New Boat Part 8

Round the bilge:

The new tender for our friendship sloop is taking shape. We have hung the fifth and sixth sets of planks, and the next couple of planks will essentially be the topsides.

I have mentioned before the importance of letting the smooth bend or twist of the planks play a role in the evolution of the boat. For anyone else struggling with a similar project this might be a place for me to share a little more fully my own experience with this part of boat building.

No matter how well the molds have been lofted or cut, and no matter how well the lining off goes (the process of figuring out how wide each plank should be at any given part of the boat—by the way, there is a great article on this subject by Harry Bryan in the current issue of WoodenBoat magazine) when it comes time to fit and hang the plank, some adjustments are going to be necessary. What I was always taught was “fit the plank to the boat”. What is meant by that is that the molds are there to help guide you, but they will ultimately be discarded, so when there is a problem matching up the plank to the molds, check the plank for fairness, check it against its opposite plank, check the boat for symmetry, check to make sure the plank comes out fore and aft where it is supposed to, and if the plank does not hit a given mold at exactly the spot that you thought that it was supposed to; ignore or adjust the mold.

You can see one example of adjustment on the mold here.

The other part of this equation is that the angles of the laps need to be as precise as you can make them. If the laps have to been planed evenly and there is a smooth transition, then the plank will lie fair. If the laps are not smooth, the corresponding plank is not going to lie smoothly either. The best way to check this is to do lots of dry fitting of the plank and spend the time going over the joint inch by inch looking for places where the planks do not mate evenly, or where there are gaps, and then remove the dry-fitted plank and make the needed adjustments. This can be tedious, and at times it can be awkward too, I have accidentally dropped clamps, planks, and sometimes a combination of both in the process, and each time you take a plank off you have to re-align it again when you next dry-fit it. But, although this part can be slow, it is really important, and I find it to be work that is pleasing, quiet and contemplative—except when I dropped a plank on the shop cat.

Dry-fitting the fifth plank to port.

Dry-fitting the fifth plank to starboard.

The actual gluing: This is where we find out how well our prep work was done.

If the laps have been cut properly, and if  the epoxy and filleting compounds are the correct viscosity we get an even squeeze out along the seam as we hang the plank and clamp the battens in place with screws to hold the lap while the glue dries.

Spreading the thickened epoxy onto the raw wet epoxy on the lap. The loose plank has been painted with raw epoxy, it too will be coated with thickened epoxy.

You can see the even bead of "squeeze out", or excess epoxy that is squeezed out of the joint when it is glued.

The excess epoxy is cleaned off with a scraper or putty-knife before it has a chance to harden.

As you can see from the photographs, the boat is really taking shape.

Fifth planks in place.

Sixth planks in place.

Two more planks to go and we will be ready for the sheer strake.

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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One Response to “New Boat Part 8”

  1. New Boat Part 15 « Dovetails Says:

    […] you cast your mind back to a much earlier post on this project (New Boat #8 ) you will recall that when we clamped the strakes together we used long battens screwed through the […]

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