Tolman Transom Design

September 15th, 2017

I was working the transom designs for my Tolman Skiff, after several iterations this is what I settled on.The main outboard engine will be either a Suzuki DF60A or DF90A.  The DF60A weighs in at 229 lbs and the DF90A 344 lbs.  The maximum recommended weight for a Widebody skiff is 400 lbs.  If I go with the DF90A and either a Suzuki DF15A or Mercury 9.9HP I would be over the limit.  The DF15 weight is 108 lbs and the 9.9 is 84 lbs.  The auxiliary outboard is offset and raised up to account for the deadrise.Using the transom design from Renn Tolman’s book Tolman Alaskan Skiffs as a starting point I made the changes I wanted.  I opened up the transom so I can have a swim step mounted on the transom opposite the kicker motor.  I will add a full width dry well that can double as a fish box.  The front of the dry well will have a lift out panel that will make accessing the engines easier if there is a problem like fishing line in the prop. 

I drew a side view of the transom so I can avoid cutting the transom wrong.  There are a lot of angles that need to be right.  The bottom of the transom is cut at 15 degrees, the sides at 6 degrees and the top at 15 degrees.  The cut out for the motors are at 0 degrees. 

Here is the PDF of the drawings.

The Tolman Adventure

September 7th, 2017

It is time for a new boat build and this build will be a Tolman Widebody Skiff.  Adventure will be 19′ 10″ long, 7′ 6″ wide, will have a open pilot house and of course built for fishing.  I am planning on using either a Suzuki 60 or 90 HP outboard.  The 60HP has an advantage in weight since it weighs 253lbs, 90 lbs less than the 90HP and also cost less.  A large open rear deck will allow for 3 people to fish comfortably with two downriggers.  There will be a cutty cabin for storage but not for sleeping; Adventure will a be a day boat.

Renn Tolman designed the Tolman Skiff over many years of building and using the skiffs in Alaska and has become a favorite design for a low cost, rugged and sturdy boat.  Toman Skiffs are built using stitch and glue construction like Fish Taco, just bigger and can be built as short at 18ft with the Standard and and as long as 28ft with the Great Alaskan.

At 19′ 10″, Adventure is small for a Widebody but is a little larger than what can be built comfortably in my boat shop (garage).  The ceiling is high enough to build the cabin in side but the garage door it too low to get it out so I will be building the pilot house so it can be removed.

Face Lift

February 2nd, 2017

Fish Taco is getting a face lift; a few additions and repairs are needed to get her ready for the 2017 season.  On the way to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival I had bumped the outdrive of the Suzuki 15 HP motor. The transom and stern knees were cracked.  I purchased some #14 x 4 inch bronze wood screws to stiffen the crack in the stern knees.  The screws have been installed and the screw hole plugged with a bung.  A bung is a wooden plug cut out of similar wood that has the screw hole.  I still have to trim the bung to fit, fill, sand and then paint.  When I am done the repair will be invisible.

I am adding pole holders; the brackets are flush mount and to make them less obtrusive I am routing a recess in the gunwales.  I cut some 1/8 inch plywood strips and then glued them to 6mm plywood, 1/8 inch wider than the bracket.  I drilled a 1-1/2 inch hole in the gunwales for the bracket and then clamped the template to the gunwale so I could route the recess.  I then used my baby router with a 1/4 inch straight cut router bit and a template guide.  The result is a recess that has the bracket just slightly proud of the gunwale.  I still need to seal the area with epoxy.  I will use stainless steel screws and marine caulking to finish the installation of the bracket.



Snow Day

January 12th, 2017

We had a little snow yesterday; just about a foot.  Most of Portland was shutdown but has started to recover.  The street has been plowed twice but there is still a layer of ice on the roadbed.  I chained up the truck and drove out to the street and immediately turned around and came back in.  It was just too slippery to drive safely.  It is supposed to start raining Monday and by Tuesday I expect that all the snow will have melted.

The pictures were taken late morning on Wednesday and they show just how much snow there is.

Will She Float?

June 27th, 2016

I launch Fish Taco yesterday at Hagg Lake in Gaston Oregon.  Fish Taco is not finished but finished enough to launch.Fish_Taco_launch (Medium) I still need to work on the bridge and anchor deck, install the inwale, finish the thwarts and paint the insides.  The Suzuki 15HP outboard worked well and I am very happy with it.  The power tilt and electric start are very nice.  2016-06-26 12.21.51 (Medium)I did some test runs with 1, 2 and 3 people aboard and she is a little more tender than I would like.  I need to do some more testing to simulate fishing and I might add some water ballast.  I estimated that Fish Taco only weighs about 175lbs and I hope to weight her this week to find out the actual weight.

Launching Fish Taco off the trailer was very easy; I just gave her a push and she rolled/slid off.  Retrieving was a little more difficult as we got one of the bilge keels on the wrong side of the bunk.  We had to lower her back in the lake and bring her up again.  I do have a problem with the trailer; even though I bought a wide trailer it is narrow and I can’t see it when backing up.  I think I will add some trailer guides.

A Little Paint Looks Good

June 20th, 2016

2016-06-19 12.13.50 (Medium)I started painting Fish Taco’s hull.  The paint is Systems Three WR-LPU water-based polyurethane.  The color is Whitby White which is a cream/ivory color.  The very nice thing about this paint is that it can be re-coated in 2 hours depending on the weather/temperature and up to 24 hours without sanding between coats.  It is a little tricky to put on and by the third coat I had improved the process.  Being water-based cleanup is easy as long as you don’t wait too long.  I settled on using a 4 inch wienie roller used for door and cabinets.  I then tipped out the bubbles and streaks using a 3 inch foam brush. While the final paint job is not perfect, there are dust, streaks and runs in the paint, I am happy overall all.  I decided not to put the blue stripe on now so I will have to sand before I do.

Trailer and Transom

June 14th, 2016

2016-06-14 06.40.12 (Medium)I accomplished two more milestones.  I ordered the trailer for Fish Taco; an EZ Loader EZWB-12-14 1200.  This is a bunk trailer and I will add keel rollers and a tongue jack.  The standard 12-14 ft trailer has a width of 44 inches between the fenders which might have been OK but I was concerned so I ordered the wide trailer which is 54 inches between the fenders.  The trailer is 64 inches wide over all and Fish Taco’s beam  is 59 inches. This trailer is only 17 feet long which is better than my old trailer which was 19 feet long.  The trailer has 12 inch tires instead of the much preferred 13’s but with such a light boat there should not be a problem.

The second milestone was the cutting of the transom to mount the motor.  The plan was to make a router pattern that I would use to do the final trim of the cutout.  I would rough cut the opening with my VersaCut 3-3/8 inch circular saw and then use the router to clean up to the final dimensions.   I made a measuring mistake and the two sides were not symmetrical; strike one.  I decide to use only one side of the pattern and route half the opening and then flip the pattern over to route the second.  I was cleaning up the good side and I took a little too much off and it looked funny when I cleaned it up; strike two.  I still had the other half of the pattern that was mis-measured so I cut the formally good side off the pattern leaving just over 2/3 of the pattern.  This time when I cleaned up the pattern without mistakes.  I used the pattern to mark off where I would be trimming to and then used my VersaCut and cut wide of the line except one spot where I touched the line.  OK, I can fixed this; I moved the pattern out by 1/4 inch on both sides.  Using my big router and a pattern cutting bit I trimmed the cutout to the final shape.  It looked very good except for a couple of spots were I started or stop.  A quick sanding cleaned every thing up and it looks very good.

More of My Favorite Boat Building Tools

June 5th, 2016

In this second installment of my favorite boat building tools, I have brought out some power tools.

2016-06-05 11.54.18 (Medium)

The first is the Dewalt Corded TrackSaw (PN:DWS520K, $475.19,  In the August 2016 issue of Fine Woodworking, (, Mark Edmudson reviewed several track saws.  The track saws from Festool and Mafell were rated the best and the one from Makita as best value.  I have not used any track saw but the Dewalt and I have very happy with it.  I always brush dust off the track and the work piece before a cut and never had the track slip while cutting.  To avoid cutting the table or concrete I have two 4′ x 8′ sheets of 1-1/2 inch rigid foam insulation from Home Depot that I put the work piece on.  I use the track saw for any straight cut on sheet goods and long boards.  The saw was an unbeliever time saver when I was cutting out the molds, bulkhead and transom for my Candlefish 13.  I marked all the cut lines in red (so as not to cut a centerline or water line by mistake) on sheets of plywood and then cut all the parts out.  The pull the trigger then push down and forward to start the cut was not natural at first but now I don’t even think about it.

The second is the Rockwell Versacut (PN RK3440K, $99,  The Versacut is a 3-3/8 inch circular saw and don’t let the name fool you; this is not a tool make by Rockwell of years ago.  This Rockwell Tools is Positec Tool Corporation in China, a supplier of OEM and second tier tools.  I originally bought this saw to remove particle board as part of installing hardwood floors.  I would use the bi-metal blade and cut the particle board into 1′ x 4′ pieces and then pry them out.  The small blade allowed me to steer around (most of) the nails holding the particle board down.  Now I use the Versacut with a carbide blade for cutting curves in plywood.  I used it to cut all the panels for my Candlefish 13.  The V notch in the saw base is not exactly where the blade cuts but a few practice cuts solves that problem.

Lastly there is my baby router, a Dewalt Compact Router (PN:DWP611, $122.99,  I mostly use the round over or a 45° chamfer bit.  The routers small size allows me to easily route a round over on canoe gunnels.  I used the 45° chamfer bit on the plywood panels before stitching the panels.  The router has 1-1/4 hp and comes with a 1/4 inch collet.  This router is more than a panel router but not a full size router; I would stick with small bits and leave the canoe bit to a full size router.

My Three Favorite Boat Building Tools

June 5th, 2016

When I am building boats or other projects, there are always some tools that I always reach for first and use them more than others.MyFavoriteTools (Medium)
The number one tool I reach for and cannot live without is my folding rule from Lee Valley (PN: 24N06.50, $6.95,  At 1 meter long with metric on one side and inches on the other; I find more useful than any of my tape measures or steel rules.   It folds down to about 5 inches and extends out to a meter (just over 39 inches).  I also use it to double check the fence on my table saw so I get just the right thickness from a cut.

Number two is my Dozuki, Japanese pull saw from Woodcraft (PN:12F27, $50.50,  Dozuki’s are also available at Rockler and other woodworking stores.  A Dozuki is called a dovetail saw but I find that the 9-1/2 inch blade is just too big for dovetailing but excels at cutting trim and tenons.  For dovetail work, the 6-1/2 inch blade and shorter handle is just right.  The metal back keeps the blade stiff and I will often guide the blade by holding my thumb near the back for right angle cuts.  No one who has ever used a Japanese pull say can say they have never cut themselves; watch out the teeth are sharp.

Number three is a new tool that I just purchased this year and is not really a tool but safety equipment.  It is an Elipse P100 half mask respirator.  (PN: SPR451, $28.00,  The respirator comes in two sizes, Small/Medium and Medium/Large.  The Small/Medium fits 80% of the users and is the one that I have.  I was using the 3M particulate filters with a valve but I found they continually fogged up my glasses especially when working in my cold garage.  The P110 fits perfectly without any problems with my beard and the only time it fogs up my glasses is when I don’t have it on right.

Fish Taco’s Launch Day Has Been Set

June 3rd, 2016

2016-05-29 10.35.24 (Medium)I have decided Fish Taco will be launched on June 26th.  This is also RiversWest Hagg Lake Messabout so it was a convenient target.

I made templates for the Bridge Deck and the Anchor Deck.  The Anchor Deck has been cut out and I have put the second fairing coat on the inside of the hull.  I have a little more sanding to do then I can prime, sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, paint, paint and paint.  Yes the boat gets three coats of primer and three coats of paint although except for the outside of the hull it might not have all the coats of paint for launch day.  Before I install the Anchor Deck and Bridge Deck I need to have painted that part of the hull so I won’t have to crawl through the hatch to paint.  A little more gets done each day.