First time build

Looking for a fun project and hoping to get a CLC kit and build a boat. When I compare some models, I can see the "difficulty" on a scale of very easy to patient, but it's not available for all models. I'm wondering just how difficult this would be for a first timer? I have plenty of fiberglass experience, but not much with carpentry. I have bult masts / spars out of solid spruce in the past, and replaced teak decking on my sailboat, but never built anything with attention to detail like this. I am particularly interested in the faering cruiser, but it looks rather complex. 

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RE: First time build

The Faering Cruiser isn't so much complex as there is so much of it. It's over 22 feet long and weighs over 600 lbs empty. That needs a serious building space and material handling equipment. It's also a Pro Kit, which means that it is "... intended for boatbuilders who are comfortable reading plans, and who don't need extensive step-by-step build instructions..." So the long and short of it is that it's not a good beginner's boat, at least not for the average beginner.

The good news is, with the experience you listed you are definitely ready for building one of the simpler models. You don't actually need a lot of carpentry experience, especially if you buy a kit. In that case, all the heavy duty plywood cutting is already done for you. All you need to do is clean off the nibs that the CNC machine leaves, sand a little and start assembling the pieces.

The main thing you'll be doing is stitching and gluing and covering with glass. And sanding. If you watch the videos on building a kayak, that'll give you a good understanding of what's involved. The good news is that those skills transfer to every CLC boat.

Depemding on the boat, you may also have some actual carpentry to do for solid wood pieces, such as hatch covers, etc. But the instructions for the standard kits describe that kind of thing in great detail and it can all be done with unpowered hand tools.

What kind of resin has your glassing experience been with? If it's not epoxy, there may be a bit of a conversion needed, but not much. It's basically just learning the difference between say a catalyst-based reaction and a cross-linking reaction. In practice it's pretty simple, just learning the new mixing methods and how pot life and viscosity differs. The actual glassing schedule is specified in the instructions.

So if I was in your position, I'd pick a smaller non-Pro Kit boat that has as many of the Faering Cruiser features as possible, get it in kit form and build that. I'd regard that as my practical course in stitch and glue boatbuilding. The closest boat, in my opinion, would be the Lighthouse Tender Peapod. It's lapstitch, double-ended, has floorboards, a centerboard, can be rowed and is heavier than the average CLC boats. In many ways it's a topless miniature of the Faering Cruiser. Every skill you'd need for the Faering Cruiser you'll need for the Peapod, but they'll be documented in the 300-page full color manual. Once you're done with the boat, you can sell it for something like the materials cost and only be out the labor, which you can think of as tuition for your boatbuilding class.

Or maybe you'll decide that the Peapod is the boat for you and keep it instead of moving onto a bigger one.

If the Peapod is too expensive for that kind of education, the Tenderly dinghy has a lot of the same features. It's smaller, cheaper and lapstitch, but it's single-ended so it won't be as good an analogue.

Smaller and cheaper still is the Eastport Pram. It'll give you the experience you nees with lapstitch construction, stitch and glue, epoxy resin techniques and let you experience a CLC kit all at a much lower price. And you end up with an easy-to-sell tender.

So that's my advice, worth at least triple what you're paying for it :-). Start with a simpler, well-documented kit and use that to get the skills you need to tackle the big one.

Have fun,


RE: First time build

Just the response I was looking for, thank you Laszio. The Eastport Pram could be useful as my dinghy to ferry out to the mooring is a pretty terrible patched together fiberglass monstrosity at the moment. Any idea how to tell the difficulty of the builds on the website? Sometimes it shows up when I compare models, but not always. Definitely looking for non-pro models 

RE: First time build

just wanted to double down on what laszlo suggested and offer a couple other elements that may be different on stitch and glue vs traditional glass boat experience (fwiw....i started my boatbuilding experience with traditional glass boats doing repair work...before i moved onto building stitch and glue:

- fibreglass and poleyester resins vs epoxy.   most of my experience prior to this was glass work with polyester resin.  not epoxy.  i would highlight that not only is the chemistry different but the type of glass you work with and all the working times and temperature and workplace management is a bit different.   while it is definitely a plus to have the experience you have, like laszlo suggests, i would want to work out at smaller scale with instructions to ensure i got the details down with before a bigger committment/dollars.  particularly if you are trying to get a quality job done.

- the techniques are different: stitch and glue and how the glass/epoxy works are techniques you don't see in traditional boats.  things like wet out coats and then multiple fill coats ....  painting, finishing can be different as traditional boats are going to be gelcoat or sprayed....this boat will probably be painted by hand.

- there is a lot of filleting done in a boat like this and having some practice and good technique is really important for a quality finish....again, did not recall a lot of filleting in my classic boat repair time.

anyway, this is just, to me some of the highlights as i made the transition.  stick to laszlo's advice....its worth it. :)



RE: First time build

If the boat doesn't have the gauges, I use length, beam, weight and hull parts count (which I get from looking at the "View contents" link where you select options and configurations) as a stand-in. Lighter boats (except for strippers) are usually easier to build than heavier ones. Fewer parts are faster to build. Smaller boats are easier to build in simpler work shops.

If you're faced with a gaugeless boat, find the closest matching one that you can that does have a gauge and compare them. Also, if the boat has a build gallery, look at that. Those are good for showing how much work it would take to build that boat. Note also that some of these boats have a time-lapse video of them being built in a class. See how much scurrying the builders do to turn the woodpile into a boat.

And if that doesn't work for you, either post here or call CLC. They have absolutely no interest in you ending up frustrated and never finishing your kit. They will do everything they can to match you to a suitable boat. Also, remember that anything that's a ProKit should probably not be a first-ever build.



RE: First time build

And definitely pay attention to Howard who snuck in with his reply before I finished mine. He regularly wins prizes for his boats.


RE: First time build

   The Sassafras 12 is a straight forward relatively easy and inexpensive first build, and may double as a tender. It incorporates all the elements of stitch and glue, is an excellent introduction to the art, weighs only about 40 lbs, and is a heck of a lot of fun to knicker about in your local lakes and rivers.  It's a good looking little craft, can be powered by a kayak paddle or single ended canoe paddle, and is fast and nimble. Enough volume for camping, and light enough for portaging.    

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