Pt 1, Ch 4/Canoeing, Sailing & Motor Boating/Miller



by Warren H. Miller.



BOAT building is quite a step away from chicken house and woodland shack construction, in that it requires two qualities that are not essential in ordinary building-thoroughness and exactitude. Things that will "get by" in building a hen coop, like a crack not tightly made up, or a corner not exactly plumb, will never do in boat building; but when a boy gets to sixteen years and older he begins to take pleasure in honest, exact work, and will not be satisfied with rough and ready constructions, and it is at just about this age that he takes great interest in boat building, boat overhauling, boat rigging and all the aquatic sports that go with the ownership of a boat.

As most youths are much shorter in coin than in ambition, and as a boat costs but a third as much when you build it yourself, the way to own a really fine, large craft is to build it yourself, during the winter months. To do this you need a few tools but these of the best; for no five-and-ten-cent store articles will do for boat building. You need a good cross-cut saw, and ditto rip saw, each of them costing not less than $1.65; a good jack plane, costing $2.00; a good hammer, of real steel, costing a quarter; a ratchet brace, costing a dollar; four bits of the twenty-five cent kind; a breast drill with small twist drills for boring holes for nails (for no real boat carpenter would dream of driving a nail without first boring for it -- it's the way they so marvelously avoid splitting things); a spokeshave, costing 40 cents; and one chain boat clamp, costing $1.50. This latter you call hardly get along without, unless you can borrow something of the kind from a carpenter, for the strains on boat planking are tremendous, and far beyond your strength to bend.

You often read, in boys' books, of bending twenty-foot planks 14 inches wide by hand, the writer slurring over the details of how you're going to do it because he either does not know himself, or else does not realize what he is asking the boy to do. As a matter of fact your whole weight on such a plank will hardly bend it six inches, while it must bend some two feet to fit the curves of a boat, and this can only be done with a screw clamp. This clamp (Figure 10) has a piece of chain attached, and two interchangeable hooks, the keel hook and plank hook; and you use it either to squeeze the planks edgewise against each other before nailing fast, as in planking a boat, or use it to draw the planks to the frame in wrapping them around the molds.


Going at it gradually, you can soon accumulate this set of tools, and are now ready for lumber. The best planking is white cedar, costing about 7 cents a board foot for clear stock free from knots. Next after it comes white pine; and last, cypress, which latter though it will never rot is prone to split and is heavier than the other two woods. For stem, knees, deadwood, frames, keel, etc., the best wood is sound white oak. There is no use considering anything else, as you can always get it.

My own boy is now building a 12-foot sailing batteau for cruising in Barnegat Bay, and as she is almost an exact duplicate of my boat, the Margaret (described in Part One, Chapter I), that I had when a boy of his age, we will start by telling how to build her.



You want, first of all, a good oak stem, made from a piece of 4 x 4-inch white oak not less than 26 inches long. Most boys make the mistake of getting the stem too small, so that when they come to cut the rabbet for the 7/8-inch side planks there is not enough wood left in the stem to nail securely to, and the boat is weak where she ought to be strongest. And you want length enough to allow for the forward sheer and cutting across the stem at an angle, top and bottom, to match the sheer.

Having gotten your stem piece, scribe a center line down one side and lay out from it two lines, 3/4 inch apart, which are to be the front edge of your bow. Do not get this any sharper, for when you have trimmed it round (or maybe put on an iron stem band) you will find it not any too wide. Lay off the shape of the stem and rabbet on top and bottom of your block of oak, as shown in the drawing (Figure 6), and saw off the superfluous wood, or trim it off first with a sharp hatchet and finally smoothing flat with your plane. Then saw out the rabbet for the planks. It is easier to saw this than to chisel it out, as, once you get your rip-saw started right she will cut you a neat, plane surface that simply needs smoothing with the plane. The saw, of course, will slot the full length of your stem, cutting a deeper and deeper kerf until you get down to the bottom of the rabbet. Do not get these rabbet angles the wrong way (as shown by the dotted lines). Most amateurs make this mistake and the stem is ruined, for you then have a great hole in behind the side planks that will never caulk tight in the world!

You are now ready for the side planks, the lower or garboard pair. Too often boys' books waste the poor boy's money by telling him to use these planks just as they come from the mill (Figure 13, how not to cut), yet a little experiment with a cardboard miniature plank will show you that the only way those planks can bend around the middle mold with both edges straight is bolt upright, a most unseaworthy and landlubberly way for the sides of your boat to be.

No; you must have outboard flare to the planks, and to get this flare like a regular boat and yet not have her bottom curve up so much as to spin around like a wash tub and have no grip on the water, you must cut the bottom edge of the garboard planks with a long in-curve of some three inches rise, as shown in the drawing (Figure 14).

The upper edge can stay straight, as that will give her just about the right sheer. Cut, also, the stem end of the plank at the slant shown and cut up the curve for the counter astern as shown, also lay off but do not cut the angle for the stern transom. Do not bevel the lower plank edge as yet.

Both garboards are to be finished alike with square edges and sawed out with your rip saw. When finished, paint the inside of the rabbet and the forward edges of both garboards with thick white lead paste and then tack both planks to the stem with wire nails. They will lie out astern at a long angle, and, when satisfied that they lie true to the rabbet angle, bore four holes in each plank with your breast drill and drive in 2-inch 10-penny galvanized iron clout nails, setting them in below the surface of the planks to allow for putty above the nail heads.

You are now ready for the center mold. Suppose you have chosen fourteen feet for the length of your boat. Planks come in merchant sizes of 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 feet, with rarely some 20-foot sizes to be picked up. You will then choose fourteen-foot planks for the garboard and sheer strake 12 and 8 inches wide respectively, one each for each side. Tack the sheer strake to the stem, lapping the garboard one inch, and then lay out on the planks the angle of the stern transom, measuring down from near the upper corner of the sheer strake (about an inch from the end of the plank to allow something over for the bend of the plank), and you will then have the right length for the garboard plank, and this should he done before sawing it. If the boat is to be about fourteen feet long (she will come a little less when the planks are bent) the right beam will be 4 feet 6 inches, and the flare on each side to throw back the waves will be 6 inches, making the bottom 3 feet 6 inches wide.

Now for the height amidships; the garboard plank as it came from the lumber yard was 12 inches wide, of which 3 inches was taken out amidships by the rise of the bottom curve. This leaves 9 inches for the garboard width amidships. The top or sheer strake will be an 8-inch board, and will lap the garboard one inch, so that the total depth of the side amidships will be 16 inches.

Get a rough 10-inch board and saw from it two pieces about 4 feet 8 inches long, cleat them together, making one wide mold some 18 inches high by 4 feet 8 inches long, and lay out on this the lines of the center mold as shown in Figure 5, with a 3-foot 6-inch bottom, 6-inch flare, 16-inch sides and 4-foot 6-inch top. Cut out a 7/8 x 9-inch notch on each side for the garboard, making the actual width of the mold bottom 3 feet 4-1/4 inches inside, allowing 7/8 inch for the lap of sheer strake on garboard strake.

Now you are ready to put in the mold and bend the garboard planks around it. The mold does not go in the center, but, to get a pretty sailing shape, it is put 6 feet from the bow and a little less than 8 feet from the stern.

Now to bend the planks: Put on your chain clamp, with the plank hook bearing against a cleat tacked on outside the after edge of the strake and its screw foot bearing on a similar cleat on the opposite after edge. By main strength you can bring the planks together maybe a foot or more around the central mold as brace, and then you catch the chain in the right link to hold what you have gotten. Next, screw in on the clamp, drawing the plank ends together until they are the right width to fit in the stern transom. This is made of oak, 7/8 by 12 inches wide and is cut, shaped very like the central mold, with the same flare angles but narrower. For a fourteen-foot batteau your stern seat would need to be about 3 feet wide at the top and 2 feet 3 inches at the bottom; allowing for a 7/8-inch notch on each side for the garboard plank, it makes the actual bottom dimension of the transom 2 feet 1-1/4 inches, and, as the sheer strakes will take 7 inches of the transom, this notch for the garboards will only be 5 inches high. (The actual distance you take off the transom cut of the garboard planks.)

This gives very little to nail to, and certainly not enough to hold the planks if you take off the clamp. However, bore for two clout nails and drive them home through the garboard strakes into the ends of the transom, and tack a board across the bottom with nails driven into the garboards on the turn of the counter. Then work in two oak corner knees, 6 inches on a side, to fit snugly in the corners between the inside of the garboards and the inside of the transom. These are secured by two No. 14 brass screws 21/2 inches long, driven through the outside of the garboard, and two more driven through the outside of the transom. These knees are very important, for strength in securing the garboards to the transom. Even now you dare not take off the clamp, but must first secure the garboards by nailing on all the bottom planking, with the clamp still on the transom.

Turn the boat over and "spot" the garboard plank edges for beveling (Figure 8). To do this, take a strip of wood 2 x 1 inches, perfectly true and straight, and lay it across the bottom of the boat at various places, marking down from it the outside of the garboard the correct distance that its inside edge is below the under surface of your strip. Run a thin batten through all these points, and scribe a line, which will be the bevel line to plane to. Finish smooth and true with your plane, and then put on your bottom planks, beginning at the transom.

The plank furthest aft overlaps the transom and nails to it, so the latter must be beveled to match. When you get forward to the small planks up at the bow, it is time to stop and put in the keelson, in which I am a great believer, for the additional strength it gives, besides keeping the bottom planks from springing (though plenty of small rowboats have been built without keel or keelson).

However, we will put one in our boat, as she is to be an able deep-sea cruiser. Get it out of 7/8-inch yellow pine, dressed, 6 inches wide and 14 feet long; and the cheapest thing to do is to pick out a nice 12-inch board at the mill and have them rip it in half for you, getting thus keel and keelson at the same time. The keelson goes inside the boat, from stem to transom, and is bent to fit snug along the bottom. Each plank is nailed to it with four 8-penny galvanized clout nails, driven through from the bottom and clinched (first boring for them with the breast drill) and setting the heads in to take putty. The keelson will bend up the counter easily if you begin nailing at the bow end first and cross-cut it half through every inch where the turn of the counter begins to get bad. An oak knee is worked in from keelson to transom, thus strengthening the latter.

All the bottom plank nails are 10-penny galvanized, driven down into the garboard edges, three to the plank and set to take putty. When all of the plank ends have been trimmed off with the cross-cut saw and the rough ends planed smooth, you are ready for the sheer strake planks, which are now to be nailed to the stem the same as the garboards. But, as they must come in flush, to fit into the rabbet, so you must first cut a bevel on the tops of garboards, beginning about 16 inches back from the stem; and cut a corresponding bevel on the bottoms of the sheer strakes. In order not to get a thin shim edge that will not caulk well, cut this bevel with a notch, as shown in Figure 11. Having fitted them, nail fast to the stem and wrap the planks around the mold, overlapping the garboards an inch. Nail with 8-penny galvanized iron clout nails every three inches, boring for each to avoid splitting the edges of your planks, driving the nails from outside and clinching inside on the garboard. It takes two boys to do this, one holding an axe head against the spot where the nail will come through.

When you get aft nearly to the transom it will be time to take off the clamp which was on the garboards all this time and you had best secure them by tacking a few strips across the top of the boat, here and there, and wrapping a rope around the boat near the stern, tightening it by driving a wedge in between the boat bottom and the rope. I once ruined a nearly finished batteau by taking the clamps off at this time without proper security. It was a single-plank, ten-foot dinghy, and the strains in bending the planks were very severe. After nailing on the bottom boards and transom, I took off the clamps without putting in the corner knees, and while working at them there was a sudden rending crash, and the whole boat flew apart in a second. The side planks tore loose from transom and bottom planks, great strips of wood being torn off the bottom of the side planks, and the only thing to do was to cut up those side planks until I got to good sound wood again, a loss of about two inches in depth of the sides. It is a classic accident; one that will happen to all youthful boat builders unless warned.

However, we have got to get off our clamp from the garboards, to wrap in the sheer strakes, so we will do it now, putting the clamp on as soon as possible and drawing the sheer strake planks in until they lie flat against the garboards and are snug to the transom. Then drive and clinch the lap nails aft to the stern, drive in nails through sheer strake into the transom, and work in two more oak corner knees flush with the gunwale. Then trim off with a saw any overhang of the sheer strakes (which should be left long enough for the purpose).

Next, put in the sill for the stern seat. It is a piece of 7/8 x 4-inch oak, and is fitted in on edge about 24 inches forward of the transom, securing with two screws, one each side, driven through from the outside. It should come about six inches below the gunwale and should notch to fit over the tops of the garboard strakes. When this is in you can safely take off the clamp for good, and can handle the boat without fear. Turn her over and put on the keel, first trimming off the surplus stem true with the top sheer and bottom rocker. The keel is to go under the stem and have a large screw driven through it up into the stem. But, before this is done, all the bottom planks must be caulked or you will not be able to get at the seams under the keel. Caulking takes three operations:

(1) opening the seam with a caulking tool (the No. 0 is right for small boats);

(2) caulking the seam with cotton, sold for the purpose in balls of wicking;

(3) "paying" the seam, as painting over the cotton is called, and puttying over the paint.

It is quite a job, but when done the keel can go on and is best secured to the bottom with No. 12 brass flat-head screws, countersunk to take putty over their heads. Slot the keel back four feet from the stern, with two saw cuts an inch apart, leaving a central tongue which you will spring up over the skeg. Now screw fast these two keel sides under the counter, trimming off at the transom. Next, fit the skeg. It will be about eight inches deep, as you can find out exactly by bending the tongue of the keel until it comes in true line with the bottom. Hold an eight-inch board with its edge touching the bottom of the boat, the board being exactly in the line of the keel. Now scribe from the bottom with a stick 8 inches long, and having a pencil on the end of it, making a curve on the board parallel to the curve of the bottom, or "counter" as it is called at this point. Saw out with your rip, and you have the skeg, which can then be driven in snug under the keel tongue, fitting tight in the slot between the keel strips up under the counter.

Trim off at the transom and put on the stern post, made of 2 x 7/8-inch oak, screwed to the back of the transom with 2-inch brass No. 14 screws, also driving them through the post into the skeg. Finish the job by driving screws down through the keel strip into the skeg and also from the inside of the boat through the bottom planks into the skeg. We are now ready to take out the central mold.

Before doing it, its place must be taken with something equally strong, and that is the central rowing thwart. This goes in just aft of the mold, and you first get out two side braces of 7/8 x 8-inch yellow pine, 16 inches long, and tack to each of them a block 8 x 8 x 7/8 inches to take care of the lap of garboard and sheer strake planks. These side boards are secured by brass screws driven through from the outside, and then the thwart is cut, of 8 x 7/8-inch yellow pine, and set in to come about 8 inches above the bottom of the boat. It should drive snug, so as to spread the boat a trifle and free the central mold. Take this out, and the boat is nearly done.

Get two yellow pine 1-1/2-inch half-round pieces of molding, 14 feet long, to be bent later around the gunwale over the wash board cracks for fenderwales. Work in an oak breast-hook in the bow, just aft of the stem and fitting snugly to it.

Two oak knees to the rowing thwart, and the boat is done, as a rowboat, barring the stern seat, which can be fitted in, in white pine, leftover.

But we want a sail batteau of her, with deck, washboards and centerboard. Put in the centerboard first. The construction I have shown in Figures 1, 2 and 3 is the easiest to make and put in.

The sides of the trunk are 12 x 7/8-inch white pine, 30 inches long, and are secured to the posts with brass screws, some lamp wicking and white lead paste being run along between the posts and trunk boards, not only to make it tight but to make it a trifle wider, so that a 7/8-inch yellow pine centerboard can swing freely inside.

Saw this centerboard out, building it up of 4 x 7/8-inch yellow pine strips, strung on two 3/8-inch iron rods by drilling holes for the purpose, and finally planing the whole thing flat and true. About 26 inches long, 12 inches deep at forward end and 16 inches aft is about right for this board.

Swing with a white pine plug, driven through both sides of the centerboard trunk and passing through an inch hole in the lower forward corner of the board. The posts must be long enough to go through keelson, bottom boards and keel "and then some"; say, 3-1/2 inches longer than the height of the trunk.

Slot through the keel, keelson and bottom boards with compass and rip-saw, caulk all the seams inside with a hook caulking iron, and then lay lampwicking soaked in white lead paste around the slot, set in the posts and trunk and draw down tight with long, 4-inch No. 16 brass screws, driven up through keel, bottom boards and keelson, into the bottom of the centerboard trunk planks.

To put on the deck you first want a set of deck carlines, spaced about eight inches. These are of 2 x 7/8-inch oak, and are planed with a slight crown on the tops. Secure by toe-nailing to the sides on top of a "riser" strip, run around two inches below the gunwales, inside on the sheer strake. The first thing to go on these carlines is the planksheer, which continues aft to form the washboards. Four inches wide is plenty, and it must be gotten out in two pieces to a side. By stretching a string across, from the stem to a point on the gunwale about 6 feet 6 inches aft from the stem, you will find a place where the height of the curve from stem to this point and from inside corner of transom and sheer strake to the same point will be the same height, 4 inches.

As you want the planksheer to be four inches wide, it is obvious that such a curved plank can be cut from a board eight inches wide, but six feet long for the plank-sheer and eight feet for the washboard. Lay one of the 6-foot boards down on the deck with its outer edge just touching the gunwale about 3 feet 3 inches from the bow. Then scribe the outline of the gunwale on the under side of the plank, and batten a parallel line four inches away from it, which second line will just end inside your plank corners. Do the same thing with the 8-foot plank, laying it on the gunwale just touching at a point 4 feet from the stern, and scribe your line. Run a second parallel line four inches from it, and saw out both planks. They will meet end to end over a block placed a foot aft of the carline which forms the nail strip for the front cockpit coaming, which latter crosses the boat five feet aft of the bow.


Make the port side plank-sheer and washboard precisely as described for the starboard side, and meet the two plank-sheers on the breast-hook, laying one on top of the other and sawing a neat cut down the centerline of the boat to bring them snugly together. Nail them to breasthook, carlines and gunwales. The washboards will need little triangular blocks under them at intervals of about 18 inches along the inside of the gunwale, these blocks being 4 x 4-inch triangles, gotten out of 7/8-inch pine, and fitted snug to sheer strake and under side of washboards.

The cockpit coaming goes on next. About twenty feet of 4 x 3/4-inch oak will do, and it should be molded half-round on the upper edge. Run this across the front of your cockpit, nailing to the carline, and around the inside of your washboards, letting it hang down maybe 1/2 inch below the under side of the washboards. They are called by this peculiar name, you will find out as soon as you begin to sail, because these hoards are awash most of the time when tacking. Without them you cannot sail much in a stiff breeze, because the water will always be coming over the gunwale, but with them you can "roll her down good."

The next thing to go on is the king plank, or "mast partner," as it is called in larger boats, because there are two of them for large masts, each cut out half-round to pass a big mast. With a small boat like ours a single 6-inch yellow pine 7/8-inch dressed plank, five feet long, suffices, and you nail it fore and aft, fitting snugly into the angle between the plank-sheers, resting on the breast-hook, and fitting snug against the cockpit coaming aft. It is nailed to all the carlines, and you then have left two triangles to fill on the deck, in between the plank-sheers, the king plank, and the forward edge of the cockpit coaming. Fill these with narrow 2-inch strips of 7/8-inch white pine, nailing each strip to the carlines, and then caulk the whole thing, every seam in the deck, for it is just as important to have your deck tight as your bottom.

Next wrap around your half-round fenderwales, covering the crack between washboards and gunwales, and then make your bowsprit, working it out of a piece of 2-inch square spruce, six feet long, and let it stick out three feet beyond the bow. Bolt to king plank with 3/8-inch galvanized iron through bolts.

Add a wire bobstay and a galvanized iron, two-ring withe (Figure 9), over the end of the bowsprit; put your oarlocks in their proper places on the washboards; put in rudder gudgeons; main and peak halyard cleats on the cockpit for'd coaming; two jib sheet cleats on the inside of the sheer strake, aft, just in front of the stern seat; a main sheet cleat on the inside of the transom; jib downhaul and halyard cleats on the for'd cockpit coaming; centerboard cleat on the centerboard trunk; a chain plate to port and starboard, six inches aft of the mast hole on the outside of the sheer strakes; and you are ready to rig her, for details of which see Part One, Chapter I.

A word about the lower mast step. This is one of the most strained blocks in the boat and must be put on with four heavy screws, well sunk into the keelson. Two screws will not do, as the mast will surely split the step in half. To get the position of the step wait until your mast is in, when you can find it by eye. The mast should rake back about 6 inches, coming forward maybe three inches when you set taut on the wire rope jib stay.



A more complicated boat to build than the batteau is the dory. Except that it has a set of frames, around which the strakes are wrapped, its details of construction are much the same as with the batteau. You have the flat bottom to begin with, only this time the planks run fore and aft, and on these the frames, stem and transom are first set up, after which the planks are wrapped as described in Part One, Chapter II.

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When we come to the clinker built boats we are getting into real fine work and you have hard garboard planks to fit to a rabbet in both keel and stem. The planking is beveled and secured to the ribs as shown in Figure 12.

To build such a boat as the various skiffs shown in our chapter on catboats and knockabouts, you first set up keel or bottom plank and then on them the stem and stern transom, secured by deadwood and the stern knee.

Molds taken from the designer's lines are next set up at equal stations along the keel or bottom plank, and the garboard and upper strakes are put on around these molds, usually working both ways from garboard up and from sheer strake down, so as not to come out with a lumpy, uneven sheer strake. After this the ribs are steamed and shoved down inside the boat until they touch the planks equally all around. These ribs are very small and numerous, about 3/4 x 1-1/4 inches wide being right for quite a large skiff. When all are in place and secured, the keelson is bolted over the ribs where they cross and all the thwarts are put in and kneed to the ribs, and the clamp (as the oak strip that runs along inside the gunwale is called) is riveted through all the rib heads to the sheer strake.

The molds are then knocked out and the boat is ready for paint.

In still larger boats, carvel built, that is, with planks nailed to the ribs and abutting against each other so that the skin is a flush surface, the keel, stem, stern hook and transom are first set up and spiked to all the deadwood with drift bolts.

Next the rabbet is cut, and, as the angle of it constantly changes, the "bearding line" or inner line of the rabbet must be found from the plans and the rabbet chiseled true at various spots, when it can be cleaned out fair and true joining these spots, and it will then fit the garboards when they are put on. Next all the ribs or "frames" are bent to agree more or less with the set of molds taken from the plans. These molds are spaced from two to three feet along the keel and battens are run around them from stem to stern to get the fair lines of the model.

The ribs are then put in and faired up, also beveled to lie flat against the future planks, fore and aft, and then their floor timbers are nailed to both ribs and keel. This holds them firm in their shape, in addition to which battens are tacked across each pair of ribs and across the bend of each rib, so that it will hold its shape until the planks are on.

In large boats every third rib is sawed out true to the next mold, which is taken from the lines. This gives additional stiffness, as this third rib is always of much larger stock, say 2 x 3 inches for a 30-foot boat, and they further hold the model true, since they agree with the molds. The two most important planks are then put on -- the garboards and sheer strakes. To fit the garboards a spiling is taken of the line it must make to fit into the stem and keel rabbet. This is always a peculiar wavy line, when the plank is out flat, and, as it must fit snugly, the only way to find it is to tack on a flat batten, called the spiling, which roughly fits the line of the rabbet. The exact fit is then scribed on it by a marker and pencil, the marker always touching the edge of the rabbet line and thus transferring its contour to the spiling batten.

Cutting this line out on the batten and laying it on the garboard planks you mark the bottom lines of each of them. To get the top lines, each rib is divided into as many divisions as there are to be planks, the narrower planks being at the round turn of the bilge, and these distances are laid off on the garboard plank up from the rabbet line along each rib line as drawn out on the garboard plank. A batten is run through these points and getting at this line with your rip-saw you have the outline of the most important plank and the hardest to fit.

Take time and get it on right, for a leaky garboard means a leaky boat for the whole of her life. To get these carvel-built planks on snugly, the chain clamp is brought into play, sometimes hooked over the keel to draw a plank snug against its lower neighbor, sometimes hooked over the sheer strake (or taffrail if same is already on) to hold a plank tight against its upper neighbor while the holes are being drilled for the nails or the rivets driven through planks and ribs. Each plank, where it passes a rib, should be hollowed out slightly with an adze, and the edges of the planks are not cut square but beveled slightly to open about 1/16 inch on the outer seam (Figure 7), so that you can caulk the wedge shaped crack thus formed, and when she swells shut she will crush the inner edges of the planks tight. A boat perfectly planked, with edges meeting square, would simply burst herself when she went overboard, for there would be no room for all the planks to move in when they swelled under the influence of the water.

In order not to add up any errors in building up a planked boat edge to edge, ship carpenters always stop planking at about the fifth plank up from the garboard and begin planking down from the sheer strakes. The final plank is apt to be very irregular in shape, but is not noticeable if it occurs on the side of the ship, while it would be painful to see if up just under the sheer strake. Further and more elaborate details of how to plank a large carvel-built boat are given in our chapter on building a power cruiser.

You will note that making molds or frames from plans is an essential feature of boat building. The "lines," as they are called, of many of the boats in this book are given in the illustrations, and you can build the boat from them. Enlarge to the size you have selected. This is best done with an architect's rule giving you choice of scales from 3/32 inch = 1 foot up to 3 inches = 1 foot. Lay off the lines on coarse building paper, full size, both body plan and sheer plan. The reason for this is that your lines as enlarged from the body plan will never agree with the lines as enlarged from the sheer plan, but will be out from 1/4 to 1/2 inch, due to errors in enlargement, and you must correct these errors until both sets of lines agree, and yet sweep fair curves with no wriggles or dog's-tails in them. Then, when you make molds from your enlarged and corrected full-size body plans, they will be true and the planks when put on them will run in fair sweeps, with no flats and hollows.

For boys around eighteen to twenty years old it is not hard to lay out a knockabout from our plans and build her complete. None of the timbers are very large, and the construction is, in general, simple. A centerboard modification of the accepted deep-keel type is more agreeable to the youth's pocketbook, for a lead or even an iron keel is not to be thought of for persons of ordinary means. But sand or gravel ballast is cheap, and simply requires the manufacture of a dozen 10-ounce duck canvas bags, about 80 inches long by 18 inches wide, which will each hold a hundred pounds of beach stones, to be picked up for nothing on any beach along our shores. These are stowed in the bilges, and you then have a ballast that will insure stability. The rest is a matter of a few hundred dollars for lumber and hardware, and you have a racing boat which would cost some $2,000 at the shipyards.

And, in all boat construction, do not overlook the knockdown frame idea. It saves a mountain of hard labor and insures a hull that will be true to design. Buy the frame, knocked down but fitted, and buy the plank patterns. Lay out the latter on your plank stock and have your planking sawed at a band saw, and the whole job will cost but a couple of dollars, whereas if you rip them yourself, not only is it a back-breaking job, but you are sure to spoil more than two dollars' worth of planks in mistakes and slips.

Caulking, paying and puttying seams, fitting the planks, nailing them fast and countersinking and upsetting rivets planing the skin of your ship to a fine smooth surface that will take paint without showing tool marks, sandpapering the whole thing to a fine polish,-- all these are long-winded jobs, and quite enough for a gang of youths to undertake with a large boat.

With a small one all these are but details and the main building operations are not overlong in time. Even a couple of twelve-year-olds can make a good job of a batteau; and older boys around fifteen years of age can make a sharpie which is a batteau some twenty feet in length with flat or else skipjack deadrise bottom; or they can tackle a 17-foot sail dory. Around seventeen years a boy has proficiency and honesty enough to try a lapstrake skiff or catboat. By honesty I mean intolerance of any faulty work, and nerve enough to scrap spoiled work instead of trying to make it go in the boat, where it will worry you from that time on. A boy that is honest enough with himself to take the consequences of his mistakes in measurements and carpentry and not try to foist them off on his boat, has learned one of the great lessons of life. He'll do to trust with a man's job, as soon as he knows enough!

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© 2002 Craig O'Donnell, editor & general factotum.
May not be reproduced without my permission. Go scan your own damn stuff.

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