Using Templates from Boat Plans to Make Frames

Boat framesWhile I might be a geek who actually likes pouring over the numbers to loft out a boat for my boat building project, it is not something that I would necessarily recommend for everyone. For some reason, many people don't think they have fulfilled the requirements for a boat building project unless they start with pencil and paper.  That would be like saying you didn't build a house if you didn't first accomplish all of the architectural drawings yourself.  Sounds silly when you think of it like that.  So why not give yourself a break and focus on building a boat?

So many boat building projects get stopped at the early stage of making frames and there is no reason for it. When done the right way it could not be simpler. When done wrong, I can think of nothing more harmful to the project. Most things in a boat project can be fixed, manipulated or otherwise changed if need be. However, if you are building a framed boat, the setup of the jig and frames is tantamount to pouring the foundation for a house. If it isn't right, the rest of the project will be painful.

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Spiling and It's Application

Spiling, Yup, it is a real word...

spiling-knuckelFirst, A little History

Spiling is one of those things I can write about, be completely wrong and nobody can prove it. I could not find a definition in most dictionaries I checked, articles I have read on it are brief, non-descript and single focused and boat building books going back to the masters of the likes of Howard Chapelle, leave enormous room for interpretation. I think the reason for this is because most people try to define spiling as a specific action instead of a goal. Even as I write this article, the spell checker refuses to accept the word.

I have been building for many years and had never given it much thought until someone asked me to explain spiling to them and I found myself giving what seemed like a never ending explanation. After a few minutes into the discussion, I realized that the discussion wasn't going to end anytime soon because I kept coming up with new techniques to discuss. Although it was always clear to me what I was doing when I spiled a plank or a stem it never occurred to me that spiling is an objective, not an activity.

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Making a Proper Scarf Joint - Boat Building Joinery

scarfjoint2If your boat plans call for a scarf joint, don't panic. Given the right tools, this is a simple job to do. the trick to getting past the anxiety of doing this is to simple get out the tools and do one. The concept of a scarf joint isn't complicated. It is a simple matter of of cutting a ramp on the wood which has a run of 8 times the rise. That is to say that if you are working with 3/4" plywood, you want to have a scarf which is 6" deep. The run can be as much as 12 times the rise and your boat plans may specify the ratio they want you to use. For this article we will focus on plywood scarfing. The concept is the same for dimensional lumber, however there are simpler methods for cutting scarfs in dimensional lumber than there are for plywood. Practicing on inexpensive lumber is a good way to shake out the doubts. In fact if you can scarf cheap plywood then the good stuff is a snap. The reason for this is because of the quality of the interior plies of wood on say marine grade plywood versus the home building stuff.

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Building a Laminated Stem

boat stem lamination6Large clear timber is getting hard to come by. This simple technique will cost you about $100 in tools, glue and jig material and give you a rock solid stem with a perfect shape.  In years gone by, boat plans called for stems that were typically made from sawn timber in multiple pieces, and the pieces were glued together and assisted with through bolts. Words like rabbett and knee are seldom used on newer plans when referring to the stem. In fact most stems today are made from inner and outer stem pieces. The inner stem is actually the integral part of the hull where the outer stem typically includes the cutwater and has a primary function of protecting the bow of the boat.

Not only are these two piece stems easier to build with, they are typically much stronger than a traditional stem. If your boat plans are for building a plywood boat, it is almost a given that you will be using this technique. Outer stems and cutwaters vary greatly from boat to boat so for the purpose of this discussion we will be talking about the lamination of the inner stem.

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