Planking

 

Sheer strake and the next 5 strakes on the starboard quarter after some preliminary fairing with the jack plane.
Fifth strake below the sheer is completed (December 2018)! Here’s a view on the starboard quarter after some preliminary fairing with the jack plane. See the end of the photo gallery for more pictures of 5th strake construction.

Planking, the outer skin of the hull, will be ongoing at least through 2019. 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.

Because of the fullness/roundness  at both ends of the boat and extreme twist in the planks of the lower part of the hull, most of the planks (approximately two-thirds) will have to be steam bent.

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.
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.

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.

First strake below the sheer strake freshly steam-bent in place, viewed from below the sternpost. Photo by Lisa Lettieri
First strake below the sheer strake freshly steam-bent in place, viewed from below the sternpost. Photo by Lisa Lettieri

Planking is now proceeding from the sheer strake downward for about 5 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 260 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.

Spiling batten for the aft plank, 3rd below the sheer plank. Lots of north-south shape, in addition to a healthy east-west bend!
Spiling batten for the aft plank, 3rd below the sheer plank. Lots of north-south shape, in addition to a healthy east-west bend!

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.

Third strake below the sheer plank took about 260 man-hours. Port side looking forward.
Third strake below the sheer plank took about 260 man-hours. Port side looking forward.
Port side, looking aft.
Port side, looking aft.

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.

 I repaired the split with epoxy and a carriage bolt. In this picture, I have drawn in the location of the carriage bolt.
During edge-setting, the plank split along the diagonal grain. I repaired the split with epoxy and a carriage bolt. In this picture, I have drawn in the location of the carriage bolt. The split extended from the top edge of the plank near the left side of this picture, diagonally down to the right for about four inches, passing about an inch under the head of the carriage bolt. I’ll be thinking about this if I ever get in heavy seas.

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.

The next video is of the fourth strake is taken from the starboard aft end, where camera access was limited. The strake itself (consisting of four boards per side) is barely visible, but there’s a good view of the bench where most of the hand planing and shaping takes place. Thanks to Linda, Josh and Ian for help while steam bending!

The fifth strake below the sheer strake was completed in December 2018, taking about 300 man-hours. Ten new photos of that effort have been added at the end of the gallery below.

See the photo gallery below for planking progress to date. 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 mnldanesi@gmail.com.