All plywood is not the same. There's interior, exterior, AB, BB, AC, CDX..... You can get birch, maple, oak, fir..... You can cut frames out of any type of plywood, but that doesn't mean the frame will survive in a marine environment. That's why we only use AA, marine grade, BS1088 Meranti plywood. This plywood meets the rigorous British Shipping standards and is graded to have no voids in any layer. Unlike birch or maple, Meranti is a highly rot resistant wood which should provide a lifetime of service.
If you can tie your shoes you can build one of our boats. It really is that easy.
Our frame kits eliminate one of the more difficult and time consuming parts of building a skin boat. If you purchase a frame kit, you can expect to have a completed boat in somewhere around 40-50 hours.
We use nothing but marine grade, BS1088 Meranti plywood. Our frames are computer designed and precision cut on a CNC machine. Each frame piece is trimmed and smoothed prior to packing. The biggest difference between our kits is that we design an internal stiffener into each one. This stiffener ensures the hull retains its shape when you pull it off the forms. Without this stiffener a fuselage frame boat will tend to "Hog", which means to bow up in the center. Hogging not only ruins the look of the boat, it has significant impact on the overall performance of the finished boat.
If you purchase a frame kit, you'll need some type of saw to cut the stringers. A table saw works best, but a circular saw or jigsaw can also be used. You could actually get by with a hand held rip-saw if that's all you had. You'll also need a hand-held cross cut saw to cut the stringers to length, a block plane or chisel, a ruler and a square, a small drill and a pair of scissors.
A boat skinned with ballistic nylon and coated with our recommended 2-part polyurethane is tough. The only real concern is abrasion, so you'll need to be careful about dragging them on the ground. Luckily, since the boats usually weigh about 1/2 what a typical kayak weighs, carrying our boats is easy.
At a minimum you'll need to purchase wood for the stringers, the fabric covering and the final coating material. For the stringers, you'll want clear pieces of wood between 8-16 feet long. This is best purchased at your local lumber yard. We recommend red or white cedar, but boats have been built using pine or Douglas Fir. There is a wide choice of fabric you can use, but we recommend ballistic nylon coated with the SkinBoat store's 2-part polyurethane.
Your options for outfitting the boat will determine what else you'd need, but we provide a full list of items and suppliers in our construction manual
People have used everything from House paint to boiled linseed oil to coat their boats. In some ways, its definitely a personal choice, with the knowledge that not much will stick to nylon if that's what you're using as a skin. Me personally, I only use the 2 part poly-urethane from the skin boat store. I want something that I know can take a tremendous amount of abuse. I don't want to be 30 miles into a 60 mile crossing and find out that the house paint I used to cover my boat is starting to spring a leak.
Obviously the final cost will depend on the type of material you use and the level of outfitting. Here in New England, a nicely outfitted boat built with red cedar and nylon will cost about $400 in addition to the frame kit.
Marking and cutting out the frame parts is the most difficult part of building a fuselage frame style boat. With the exception of the stringers, everything else can be easily purchased on-line. (Our construction manual provides links for all needed materials.) This not only allows builders to customize the boat as they want, it also saves money by eliminating the middle man.