VILLAGE BOAT SHOP     I             Pittsburgh, PA  

Atkin flat bottomed skiff sprite
Atkin Sprite building jig on the plans

Atkin skiff sprite stem
Here is the stem and stem knee glued up. I have transfered the rabbet layout to the stem.

Carving the stem for Atkin skiff sprite
Carving the stem rabbet for Sprite.

Finished stem for Atkin skiff sprite
Finished stem with rabbet.

Chines on the Atkin skiff sprite
Chines, stem and transom set up on the building jig

Fitting first plank of Atkin skiff sprite
Checking the fit of the first plank.

Hood end of plank on Atkin skiff sprite
Fitting the hood end of the plank into the stem rabbet.

Atkin skiff sprite planking
Planking the skiff.

Atkin skiff sprite planking and bottom
Cross planking the bottom. The sheer strake still needs to be put on.

Atkin skiff sprite with skeg
Here is the boat off of the building jig. The transom top is shaped, the keel is in place, as are the skeg and stern post.

Atkin skiff sprite stem and breasthook
The carved stemhead and breasthook.

Atkin skiff sprite transom knee
View of the transom knee.

Atkin skiff sprite in profile
Profile view of the Atkin skiff Sprite.

Atkin skiff sprite construction complete
The thwarts are in as well as the transom knees.

Completed Atkin flat bottomed skiff sprite
The completed boat. I finished the framing, installed the thwarts and stern sheets and installed the transom knees.


Armchair Boatbuilding

Several months ago I took time off from work to watch my son when my wife went back to work. Since I couldn't take my newborn son out to my shop to work, I began looking over some boat plans that I have and decided to try to build a small version of the Atkin flat bottomed skiff Sprite.

I began by making a materials list scaled to the plans that I have. The plans, which are available from the WoodenBoat store, are scaled 1 inch to 1 foot. I ordered the 'lumber' from Maximum Hobby. They have a good selection of basswood to choose from.

Once the material arrived I built the jig that the boat will be built over. I started by gluing the strongback together. I have used cyanoacrilate or 'crazy glue' for the whole project. The molds were easy to make with some tracing paper. Working at the scale on the plans is just like working from a full size lofting when building the full size boat. I traced the mold shape from the body plan and transfered it to the 1/16th basswood sheet stock. I cut out the molds using a utility knife blade. These molds require notches for the chines. I laid out the station locations on the jig and set up the molds making sure they were square to the centerline and baseline.

Next came the transom and stem. I glued up the transom out of 3/32" basswood and traced the shape from the plans. I beveled a crossbrace for the building jig so the transom would sit at the correct rake. The transom blank is made big enough to reach the baseline (which is the top of the building jig). The stem and stem knee were glued up from 1/4" basswood. The grain is oriented for strength. I laid out the rabbet on both sides of the stem and picked up the bevels from the half breadth plan. Carving the rabbet is easy as the basswood is soft and not much material needs to be removed as the planking stock is 1/32". Once the stem was carved I set it up on the building jig. Locations can be found on the plans and it's easy to square up to locate the stem position and rake. The chine logs are next. I glued these in place and then planed the bevel on the jig.

The boat is ready for planking now. The full size plans call for 9/16" cedar. I used 1/32" basswood which is about to scale. I made a spiling batten out of planking material. The batten is 1/4" wide and a little longer than the boat. The plans show the lap locations and I marked these on the molds. Measuring the widths on the batten allow me to transfer to the planking stock and get out the planks. I spiled the starboard side. The port planks are just copies of the starboard side. There are only 4 planks per side on Sprite so planking went quickly. The most time consuming part was cutting the gains. The laps are about 1/16" wide on the model. The gains start about 1 1/4" from the stem and transom.

I started planking up the bottom before I put the sheer strakes on. The plans for the full size boat call for 3/4" cedar laid athwartship, no caulking. I planked the model with 1/16" x 1/2" and glued everything together for strength. The bottom planks up quickly. Once finished, I glued on the sheer strakes and finally cut the hull from the molds. I trimmed the bottom planks and sanded inside and out before moving on to the keel.

Sprite has a plank keel that is screwed on from the inside of the hull. The full size boat receives a 3/4" x 5" white oak keel. The model received a 1/16" x 1/2" keel glued in place from stem to transom. A skeg is then normally bolted in place through the keel and into the transom knee. A small stern post and engine reinforcing pad are also added to the transom. For the model I used 3/32" basswood for the skeg and sternpost assembly. The transom knee was made from 1/4" basswood.

I used 1/16" x 1/8" stock for the guards (rubrails). I shaped these at the stem and then glued them on from bow to stern. They are cut flush at the transom and will get s slight shape sanded onto them.

The stem is made long so it can be attached to the building jig. Once removed from the jig, I cut the stemhead and shaped it. I then fit a piece of 3/32" basswood in place for the breasthook. The plans do not call for inwales.

Sprite has 8 pairs of fitted frames. these are notched over the laps and fastened from the planking. I am using 1/16" stock for these frames. I scribe the rough shape and fit them in place. I have installed 3 of the 8 pairs of frames.

From here I still have the last of the framing, seat risers, stern quarter knees, and the thwarts. I hope you have enjoyed looking.

Update July 18: I have completed the frame installation. Thwarts were made from 1/16th basswood. I have also installed the transom knees, which were also made from 1/16th basswood. The construction is complete. I may give the boat a paint job to see how it turns out and possibly build a little cradle so it can be displayed a little better.

For anyone interested, I will build a full size Atkin Sprite cedar on oak, painted, with oars for $5,500.

Sprite full size particulars:

LOA: 14' 10"
Beam: 4' 10"
Draft: 4"
Weight: 250-300 lbs





Patrick Hopkins
385L 1st Street, Lawrence, PA 15055