Information about Plans

The Build Plans

The plans cover all aspects of building and completing the boat, not just the construction of the hull. It is easy to imagine that once the hull is built, the rest is all plain sailing. With anything other than a simple open boat, this is far from the truth. As a very rough rule of thumb, reckon on the following time breakdown:
Hull construction.
Deck, superstructure, cockpit etc.
Interior fitout.
Everything else, including ballast keel, painting and varnishing, deck gear and equipment, spars and rigging, etc.

We regularly use ring frames for our transverse structures and, though these take a little longer in the early stages, this will be time well spent when it comes to constructing the deck and superstructure, which can be more complicated than the hull itself. Instead of being confronted by a hull with a big hole where the deck and superstructure will be, there is instead a accurate framework around which the components can be wrapped. The result is that this often rather daunting part of the construction is made much simpler and, importantly, more accurate.

Each plan is complete in itself (though detail breakdowns of specific items may be shown on a separate plan) and in the most part individual items can be made from the plan, without reference back to the boat. So, to make a coachroof beam, or a unit of the interior furniture, or an engine bed, you can work from the drawing of that particular item in the knowledge that, when it comes to installing it in the boat, it will be the right size and shape and that it will fit where it is meant to go. Bevels (angles), cut-outs and all dimensional details are shown on each plan.

Many years experience leading real day-to-day boatbuilding, where, for example, the furniture shop produced most of the interior furniture units before the hull was constructed, or a remote aluminium supplier laser cut all the structural components, provides the experience to produce drawings of this quality, complexity of thought, detail and accuracy.

A list of the Build Plans for each design is available from the individual design pages.

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The Build Instructions

The Building Instructions are in the same mould: you have a practical, experienced, professional boatbuilder, who is also the designer, talking directly to you. This is not theory – it is real and practical boatbuilding, set out in a logical and clear sequence. Follow the instructions from start to finish and you will build your boat step by step, through to completion, launch and trials.

A list of the Build Instructions for each design is available from the individual design pages.

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Plan and Instruction Formats

The Build Plans and Instructions are in PDF format. Most browsers nowadays open PDF files directly in the browser window and allow you to save them to your device as PDF files, after which you can access them without an internet connection. PDF files can also be opened with Adobe Acrobat, which is included with many operating systems, or can be downloaded for free.

When you go to save a plan or instruction book, it may, depending on your browser, be named by default xxx_links.php.pdf or xxx_links.pdf (where the xxx is the Design No.). If this is the case, all the plans and instructions for a design will show as the same, so you need to rename them individually. Replace the part before the .pfd extension with a unique name. So, for example, you have opened a drawing 165_003_001.pdf:

This is the Longitudinal Structures Profile View for Design #165. When you hit "Save" or "Save As" in your browser, the name of the file may be 165_links.php.pdf or 165_links.pdf (depending on your browser). if this is the case, all the drawings for Design #165 will have the same name, so you will need to change it before you save it. Something like 165_003_001 Profile.php would be good because it relates to the actual name of the file and also tells you what it is. Do not forget to keep the .php extension!

If you intend to open the saved PDF's with Adobe, you may find that Adobe refuses to open a file saved from the PDF reader embedded in your browser. So it's best to do a test save and make sure Adobe can open it. If it can't, then you will need to save the PDF files via the "Print" function in your browser. In the "Print" window select "PDF" and then select "Save as PDF" or "Save as Adobe PDF". This should save the file in a format that Adobe will open OK. The terminology varies a bit depending on your browser and operating system. For example in Chrome, after you hit "Print" you need to select "Print using system dialogue", which will take you to your device's print window where you can select "PDF" and then "Save as PDF" or "Save as Adobe PDF".

Occasionally your browser may be set to save a PDF file rather than open it. Because you are actually in a PHP file at the time, a "Save" command will save the PHP file rather than doing what the PHP file instructs, which is to open the PDF file. Then when you come to open the saved file, you will get PHP code instead of the PDF image you are expecting. The file may simply be downloaded to your downloads folder or opened up in (probably) a text editor. If this happens you need to go into your browser preferences and make sure that PDF files are set to open in the browser, not be saved. In Firefox for Mac for example, you may need to set the browser to "Preview in Firefox" rather than the default "Use Adobe Reader".

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Printing Your Plans

Although the plans and instructions can be readily viewed on computers, laptops, tablets and phones, most builders will wish to print part or all of them out on paper.

With an A4/US Letter printer:

Many of these printers will allow printing up to 225mm (9") wide by 1090mm (43") long. 225mm (9") paper roll is excellent. You can usually get this from suppliers that specialize in primary school and kindergarten supplies; and also on the web. Go into you printer Page Setup and select Custom Paper Size and set the size to a suitable paper size – let's say 225mm (9") x 450mm (18"). Select for the smallest margins that your printer allows (often 12mm – 1/2", giving a print width of 200mm – 8"). Go back and see if the size is OK for the drawing – that is, is the whole drawing on one page. You may need to fiddle about with the lengths a bit to get it right.

Then cut your paper to the length required and print in the normal way. Usually it is best to select "360 dpi ink jet paper" as the media and print at "Best" or "Automatic" quality.

Most plans for the small boat designs (Open Boats and Pocket Cruisers) will print out at the full size of the drawing. For some of the larger boat plans that are drawn at 305mm (12") widths, the best approach is to print out the entire drawing on 225mm (9") paper at about 75% reduction, which will be fine for general reference purposes. Specific bits of a drawing can be printed out at full drawn size (on A4, US letter etc) as required – you can usually select sections of a drawing in the Page Setup section in the printer app.

With an A3/Wide Format printer:

305mm (12") paper roll is excellent. Again, you can usually get this from suppliers that specialize in primary school and kindergarten supplies; and also on the web. Follow the instructions for the A4 printer to select the best length and print quality, media type etc. The 305mm width format drawings are usually at 610mm (24"), 915mm (36") or 1220mm (48") lengths. And on later drawings, the drawing size is stated at the bottom of the title box. You may have to experiment a bit to get the paper length just right.

ISO A1 sheet paper cut in half lengthways (to give 297 x 841 - 11.7" x 33") will print many of the larger drawings at a small reduction (about 97%). ISO B1 (often used for posters) cut in half lengthways will print most of them at full drawn size. American Arch. D (610mm x 915mm – 24" x 36") sheets will also cut in half very nicely to print most of the larger drawings out at full drawn size. And Arch. E (915mm x 1220mm – 36" x 48") cut into three lengthways, will print the largest plans.

More recent designs use A3 paper size wherever possible. US 11" x 17" paper will also be OK for these.

Going to a Print Shop

Often you can simply upload the drawings you want printed directly to a print shop. Otherwise, save them to a CD or DVD and the print shop will be able to print directly from that. Many print shops will do "Engineering Prints" which are printed mono on relatively cheap paper, which makes an economical print.

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CNC Files

Files for CNC cutting are in DXF format. They are usually at 1:1 scale. They are saved in DXF 2010 format in metres. They need to be saved to a folder on your device rather than opened. Depending on your operating system you can do this in two ways:

1. Click (or double-click) the file.

On a Mac

The file will usually download directly to whatever folder is designated as your "Download" folder. This is often called "Downloads" and is in your home folder. A Downloads window will come up to show the progress of the download.

You can also create and designate another folder (say "Boat Plans"), and have the files download to that.

If you go to "Downloads" (or the folder you designated) you will see it there – it will look something like: xxx_plans-xxx_xxx_xxx.DXF (the nomenclature varies a bit from system to system).

On a PC

You should get a window come up which asks "Do you want to save this file or find a program to open it". Hit the Save button.

It will then open a window to ask you where to save the file to.

It will usually default to "My Documents" or something similar. You can save it here or make a special folder (say "Boat Plans") and have the files download to that.

Then save the file (hit the Save button)

The files will then save to "My Documents", or wherever you have selected. And come up with a message "Download complete".

If you go to "My Documents" (or the folder you saved it to) you will see it there – it will look something like: xxx_plans-xxx_xxx_xxx.DXF (the nomenclature varies a bit from system to system).

2. Use "Save Target As..."

On a Mac

Control-click the DXF file you want to download. Select "Download Link File" to download the file to directly your "Downloads" folder

Or select "Download Link File As..." to download the file to a folder of your choice. You can also rename the file (but keep the .DXF extension).

On a PC

Right-click the DXF file you want to download. From the pop-up menu click Save Target As...

It will come up with a window saying something like "Getting File Information ....." It can take a minute or two the first time, but it will speed up for the rest of the files.

Then it will go to a window called "Save As" showing the file to be saved (usually) to "My Documents". Or a folder that you designate as discussed above.

Hit the Save button and it will save the file to your "My Documents" folder (or the folder you select).


DXF files can be opened in a text editor program but this is not useful as all you will see is a lot of numbers and letters which describe the shapes of the various entities numerically

Once you have the DXF files downloaded to your computer, you can send them to your CNC cutting company attached to an email, or you can save them to a CD and send that to them.

If you are wanting to open the files directly in a CNC cutting program (such as "v-carve") you may need to import them as vector files rather than simply opening them.

DXF files do not always open perfectly. The most common problem is one of scale. There is a scale check rectangle 1000mm x 100mm on each drawing so that the CNC facility can check that the scale is correct.

There is also a 1:10 scale PDF copy of the DXF file so that both you and the CNC facility can see what the DXF drawing is supposed to look like.

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