When you are looking for (free) boat plans you must have stumbled across Svensons free boat plans site at least once.
What is the Svensons free boat plans site?
On this site, you will find 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. Craig Svenson decided to collect all these articles and the plans from the Boat Builder’s Handbook and make them available for everyone on his svensons.com website. And we thank him for that.
The site includes 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 Svensons boat plans worth building? Nowadays there are of course far more advanced boatbuilding techniques that make a boat build much easier. Stitch & glue is a common method nowadays that makes boatbuilding easier and connections sturdier.
The use of thinner plywood then specified in the old 1950’s 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.
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.
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 on Svensons website then maybe you can find it here.