Building a Traditional Wooden Boat

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Blog series by MattD updated 02-05-2010 07:15 AM 13 parts 275176 reads 100 comments total

Part 1: Introduction

06-02-2009 05:19 AM by MattD | 6 comments »

I’ve recently begun to move on with building a traditional wooden yacht tender. Boatbuilding has always been fascinating to me as a type of woodworking and I’d like a new boat for next year. This is mostly a learn as I go project. I’d like to connect with others that are interested with boatbuilding (and could maybe offer me some guidance too) Selecting a boat Before choosing a plan, my basic requirements were that it would be built traditional wooden lapstrake constru...

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Part 2: Lofting

06-15-2009 04:47 AM by MattD | 8 comments »

After about 12 hours of work, nearly all lofting is complete and I can finally start some construction! The famous boat builder and author, Howard I. Chapelle wrote in his aptly named book ”Boatbuilding” – ”There was never a boat built in which too much lofting had been done”. By lofting, Mr. Chapelle is referring to the laying out of the lines and drawing of construction details to full scale, a tedious practice he writes ”avoids much trying and fitting...

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Part 3: Building the Molds

06-20-2009 10:38 PM by MattD | 5 comments »

Finished the molds today! The molds create the form upon which the boat will be built. There are 5 mold forms for this boat. The shape of the molds are taken right from the lofting drawing. Picking Up refers to techniques of transferring shapes on the lofting to boards so that the shapes can be cut out. To pick up the mold shapes, I ground off half of the heads of a few dozen nails so that they would lay flat exactly on the lines in the drawing that I wanted to transfer. I then placed boar...

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Part 4: Strongback

06-28-2009 04:04 AM by MattD | 7 comments »

The strongback is completed and the molds are in position. Starting to take shape! The strongback is the very flat, level and squared box in the photos below. It is attached to short (2 foot high) sawhorses on each end. The molds are attached and braced to the strongback. The boat will be constructed upside down over the molds. So far, I haven’t built anything that will be an actual piece of the boat when it’s completed! Everything in the pictures below will eventually go to the l...

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Part 5: Building the Transom

07-14-2009 03:16 AM by MattD | 10 comments »

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 ...

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Part 6: Stem and Knee - Part 1

07-22-2009 03:20 AM by MattD | 4 comments »

I’m starting construction of the stem and knee by making sure that I have these parts drawn correctly on the full size drawing (lofting). I could really use some advice before I actually cut out the parts! The photo below is the front section of my lofting. I used photoshop to make the lines and sections of the stem more visible. The stem is actually two parts as shown in the lofting below. The red section is the stem and the green section is the knee. I’ll make luan templates ...

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Part 7: Stem and Knee - Part 2

07-31-2009 06:44 AM by MattD | 5 comments »

Greetings.. Things are moving along well with the boat construction. This part in the series is cutting out the stem and knee parts which form the front “backbone” of the boat. To do this, I created templates from 1/8” birch plywood and used those as patterns to cut the actual parts from 2” thick white oak. To get the shape of the templates, I used the same picking up method as I used when getting the shapes from the drawing to the actual molds in part 2. This in...

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Part 8: Keel, Keelson, Skeg and Sternpost - Part 1

08-17-2009 06:02 AM by MattD | 5 comments »

This is the construction of the Keel, Keelson, Skeg and Sternpost. These solid oak parts form the bottom backbone of the boat. I started by cutting out the shape of keel and keelson by transfering the measurements from the lofting. The keel is the thicker piece which be on the very bottom of the boat. The next step is to put a rolling bevel on the edge of the keelson. The intention is for the bottom planking to fit perfectly into a beveled “notch” that is carved into the...

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Part 9: Attaching Transom, Finding Planking Lumber and Copper Rivets

09-29-2009 03:56 AM by MattD | 10 comments »

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 ...

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Part 10: Cutting Stem and Keel Rabbet

09-30-2009 04:44 AM by MattD | 3 comments »

This next part is cutting the rabbet into the Keel and Stem. The rabbet is a groove for planking to butt into. The rabbet must be accurately cut in order to form a tight seal. The rabbet for sunshine runs down both sides of the stem as shown and continues along the keel to the stern. Keel Rabbet Cutting the Rabbet in the Keel was relatively easy since I had already beveled the keelson from the lofted lines in the Stem and Knee - Part 2 section. To me, it seemed practical to try ...

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Part 11: Stem to Keel and Lining Off

10-19-2009 02:47 AM by MattD | 11 comments »

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 ...

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Part 12: Lining Off - Second Attempt

11-16-2009 02:42 AM by MattD | 4 comments »

I finished lining off the planks today. Lining off is the process with which you project the final plank layout onto the hull. My first attempt at this didn’t go so well. Thanks to some suggestions from some fellow lumberjocks, I took the time to learn more about the process and I’m much happier with the results. The book, Building Small Boats by Greg Rossel, as recommended by DaveR, is an exceptional resource and I basically used the process in the lining off chapter. Results ...

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Part 13: The First Plank

02-05-2010 07:15 AM by MattD | 22 comments »

The First Garboard Plank The first plank is on! It has been the most difficult part of the build so far. I’ve gone through 4 planks to get it right. For my fellow LJers who may be wondering, I’ve put in a few hours here and there, but I’ve taken quite a bit of time away from the project since the holidays. I’m exciting to be focused again. The challenge with this is getting the plank flush and tight into the rabbit along the keel. It’s a tough plank bec...

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