Free designs

Return to Contents and What's New page

Don't get frustrated - if you can't print this material large enough to make sense of the plans, why not take them to your nearest print shop? They often do work for achitects etc, and may well be able to print out your .gif, .bmp or even .dxf file as large as you want.

Small pram
A different take on the classic two-sheet dinghy form. See sketch here.

My drawings of a two-sheet 14ft Mouse variant designed for fairly quick one-man rowing. As always, I've included a .hul file for those who wish to take a look at the hydrostatics, or to develop their own version.

Flying Mouse
My micro sailing boat, and just a little beamier than a standard Mouse. Take a peek - there are gifs as well as dxf files. See picture here.

My experiences with very small boats have led me to develop the Mouse, an 8ft double-paddle one-sheeter that you can build for a few quid on your kitchen table. Also, there is a discussion group for builders and users of the Mouse family, and for those interested in the designs at Mouse Boats. See pictures here.

A bigger Mouse
The original small Mouse is proving popular - so here's another with a displacement of about 425lbs, or just about enough for two reasonable-sized people and their sandwiches, or for one person and some gear. It's 12ft long and is makeable from two sheets of 1/4in ply.

A light rowing skiff
I can't resist making available my plans for this easily built soft-chined light rowing skiff. I think this is still the first design of this kind available freely over the Web. Using 1/4" or 3/8" ply and with reasonable rocker, I think it represents an interesting alternative to the established light skiff types. The drawings are zipped and in .dxf format, and show various views including the developed panels - if you fancy the real thing, as I do, why not begin by making a small model? Let me know if you're interested in sail plans and modifications for camp cruising, as I believe this hull is just about powerful enough for a small cruising sail plan, and I've got some on the drawing board. It would have to be small, as any boat that rows as well as sails is a compromise one way or the other. Incidentally, I've called it a trow because it's form is based very loosely on a traditional British flat-bottomed type, the Fleet trow - however, the old boats were heavily built, and had no rocker.

A burdensome, workaday little 12ft outboard skiff that I think should offer a strong, stable platform for a wide range of purposes. See pictures here.

Electric Schock

Build a simple skiff
This is Uncle John's online guide to skiff making using his kits, but to my mind it explains a lot about building a skiff in the traditional North American way as described in Chappelle and elsewhere. In fact, I bet some of you won't need the kit, and dear kind Uncle John knows it! There's no doubting, though, that if you're new to boat building the kit would help. Whoever you are, do take a look around Uncle John's pages while you're there.

New link to Jaques Mertens-Goosens
Update your link to Jaques Mertens-Goosens site, which includes free plans for his own DX4 and a good amount of excellent boat building and rigging advice, as well as his own excellent design catalogue.

Updated canoe sailing pages
Craig O'D has updated the pages that he and Dan Miller put together a few years ago. There's lots of new stuff there. Also look out for the on-line books he's in the process of putting up - I think the link will be from his Cheap Pages.

Johnboat plans
If you need plans for a johnboat, you might just win some for free from Gator Boats. Send them an email including just the word 'register', and at the end of the month yours might be the lucky name they pull out of the hat. 

Black Jack David designs
Cruising enthusiast Andy Morley's boat was designed and built by its previous owner. Andy has put up the design as a backdrop; save the image, and you have the design. But don't tell anyone I told you so. He says the boat works pretty well in most conditions, but sometimes makes him feel seasick in in waves and a light wind. 

Fancy a real challenge? Why not build a sampan - or at least a model for your mantlepiece. These pages are from Craig O'D, a man who always keeps a surprise up his sleeve. 

Dixon Kemp punts
Facsimile instructions for making two punts, from the glossary section of Dixon Kemp's famous book of just over a century ago. It's a rough old hand scan, I'm afraid, but you'll get the idea. Just start off by ignoring the first sentence of the second set of instructions. It baffled me, anyway. 

Short boats
Some more minimalist designs from the admirable Craig O'Donnell, including a little punt, a 12ft scow (similar-ish, you might say, but it sails), a 10ft skiff, a 13ft 'seaside bateau', two sneakboxes, the paper canoe, and a small catamaran.. 

The Dynawing - a great sounding idea, and it needn't be expensive to make one for yourself.

Tiny dory
Ira Einsteen's done it again - this time he has drawn up a tiny 'dory' using a single sheet of 10ft by 4ft ply. Does that qualify as a single-sheeter? I suppose I would have to say so, as 10 by 4 is available where I live. These drawings are hosted by Scotty, and come in a handy variety of formats.. Take a look around Scotty's pages, while you are there. 

Here's some fascinating material about the design and build of currachs. These boats are still used commercially and for pleasure on the West coast of Ireland, and I'm hoping someday soon to be able to put up some more material about how they are made. 

And here's how to make a close relative of the currach, the coracle. I've paddled one of these things, and I can tell you that there's nothing like the suicidal balance of these little boats. It was fun, in its way though. It's interesting that although thought of a primarily Welsh and Irish in origin, these craft were - maybe still are - launched from both the English and Welsh sides of the lovely river Wye, and I understand there's an English professional soccer team that uses one as a mascot. Don't come to Britain if you don't like things a bit weird, I say. 

Squeezebox - lifeboat and tender
Jeff Gilbert has come up with a novel tender-sized lifeboat designed to be a safer and altogether better alternative to the inflatable liferaft. Take a look and see what you think - my guess is that some people may build this astonishing little craft as a very low-cost motor-sailing cruiser. From a book about converting lifeboats into yachts, I gather that traditional sailing lifeboats were not normally expected to sail upwind - I wonder how this one would do against the wind?

Making oars
More stuff on how to make oars, this time from an old friend of these pages, Frank Ellinghaus.

Folding canoe
A design for a folding canoe from an old copy of the US magazine Popular Mechanics. 

Shopbot canoe
Here's an article including ShopBot cutting files and full instructions for making one of Bill Young's beautiful epoxy lapstrake canoes. If you aren't one of the lucky people who have their own ShopBot, my hunch is that the ShopBot's suppliers may be able to put you in touch with someone who has one and is willing to cut out you sheet material for a reasonable fee. For more on Bill Young's work, follow the link to Seaside Small Craft

Paper canoe
Canoes are remarkably slim, wobbly things. But if that isn't enough, you can also make them out of paper. Click here for a design deriving from the heyday of paper canoes. 

Simple open canoe
I'm not sure if this exactly counts as a design, but you could just about make a boat from it - but if you decide not to, there's some inspiration to gain. 

Simple scow
Andrew Gibbens designed and built his own 12-foot sailing scow, and has taken the trouble to share it with us. As a Brit, I'm delighted to be able to publish something that originated in my own country for once! Now with new pictures.  

Banks dory model plans
Shearwater Boats is offering a free set of instructions and plans for a model Banks dory.

Here's a real treat - an extensive site offering a free set of plans for a 5.5 metre water ballasted coastal cruiser with two berths and either ketch or junk rig. You will have to contact the author to receive details of how to download the plans.

Wes Gardner's sharpie
Wes Gardner designed and built his own sharpie after studying the classic books by Reuel Parker and, of course, the great Chappelle. Some basic drawings and sections appear here, together with some fine pictures. I knew how good the round stern of a New Haven sharpie could look, but did not realise it would also look good on something this size.

Hull forms 
The author of this page has made some hull form drawings produced using the Hulls shareware software listed below. Many are closely based on traditional types, including rare traditional hard-chine UK types, and a few from his own fevered imagination. They must viewed using the free Hulls software. There are links to pages where Hulls can be downloaded on the drawings page, and also in the Software section below.

Mertens-Goosens catalogue and stuff
The Mertens-Goosens catalogue includes a detailed free design for building a real, practical 8ft rowing and sailing tender, the DX4. Some people think it's a lot cuter than an Optimist, and it's probably close to being the perfect two-sheet dink. Print it out and start tomorrow! There are also links to designs for a folding kayak, and a conventional kayak, and an excellent treatise on how to do tack and tape boatbuilding. Oh - and do take a peek at the pretty paid-for designs.

Sea kayak
A kayak design, this time for a tack and tape. The designer says it performs well, but may be a little tricky in the building.

Ira's skiff 
Ira Einsteen's plans for a basic 12ft motor skiff for fishing and so on.

Two kayaks
Downloadable plans for two kayaks. It looks like Doug plans to make still more available when he can.

Metal dink
This kind gentleman has put up the design details of a curious and unconventional dink made from sheet metal.

Sneakbox (I) and (ii)
Two links to material about the famous Barnegat sneakbox. 

Sean Herron's boat
Sean Herron has contributed what appears to be an outboard fishing boat of some kind - unusually, the drawing of the developed panels is in the form of a Word file.

Viking canoe
On-line drawings provided by Gerrie Warnergive clues to building a Viking canoe; he makes a full set of drawings available for the price of post and packing.

Old-style sailing canoe
Drawings for an old-style sailing canoe. I gather it comes from the British tradition of canoe building.

Dink drawings
The nice people at Classic Boatworks of Maine have promised to mail out free plans for a small hard-chine pram to anyone who visits their site and emails them a request. Take a look at the rest of their site while you're there. I gather the site will shortly incude a how-to page covering the construction of their pram dinghy.

Hans' kayak
Swede Hans Friedel has kindly sent me a set of plans for a kayak he designed and built some time ago. For pictures, go to Duckworks. Hans, an experienced canoeist and enthusiastic woodworker, says it works well, is stable and tracks well. Hans designed the Marak using Gregg Carlson's Hulls program (see below for much more on this software). Hans has also kindly consented to make some of his other handsome drawings of canoes available in the form of a  Hulls file , and in metric and imperial .dwf format files. The .dwf files can be viewed using a gadget obtainable here.

Open canoe
Another of Hans's designs is for an open canoe . The plan is presented in .dwf format, and a set of coordinates for hand plotting.

Historical canoes
Here's some more of that good canoe stuff, including some historical designs.

40s designs withdrawn
Polytarp sail exponent Dave Gray has decided to withdraw his collection of plans dating from the 40s while he reconsiders the copyright position. I obviously respect his position, as the families of the largely anonymous designers concerned and/or their publishers have rights. But I'm still rather torn about the issue: how do you feel about people who hide perfectly good designs away where no-one can find them or use them?

Inner tubes and bicycles and a tiny punt
David Beede has put up construction details for two completely loopy craft: an inner-tube boat, a bicycle boat and the shortest punt you have ever seen. Don't forget your bouyancy aid!

Small boat rig essay
A nice essay on small boat rig from the designers of the very attractive Swallow range.  

Nine-foot sharpie
Construction details of a 9ft sharpie skiff discovered and put up by the excellent Craig O'Donnell.  

Quick sail conversion
Here's a quick sail conversion for any suitable tender etc. I hope Mr Beavis, Mr Sleightholme, and their publishers of twenty-odd years ago won't mind too much.

Forest & Stream skiff
Munroe sail plans
Forest & Stream skiff launched
Above left: Some time ago, Craig O'Donnell emailed me a scan of some plans for a  handsome little skiff taken from an 1890s issue of Forest & Stream. I really liked this and used it for my top-of-the-page logo, and re-drew it a little longer and beamier using CAD for the generation of a century later. Download a .zip file containing the .dxf and .gif files of the drawings and the developed panels, and a few pictures of the finished article. Forest & Stream skiff.

Munroe sailplan
Above right: Craig also noticed my interest in the designer Commodore Munroe and, on hearing that material about Munroe is vanishingly rare in my country, sent me these diagrams (1) and (2), which he feels exemplify Munroe's enthusiasm for simple rigs. I thought I should share them. I gather Munroe once told his friend and student Vincent Gilpin that he would 'cheerfully sit up all night to cut out one superfluous rope from a sail plan', and from these drawings you can see that he meant it.

Gondola link
If what you crave is a design for a gondola, this may be what you need.

Folding kayak
The folding kayak is one of the great design challenges of the age.

David Goodchild's cheap oars
Here's an extremely neat way of making very cheap and light oars from David Goodchild. 

Polytarp kayak
Well done chaps - you've both done a brilliant job.  How to make a kayak with some willow, and some polytarp. If you haven't got any, I suppose a few animal skins will do. Live in a cave, do you? 

Polytarp sails (i)
Still more on polytarp sails, this time from Frank Ellinghaus. 

Polytarp sails (ii)
If you are thinking of having a go at making polytarpauline sails, here's a link that will help you along the way. If you're interested in this, don't miss out on the link to Craig O'Donnel's pages on the same subject below. 

Single-sheet designs

Please be warned that you can't make much of a boat from a single sheet. Those that have been designed are intended mainly as a piece of fun and shouldn't be taken too seriously. I'm sure the one-sheet design brief is impossible - but if you're going to tinker with something, it might as well be as cheap as chips.

Single-sheet pirogue
So here's your the first bit of fun. A single-sheet pirogue-style vessel.

Single-sheet skiff
And here's a single-sheet skiff that adds up to a truly impressive attempt at a single-sheet boat. This is the now famous Herb McLeod One-Sheet Skiff - read the 'Big guy goes frogging' link for a smile. I haven't the slightest idea what he does with the frogs, but I'm sure my mother would be shocked if she knew about it.

Single-sheeter coordinates.
Another single-sheeter drawn by myself is available only as a series of coordinates that you have to plot on the plywood sheet. Use a batten - a thin, straight and flexible piece of wood - to join the lines in smooth, fair curves. Mark them and cut them out and after that it's a straightforward tack-and-tape job with a certain amount of framing.



This is another of my attempts to fulfill the one-sheet brief. Click on the link to obtain the relevant files.

The Puss.
I finally arrived at the Puss. To me, it's a more useful and serious looking one-sheeter than I thought possible, and should really be thought of as a kind of coracle rather than as an attempt at a one-sheet skiff, and it might even be useful as a tiny tender. It has 11in of draught at the design displacement of 250lbs. Hitting the link brings you a .zip file including .gifs, dxf files, a set of coordinates for hand-plotting the ply, and the Hulls file for good measure. You could work entirely from the gifs and the coordinates file without too much work - I'd start by squaring-off the ply material and then plotting the corrdinates. If you build this boat, please let me know and, if at all possible, do please send me pictures of the finished craft in and out of the water, and perhaps a few notes about what you use it for. I'd be even more please to have a few shots taken during building.

Return to Contents and What's New page