Origami, the amazing 6 foot folding dinghy

Update February 2008: Benjy has a new offer: buy one, get one tree! For every set of plans sold Woodenwidget will be buying and planting a tree. Origami, the eco-friendly dinghy!

Buy the plans

Origami gets a big twin sister! An 8' version is available on the www.woodenwidget.com web site. More space for the passenger and larger load carrying capacity while not gaining much weight and still folding to the same thickness. The 6' boat is shown nested in the 8' one in the photo lower down the page.

Plans for the 8' still very reasonably priced at £ 30

Many years ago I was given a small folding dinghy. It was great but it had its faults. It was very badly made and fell apart after a few months but not before I realised what a fantastic little boat it was. It could carry two and was nice to row. It was easy to assemble and was only 4 inches thick when folded. The biggest surprise was when I tried a 2 hp outboard on it and got it planing at 10 knots. I didn't dare try a bigger engine for fear of it collapsing on me.

Some years later I decided to make another folding dinghy. I liked the basic design of my dinghy but in order to make it more practical I decided to change many things about it, especially the quality of the build. It was a great dinghy when it was badly made so I had high hopes for a well built one. The new dinghy was just so much better and didn't flex alarmingly like the old one.

One day, feeling brave I stuck a 3.3 hp engine on the back and got up to 14 knots according to a GPS. It rode nicely over the waves and was very stable. Everywhere I went people asked me about it. Once I left it moored under the stern of 'Halloween' a magnificent 70 foot classic Fife yacht. When I came back from shopping there was a huge group of people at the stern. The were oblivious to this amazing classic boat and were all amazed by the tiny dinghy moored alongside. They were even more amazed when I went zooming off at over ten knots!

Lots of people asked me if I knew where they could find plans. I didn't know if any existed since no one knows the origins of that first little dinghy I was given. It's a very old design, lost in time, but now it is back and much improved. I decided that I would try and come up with plans so that anyone could make one no matter what country they were in.

It was many months work. I was determined to create plans that anyone could understand. Finally the plans ended up at 20,000 words, have 70 pages and more than 100 photos. What makes Origami's plans so different are the fact that the entire boat is created simply using measurements. Most plans require a certain level of skill and understanding but Origami's plans can be used by anyone who can use a tape measure and follow simple instructions.

The beauty of plans like this is that there is no need for paper paterns and the plans can be downloaded almost instantly from www.woodenwidget.com for just £25. You will find a wealth of information on the web site including some very amusing videos.

Saint Tropez, France - March 2006

I have seen the plans - they are worth every cent! Extremely detailed building method, tons of photos, which puts this boat within reach of the novice. The writing is clear and easy to understand - even if English isn't your mother tongue. An ideal tender for small and larger cruising craft alike, I know I will be building one myself. For those of you wondering about the original dinghy this one was evolved from: it is the Prout folding dinghy from the early 1940s. I guess that makes this a confirmed design, and with todays materials much longer living than waterproofed canvas! Prout made these dinghys and canoes before moving on to become Britains pioneering cruising catamaran specialist.


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