Building a Traditional Wooden Boat #5: Building the Transom

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Blog entry by MattD posted 07-14-2009 03:16 AM 18150 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Strongback Part 5 of Building a Traditional Wooden Boat series Part 6: Stem and Knee - Part 1 »

Completed the transom today. The transom is the back section of the boat where I’ll mount the 250hp Mercury outboard. (Just kidding).

Transom is 1” thick black cherry. I choose cherry because I like it and I have a lot of it from a tree I milled a few years ago.

Here is the glue up with epoxy. Joints are splined with pine. Straightfoward so far.

This next part gave me a headache for awhile. The edge around the transom is a compound beveled edge and the entire transom itself will also be tilted at about 12 degrees. The angle of the edge gradually changes depending on how the planking will meet the transom at any point. At first, this seemed like a very difficult problem until I realized (after checking several books) that it’s just a matter of lofting an “inboard” and “outboard” profile view representing the face on the inside and the outside of the boat respectively. I then used the same methods as lofting the mold stations to transfer the profile view to the half-breadth and body plan views. Once I did this, the measurements were easy to tick off from the lofting directly to the cherry blank. To do this, I drew a grid on the blank that lines up with the grid on the lofting. I transfered the measurements onto the blank grid and then used a batten to bend around the points to draw a fair curve. One trick I picked up in the book ”Building Sunshine” is to draw both profiles on the same side of the blank (see photo below). This is faster and helps to ensure that everything is lined up. You should be able to just make out the lines in the photo below. I then cut the outside profile line at 90 degrees on the bandsaw.

After the transom is rough cut out, I used spokeshave and plane to clean up the edge. I then used a jigsaw to roughly cut the angle around the inboard line, just to remove most of the wood. I then used the spokeshave and plane again to smooth out the bevel down to the lines. The edge on this thing is really cool. Nice smooth curve.

Rest of it is pretty easy. Card scaper cleanup and finish. Threw some water on it to check out the figure in the grain.

Last step was to mount it on the strong back at the appropriate angle. Transom is ready!

Next Step

Next step will be the other end of the boat… the white oak stem and knee. Per DaveR’s request, I’ll detail the process as much as I can. I’ve been looking forward to this part.

Transom Materials List:

  • G/Flex Marine Epoxy: $22, Local Marine Supply
  • (3) 1×6x36 Cherry: $0, Milled from inventory on hand ($45 approx value)
  • (2) 3/4” x 36”x 3/8” pine splines: $0, Misc scrap

Project Materials Summary:

  • Plans and Book: $60
  • Lofting Supplies: $47.88
  • Mold Supplies: $36
  • Strongback Lumber: $33
  • Transom Materials: $22

- Total Project Expenses so far: $198.88

Labor Hours Summary:

  • 5/29/09 – 6/8/09: Lofting – 12 Hours
  • 6/14/09 – 6/20/09: Building Molds: 5 Hours
  • 6/25/09 – 6/27/09: Building Strongback: 7.5 Hours
  • 6/30/09 – 7/13/09: Building Transom: 6 Hours

- Total Project Labor Hours so far: 30.5 Hours

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

10 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4351 days

#1 posted 07-14-2009 03:30 AM

looks good look forward to more


View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4351 days

#2 posted 07-14-2009 03:30 AM

looks good look forward to more


View Karson's profile


35223 posts in 5174 days

#3 posted 07-14-2009 03:40 AM

matt: it looks great. I’m going to be sure and follow along.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Steve Dwyer's profile

Steve Dwyer

2 posts in 4013 days

#4 posted 07-14-2009 04:07 AM

great work Matt look forward to watching your progress

—Steve from Bernhards Bay New York

-- Steve, Bernhards Bay, New York

View dog2bert's profile


13 posts in 4013 days

#5 posted 07-14-2009 04:25 AM

Good progress has been made

View patron's profile


13704 posts in 4115 days

#6 posted 07-14-2009 05:20 AM

great progress ,
and your running score on the materials and money is really inspiring to all im sure !
the term is a ” rolling bevel ” for the transom edge .
also on planking .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View MattD's profile


150 posts in 4718 days

#7 posted 07-17-2009 01:57 AM

Patron – I’m hoping the running costs continue to be inspiring! I just ordered the bolts and screws. It was a somewhat painful choice to go with silicon bronze for a cheapskate like me, but I want this to be around for a long time.

Thanks for the tips on lofting the fasteners by the way. I wouldn’t have done that and I’m seeing the importance of it already.

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

View Napaman's profile


5533 posts in 4851 days

#8 posted 07-22-2009 06:59 AM

thanks for sharing all this…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4135 days

#9 posted 07-22-2009 11:32 AM

Hey Matt,
The Transom came out real nice…but…try and use use the two following very expensive products in your building process and you wont go wrong.
Very hard to find these products but I know you will…....They are called….”Attention to detail” and the most expensive one…”Tender loving care”. It’s your new baby Matt, so treat her well.

View cylis007's profile


56 posts in 4242 days

#10 posted 07-23-2009 01:37 AM

It looks like it is coming along well. Thanks for sharing the hours and money related to this project for those of us considering following in your footsteps. Thanks again!

-- A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave. ~Benjamin Franklin

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