New Boat Part 7

As the Penny Fee takes shape we are making progress and this stage of the project is quite gratifying. It has not been without problematic moments, however. The case in point with this particular boat is that when we have tried to stick too closely to the number one mold, we got a sort of dip in the plank that just looked wrong. So, we have been using the first mold as more of a general reference point as we start to hang a plank and have been concentrating instead on getting a fair curve between the number two mold to the stem instead. Adjustments like this are common in boat building. The lie and the twist of the individual planks of every boat are, to some degree, unique. I have built several boats using the same molds and what looked like exactly the same materials and yet have found that each one will have certain individual characteristics all it’s own. It is part of what I love about the process of building a boat.

You can see the "dip" in the second plank and you can see that we have made some correction in the third plank. By the fourth, it will have been removed completely.

You can see here that the "dip", or divot has all but disappeared in the fourth plank.

The molds make it easy to plane the laps (the parts of the plank that has already been glued onto the boat where the next plank will overlap and be glued). This is because the angle for the next plank determines the angle of the lap on the preceding plank and the molds provide that angle. This area of overlap takes a little practice to cut smoothly because it changes angle as it follows the curve of the plank, but like so many skills it is all about practice and using your eye.

Planing the laps

The aft end of the second and third strake take a little more time to fit and shape because the wine-glass transom dictates that these strakes take a reverse twist at the run off just before they join the transom. What that translates to is that normally all of the planing and adjusting happens on the planks that have already been fastened, or “hung” on the boat, but with these two planks part of the aft end of the plank to be joined must also be shaped, making the process of shaping the laps a bit more involved.

You can see the areas where the underside of the planks need shaping.


After experimenting with several methods, I am finding that the one I like the best for this project is a method that uses battens to clamp the laps while the glue dries. This methods uses battens, short blocks of batten stock, and ceramic-coated construction screws. The battens are just long strips of ¾” clear pine, and the blocks are just short versions of the same. We set up a small double boiler in the shop and melt canning wax in a coffee can and paint the liquid wax on the surfaces of the battens and blocks. This way we are assured that the glue will not stick to either when the time comes to remove them. The battens follow the lap on the outside of the boat and are drilled so that a ceramic coated screw can pass though the batten, the laps and then screw into one of the blocks. I like this method because the stiffness of the batten helps keep the lines of the laps fair and makes it easier for me to sight along the plank for dips or bulges. I should point out, however, that we intend to paint this boat inside and out, so the many screw holes that will eventually be filled do not bother me. If the boat were to be finished bright, then long clamps might be the better method to use. The ceramic coated screws back out of the hardened epoxy almost effortlessly.

You can see the battens used as clamps here.

The blocks where the screws come through the battens and laps as seen from the inside of the boat.

The other part of gluing and clamping that can be made easier is if you work with someone to develop a rhythm to the work. Not only will four hands do twice as much, but they have greater reach as well. I have been fortunate in that the woman who will voluntarily get up in the middle of a stormy night and stand an anchor watch has been equally enamored of this project and has been a huge help with the gluing/clamping process. We get excited for a gluing session and positively giddy about the prospect of removing clamps and battens.

More to come as we make the turn at the bilge….

If you would like to read all the posts related to this project together, go to the category at the right called “Penny Fee” and click on it. It will pull all the posts on the penny fee onto one page for you.


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