Jon's Adventures Building and Sailing a CLC PocketShip in the great Pacific Northwest
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Love Me Tender, Volume V
I've heard various versions of the history of stitch and glue boat construction. Numerous people have cited numerous other people as "inventing" stitch and glue. Numerous others have even made varying claims to have even developed it themselves. I imagine there are several explanations for this ambiguity. Indeed, it is entirely conceivable that multiple people developed the same idea at roughly the same time. After all, Leibniz and Newton both developed calculus independently at roughly the same time in history, so why couldn't multiple boat builders independently develop stitch and glue? More likely, though, one can imagine a continuum of development, where various builders introduced innovations that now form basic elements of what is today recognized as stitch and glue. So, the builder who came up with the idea of pre-cut plywood panels probably lays claim to inventing stitch and glue, as does the person who first introduces wire stitches, as does the fella who slopped on the first epoxy fillets, et cetera.
Regardless of its origin, stitch and glue is almost certainly the most popular construction method in amateur boat building. Although there are several factors that contribute to this, such as not needing any super specialized woodworking skills or tools, I think the biggest factor is the near-instant gratification that comes with stitching the hull together. Generally, stitch and glue boats are built from CNC-cut kits, and stitching the hull together is one of the very first steps in the construction process. Within a few hours of starting construction, the builder starts aligning plywood panels, stitching them together with wire sutures. One to two hours later, the builder steps back, sees the fully developed form of a boat hull and cannot help but exclaim, "it's starting to look like a boat!"
After several months of procrastination and working on other projects, I finally went out to the boat shop and allowed myself to indulge in that most sublime joy of stitch and glue building.