Frequently Asked Questions

YES! You can build your own boat!

Flats River Skiff – FRS series boat designs are specifically for the first time builder.  For these boats no special tools or skills are needed.  We have a how-to video series for the FRS-12 as well as other helpful videos on our website and YouTube.   All FRS models utilize stitch and glue construction so the videos for the FRS-12 are also applicable to the FRS-15.  With these videos you can easily turn your dream of building a boat into a reality!

We recommend the following tools for the FRS series:

  • Drill (corded or cordless 12v minimum)
  • Jig saw to cut out parts
  • Sander, orbital /DA.   40-60 grit for sanding cured epoxy, 120 for wood and 220 for sanding primer.
  • Router, if you have one great.  If not, use the 40-60 grit on the sander to make the scarf
  • A table saw or band saw for cutting down stock (Sometimes suppliers will cut down the wood for you)
  • Hand saw for trimming the foam once cured and cutting stock to length
  • 1” and 1.5” drywall screws with fender washers
  • Clamps are useful, but drywall screws can be used instead
  • Safety glasses, rubber gloves, dust mast, cups and stir sticks for epoxy

Materials list to build each boat are available here:   FRS-12   FRS-14   FRS-15

Core Sound & Carolina Series – Cold molded boat designs are intended for those with some boat building and/or wood working experience.  With such experience, many tools you already own will serve multiple uses and therefore a comprehensive tool list is not practical.

However, some items I recommend are:

  • Drill, 18v cordless, an impact driver is great.  Don’t skimp, you will put “high miles” on it
  • Jig saw, mid-level quality
  • Sander, orbital /DA.  I like a 5” sander for wood working and then add a 6” foam backer pad with 6” paper for paint work
  • Router, for cutting radius edges
  • Table saw or band saw for board stock and plywood
  • Angle grinder, I love it, I keep finding new uses for this tool every time I build!
  • Power planer, I can do everything with an angle grinder, however some people really like these so I can’t leave it off
  • 1” and 1.5” drywall screws with fender washers
  • Clamps, hand plane, wood file/rasp, air compressor/blower
  • Safety glasses, rubber gloves, dust mast, cups and stir sticks for epoxy

Materials list to build and glass the hull are available here:   CS-18   CS-21   C-25

How much does it cost to build a boat?  How long does it take to build a boat?

These are the two most asked question and rightfully so.

Flats River Skiff – FRS

Flats River Skiff boat designs are specifically for the first time builder.  We prioritized simplicity without sacrificing aesthetics or function, and optimized build time and materials.  A basic materials list can be found on each page.  Pricing this out for your location will give you the most accurate price when you build your boat.

General estimates of cost and time (labor hours, not including cure times) without engine or electronics.

FRS-12    $800-$1000 & 40-50 hours – Built, painted, and hardware.

FRS-14    $1200-$2000 & 50-75 hours – Built, painted, and hardware.

FRS-15    $2000-$2500 & 80-100 hours  – Built, painted, and hardware.

Core Sound & Carolina Series

Cold Molded boat designs are intended for those with some boat building and/or wood working experience.  These boats are built with a strong back & jig and utilize the cold mold method of construction.

We provide a materials list to build and glass the hull. Pricing this for your location will give you the base price.  Beyond this point you are free to configure, paint, and rig the hull however you chose.  The result is a truly unique one of a kind boat, with a cost and time frame just as unique.

Things to consider are: primer & paint, hardware (cleats, rod holders, etc), engine & rigging, fuel tank, electrical & electronics, and interior features like a console.  Many items can be found for competitive prices online if you invest the time searching.

Some general estimates of cost without engine or electronics to help you get started –

CS-18: $12k with basic finishes, and as a mini yacht $18-25k

CS-21 $15k with basic finishes, and as a mini yacht: $20-30k

C-25  $25-30k with basic finishes, and as a mini yacht: $40-60k

Time is equally difficult to estimate as each home build is unique.  An estimate for someone working nights and weekends to build the Core Sound models would be: 5-6 months to build and glass the hull.  Once flipped another 6-7 months to glass the bilge, put in the floor and gunnel cap.  This does not include building a console or any interior items, finish work, or rigging.  Plan another 6-18 months for this depending on how complex the interior and how shiny you want the paint.  Add ~25% to these time lines for the Carolina 25.  If you have built a boat before, these times can be reduced.

We wouldn’t build a boat with anything less and advise you not to either.

The glue in marine grade plywood is “waterproof”. This means it has been tested and certified to withstand water submersion and wet environments without failure. The wood species used in marine grade plywood is also highly rot resistant and moisture tolerant. You can ensure your plywood is marine grade because it will have a BS1088 or equivalent certification.

Standard plywood uses glue that may be water based and/or not certified for water submersion. The wood species used most likely has very poor rot resistance as well.

The goal of using epoxy is to fully encapsulate the wood so that no wood is exposed to water or the elements. However, with use and time you will inevitably expose the wood to water. The wood used will be the deciding factor between an easy repair and major rework.

The short answer is…. YES!

Epoxy is just as much of an adhesive as it is a resin. Its ability to bond wood and other boat building substrates is phenomenal. Ester resins such as vinylester and polyester are not adhesives, so any bond to wood is superficial. Ester resins work great in mold boat construction but fail miserably when used with wood or as an adhesive. Many mold boat builders even use epoxy to make repairs and join already cured parts together because of its adhesive properties.

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW MANUFACTURERS DIRECTIONS AND WARNINGS. Safety is always the most important thing in boat building. The comments below are for reference only.

Many agree marine grade epoxy is safe when used properly and with the proper protective gear. One long term health risk associated with epoxy is called sensitization. This occurs thru contact with skin and respiratory exposure. Some people will sensitize easier than others and no one knows how quickly your body will respond. We recommend using gloves, working in a well ventilated area with a respirator and safety glasses. Some manufacturers say to always wear a respirator; some say adequate ventilation is sufficient. There are also different formulations of epoxy, and some claim significantly lower risks of sensitization than others.

Epoxy formulations are a science. Thankfully all you need to do is follow the mix ratio of resin and hardener supplied by the manufacturer. Hand pumps that screw in the top of the container work great. If you are building a large boat, a dispensing unit is a great investment. Don’t mix too much as the reaction is exothermic (generates heat) and a large concentration can burn you! Mixing in repurposed (but clean) plastic food containers is our preferred method. Stir the mixture thoroughly, but not fast. You don’t want a lot of bubbles or for it to splash out! Large Popsicle/craft sticks work great as stir sticks and are cheap. Once the resin is fully mixed the color will be fully uniform. If you see swirls of different colors keep stirring. It can be applied with a chip brush, foam roller, or poured and squeegeed.

To make thickened epoxy follow the steps listed above completely before adding fumed silica or another thickening agent. The addition of any additives prior to full mixture will prevent proper cure. Start with a small amount of fumed silica and stir it in until any clumps disappear. Continue to add a little at a time since adding too much can ruin your batch. The correct consistency for thickened epoxy is best described as being between mayonnaise and peanut butter. You can use an old gift card to spread if you are filling holes. A PVC elbow is great for making radii in corners (boat builders trick, don’t tell anybody I told you :)). And a small notched trowel is key for a good glue joint, scarf, or lamination.

If you are adding a fairing filler, fully mix the epoxy as noted above. Once fully mixed, add in the fairing filler referencing the manufactures guidelines and stir until all clumps disappear. (A rough estimate is acceptable for this.) The epoxy will seem marginally thicker, but flow like slime. This is ok for a horizontal surface, but if your surface has any slope to it, add a little fumed silica to thicken it slightly. This will reduce runs and make for easier sanding. We have the best luck applying this mixture with a chip brush due to its consistency.

Here is a video of us mixing epoxy and adding fumed silica to create thickened epoxy.

If you purchase one of our kits we will provide a hull ID number (HIN) and if the boat is 20′ or less a capacity placard.

If you purchase a set of plans, you will be required to obtain your own HIN from your local boat registering agency (state govement, wildlife office, department to natural resources, etc.)

Typically, any place that you can purchase a hunting & fishing license can assist you with obtaining a HIN and registering your boat, or at least tell you who to contact.  FYI, a boat built from plans will be registered as a homemade boat.  A boat built from a kit will be registered as a Salt Boatworks hull and you will not need to apply for a HIN. 

Information on how and where to place the capacity placard and HIN can be found in this USCG published document in the sections “capacity label” and “hull identification number”

We strive to design all of our boats to meet the guidelines and recommendations of the USCG.   However, the Coast Guard has no regulations concerning the sale of boat plans, only kits 20′ in length overall (LOA).   Therefore we cannot legally claim compliance on anything we sell except our kits of 20′ LOA or less.  Those kits include pre-cut plywood, plans detailing assembly, pour-able 2 part flotation foam, a capacity placard (max HP, max number of people, and max weight capacity is listed) and a hull ID number.

For both our kits and plans, it is the builders responsibility to comply with all regulations such as (but not limited to) navigation lights, fuel systems, electrical systems, safety gear, registration of the boat with state government, etc.  The USCG has published “Safety Standards for Backyard Boat Builders” to assist home builders with this.

The document can be a bit overwhelming.  But don’t worry, we’ve already done all the hard work:

Our FRS-12 and FRS-14 models are designed within the guidelines outlined in the sections of “safe power”, “safe loading”, “basic flotation” and “flotation materials”.

All of our other plans, 20′ LOA or less, are designed within the guidelines outlined in the sections “safe powering”, “safe loading”, “basic flotation”, “level flotation”, “location of flotation material”, and “flotation materials”.  In addition to those, our kits include a capacity placard and HIN, which should be affixed as reference in sections “capacity label” and “hull identification number”.

This information can be a bit much to process, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

When we design our boats, wood is used as the main structural component of the entire build (not the fiberglass).  Wood’s mechanical properties are utilized to give the hull it’s strength and the fiberglass is used to reinforce joints, increase abrasion resistance, and further increase overall strength.  We decide on a bottom thickness, place our stringers & transverse frames and all other decisions based on Naval Architecture calculations.

Simply swapping wood for aluminum is not possible.  The mechanical properties of aluminum are very different and the whole structural support system of the hull would have to be redesigned and recalculated.

Marine grade core foam (don’t even think of using insulation foam board, it is not a structural material) is not an even swap either.  Foam (exception of Coosa) has minimal structural properties on it’s own.  The strength of a foam cored boat comes from the inner and outer fiberglass skins and their bond to the foam.  A full re-evaluation of the structure would be needed and adjustments for the different construction methods incorporated.  Once again, an even swap is not possible.

While wood is an unmatched material in terms of it’s strength, weight, cost and ease of use we understand that many people are concerned about rot.  This is a valid concern but is often misunderstood.  In years past (and even now!) low quality mold boat builders used wood not rated for marine environments with incompatible polyester and vinylester resins.  With the superficial bond of ester resins and non marine grade plywood, a giant sponge for moisture has been created.    But a boat built with marine grade plywood and epoxy resin is very different, it can last longer than a fully composite boat and with proper maintenance, no more issues.

We do not send out digital copies or files for CNC cutting for legal and copyright reasons.  

However, we want to make building the boat of your dreams as easy as possible. Our full size templates for each part are printed on 3′ x 8′  plotter paper.  Simply cut out the patterns, trace and cut the plywood.  No need to measure or loft!  Our stitch and glue boat plans include a template for every part to build the boat.  Our cold molded boat plans include templates for every part that is used to assemble the jig.  This typically includes temporary frames, keel and/or stem, transom, stringers and transverse frames.  By supplying full size patterns, we save you time, money and frustration by avoiding measuring, loft, transferring and/or scaling parts on to plywood sheets. With the supplied patterns you can be sure that all parts are the correct size and shape.  And we can tell you from experience that the correctly sized parts fit together much better than those that are not.

Our plans vary from the traditional boat plans, we provide full size templates or CNC cut parts for out designs.  We do this because it makes building a boat significantly easier, especially for first time builder.  However, the use of full size templates removes the ability to stretch or scale the boat.  We discourage any attempts to modify, alter or stretch these templates.  We follow several critical rules, proportions and calculations in the design of our hull shapes and structural support systems.  Changing one feature, dimension or changes to length, width or weight can have a detrimental effect on performance and safety.

Full size templates for each part are printed on 3′ x 8′  plotter paper.  Simply cut out the patterns, trace and cut the plywood.  No need to measure or loft!  Stitch and glue boat plans include templates for every part and our cold molded plans include templates for all parts of the jig.  If cutting out parts form templates is not for you, we offer CNC cut plywood for several of our designs.  These plywood kits must be picked up in Morehead City, NC or shipped in a crate via motor freight.

To better understand what parts are included and how to assemble a cold mold boat jig check out this video of our CS-21.