The Classic Dinghy

The Classic DinghyA delightful, traditional dinghy design with fine lines and classic styling….The hull      features a wine glass transom, a hint of tumblehome in the aft sections, a gracefully curved sheerline to a clipper shaped bow with moderate flare in the bow sections. The hull is designed with a raking midship section with the deepest section at station four, the widest section at station six and the lowest point along the sheerline at station seven. These are the characteristics of a good displacement hull and can be seen in the lines drawing.

This dinghy has been designed to provide exceptional rowing and sailing characteristics. It is a displacement type hull that will move easily through the water and will exhibit very good ultimate stability. The twelve foot hull will carry 4 persons with all their gear. At a maximum load of 750 lbs., there is still nine inches of freeboard left for safety in rough or choppy waters.

Although designed originally as a twelve footer, this classic style dinghy can be built in any length (LOA) from eight to twelve feet, simply by changing the station spacing and the length of the  strongback. Specifications are provided for lengths (LOA) from eight to  twelve feet on two foot  intervals. The same mold patterns are used for the different lengths. The displacement, load capacity and hydrostatic calculations are different for each length. For instance, the Classic Dinghy built to a ten foot length will still have the same beam and draft as the 12 footer but the displacement will have changed to 250 lbs. with a load carrying capacity of 600 lbs. and will carry three persons instead of four. Changing to an eight foot length gives a two person dinghy.      

When you purchase the plans set for this dinghy you will receive full size patterns for the eleven station molds and the stem and transom pieces and the most comprehensive construction manual currently available for amateur boat builders. The manual provides a complete written description and a photographic      illustration of each step of the construction process. 

This hull has been designed for ease of construction for the amateur boat builder. Wood strip construction is a very simple and easy method for building round bilge hulls. It is an ideal construction method for a person with limited woodworking skills and a minimum tool inventory. Anyone can create a beautiful, clear finished, round bottom wooden boat that is a work of art. The finished boat will require a minimum amount of maintenance and will be extremely durable over many years of use. This type of hull is very strong and light weight and makes an excellent car topper. Feel the satisfaction that comes with building your own boat. Get started now on a great fall, winter or rainy days project and be on the water on nice summer days.

Hi  John…I built a Classic 12′ Dinghy back in 1991. Only had one 3 year old kid then. Now with 3 kids (ages 10, 5 and 3) the Classic 12 has room for all.  I still get a kick out of using the boat. Your web-site is great. Nice to see all the sister ships out there!…Dave Riordan

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54 thoughts on “The Classic Dinghy

    1. James,I have owned a wooden boat from new for 35 years and also tilared it extensively every year and I cannot detect any problem or distortion in the hull attributable to being on the trailer.Modern combination trailers (launching trolley fitting onto the road trailer under the hull) don’t have a support for the stern section of the hull which some people question. However I’ve had a combination trailer for over 10 years with no perceived problem. I do ensure that a static support takes the stern weight if I’m leaving the boat on the trailer over the winter.Hope that gives you some reassurance.Tim

  1. Are there plans for a rudder for the sailing version?
    Are the gunnels strong enough to lift by, i.e. can I leave off the handles, seems like it takes away from the looks of the transom.
    In the instructions, it said to staple the strips to the forms, then take them out after the glue dries. Isn’t that hard to do without marring the soft cedar? And do you use wax paper(I use in other woodworking to prevent the clamps from discoloring the wood) or something similar to keep excess glue from gluing the strips to the forms? Just trying to work this through in my mind before committing to the project.


    1. Yes, the Classic Dinghy manual includes the sail plans and the dimensions for the rudder. You can lift the boat by the gunwales and do not need the handles on the transom. Take a look at the photographic construction manual on the bottom of the first page of the website. Most of the questions that you might have will be answered there…

  2. What, if any, sized motor can be used on the Classic Dinghy? If this isn’t possible could you tell me if the Power Dinghy can me made under 12′.

    1. The Classic Dinghy is limited to a two HP motor. The Power Dinghy can be built smaller than 12 feet simply by changing the spacing on the strongback. For example, if you want a 10 foot boat change the station spacing on the strongback to 10″ instead of 12 inches..

  3. Do you have any photos of the classic dinghy in sailboat form? I think she’s a beautiful little boat as a row boat but I’d love how she looks as a sailboat. Particularly the seating and recommended rig.

  4. a few questions please.
    Can you explain how to determine the beam for an 8′, 8’6″ and 9′ version, as i’m undecided at the moment.
    do you see any problems adapting the plans to cold molded construction?
    thanks, she’s a lovely boat.

    1. There is no difference in beam measurement for the different length. The boat is meant to be built using Cedar Strip Technology.

  5. If you don’t mind, i’d like to amend my post to include the following question.
    after looking through your site, and as i will be building smaller, I’m curious as to the differences between the Yacht Tender and the Classic.

    1. The only difference is the Yacht Tender has more of a load carrying capacity for the size of the boat.

  6. i’m not clear on how to fiberglass the inside of the Classic 12′ Dinghy. Also I want to use a 2.5 outboard. 1 1/2″ Mahogany Transom? Or is cedar ok?

    1. Hello Jerry
      You will fiberglass the inside of the hull the same as the outside. There is no difference. A 2-1/2 HP out board will work just fine. I like to use Mahogany for the transom if you are using an outboard…JOhn

    1. Hello Jerry…Covering the skeg with fiberglass is your choice. It is not necessary but you can do it if you want…John

      1. Hi john, I’m almost done with my classic dingy. I’ve enjoyed the build. What length oars do you recommend for the 12 footer? Jerry

  7. I have the Hull completely stripped, sanded, and ready for fiberglass. I have 60″ fiberglass for my Classic Dinghy . Do I overlay both sides then wet out or just do one side at a time?

  8. Hi John,

    I’m considering your Classic Dinghy design for my first build. Would you please provide me the estimated time and expense to finish the 12′ version?

    Thank you.


    1. Hello Patrick…If you cut your own strips it will cost you about $300 in materials. If you buy strips already made they will cost you about $350. It will take you about 200 hours to build the boat…John

  9. Hi John,

    Thanks for the reply. Would you be able to add a Gunter Sloop rig and centerboard to the plans for the Classic Dinghy?


  10. I am looking for a tender for my 29′ sailboat that I am just finishing. Space on deck and cabin top are limited so I am probably going to need a tender that nests. My sailboat is strip plank cold molded and I would love to use the same method for the tender.

    Do you think it would be realstic to add 2 additional forms/bulkheads slightly spaced apart and then saw the boat apart at near completion? I know I would be on my own doing this, and that it would require mock-ups and testing but in your opinion would it have a reasonable chance of success if done correctly? I would probably opt for the 10′ overall length.
    Thanks for your time.

    Richard Beck s/v Beckon

    1. Hello Richard…I think you have an excellent idea. I often thought about doing that myself but never did it. I would use the Yacht Tender device though instead of the Classic Dinghy. I would love to seephotos of the finished boat. Thanks…John

  11. Hi John, appreciate the quick reply.

    What are the main reasons that you would suggest the Yacht Tender over the Classic Dinghy? I see that the sheer is less pronunced facilitating storage on deck. Are there any reasons? What difference in stability between the two designs?

    Lastly the Yacht Tender states that it was originally designed for 9′ length, but could be shortened to 8′ or even 7.’ Do you feel that there would be any issues with lengthening by up to 12″? I just feel that 10′ is a better fit for our needs.

    Richard Beck

    1. The Yacht Tender was designed especially using with a yacht. Its shape allows it to carry a larger load for its size. And the shape allows it to fit better on a sailboat. But either one will work fine for what you want to do. The Yacht Tender can be extended in size up to 15′ with no problem.

  12. What is the beam of the Classic?
    The power dinghy is a bit too beamy for me.

    I’m looking for a strip plank design that can sail, but also take my 3.5hp outboard 4-stroke. Is there some modification I could do to the Classic to make it handle this motor?


    1. Hello Gary…The beam width on the Classic Dinghy is 4 ft. It is designed for rowing and sailing. The design that is perfect for you is the Fisherman. It has a 4 ft. beam also, and is designed for an outboard motor.

  13. Thanks for the quick reply. I will use it primarily for sailing, but do want to use the 3.5HP outboard on it too. What is the shape of the Fisherman hull vs. Classic?

    Would I be trading anything off to disadvantage on sailing if I go with Fisherman vs. Classic?

    Also, what sailplans could come with the Fisherman? (gaff, sloop, catboat, etc..?)

    Is it a centerboard or daggerboard design or ? (Okay to just email me replies if you prefer – I’m quite serious and buying plans and building as soon as I’ve got the right boat. Got the shop cleaned and ready yesterday. 🙂

    1. Hello Gary…Have you been on my website? You can see what the boats look like there and that will answer some of your questions. The Fisherman is designed to take an outboard motor. The Classic Dinghy is designed for rowing and sailing. You can put a motor on it .it will not get up on a plane…John

  14. Yes, I’ve been on the website. That’s where I’m making these comments on.

    But it doesn’t say anything about sail plans for any of the boats – just that they can be sailed. I’d like to know more details about that before buying the plans.

    BTW, the Fisherman and Classic are a little narrow, so perhaps I need to go with the beamier Power dinghy. However, I need to know more about the design. All there is on the website is a side photo. thanks

    1. Hello Gary…I will send you a separate email with more information about my designs. There are 5 sail plans available for the Classic Dinghy. These same sail plans will work for the Power Dinghy…John

  15. I am interested in building a classic dinghy for sailing.
    Are there study plans available? Dimensions (width, length, approx weight).
    What width / depth strips are recommended?
    Freestanding mast? Centerboard, dagger board or lee-boards?
    I am leaning toward a balanced lug rig. Do you have plans for that type rig?

    Thank you.

  16. hola buenas tardes estoy viendo los vídeo entusiasmado y estoy muy , no entiendo bien como puedo comprar los planos, le agradecería mas información desde ya muchas gracias.

  17. Hello
    I’m very interested in building a 10′ Classic for rowing and sailing on our 35 acre lake. Would you please email me the study and sail plans? Thanks in advance.

  18. Hi I’m super interested in your classic dinghy. I want to build an 8 footer for sailing and rowing can you send me study plans, I’d like to know the approx weight and what I would need to make the sail. Thank you

    1. Hello Matt…Can you send me your mailing address? I will send you the study plans and sail plans. Thanks…John

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