HOWB 020 – Sam Devlin Interview: Wooden boat designer, builder, master – “Yoda” for short

by admin on February 2, 2012



Interview: Sam Devlin – Devlin Boat
I have looked forward with eager anticipation to interviewing Sam Devlin someday – and TODAY IS THE DAY.  SWEET!  The wooden boat lore surrounding Sam, his designs, and his dedicated boat building customers is far reaching!  Two of the interviews I have done this year have been with Devlin builders/followers – Larry Cheek (Podcast 13 link) and Dale McKinnon (Podcast 17 link).  If you listen to these interviews, you’ll see why folks love Sam’s boats!

Saying that Sam has boats in his blood, is a bit of an understatement.  As an infant, his bedroom had a “Ship” theme complete with curved walls and a sea-berth!  Growing up in Eugene Oregon, he spent countless hours in his dads marine shop where wooden boats were being built and sold along with outboard engines, paint, and other cool stuff.  He vividly remembers the aromatic smell of Port Orford cedar in those early days at the shop.  Fast forward a few years to 1977: Sam was sitting in the galley of an 1898 tugboat in Alaska, sipping coffee on a break, and looking at the wooden overhead.  A crew mate handed him Issue Number One of Wooden Boat Magazine – Sam knew at that moment he was destined to be a wooden boat builder.

Sam’s portfolio of designs/plans includes over 80 boats from 7′ to 48′ (these are just the ones listed on his website), not counting several hundred floating around in his head that he hasn’t put to paper yet.  If you have an idea for a boat, talk to Sam – he will blend it with his extensive knowledge and design a dream boat for you.

Sam is also a pioneer of, and exclusively uses the stich and glue method of building?. The resulting product is, in Sam’s own words “… a vastly superior approach when compared to traditional boat assembly methods and delivers stronger, better boats.”  Using this “composite” method of building, all wood surfaces are coated and bonded together with epoxy for a stiff, light, rot resistant monocoque hull, with no bulky frame members inside the hull.

Click on the green player button above and enjoy the interview with Sam.

Here’s some pics to enjoy:

Sam's "5x10 Skiff" - built from one 5x10 sheet of plywood. This one for sale $2,995.


'24 "Marsh Wren" in progress - one of Sam's newer sailing designs adapted from the 22' "Winter Wren"


Lots of fun activity in Sams spacious 15,000 square foot shop in Tumwater.


The Hull on right is Sam's biggest design - Devlin 48' Twin Diesel Cruiser. Click on link below for more info.

Click on this link to read about the Devlin 48′.

Another piece of artwork rolling out of Devlin Boats!


If you’d like to contact Sam, call (360) 866-0164 , or you can email Sam at  Sam is located in Tumwater, WA and his website is  Thanks again Sam for taking the time to meet with me and give a private tour of your shop and boats!  It was a blast and I wish you the best in your business!

Listener Feedback
I had several emails from happy HOWB fans this week.  Thank you to Pete Leenhouts, Karl Bischoff, and Kip Jensen for your words of encouragement.  If you have a minute, check out Karl’s wooden boat website at Also Pete is on the board at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building (Check out Podcast #12 for my interview with School Director Bill Mahler).   Thanks again guys!

Want to help?  Please leave feedback!
I want to build a community of people from all over the world who want to connect, learn, share stories and photos, and have fun with wooden boats.  I would REALLY appreciate you sending me wooden boats pics, stories, or projects you are working on.  You can also write in my blogs comment sections, email me at, or call my feedback hotline at 424 261-2360.  And click on Subscribe to subscribe to my email news list.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

February 2, 2012

How cool that you went to visit his shop! He makes such pretty boats.

Sounds like you’re having a lot of fun!


February 3, 2012

Yeah Deb – it’s a blast doing this. Visiting and interviewing Sam was awesome!!! I wish I know 10% of what he knows about boats – hahahah. I hope 3SNW is doing well!


September 15, 2014

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October 14, 2014

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