I have now installed the "fitted" inwales around the sheer. These parts are steam bent around the sheer, are notched around the frame heads, and are a real challenge to build this way. They serve the purpose of strengthening the sheer, and indeed joining the frames to one another. When done this way (with notches) it also provides a nice spot to perch when "hiking-out". With the inwales installed, the hull is noticeably stiffer.  

Though the notching was difficult, I think it may be a superior way to make an inwale, because it protects the end grain of the frame heads from the weather. The next step will be the breasthook and quarter knees.

frame heads rough cut

frame heads rough cut

notch cut to accept frame head

notch cut to accept frame head

Inwale with notches cut, ready to fit

Inwale with notches cut, ready to fit


Framing and finishing

All the frames are bent into place and fastened. There are still a few rivets left to do when I can get a hand from a friend (my poor arms just cannot reach the bilge). I have decided that even framing a small boat like this is a two person job, though possible to do by oneself, I would have to advise against it. Next, I will varnish all the frames and the planking where the station molds were. Then I will move onto the longitudinal parts, which are the thwart riser, sole margin and inwales. 


Still framing

Only two frames left to bend! I have removed all of the construction molds as well. I have figured out a method to steam and fasten frames by myself, which although slower, is less hectic, and breaks fewer frames.


The floors are in, the planks are pre-finished…it is time for framing. I carefully selected straight grained white oak which was not kiln dried, and was as “green” as possible. I then milled it, sanded it, and knocked down the edges. I then enlisted a few friends and set up the steam box. After an appropriate length of time in the steam box, the white oak becomes pliable and able to take a bend not possible otherwise. Extra hands make this task easier. The frames are attached to the planks with copper rivets.

Finishing the floor timbers

After several coats of varnish, the planking is ready for me to start mounting things onto it. First are the floor timbers, the shape is lifted directly from the lofting, and then scribed or spiled to fit the laps. After I am happy with the fit, I cut the limber holes. The floors are then sanded and pre-finished, then I install them with bedding compound and screws. The floor timbers are essential to the wooden hull, and serve several duties: holding the two halves of the boat together, stiffening the bilges, and supporting the sole boards.

floor 3.jpg

Hull preparation

With planking complete, I have sanded the inside of the hull, and begun varnishing the planking and backbone. Doing this finishing step now ensures that all the wood will be sealed properly, before I start installing the rest of the floors, frames, etc on top of the planking. It also helps me to keep the wood grain free of the dirt and dust which will be present for the remainder of the build. Now it is now time to install the remaining floor timbers in preparation for framing!

Planking complete

With the planking complete, it is time to review the review the class notes, double check measurements, and consult the stock pile of wood. Having procured the appropriate white oak bending stock for frames(or ribs) and stock for the floor timbers, it’s time to mill my stock to appropriate dimensions, and call in a friend or two to help me steam bend and fasten the frames.

Sheer planks

The last planks are ready to mount! Shaped, sanded and now drying after a pre-varnish. I seal all mating surfaces before assembly to ensure water cannot wick into the grain over the years. This is a step many larger builders often skip, because it adds extra time that you just don’t have in a high production setting. This attention to detail is one of the many benefits of custom “one-off” manufacturing.


Tools of the trade

This is my #113 Stanley compass plane that is at least 70 years old. It is my best friend on these curvaceous planks. It is a specialty plane no longer produced by high quality makers. This is one of many woodworking tools rarely seen in use outside of a few specialized trades. Wooden boat builders must search for high quality “user” tools many of them antique, discontinued or handmade.

Shaping up

Only two more pairs of planks remain. It looks as though I actually procured enough wood to make the planks from the same tree! As I close in on the sheer, I am getting excited for the next step…

Planking continues

Planking has been going smoothly. Having each plank riveted to the one below it makes the skin of the boat quite tough on its own without the need for glue. Lapstrake (or clinker) is a nice traditional method of planking that doesn’t involve toxic glue or the cleanup involved.

Plank Fastening

After the garboard planks were securely attached with woods screws, the second pair of planks could be “spiled” and attached. Each successive plank is attached to the “hood” ends with screws, and to the plank below with traditional copper rivets. No glue is needed, as the mechanical fasteners are more than up to the task, and allow for easier repairs to the hull later in life. There is something quite satisfying about driving a soft copper nail through a properly sized hole, driving on the rove (or burr) and peening until we have an effective and beautiful fastening.


Setting things up

After fitting the stem, transom and centerboard case together, it was time to setup the molds and bracing. Then I attached a few ribbands on the future plank lines so I could see the “lining-out” of how the finished planks will look. It is important to be as accurate as possible at this stage, as this is where lapstrake boats might develop an unsightly line that is irreparable.

setting up.jpg