|Boat plans from Popular Mechanics Magazine|
So what happened?
I have some theories.
One of the factors that encouraged the do it yourself movement was prosperity and the high cost of wages. Since most things consumed in the US were made in the US rather than imported, manufactured goods were relatively expensive because of the cost of labor. So if you made something yourself, you could save on the cost of labor. Also, since manufacturing was still a big part of the US economy, the skills to make things were still valued and encouraged. Schools were still expected to turn out graduates that could enter a job market where manual skills were valued.
|Folding kayak built from Popular Mechanics plans|
The other factor working against home made boats is the invention of roto-molded boats. This process eliminates most of the human labor from the making of a boat. Kayaks and canoes can be made in a mold. A little clean-up and some trim is all that needs to be added to make a finished boat. The cost of these boats is so low compared to making your own that the effort hardly seems justified from a cost perspective.
Still, various plywood boat kit manufacturers seem to be making a living turning out kits for home builders. But a kit is not the same thing as making something off a set of plans out of a magazine. I suspect that kits are popular because the general level of confidence to make something by hand has declined considerably since the middle of the twentieth century.