Frequently Asked Questions

Do you take Credit Cards? How can I pay for my plans?

Plans may be ordered on line using PayPal. PayPal accepts Visa / MC / AmEx / Discover / eCheck / PayPal. Or you can send a check or money order to: Hylan & Brown Boatbuilders, 10 Frank Day Lane, Brooklin, ME 04616. We do not wait for personal checks to clear, usually shipping your order within a day or two. Most plans are shipped rolled up in a mailing tube by U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail. Some of the less expensive plans are folded in a large envelope and sent First Class mail to save on postage costs. Please contact us if other arrangements are necessary.

Do you ship plans outside of the US?

Yes, we will ship plans anywhere where there is postal service. We ship by U.S. Postal Service International Priority Mail, but contact us if other arrangements are necessary. International rates have increased recently.

Before I buy, where can I get more information on your designs?

We offer free online downloadable study plans (in Adobe Acrobat format) for many of our designs. These generally include specifications, a couple of photos of the boat under construction, photos of the completed boat, and a couple of drawing samples. For designs carried by WoodenBoat, a link to a brief downloadable study from is provided. WoodenBoat charges a nominal fee (as little as $0.99) for these downloads. Finally, in special cases we can mail you a printed study plan.

For some designs, a separate CD or memory stick is also available which often includes photos of the boat under construction. This can be helpful, particularly for amateur builders, in visualizing and planning the construction process.

Many of my designs have been covered in the boating press – our web site offers links to many of these, and sometimes a web search can turn up considerably more.

Can I return my purchase if I change my mind?

Unfortunately, plans that are returned are almost always damaged enough that I cannot re-sell them. I offer a 50% refund for returned plans, not including shipping costs. I do my very best to provide lots of information to help you make sure you understand what you will be getting – PLEASE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT. Amazon and other on-line marketers have make it painless to order first and read the fine print later. I simply cannot operate that way.

Can I count on you for help in building a boat to one of your designs?

We want your project to have the best possible outcome, but with nearly 2000 plans sets sold, if we answered every question that came our way, we would never have time to design another boat. We go to great lengths to produce highly detailed plans, hoping to answer most questions that way. If you are a novice builder, do your reading and consider asking someone to work with you on your project. This person may have more experience than you, and two heads are usually better than one. Our CDs (when available) often provide a more extensive FAQ section addressing builder’s questions, as well as a list of applicable books and sources for materials. Old WoodenBoat Magazines are a great source of information – check out their on-line index. Finally, the WoodenBoat Forum at can be a source of helpful (and sometimes misleading) information.

If you need to contact me, e-mail me through this web site and include your phone number and best time to call. Please do your homework first – the internet has made people feel that they are entitled to free information, but nothing is free, and often the price is self education. I want to know if there are errors in my plans, buy 98% of the time the “error” is on the part of a builder who has not fully studied the plans or is unfamiliar with common practice.

Do your plans include a materials list?

It is generally part of the builder’s job to order materials for their boat. The specifications in the plans include sizes (scantlings) for most pieces, but what you order will depend heavily on what is available. Sometimes other species will want to be substituted — a locally available wood may be superior, easier to obtain and less expensive. Even with plywood, sometimes different sized sheets are available in one area but not in another. The amounts needed will vary with the sizes available: there will be less waste from longer and wider stock, but it will likely cost more.

What are the pros & cons of traditional construction?

Traditional plank-on-frame construction is the real thing – just what builders like Herreshoff and Lawley used. Many builders prefer working with larger pieces of real wood and minimizing the use of epoxy. You are more likely to find appropriate woods locally, and those woods will generally be cheaper. A higher level of skill is required for traditional construction – joints are more complicated and their accuracy more critical. Steam bending is generally required. Choosing good wood can be mystifying for the beginner.

What are the pros & cons of cold molded construction?

Cold molded boats can be very light and stiff, and suffer much less from long periods out of the water. In theory, they can make use of lower grades of wood, although in practice this is seldom the case. For the average builder, the technology is conceptually simpler but more tedious. A lower level of skill is required. It has been claimed that cold molded boats require less maintenance – this is only partially true. The maintenance they do require is very similar to that of a fiberglass boat, so finding people to do that maintenance is simpler.

What are the pros & cons of glued lapstrake construction?

Glued lapstrake plywood boats are immune to drying out and the problems associated with the natural shrinking and swelling cycle of wood. They don’t leak, and are much better able to withstand life on a trailer. Their maintenance is lower and the skills required to build them are less fussy. I think glued lapstrake plywood is a wonderful method for small boats.

I love one of your designs, but I do not have the time or interest to build my own. How much does it cost to have one built for me?

As designer/builders, we’d be glad to custom-build one of our designs for you. Buying a “hull kit” can help turn a daunting project into a manageable one – we build the hull to the stage of completion you desire, and you finish it yourself. You can also use our plans to consult with other builders.

Can you modify one of your designs for me?

Yes, we can modify an existing design, provided that we feel that the result will be serviceable and attractive. However, this can be an expensive undertaking. Drawing a detailed set of plans takes a good deal of time, and sometimes modifying an existing plan takes longer than might be assumed. Modifications can easily cost 3 to 6 times as much as a stock plan set.

What if I want to make some modifications myself?

If you want to make changes that might impact the safety of the boat, please contact me first. I try not to act as a wet blanket, but I don’t want anyone to get hurt, or for the rumor to spread that someone had been hurt in one of my designs.

Can I stretch or shrink a design?

The most common questions about modifications generally concern lengthening or shrinking a design. This can be simple or complicated, depending on what is desired and how it is handled. Most designs can be lengthened by a competent builder by simply increasing the spacing of the building molds. Done within reason, this method will almost always result in a good boat, both from the standpoint of appearance and performance.

If changes in all dimensions (not just length) are required, the issue becomes much more complicated. Simply increasing all three dimensions by the same multiplier will generally have a detrimental impact on the appearance of the boat, and, to a lesser extent, on its functionality. In most cases, scantlings (the sizes of structural members in a boat) will need to be increased.

Shrinking a boat, by any method, can have a large impact on safety. Please consult with me before making such changes.

How much does a custom design cost?

This depends very much on the level of detail required in the plans. A skilled and experienced builder can often build a good boat from a very simple set of plans, although extra detail in the plans will usually more than pay for itself in the building process. Most beginners should have a high level of detail. As a rough rule of thumb, a custom design will cost between 5% and 10% of the professional construction cost of the boat. Adapting a set of plans for a CNC kit is time consuming, and is more appropriate for some designs than others.

Why do some stock plans cost more than others?

Level of plan detail and size of boat largely determine the cost of stock plans. Some plans require lofting, others include lofted full size patterns. Sometimes Compact Discs are available with photos and text that can be very helpful, even for experienced builders. Larger boats tend to require more in the way of calculations, even if the plan itself is not highly detailed.

Are digital files available for your designs?

I do not sell digital copies of my plans. I am able to do this work because of copyright laws that protect my rights to my designs. Unfortunately, the internet and digital media has make these rights much more difficult to protect. Sending only paper copies offer a thin layer of additional protection.

Some of our designs, particularly the more recent ones, have started from the ground up with CAD/CAM kits in mind, and even older designs can be reworked for CAM cutting. Extra fees and a signed contract will be required. In most cases, CAD files will only be made available to a reputable CAM capable company that is willing to sign a contract that will guarantee protection of our intellectual property rights.

What is a design’s seaworthiness rating?

Rating a design for seaworthiness is a difficult proposition. Numerous open ocean voyages have been made in what most people would consider totally unsuitable boats – Shackleton, Bligh and Blackburn come to mind. But there are times when even the best found vessel can be overwhelmed. The difference may merely a matter of luck, but often the skill of the people involved is the deciding factor.

For my plans I use the “Suitable for” system that WoodenBoat magazine adopted for their plans catalogs, dividing boats up into three categories: Protected Waters, Somewhat Protected Waters, and Open Ocean.

For the “protected waters” classification, open canoes come to mind. Narrow, tippy and low sided, these boats can get into trouble in a thunderstorm on a small lake. At the other extreme, the “open ocean” classification covers boat that should be able to take some serious weather. They should be self-righting, have self bailing cockpits, and deck openings that are robust and easily sealed.

The vast majority of designs fall into the third category – “suitable for somewhat protected waters”. Of necessity, this is a catch-all phrase that indicates that the boat is intended for use under most normal summer conditions on most bodies of water. Whitecaps yes. Breaking waves, probably not. A boat with this classification can head out into the open ocean provided that the skipper has checked for a good forecast and keeps a wary weather eye open. Shelter should be sought at the first sign of severe weather. If trapped out in such weather, experience and sobriety can make a big difference in the outcome.


For information on any of our services, you can contact us at:

Hylan & Brown Boatbuilders
10 Frank Day Ln
Brooklin, ME 04616

Phone:     207-359-9807