday, I thought I’d see if my little buffing wheel with some compound might make a difference. A few minutes of buffing made the area blend in quite nicely. 

The 18 mm (3/4”) sheet of plywood piece will be used for the transom, bow stem, and breast plate. To get the bulky and heavy sheet downstairs I cut it into two pieces, approximating the two transom shapes extending past the half way point. That made carrying the plywood downstairs an easy task. 

So, back to belt-sanding the frames on this Christmas Eve Day... I knew it would be messy with epoxy dust and ground fiberglass flying around and I didn’t want to do it in the basement. It’s barely 10 degrees today but I wanted to be outside to do my sanding. (By no means is this an unusual temp for Christmas... (I recall Christmas Eve in 1982 being less than 25 degrees BELOW zero.)  


With epoxy dust all over, I wore an N-95 mask which kept fogging my glasses. I switched to my new carbon respirator with an exhale port that sort of helped with keeping the glasses clearer.  No pictures of the sanding, but the five frames and transom cap are ready for the next steps. 


Without family around tomorrow on Christmas Day, I’ll be thinking about them as I use the day to begin making the transom.  (I’m confident that my boat will be a fun long-term gift to my family.)

Meanwhile, I understand that much of my family is currently watching my son lead a live Christmas Eve service at his church via Facebook.  It’s time for me to end this blog entry and join them.  Merry Christmas and blessings to all. 



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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m starting to work on the boat today after a Christmas “break.”  My final activity of the season is usually to write and send out a Christmas letter on about the 12th day of Christmas. It was slightly delayed this year, but I’m back at it today. 

First, I cut out 15 plywood “tools” that I’ll use for making fillets. I noticed a set of three sticks with a different roundness on each end (six sizes) supplied by B&B with the Spindrift kit I delivered to my neighbor.  They looked handy so I traced the three shapes to make my own. I will sand them to shape tomorrow. 

I then cut out the 10 remaining framing pieces for the Stiletto from 18mm mercanti plywood (I love having the floor bandsaw that my brother-in-law gave me.)  I’ll glue up the stem, breast hook and transom knee tomorrow. 

Then, I cut out 7 of the 9 pieces for the canoe seat from 6mm ocume plywood.


In a few days I will pick up from my son some scrap 4mm ocume ply for the seat and back.   I’m anxious to see how the seat turns out.  I’ve done a dry fit of the seat framing. 

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A little update on my completed puzzle project:








I am very impressed with the engineering and planning of this wood kit. The marble puzzle is hard; I’ve only gotten through about ten of the steps so far.  It was a fun little kitchen table project... and NO epoxy. ?

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I’m still working (slowly) to finish the transom, transom knee, stem and bow breasthook... there are still a few brace pieces to glue to the frames. 

And, I’m progressing on another “little distracting” project, a B&B canoe seat (the download plans are $5):


Tomorrow, I will take a 300 mile trip downstate to, among other things, pick up some scrap pieces of 4mm ocume ply from my son that I can use for the seat and back. Who knows, he might even like having a couple of these seats for his canoe build. 

Using posterboard for the moment things look like this (the tabs look uncomfortable.)  ? 



This approach just might work for Joe (maybe beefing it up and making a more firm base, as well as devising a way to attach it to the floor.)  Another fun little project. 

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Finally, I am beginning to make the building form upon which will be placed the frames and keel. Still moving slowly in the build until I move the pieces from the basement to the garage.

But, the 9th grade girl across the street has begun building her Spindrift 10 sailboat from a B&B Yachts kit.  I’m coaching her; she is doing the work.  The Wheezer is quite busy with school and her swim team, so building time will be sporadic. These past few days have provided our first building opportunity. 


Tonight, the third day of the build (and after her swim meet) we prepared the panels for the big unfolding step. She invited her mom and dad to help in this step of forming the hull.  The Wheezer is the kid on the right, tightening a wire. 



Thid is her build blog:


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I got the building form made today. It is ten inches higher than the plans (less having to work near the floor.)  It is also proportionately spaced to make a 15 foot boat and the plans are for 16 feet.  Some ratio math was needed.  Things are square and level. 


I only laid the frames in to check on shop space.  I need to move some stuff out while I’m in the basement.  (Frame five needed a piece to be glued in.)  I’ll block in and firmly set the frames tomorrow.  Next will be the keel, stem, knee and transom. 

A few more pics:





The little canoe seat is coming along:


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I made the building form solid with a few angled braces. Then I placed blocks on the form that the frames are screwed onto.  Frames are now VERY solid for bending the chine logs and sheer clamps. 




Then I needed to epoxy-coat frame two.  With leftover epoxy I coated the top of the canoe seat. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Time to Get Serious Now

I ordered a Honda 60 hp for the boat in the fall.  It came in last week... so I decided to move the build from the basement to the garage.  I planned to reassemble the boat in the garage around March 1, so this moves things up by a full month. 

This is where things were last week... the frames were screwed onto the building form. I had hoped to use work-time in the basement to possibly fit the keel, battens, chine log and sheer clamp (using only screws, since it would need to be dismantled for the move in March.)  The full hull would fit in my workshop but it would be a little close. 


I dismantled things last week...


...and moved into the garage for reassembly. 

Yesterday, I assembled, glued, and bolted together the transom knee and stem/breast hook to opposite ends of the keel, making a 15 foot assembly.  Moving it from the basement through the front door is a straight shot, but narrow with the jog at the top of the steps. 




And here is the full 15 foot length:


Using my new router table (building stuff lets me justify buying new tools ?), I made 1/2 inch round-overs on the two edges of each of the six cut-to-shape battens... as I did yesterday to the keel (I’ve been rounding over all edges that will NOT connect with plywood... I think it will produce a nice effect.)





After gluing and bolting the transom to transom knee today, I finally installed the keel assembly to the frames this evening... making everything connected for the first time (and permanently connected.  ?)


I’m very satisfied with completing this keel installation on the final day of January, more than a month ahead of plan. ?

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I now begin what I think is the most meticulous and important aspects of the build: fitting the bottom battens to create the fairing needed for the flat/slightly-flared back 6 feet of the bottom, avoiding any kind of rocker or hook that will adversely affect the boat’s planing characteristics at speed.  I think this step will take a lot of care and time. 

I recall the work needed in my high school build of the same boat  (4 feet shorter).  I thought alignment of the frames was good so I installed the bottom battens. Then, I noticed some waviness in things... an eighth of an inch here and a little more there, and a slight hook in the 18 inches leading into the transom.  (WHERE did all that come from?  ? )   One adjustment with my Surfoam tool or hand-plane caused another spot to be off... very frustrating.   I created mounds of shavings over many many days, trying to get things as correct as possible (in an unheated Minnesota garage in winter.)  I will try to not replicate my experience and endeavor to get things as correct as possible prior to installing the battens. 

“Good luck, Padre!”   ?

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Some progress today (4 are battens were dry fit.)  I made varied depth notches in the frames and transom to set the battens at the correct height throughout.  Things are level and correct to receive the plywood.  I will fit the other two battens tomorrow and then permanently glue/screw things together. 

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Aaahh... the shape of the Stiletto hull. I’ve loved these lines since the mid-1960’s. 


The first layer of the sheer clamps (the long, lower, and thinner stringers) are installed/glued; I might install the second outer layer tomorrow. 

The battens that will support the bottom plywood are still only screwed in for now.  

The chine logs (the long, upper, and thicker stringers) are also only temporarily screwed into the frames... and they are tied together in the bow to let the wood get comfortable with the shape. It took some manhandling to get the chines twisted and bent into the notches and to meet at the stem in the bow.  The chine logs are only roughly cut where they meet the stem and will be more accurately cut and installed/glued tomorrow. 

After all these members are permanently installed, I have a significant amount of shaving and belt sanding to get everything ready for the side and bottom plywood planking. 


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