Cardboard Boat Building
July 27-28, 2012
Georgia Pacific operates a pulp
mill in Toledo - this mill produces container board (cardboard to
you and I.) They were offering kits of (4) sheets of 77x110 1/4"
cardboard and (2) 12' x 4.5" dia. cardboard tubes to anyone
who wanted to build cardboard boats for the Toledo Wooden Boat Show
being held on the 3rd weekend of August.
Being the kind of organization we are, we decided to participate.
Because of scheduling conflicts, we have pretty limited time to
devote to this, so I didn't even bother trying to be creative. One
of the Coots offered us the use of
his copy of the Cardboard
Boat Book, and we just went with that - no fuss, no frills.-
we did make some minor changes: His boat has a 48" cockpit,
and to better fit the materials we have, we extended our cockpit
to 77" - we ought to be able to fit (2) smallish adults in
First thing we needed to do was get some room in the Boathouse,
so we slapped a coat of bottom paint on the Mollyhawks and moved
them to their summer home: Moored in the slough and ready for use.
Next, we had to do a wee bit o' clean up. John is not the best
sweeper, but we at the Toledo Community Boathouse are all about
expanding a person's skill set.
Layout. John read the dimensions to me while I measured and marked.
Curt was busy making bulkheads. That patch of sunlight made it
hard for him to see his lines, but sunlight is so rare here, he
made no attempt to move.
The cardboard was so large we couldn't put it up on sawhorses,
and so had to crawl around on our knees. That takes a toll on us
older folks. Here's John taking a break, pretending to be Kate Winslett
in Titanic: "Draw me like on of your French girls."
As Friday afternoon wore on, we got into the Contact Cement. Good
thing the Boathouse has doors at both ends - we could get a good
cross breeze blowing. We ended the day with one hull laid out and
one set of bulkheads.
Saturday morning came with some increased activity at the waterfront.
A church group from Newport had organized a float from the docks
to the kayak ramp a couple of miles down stream.
The most technical part of this build is the bow and stern - which
the guys were more than happy to let me lay out, that way they have
someone to blame.
The plans call for the use of a Beam Compass. I have no idea what
that is, so I made this, instead.
Folding one of the bow pieces.
As the day went on, we started getting more visitors - and David
showed up to provide much needed help, too.
We decided to rip a cardboard tube in half for use as the keels.
These keels will also help stiffen the boat, and maybe prevent it
from folding in half when it has two people in it.
Lunch break at Pig Feathers.
After lunch, the Port was holding a dedication of the new waterfront
park, pavilion, and amphitheater. These are the Port Princesses.
Back to the grind. We folded up the hulls and started attaching
We started attracting a lot of attention in the afternoon. We thought
we'd follow the instructions in the book and use plain drywall tape
set in TiteBond III glue to cover all the seams. After about 20
minutes of frustration, we decided we'd have been smarter to use
The keels are . . . problematic for me. The 1/2 tubes are hollow
and we glued them down pretty well, then sealed the edges with drywall
tape and glue, and the ends we plugged with 1/2 rounds of cardboard
slathered with PL Premium. Sure, sitting here, they look water proof,
but water is tricky, sneaky, and patient. I bet a nickel these'll
be full of water by the end of the Boat Show.
And finally, I gave 'em their first coat of paint. We have a lot
of dribs and drabs of paint at the Boathouse, so our entire plan
for waterproofing is to see how many coats of paint we can get on
the boats between now and August 17.
It wasn't all cardboard boat bulding - we also sent visitors out
in rowboats. From left to right: Sue, Calvin, and Hope - first time
rowing for all of them.
3 generations in a Mollyhawk!. Grandpa is a professor at the Hatfield
Marine Science Center in Newport and has a lot of experience
with rowing - he LOVED the Mollyhawks. (ps: Design WIN! 5 people
comfortably rowed from one station - well trimmed and stable.)
Towards evening, these two ladies - who had never rowed before
- wanted to go for a spin. They were a little shocked when I handed
them the oars "You aren't coming with us?" "Nope,
I'm an experiential teacher - if I went, you'd never even try to
row. This is all about you." They were out until dark, when
the Sheriff's Patrol kicked them off the water for not having a
all-around white light.
And that's it! Two cardboard boats in a weekend - nothing to do
now but paint.