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 was 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.
Sixth strake below the sheer plank finally started (August 2019). Upper strakes faired and coated with a preservative.

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.

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 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.

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.

Each subsequent strake has taken between 250 and 300 manhours.

The next strake (6th below the sheer plank) has finally been started (August 2019). It will consist 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.

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.

Since completing the last strake in December 2018, I have 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 before taking down the scaffolding.

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.