The first construction step was to start gathering timbers for the the backbone, which consists of the keel, keelson, stem, sternpost and deadwood. In 2004, seven white oak logs, up to 22 feet long, were delivered to my yard. Dick Plog sawed them with his Woodmizer, 7″ thick for the backbone plus some side cuts of smaller dimensions. Family and friends helped stack them for drying. The 3 timbers for the keel and keelson weighed over 1000 pounds each . Thanks, Chris, Joel and Ron!
Air drying typically takes one year per inch thickness. In 2011, the timbers were rolled into the barn through a small door cut in for that purpose. Thanks, Josh, Ian and Matt! They were heavy – the longest keel timber weighed over 750 pounds (it lost a few hundred pounds during aging).
Here is a 4 minute video of the keel laying party in June 2012:
(NOTE: For latest work on the boat, check the Planking page.)
The pictures in the gallery below show and attempt to explain some of the details of backbone construction. Most photos are captioned to explain the process.
Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through the gallery.
Two of these were required for the keel. Rough sawn dimensions were 7″ x 14″ x 22 feet
The hoist was really useful getting the big timbers in once we rolled one end through the trap door
750+pounds before milling to finished size
Most of the backbone timbers. A couple more deadwood timbers yet to bring inside
One of the main reasons for aging the wood is that it will distort while drying. Ideally, you want this to happen before milling to finished size and shape. This twist wasn’t there right after sawing, seven years earlier!
First step is to plane one side flat. Although the surface planer could have handled these timbers, it would have been impractical to move them through. The electric hand plane was the tool of choice.
Second side (top edge) is now planed flat and square to the first side
One keel piece straight and square
Used the 11″ circular saw to trim down the 2nd keel piece. Had to cut from both sides to get through the 7″ thickness. (I didn’t yet have the Alaskan Saw Mill chainsaw attachment.)
Using dimensions taken from the lofting floor, laid out and cut the 8 foot scarf joint and rabbet on the fwd keel piece
Cameron inspects the rabbet and fwd joint for the stem attachment
Mandi cuts the rabbet on the after keel piece
Stem timber squared up
Cutting the rabbet in the stem
Hoisting the stem
Nicole and Josh help fit the keel/stem joint
Linda, Nicole and Josh take a rest after fitting the stem into position
Drilling for bolts in the lower deadwood piece
Stem, fwd keel piece and two deadwood pieces all bolted using 1/2″ and 3/4″ diameter galvanized bolts
In order to have room for drilling and bolting, the stem and deadwood had to be fastened to the keel before moving into position against the barn wall
Working the rabbet on the aft keel piece
Keel pieces bolted together at the scarph joint with eight 3/4″ bolts. Photo by Jim Trish.
Glueing up the 6″ x 6″ building stocks
Assessing the task ahead – moving about 1200 pounds of keel and stem off the horses onto the building stocks and forward about 4 feet
These guys are up to the task
Using 16 2×4’s, 32 people are ready to move 1200 pounds
Don’t spill the rum!
Move complete, the stem is bolted to the shop wall.
A Keel-Laying party followed. Sandy kept Violet and all the children entertained. Photo by Nicole Danesi
Chris kept himself and the other adults entertained. About 70 people attended the Keel-Laying party. Photo by Nicole Danesi
Squaring up the sternpost timber
Starting the cut for the hollow in the aft edge of the sternpost
This hollow is where the forward edge of the rudder will fit
Roughing out the hollow with a gouge
Finishing the hollow with a plane made to fit
Cutting the sternpost rabbet
Hanging the sternpost
The sternpost/keel fit required hoisting and lowering a few times
Sternpost and lower deadwood fastened in place
Marking the middle deadwood piece with a pattern taken from the lofting floor. Patterns were used for stem, sternpost and all deadwood pieces
Hanging the middle deadwood piece
Pattern for the upper deadwood piece being checked in place. The rough-shaped piece is on the horses.
Drilling for a 3/4″ bolt through the deadwood and keel. A straight piece of wood is clamped to the side of the keel/deadwood to act as a guide for getting the bolt hole aligned.
The drill is a barefoot ships auger 54″ long. I started with an 18″ Irwin electricians bit, ground the tip to replicate barefoot augers of old, and had an extension welded on (Thanks, Fredon Welding!)
This is the longest bolt so far – 41″.
Aft end of backbone complete!
The bolts are intentionally staggered so as not to promote splitting along the grain. Photo by Jim Trish.
Bolts on the aft edge of the sternpost. Photo by Jim Trish.
The timber for the keelson took quite a bow during aging. Fortunately, there was enough extra wood to allow trimming the bow out
Using the Alaskan Sawmill to trim the keelson to rough dimensions.
The keelson was the only backbone piece which we could manhandle through the thickness planer
Scarf joint in keelson. Total keelson length – about 25 feet. Cross section – 5 3/4″ x 5″
The hoist was helpful moving the keelson up and down while fitting the notches at each frame.
There are a total of 8 through bolts and 13 drift bolts holding the keelson, frames and keel together
Comments on either the website or the boat will be greatly appreciated. You can contact me (Mike Danesi) at firstname.lastname@example.org.