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!
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.
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.
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.
As I approach the sheer, the flexible planking must be carefully made if I want the shape to conform to “class rules”.
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…
Here I am fine tuning a plank bevel using a smallish handplane. Often times I find hand tools easier, faster, and more accurate than the power equivalent… not to mention more safe
Now that I am back to work on my dinghy, planking is proceeding nicely.
Here I am fitting the first floor timber. Built from very tough lumber, the floor timbers perform the duty of holding the two halves of the boat securely to the keel.
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.
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.
The next step was to template, make and attach the first “garboard” planks.
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.
With the molds and transom constructed, I next built the backbone and centerboard trunk. The wood used here is White oak and Mahogany. I could certainly use softwood to build a lighter craft, but the rugged hardwood specified by the class rules will give the boat added durability and stability.
“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our father did for us.’ ” -John Ruskin
Photo by: Wietske van Soest
With lofting finished, I now had full sized templates prepared for every part of the boat. This enables accuracy not possible otherwise. A fully developed lofting also provides a preview of the boat and it’s construction details, which helps me avoid unpleasant surprises. The first thing to build was the molds.
Finding top quality materials has been a rewarding challenge. I was able to source this sustainably harvested white oak log, and have it sawn into flitches for top quality planking. The folks at Newport Nautical Timbers specialize in wood for boats. Time taken to find exactly the right material for each piece of the boat is one of the things that separate a craftsman made vessel from a production one.
After I had drawn “the lines” of the hull, I drew the physical pieces of the boat. These “developments” allow me to make full size templates for each part, and insure that every part conforms to the strict “one design” rules of this classic class.
After receiving the plans from Watersportverbond of The Netherlands (written in Dutch and measured in metric) I undertook the tedious process of converting all the metric numbers back to the original imperial measurement (measurements changed from things like: 508 mm to the more manageable 20 inches). With this done, I started to “lay down the lines”.