Q&A: Wooden McKenzie Drift Boats with Randy Dersham

This week we visited Randy Dersham at Tatman wooden drift boats up the McKenzie River. Randy also owns Eagle Rock Lodge and runs WoodenBoatPeople.com. He’s got a lot of oars in the water.

Randy is going to be at the Federation of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying expo in Albany in March, attempting to build a full-size McKenzie drift boat in two days to auction it off.

How do the boats Randy and Sanderson are building today differ from the prototypical McKenzie Drift Boat? Space age glues, harder polyurethanes make it easier to let the wood show. Randy also uses a C&C router to make computer-designed, curved cuts within thousandths of an inch of variance to design boat components and make a much tighter kit.

Tatman Wooden Mckenzie Drift boats

Tatman Wooden Mckenzie Drift boats

Tatman Wooden Mckenzie Drift boats

How do modern wooden boats compare to aluminum or fiberglass?

“Wood used to not last nearly as long as aluminum or fiberglass. It was considered a high maintenance boat,” Randy said. “Today, using polyurethanes, you essentially have a fiberglass encapsulated boat. You can wash the boat out. The one difference that still exists: A wooden boat should be kept inside. If it’s left outside, it will expand and contract. Sun is always the worst enemy of any wooden boat. As long as you have a garage to put it in, a wooden boat will last a lifetime.”

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4 Responses to Q&A: Wooden McKenzie Drift Boats with Randy Dersham

  1. Brian says:

    this is effing awesome, you guys keep putting up great content– i wish there was a shop (with a blog) that was this passionate and proactive here in Reno!

  2. Matt and Chris, thanks for the interview and letting us show people what we are up to.

    I do have to make sure people don’t think I’m the one doing all of this. Debbie Dersham co-owns and manages Eagle Rock Lodge and Sanderson Dersham co-owns and manages Tatman Wooden Boats. Things stay pretty smooth as long as they keep my involvement at a minimum.:)

  3. Matt you’ve become an interviewing machine.

  4. Bob Buzzard says:

    I have a 14′ wood drift boat that I am restoring . What do you believe is the best glovette for the bottom of this wood boat. Also where would one purchase materials for keeping boat dry and the bottom strong from bolders and rocks. Do you think it is good to have the inside of boat sprayed with the the material you use for truck beds. Thanks Bob

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