After a brief hiatus to have a hip replaced, I started the 7th strake below the sheer strake in July 2020. The forward planks are too long to fit in the steambox, so I used a process I learned from Louis Sauzedde (you can see his YouTube video here). The steam is brought from the steambox through a 50 foot rubber hose into a plastic tube placed around the plank. I also used this method on the clamp. The video above is an awkward attempt to show the setup. The hose is connected to the output pipe from the steambox (located outside the barn), runs along the side the boat and is inserted about halfway into the plastic tube. The voice at the end of the video is the FedEx driver who poked his head in the door on the other side of the boat. He later said he’s been delivering for years and “I didn’t know you were building an Ark in here”! There are more pictures of the process at the end of the gallery below which show how the plastic tube was made.
Planking is the outer skin of the hull. Lion’s is made of 1 3/8″ white oak, fastened with 3″ #24 galvanized wood screws (4″ #24 in the sheer plank and into the backbone.) The sheer plank (the top plank just under the main deck) is thicker, at 1 3/4″. This is done primarily for strength, as the sheer plank will take the fastenings holding the deck. This plank will also see more wear and tear from docks, etc. The sheer plank was steam bent and fastened on first.
In the forward end of the boat, the deck steps up about 8 inches in order to provide more headroom in the forward cuddy cabin. (In the original Chebacco boats, the cuddy was the living quarters for the crew of 2 or 3 fisherman.) There are two rows (or strakes) of planks above the main sheer plank in the cuddy area. These were steam bent and fastened on next.
Planking is now proceeding from the sheer strake downward for about 7 strakes. (A strake is one row of planking all around the boat. So far on Lion, each strake has consisted of 3 or 4 planking boards per side.) Then the garboard (lowest strake next to the keel) will be hung and planking will proceed up to meet the topside planks.
So far, each completed strake has taken between 230 and 300 man-hours, from hauling the rough-sawn boards in from the lumber pile to completion of fastening.
The third strake below the sheer plank presented a challenge. The picture below shows the spiling batten set up for the third strake. The straight batten is clamped in place with little or no edge-set in this picture.
To saw that much curve into the top edge of the plank would require a board much wider than I have available. Bud McIntosh, in his great book “How to Build a Wooden Boat” (Woodenboat Publications, Inc, 1987), gives a good description of how to address this problem by edge-setting the spiling batten on the frames before making the spiling markings on the batten, and then also edge setting the batten in the opposite direction when transferring the scribe marks to the board, as necessary to fit the curve on the board. The plank board then must be edge set while steam bending in place by about the total amount you had edge set the batten. I’ve used this method for previous planks, but only for about 2 inches of edge-set in a 16 foot plank. For this strake, I edge set the plank a total of about 5 inches in a 14 foot plank.
I had mixed results. On the starboard side, where I used a natural crook board which closely matched the required curve, I was able to bend and edge-set during steam bending with difficulty, but without any splits. On the port side, where I did not have a natural crook board available, the board split while edge setting, along the cross-grain resulting from cutting the required curve from a straight board. Since I was able to get most of the bend and edge-set before the split occurred, and because the split only extended part way across the plank, I decide to repair the split with epoxy and a carriage bolt installed edge-wise across the cross grain. The picture below shows that portion of the plank where the split occurred.
In the 1 minute time-lapse video below, the third strake is hung. This includes 6 individual planks, 3 port and 3 starboard. The video covers a 3 month period (about 260 manhours) from December 2017 to mid-March 2018. During that time, we had two steam-bending days when Chris, Josh, Nicole, Linda, and Holly helped out.
Each subsequent strake has taken between 230 and 300 manhours.
The 6th strake below the sheer plank was completed in December 2019. It consisted of 4 boards per side. The forward- and after-most boards are very short (8 and 7 feet) to accommodate proper spacing of butt joints. I’m trying to follow what I call the four-step rule, meaning butt joints should have four steps between them, each step being one plank down or one frame space away.
After hanging the 5th strake below the sheer strake, I completed fairing the upper strakes using jack planes and scrapers. I also put a coat of preservative on the upper faired strakes. It consists of a mix of pine rosin, turpentine and linseed oil, with a little Japan drier. I think those planks are ready for caulking and painting. This may seem a little premature given the overall state of completion, but I wanted to get the fairing done on the upper strakes before taking down the scaffolding.
See the photo gallery below for planking progress to date. The photos are in chronological order, so the most recent pictures are at the end of the gallery. Most pictures are captioned to explain the process.
Comments on either the website or the boat will be greatly appreciated. You can contact me (Mike Danesi) at email@example.com.
Port side looking aft. The larger batten at the bottom runs through the deck marks on each frame to lay out the main sheer line, which defines the top of the upper plank. The smaller batten above marks the cuddy deck, which steps up about 7 5/8″ from frame 8 forward.
Main sheer line, stbd side looking forward
The port forward sheer plank being used to trace out its mate for the stbd side. A 14″ wide board was needed to get a 6″ wide plank!
Gina getting ready to hand the hot plank up to the rest of the crew. Photo by Tom Heller
Crew is ready for the hot plank on the starboard side forward. Photo by Tom Heller
Chris getting ready to give the hot plank a push
Pat gets a clamp on in tight quarters. Photo by Nicole Danesi
Joel about to push in the forward end of the sheer plank aft
Chris just doesn’t work hard enough! Photo by Nicole Danesi
But he does keep the crew entertained. Photo by Nicole Danesi
Ron and Ralph working the clamps. Photo by Tom Heller
Jonathan working the aft end of the plank. Photo by Tom Heller
About to clamp the forward end in
Stbd side, aft. Sheer plank is bent, cooling down. The structural member known as the clamp is visible below the sheer plank, on the inside of the frames.
Engineers! Always trying to figure a better way
Aft end, viewed from outside the barn. The “Pinky” stern will eventually extend about 3 feet outside the sliding doors.
View of both the clamp and sheer plank fastened port side aft
Same on the stbd side
The sheer plank is on! Port side looking aft
Stbd side looking aft
Port side looking forward
Port side forward. The sheer plank is fastened with two 4″ # 24 galvanized wood screws in each frame.
Dick Plog donated a white oak tree from his property, as well as his labor to saw and deliver it. This plank is from that tree.
Josh persuades the first cuddy deck plank into position. Photo by Gina Trish
Gina helps steam-bend the first cuddy deck plank around the curve of the bow.
The circular saw does a great job of cutting the planks to near-finished shape.
We don’t have many clear, natural-crook boards. So most planks were sawn from straight-grained stock and worked in between defects.
The clamps left black stains from the iron-oak interaction. But these were usually easy to remove.
The first plank in the cuddy deck area being steam-bent in place. The difference in thickness between the sheer plank and the rest of the planking is evident here.
After steam-bending on the boat, each plank is removed to the bench to make adjustments to the fit and add the caulking bevel, both done by hand plane.
This is the 2nd (upper) cuddy deck plank, cut and planed to shape prior to steam-bending. This plank has a noticeable changing bevel on its upper edge where it fits under the deck.
After the first plank is cut to shape, it is used as a template to trace out it’s twin for the other side of the boat.
Josh finishes clamping the top cuddy deck plank.
The top cuddy plank gets a scarph joint where it will mate with the forward end of the rail on the main deck.
All planks get a coat of linseed oil and turpentine before being fastened in place. A bedding compound is also spread between the plank and frames.
The sheer plank and two cuddy deck planks have been fastened in place.
The first forward plank below the sheer plank is cut to shape and ready to flop over onto the natural crook board for tracing out it’s twin for the opposite side. Wish we had more naturally curved boards like this!
Port and starboard forward planks below the sheer plank, ready to steam-bend.
Ian checks the fit after clamping in the hot plank just under the sheer plank.
Clamping the forward end in.
Ian and Josh finish clamping in the first plank below the sheer plank at the bow end.
This is the first plank below the sheer plank at the aft end of the boat. This is before steam-bending!
Another view of the aft plank. The top of the plank is to the right. The downward curve at the aft end will actually appear to bend upwards toward the stern after bending, due the the fullness of the stern.
These are the two aft planks just under the sheer plank, one port, one starboard. Since we didn’t have 2 boards wide enough to accommodate the bend, the lower plank was cut with less bend, and will have to be edge-sprung while steam-bending.
Aft end of aft plank. That large downward bend now appears to sweep upward after bending around the stern!
That same aft plank after steam-bending, getting its caulking bevel and a few adjustments to the fit.
Now onto the 2nd plank below the sheer plank, forward. Josh pounds the plank forward into the stem rabbet.
The aft end of this plank will be cut so it ends halfway between the frames. It will eventually be joined there to the next plank aft with a butt block behind both.
Port side forward, after steam-bending the 2nd plank below the sheer plank.
Here Josh is clamping in the 2nd plank below the sheer plank at the aft end.
Starboard side aft.
Port side aft.
The planking screws are 3″ and 4″ #24 galvanized wood screws. They are sunk below the planking surface with a 3/4″ counterbore. The counterbore is then filled with 3/4″ white oak bungs cut from planking scrap.
About 3000 bungs will be required for the planking. This is maybe two-thirds of that.
Showing some of the bungs. They are glued with resorcinol, then cut flush with a chisel. Note the butt block gets ten fastenings!
Aft plank bent in, cooling. Some bungs trimmed, some not.
After bending, before fastening, hand planing the caulking bevel on the top edge of each plank.
Spiling one of the mid-ship planks on the 2nd strake below sheer plank
Tried to keep enough clamps on both sides to keep from shuffling clamps port to stbd.
Fitting complete, bedding compound applied. pilot holes drilled, clamped and ready to drive the 3″ #24 galvanized screws.
Fuller tapered drills and counterbores do a great job! These are for the butt block.
2nd strake below the sheer plank finally done. Stbd side looking fwd.
Stbd side looking aft.
Spiling for the forward plank. Only about 5 inches of curve needed in the top edge – manageable!
On right, forward plank (2nd strake) cut to shape. On left, natural crook board will be just right to get out the opposite side plank.
Spiling batten for the aft plank. Lots of north-south shape, in addition to a healthy east-west bend! Spiling batten is straight and clamped on with no edge-set. This means the top edge of the actual plank will need more than 13 inches of shape!
Started the third strake on the port side forward. Pipe clamps with a slight bend in the pipe help to pull the plank up edge-wise.
Chris and Nicole clamping in the hot plank. Starboard side, forward.
We were lucky to have Holly’s help during a visit from her home in Philly.
Holly getting a pipe clamp ready to edge-set the aft plank on the starboard side.
Steam bending is fun!
Middle plank clamped in place,ready for drilling pilot holes for the screws. Note the bent pipe clamps, which will become more useful when we get further down around the turn of the bilge.
Starboard aft plank getting a coat of linseed oil and turpentine before fastening.
This shows the hollowing of the inside of the planks, necessary to match the curvature of the frames they sit against. Boatbuilders call this “backing out.” On this plank, there is about an eighth inch hollow.
I’m pointing to the area where the split occurred while edge-setting the port aft plank. Photo by Jim Trish
The split was repaired with epoxy and a carriage bolt, shown here drawn in pencil.
Another view of the repair.
Ten 3 inch #24 wood screws in each butt joint, backed with a 2 1/4 inch thick butt block behind the planks and between the frames.
Screws driven almost home. Are ten fastenings overkill? Not according to all the boatbuilding books I’ve read!
Finished butt joint, with butt block showing extending below the planks about 3/4 inch.
Port side, looking aft.
Port side, looking forward.
Starboard side, looking aft.
Detail of planks near the aft end.
Fourth strake below the sheer strake completed July 2018. All planks get a coat of linseed oil and turpentine before fastening. The lighter shaded areas are where I’ve done some preliminary fairing with a jack plane.
First plank for the 5th strake bent in place. Clamping the aft plank during steam-bending and fastening required some hydraulic assistance, since I couldn’t fit a clamp at the sternpost. Jack is jammed against a wall stud.
After steam-bending and allowing the plank to cool (clamped) for at least 24 hours, there was always some “springback” when the clamps were released. This shows typical springback, which had to be clamped back in for each fitting and fastening.
Each plank required some hand planing for final fitting and to add the caulking bevel. Holding the plank for planing wasn’t always easy!
Making good use of the bent pipe clamps.
Close-up of a butt joint before fastening the butt block. Even with steam bending, it is difficult to achieve the full required twist at the end of each plank.
The same butt joint after fastening the butt block (The butt block is behind the planks between the frames. In this picture there are only 8 screws in the block – 2 more to be added.)
Just prior to fastening the middle plank in the 5th strake below the sheer strake.
This is the longest view I can get from inside the cramped barn. Port side, after completion of the 5th strake.
Starboard side midships looking forward.
Sheer strake and the next 5 strakes on the starboard quarter after some preliminary fairing with the jack plane.
Sixth strake below the sheer plank finally started (August 2019). Upper strakes faired and coated with a preservative.
Sixth strake, second board from the stern clamped in place for the second time for fitting. It won’t be fastened until the aft plank is installed, at which time about 6 inches will be cut off the end to make a butt joint halfway between the frames.
A distinct “S” shape to this plank for the starboard quarter of strake #6.
But for that same plank, here shown freshly fastened, the “S” curve disappears due to the 3 dimensional shape of the hull.
The forward plank of the 7th strake was steam bent in place due to its length (about 17 feet) See the video at the top of this page for a description of this process
The “bag” for steaming in-place is made of 6 mil vapor barrier. A 30 inch width is folded over and “welded” along the bottom edge with an iron.
The iron was set on “wool” and held on each spot for about 10 seconds. This was just enough to tack the plastic together without melting onto the bottom of the iron
The port forward plank steaming in-place. Note the red hose running into the bag from the steambox tank
The port forward plank after steam bending in the bag and clamping in place