Building a Yacht Tender

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Blog entry by BigBob posted 11-07-2008 10:19 PM 17732 reads 3 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m really enjoying this site, and I thought you all might like to see something a little different and what it takes to build a small yacht tender.
Boat building is totally different from cabinetmaking, as nothing is square, everything is on different plane, and it takes some practise to learn to make compound curves that are pleasing to the eye. We call it a ” fair” curve.
This is a 10 ft yacht tender that I built for a friends sailboat. I also made them a ships wheel and some otjher goodies.
The plans are from around 1932. I found them in an old book. First you “loft” the lines. That means to take the designers plans, and draw them full size so that you can make patterns and then molds, from which the hull is built .
Basically it’s like the old connect the dots drawing that kids do. You take a piece of plywwod and draw a grid. The ” offsets” are the designers points expressed in ft/ inches/ and eights. So a notation from the table would say 8-10-3, which means 8 ft, 10inches and 3/8”. You put a point on the grid and drive an icepick in it. Then you bend a batten around it and draw a line. They call it “lofting” because in the old days the only flat wooden floor in a boat shed to draw on was in the loft. From there you pick up patterns.
Here is what it looks like:

The plans.

A thin piece of plywood is slipped under the pointers and drawn on the pattern.

You now have half of the mold and you make a full size mold like this:

The full set of templates are pattern routed onto plywood for the full size mold.

I built a level strong back to build the hull on and set up the molds. The hull is built upside down.My workbench is perfectly flat, and ensures a level strongback.

The completed mold .

Strip planking started.

The hull is made of Honduras Mahogany and Alaskan Yellow Cedar. It is covered with 6 oz cloth and epoxy
follwed by ten coats of UV varnish. I hope you enjoyed something a little different

The completed yacht tender.

Hull #2

11 comments so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3384 days

#1 posted 11-07-2008 10:28 PM

WOW!! that’s some pretty work.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View BigBob's profile


64 posts in 2911 days

#2 posted 11-07-2008 11:09 PM

The lines are in John Gardners book BUILDING SMALL CRAFT. It is the Lawley Tender.

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 3125 days

#3 posted 11-08-2008 01:09 AM

Wow, great job!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View Bob42's profile


456 posts in 3212 days

#4 posted 11-08-2008 01:11 AM


Great job.

-- Bob K. East Northport, NY

View woodworm's profile


14164 posts in 3012 days

#5 posted 11-08-2008 01:47 AM

Very interesting blog post.
Agreed with you that boat building is different from cabinet/furniture making. It has different level of painstaking. You have to have higher conciousness that you have greater liability & responsibility to fullfilling your customer’s satisfaction, cos you are dealing with his safey as well.

Great job and good luck!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View sis's profile


13 posts in 2898 days

#6 posted 11-20-2008 03:35 AM

Bob, I’d like to build the 9’ Lawley Tender. Could you possibly send me a readable copy of the plans or tell be where I can buy them(besides in the gardner book?
thanks, Sis

View Blake's profile


3442 posts in 3296 days

#7 posted 11-21-2008 12:10 AM

Wow, gorgeous. I love the progress photos of the lofting process.

-- Happy woodworking!

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5839 posts in 3007 days

#8 posted 11-21-2008 12:29 AM

absolutely beautiful workmanship.To my poor eyes it looks longer than ten feet. I would have thought twelve to fourteen ,well done again .Now can you make an old Sctotsman one around one hundred and forty feet with cabins a funnel and acanon a jolly rodger flag and an all female beardless crew LOLAlistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View sis's profile


13 posts in 2898 days

#9 posted 11-21-2008 11:58 PM

Bob I got the book—It only had the 12’Lawley tender or the Lawton 10’.. So I’m going with the Herreshoff 10’ Pram. Wish me luckI I’m going to set it up as a sailor with a centerboard, so the bottom will be altered.

View PetVet's profile


329 posts in 2909 days

#10 posted 11-22-2008 12:11 AM

As a sailor, I really appreciate you sharing this with us. There is something so intrinsically beautiful about wooden boats.

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

View sis's profile


13 posts in 2898 days

#11 posted 11-23-2008 04:19 PM

Bob, I tried sending an email tothe person you recommended and it wouldnt go through (for you to send the photo copies of the Lawley 10’ tender) I got the book, but the lawley seems to be 12’. any suggestions?
thanks, Sis

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