Building a Traditional Wooden Boat #9: Attaching Transom, Finding Planking Lumber and Copper Rivets

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by MattD posted 09-29-2009 03:56 AM 22160 reads 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Keel, Keelson, Skeg and Sternpost - Part 1 Part 9 of Building a Traditional Wooden Boat series Part 10: Cutting Stem and Keel Rabbet »

It’s been a busy month for other things, but I’ve made some good progress on the boat. I’ve also managed to find some great planking lumber, with a great story behind it, which I’ll write about a bit below.

But first, update on the transom which now completes the stern.

The transom is attached to sternpost with 5 countersunk #10 bronze screws which are covered with matching cherry plugs. Later on, I’ll epoxy in and cut the plugs off flush.

And a shot of the whole keel and transom assembly.

Planking Lumber

I’ve spent a lot of time researching planking lumber since I started this project. I’ve considered everything from Western Red, Atlantic and Northern Cedars, Cypress, Spanish Cedar and Larch. Teak and Mahogony.. far too costly. None of these species, except for Larch and Cypress maybe, grows anywhere near Central New York.

I was mostly settled on Western Red Cedar, as I can obtain it locally, until I came across an ad on craigslist listing “Larch Lumber for Sale”. It turned out that the seller was an older gentleman who had bought the larch about 3-4 years ago. He had been planning to build a large boat with it for many years, since around 1950 or so as I recall. My father and I drove down to meet him, and sure enough, he had about 300bf of air dried 10”x16’ larch perfectly stacked and stickered. He said he bought it from an Amish sawyer in southern New York, which would almost certainly make it Tamarack or American Larch. Larch is a conifer, almost like something between a cedar and pine and has a tough and waterproof quality to it. I’ve read you can build an a boat entirely from Larch including the keel, ribs, masts and planking.

We spent the entire morning with him and his wife, who are the friendliest and most interesting folks you could meet. He showed us his woodworking and stained glass shops and we talked about several of his projects including some canoes he had built. He showed us the plans to the boat that he recently decided he couldn’t build. I’m sure it was hard for him to part with his planking and his project, but we talked about how we were both glad to see it going into a boat project.

We ended up driving back with about twice the amount of lumber I need for this project. Here’s a shot of some of the boards I’ll be using for planking.

Copper Rivets

After finding my planking, I needed to settle on how to fasten them together and to the ribs. There are at least a few ways to do it including clenching, riveting and glue I suppose. I finally decided on rivets using copper nails and roves and bought them from Faering Design. They specifically sell fasteners and tools for boat builders. I also bought the Rove Set tool and Bucking Hammer from them so that I have the right tools for the job. I’ll probably show more details on riveting in a future entry here.

Materials List:

  • Larch Planking, Found through Craigslist, $150 (I figured half my cost here, since I’m only using some of it)
  • Copper Rivets and Roves, Faering Design, $175

Project Materials Summary:

  • Plans and Book: $60
  • Lofting Supplies: $47.88
  • Mold Supplies: $36
  • Strongback Lumber: $33
  • Transom Materials: $22
  • Stem and Knee: $47
  • Keelson, Keel, Skeg and Sternpost: $97
  • Silicon Bronze Hardware: $225
  • Larch Planking and Copper Rivets: $325

- Total Project Expenses so far: $892.88

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
  • 7/14/09 – 7/20/09: Stem Lofting Detail: 3 Hours
  • 7/22/09 – 7/29/09: Stem and Knee Cutout: 4 Hours
  • 7/30/09 – 8/16/09: Keel, Keelson, Skeg and Sternpost: 21 Hours
  • 8/16/09 – 9/5/09: Attaching Transom: 3 Hours

- Total Project Labor Hours so far: 61.5 Hours
- Time since starting project: 122 days (3 months 30 days)

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

10 comments so far

View Bruce's profile


38 posts in 4953 days

#1 posted 09-29-2009 04:47 AM

I just found your blog on building Sunshine from a link showing constructing a dust system which I am in the process of designing and installing. I have had a set of Sunshine plans on my shelf for many months now and have been reluctant to begin. Reading your blog has given me the enthusiasm to begin the lofting. Keep up the excellent work and many thanks for giving all of us “hopeful” types the confidence to begin our own boats.

-- Bruce Ebling

View Mike's profile


255 posts in 4118 days

#2 posted 09-29-2009 06:00 AM

Really nice job. Can’t wait to see the finished product. Enjoy.. Thanks for sharing.

-- Mike, VT

View Napaman's profile


5532 posts in 4813 days

#3 posted 09-29-2009 06:14 AM

great deal on the wood and I think it is reallly cool that you bought it from a gentleman who could not finish his own…there is some good karma there…

maybe name the boat after him…or just call it Karma…lol…

keep enjoying the process…I know I am from here…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4070 days

#4 posted 09-29-2009 10:51 AM

Great project and great blog. It will be fun to watch your progress. I helped my son build a terrace deck from Larch last fall. It was recommended for it’s ability to withstand rot, and it seems pretty strong too. (it’s called Lerke here in Norway)

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4097 days

#5 posted 09-29-2009 12:16 PM

Hey Matt,
Starting to come along real nice….take your time…..measure twice….cut once.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4408 days

#6 posted 09-29-2009 12:24 PM

Going to be a nice boat!

View rustedknuckles's profile


160 posts in 4487 days

#7 posted 09-29-2009 04:37 PM

Question, did you bed the stern post to the transom with white lead? looks like you used it on the keel to keelson as well.

-- Dave- New Brunswick

View MattD's profile


150 posts in 4680 days

#8 posted 09-29-2009 05:18 PM

Thanks everyone for the great comments and suggestions.

Bruce – Great to meet up with another (future) Sunshine builder. I would be very interested in following your progress. Once you start lofting your first few lines, you won’t be able to stop. Did you get the book too? I’d recommend it.

Napaman – Cool idea for naming the boat. I’m going to give that some thought.

Rusted Knuckles – I’m using Boatlife Life-Calk for the bedding in all joints. It goes on like thick tar. Ends up on everything.

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

View MattD's profile


150 posts in 4680 days

#9 posted 09-29-2009 05:37 PM

DaveR – You know.. I’ve found 3M 5200 to be so “popular” with boat builders that I plan to coat the entire boat with it when I’m done. ;)

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24551 posts in 3841 days

#10 posted 11-16-2016 09:25 PM

Nice work .Will you be coating it with West System Epoxy?


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics