Building a Traditional Wooden Boat #11: Stem to Keel and Lining Off

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Blog entry by MattD posted 10-19-2009 02:47 AM 19028 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Cutting Stem and Keel Rabbet Part 11 of Building a Traditional Wooden Boat series Part 12: Lining Off - Second Attempt »

Just a few more steps left before I can start putting the planking on the sides.

Cutting in the Rabbet Between Stem and Keel

The next crucial step is cutting in the rabbet between the Stem and Keel. This was done entirely by hand with a few sharp chisels. I used a small piece of wood (3”x1”x3/8”) as a template, representing the plank, to ensure a smooth transition as I cut away the rabbet. Here is the before picture:

And the after picture. This was done on both sides of course. Took about 3 hours.

Lining Off

According to Walter Simmons, the architect of Sunshine (the model I’m building), Lining off is the “process with which you project the final plank layout onto the hull”. This needs to be done to determine the shapes for the planks, which are actually quite curvy. However, if I do it right, the planks will have an effect that they look straight on the hull.

Of course, you only have to line off one half of the hull. The other half is exactly the same, just flipped, so your measurements are the same on each side.

The first step for me was to measure the length of each station from keel to sheer (bottom to top) and divide by the number of planks I’ll be putting on (seven). I then marked off the location for each plank edge for each station.

Once this is done, the next step is to run a batten along these marks to make sure the curve is fair. It’s more important that the curves are fair, rather than the planks being of equal width at each station.

To do the lining off, Mr. Simmons recommends a single batten method, in which you determine the position and curve of each plank as you go along, for each plank. Another method is to line off all of your planks at once using battens for each plank. I decided to try lining off all planks at once so that I could get a better feeling for how the planking would look. Of course, I can still use the single batten method later on.

And here is the final result with all battens. I still have to make some adjustments at the stem.

And that’s it for now! Next step will be spiling and getting out the planks!

Materials List:

None for this step!

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
  • 9/28/09 – 9/29/09: Cutting Stem and Keel Rabbet, 9 Hours
  • 9/30/09 – 10/4/09: Stem to Keel and Lining Off, 4 Hours

- Total Project Labor Hours so far: 74.5 Hours
- Time since starting project: 142 days (4 months 19 days)

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

11 comments so far

View Napaman's profile


5532 posts in 4816 days

#1 posted 10-19-2009 03:22 AM

this is really fabulous…I am watching every step…cant wait to see the next step…good luck…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View a1Jim's profile


118047 posts in 4316 days

#2 posted 10-19-2009 03:24 AM

This is great super blog


View patron's profile


13702 posts in 4080 days

#3 posted 10-19-2009 03:24 AM

well done , gibbs !

i’ll have to start picking out a new sailing outfit soon .

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

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4826 days

#4 posted 10-19-2009 03:36 AM

Dang it, patron.
You beat me to it.


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Karson's profile


35221 posts in 5139 days

#5 posted 10-19-2009 03:40 AM

very nice looking design.

-- 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 dustyal's profile


1318 posts in 4214 days

#6 posted 10-19-2009 03:44 AM

great blog… keep it going. Look like the design will be able to handle surf…

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View Bruce's profile


38 posts in 4956 days

#7 posted 10-19-2009 05:30 AM

I see that the spacing of the planks on the stem is not equal. Will they be later adjusted or if not how did you arrive at their current locations?
AWESOME blog, I check every day to see how it is coming. I will also print out all of your entries so that when I start my Sunshine I will reference what you wrote. Keep up the great work!!

-- Bruce Ebling

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4073 days

#8 posted 10-19-2009 07:28 PM

I always wanted to build a boat, but never did and never will, but it sure is fun to watch you do it. It looks great. Can’t wait to see the finished product. Thanks for taking us along.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View MattD's profile


150 posts in 4683 days

#9 posted 10-19-2009 08:02 PM

Bruce – Actually, since posting this entry, I’ve been thinking a lot about the uneven spacing of the planks on the stem. More or less, the odd spacing is a natural result of the battens following a fair curve along the entire length of the boat. The battens are perfectly spaced at each stations, but I allowed the battens to follow a fair curve until they terminated into the stem, wherever they “felt” like it. If I force them into even spacing along them stem, the planks would sort of bend out of curve and look sloppy towards the stem.

There is obviously a solution to this. I’ve looked at a lot of lapstrakes with even planking at the stem. Although some have wider garboards and sheer planks, the widths -appear- even from stem to stern.

The solution I think is some acceptable variation in plank widths so that the transom and stem plank widths are spaced evenly AND the plank edges follow fair curves. Mr. Simmons has a good article on it that I’m still trying to fully understand:

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

View MattD's profile


150 posts in 4683 days

#10 posted 10-21-2009 02:13 AM

DaveR – Great suggestion. I ordered this book. Thanks.

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

View rustedknuckles's profile


160 posts in 4490 days

#11 posted 10-21-2009 08:13 PM

One note of caution when laying in your battens, try to do both sides of the boat at the same time. What can happen if you don’t is you can actually twist the frames. I’ve built many traditional boats and have seen it happen. Great Blog by the way!

-- Dave- New Brunswick

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