Other skills used in boatbuilding - Oars and Engines, Lofting amd Rigging

Boat building Books

Oars and Engines


Oars should be as carefully designed and made for the purpose at hand as the boat!

Oars for Pleasure Rowing: Their Design and use. Andrew Steever. Mystic Seaport, 119 p. To get the best out of fixed-seat rowing.

Boats, Oars and Rowing, Pete Culler. International Marine 1978. Recreational rowing in traditional boats. Contains a large chapter on oar building and another on rigging a boat for rowing. some study plans. "He has plans and wonderful discussions of rowing and small boats (a caveat - I needed to increase his recommended dimensions through the throat of the loom by about 20% to prevent breakage with vigorous rowing). "

"Making a pair of oars" by Eric Dow, WoodenBoat #126 November 1995 and also includes "Stitching a Pair of Oar leathers" by Robin Lincoln.

Oars for pleasure rowing: Their design and use. Andrew Steever. Mystic 1993. fine-tuning fixed seat rowing. analysis, design, and mechanics. 119 p.

Working Boats of Britain: Their Shape and Purpose, Eric McKee. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1983. Detailed guide to oar design, and to placement of thwart, oarlock pivots, footspars, etc. Includes single and double banked pulling for sea boats. No construction information.

Sail and Oar. John Leather. International Marine 1982. 144 p.

Engines & Electrical

The Propeller Handbook, David Gerr. Good up to date and detailed guide to how propellers work and how to select one, for both power and sail boats.

Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual, Nigel Calder, 2nd ed. 1996. 592 pages. International Marine. an essential guide if you have such equip.

The Marine Electrical and Electronics Bible. John Payne. Sheridan 1999 420 pages. 2nd edition of a reference book.

Marine Diesel Engines. Nigel Calder. Int'l Marine. 176 p.

The Care and Repair of Small Marine Diesels. Chris Thompson. Adlard Coles/Sheridan House, Dobbs Ferry NY. 1996. 123p. and only $8 !

Inboard Motor Installation Glenn L. Witt and Ken Hankinson, 2000 250 pages. sterndrives jetdrives shafts cooling venting steering fuel etc.

Outboard Engines Edwin Sherman 144 pages

Electric Boats. The Handbook of Clean Quiet Boating, Douglas Little, 160 p. 77 illus.

Steamboaters Handbook '95. 288 pages. Building and operating live steam engines. $27.50 (in US) from Int'l Steamboat Society, Rt. 1, Box 262, Middlebourne, WV 26149

Old Marine Engines: The World of the One Lunger. 2nd edition. Stan Grayson. Devereux. two cycles. boats, history, restoration. 232 pages. New edition has plans to build one.

Engines Afloat vols 1 and 2 1884 - 1994. Stan Grayson. 224 pages; 199 pages. history and technical.

From My Old Boatshop: One-Lung Engines, Fantail Launches, & Other Marine Delights. by Weston Farmer.

A Collection of articles, most previously published, on a variety of boat building and designing subjects. Contains several boat plans. steam Reviewed in WoodenBoat March 1997. Great old time fun and ideas.

How to Build a Three-horsepower launch engine. reprint of 1901 original by E. W. Roberts. $18.95 paperback or $32.95 hardbound including shipping, from Marine Books and Machinery, 149 Merion Way Haddonfield NJ 08033 USA. phone 609 428 7357.

The Steam Launch, Richard Mitchell, Elliott Bay Press; Portland, Oregon; also available from WoodenBoat Store. 334 p. over 300 illus.

Steamboats and Modern Steam Launches. Bill Durham. "the fundamental technical how-to resource about steam launches." 672 pages! 800 illustrations! Compilation of 1960s magazine articles. info, and order from www.steamlaunch.com, Elliott Steam Launch Co.

Steam plant plans. Diamond Enterprises, Bailey Settlement Road, PO Box 537 Alexandria Bay, NY, 13607. Steam engines and plans of all kinds.

Ships Bilge Pumps a History. Thomas Oertling. Texas A & M, 1997. No kidding.


Lofting is simply drawing parts of the boat plans full size, to smooth curves and to correct unavoidable errors in small scale plans. For simple boats lofting can very very simple.

A few pages will describe all you need to know. At least six books in this list discuss lofting. Search the list for "lofting" to find them.

Lofting. Alan Vaites, 150 pages, 123 drawings. "It is apparent that Vaitses is a master of the craft: He was able to explain even the more complex issues in quite simple terms. IM should be encouraged to reprint Lofting. It is truly a book for pushing around the floor as you work."

Boatbuilding Manual, 4th edition, Robert Steward. has a good thorough lofting section which should be enough for most cases.

WoodenBoat magazine has articles on lofting (numbers 110 & 111).

Lines, Lofting and Half-Models. Walt Simmons. 1991. "an excellent text" from Ducktrap Pub., P.O.Box 88 Lincolnville Maine 04849 reviewed in WB #103.

Ropes and Rigging

The Ashley Book of Knots, Ashley, Clifford, Doubleday & Co. 1944. THE source for working with natural-fiber cordage, most it is also applicable to synthetics. Practical and decorative knots, hitches, bends, splices, etc. for just about any imaginable application. always in print 620 pages, 3900 knots, 7000 drawings! review in WB #137

The Marlinspike Sailor. Hervey Garrett Smith.

Decorative rope and canvas work. 131 pages. Matts, fenders, heaving line. So you wish you look like you came up through the hawsepipe. Turkshead or monkeyfist, anyone?

Knowing the Ropes: Selecting, Rigging, and Handling Lines. Roger Taylor. Roger, as usual, has useful ideas and information, backed up by a lot of experience. IM, 1990. 203 pages.

The Rigger's Apprentice. 2nd. edition, Brian Toss 193 pages How to set up a whole gang of rigging and maintain it. Highly regarded.

The Rigger's Locker: Tools and Techniques for Modern and Traditional Rigging. Brian Toss. 210 pages. Useful ideas to improve, maintain, and improve your rig.


H. A. Calahan, MacMillan Co., 1940. Old, but recommended by a professional.

The Gaff Rig Handbook, by John Leather. (revised and expanded version of the 1970 "Gaff Rig") 240 p. 161 illus. 1995. "a working guide for practical sailors" history and practical use.

Spritsail and Lugsail John Leather, an expert on traditional boats

The Art of Rigging George Biddlecombe. "...was republished in 1990 by Dover and gives detailed instructions on how to rig old sailing ships. It's fascinating and cheap for anyone interested in sailing vessels."