Are boat plans from the 50’s. 60’s and 70’s still worth building?


On my site, you can also find, next to all the free modern plans 147 old boat plans from the magazine Science and Mechanics and the Boat Builder Handbook. Science and Mechanics was a magazine, published until 1984 that covered many “how-to” articles. How to build a radio, how to determine gravity, how to get dents out of your car etcetera. You get the drift, right?

A returning topic in the magazine was the “how to build a boat” topic. I decided to collect all these articles and the plans from the Boat Builder’s Handbook and make them available to everyone on this website.

old boats

The old pdf boat plans include free runabout plans (inboard and outboard), cabin cruisers, rowboats, utility, ski boats, hydroplanes, and many other plans.  Most of the pictures are black & white which shows how old these plans are.

Are the old boat plans worth building? Nowadays there are of course far more advanced boatbuilding techniques that make boat building much easier. Stitch & glue is a common method nowadays that makes boatbuilding easier and connections sturdier.

The use of thinner plywood than specified in the old 1950s plans is recommended. Marine-grade plywood is used for most plywood boats these days. In the old plans, lesser-quality plywood was used. For the framing hardwood was used most of the time but plywood can easily be used for the framing as it is easier to process and cheaper. In the really old plans, there were long plywood panels used. You can make your own long plywood panels by scarfing and joining them together with fiberglass and epoxy or butt blocks. Here is a fine explanation of the process.

old boats

If you like the old style boats then it is really worth making a boat from the old plans. An old boat made with new techniques can really be an eye-catcher when done right. You can find an explanation of how to start your old boat project here.

For a first-time build, I would not recommend it because the plans can be too difficult to read when you have no experience with boatbuilding. A first-time builder could try one of these plans, to begin with.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the old boat plans then maybe you can find it here.




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