Weekend Project: Building and Sailing a Plank Rat

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When I first saw the Plank Rat, I knew my lifelong desire to own/build a boat was about to come true.

ShortyPen's Plank Rat is a project a complete boat-building novice can do.ShortyPen's Plank Rat is a project a complete boat-building novice can do.

ShortyPen's Plank Rat is a project a complete boat-building novice can handle. Photo: shortypen.com

There’s something about this fantastic, very clever design that instills confidence. All the materials are cheap and easy to come by. The scale seems doable. The cost is low — about $50 – $75. ShortyPen promises that the plywood is going to bend for you. And it’s a neighbor to the PDRacer community, which is geeky as all get out.

Geeklets couldn't wait until I had the plywood on to start decorating. The plywood does bend -- if you have the grain going the right way. (I learned the hard way.)Geeklets couldn't wait until I had the plywood on to start decorating. The plywood does bend -- if you have the grain going the right way. (I learned the hard way.)

Geeklets couldn't wait until I had the plywood on to start decorating. The plywood does bend — if you have the grain going the right way. (I learned the hard way.)

Mygeeklets aren’t old enough to handle power saws or even to be too close when I use them. But once the wood is cut, they help out by putting screws in pilot holes and painting the craft, which was almost christened the S.S. Splatter.

Turning a geeklet loose with a Sharpie resulted in an Electric Company theme on the tail.Turning a geeklet loose with a Sharpie resulted in an Electric Company theme on the tail.

Turning a geeklet loose with a Sharpie resulted in an Electric Company theme on the tail. (The wheels are to help get it to the river and back. It's a little heavy to carry very far.)

Partly because I scrimped on the plywood width, the boat is a little small for all three of us at once. But I can now take them for a ride one at a time. And someday, I hope to see them pilot it themselves. Hopefully future modifications — or maybe a whole new boat — will give us some more room.

The paint job. The wheels. The leak. It's wonderful. We're in the shallows here. Kids should always have a life jacket.The paint job. The wheels. The leak. It's wonderful. We're in the shallows here. Kids should always have a life jacket.

The paint job. The wheels. The leak. It's just a fun GeekFamily project.

Don’t forget the life jackets. My boat sank about 30 seconds into her maiden voyage. (Operator error.)

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