Ways to Give

Inside IYRS Blog

Learn what it’s like to spend a day in the life of a student.

Feb 6

Written by: Tom
2/6/2012 8:29 PM 

The crew on the Watch Hill 15 are moving right along with planking their hull.

One of the things you get good at after doing a lot of planking is coming up with creative ways to hold your plank while you're working on it. A favorite method, shown here, is to use a horizontal wooden clamp (also called a wood biter) to hold a second wood clamp vertically. The lower clamp is held to the bench with a standard metal F clamp. The advantage of this system is that you can orient the vertical wood clamp any way you like to accommodate the curve and twist of the plank.

The shop at IYRS uses radiant heating, and while this is absolutely the safest way to heat a shop that's filled with saw dust and solvents, it's a very drying method of heating the shop. As a result, the students often have to take extra steps to make sure that wooden parts (particularly white oak) that are prone to lots of shrinking when they dry out are kept damp. Thus, the moist rag along the keel of the WH15,

and the perforated steam pipe below the lobster yacht (that black pipe to the right),

and the wet rags draped across the lobster yacht's shaft log and deadwood.

Many shops cope with the dryness of winter by heating as little as possible, or by having at least part of the shop floor be dirt or gravel, or by any of a thousand ways of bringing moisture to the wood while the boat is at the shop. I've seen small lakes built around boats, burlap bags laid in the bilge and wet down, sprinkler systems like the ones that water vegetables in the grocery store set up in the boat...

The sailing dinghy is now upright for good, and her frames are being bent in.

These frames will be riveted to the planking. They're too thin to hold a screw.

The centerboard trunk has been installed,

and it's looking nice. Just a few more bolts to tighten from beneath the boat.

The sheer strake is now up on the lobster yacht,

and more planks are being added every day.

Like the WH15, the boat's length requires either 2-part planks that meet in a butt joint, or two boards that are scarfed and glued together to make a single plank. This boat is making extensive use of butted planks, and this means making up a lot of backing blocks.

The deck structure will be going on soon. This is primarily made up of deck beams, half-beams, and carlins. The half beams are short deck beams that support the side deck surrounding the cockpit. This student has made up a pattern for the side beams and is cutting them out of oak.

The first years are in planking mode full time. If you've been following this blog, by now you can probably recognize each of the steps of patterning, shaping, and installing a plank. For example, in this photo, the student's boat partner has his spiling (i.e., his pattern) for plank 4 clipped to the boat, while he's fastening in a plank on the other side.

Getting a fair line just right takes practice. This student is working out a plank line with the help of instructor Bill Kenyon.

It's helpful to have someone at the boat, moving the batten as you stand back and take it all in.

Subtle changes of a 1/4" or less can make a huge difference in how sweet a line looks. Some students can pick up the fairness of a line right away, and and for others, it just takes time to develop the eye to see it.

One of the things that the students learn in the program is how to take bevel wood into account when making their planks. When a plank pattern is generated through spiling, the pattern just matches the size and shape of the plank where it fits up against the frame. If the frame were straight, then this would not be a need for bevel wood, but this is rarely the case with the Beetle Cats. For example, here is a cutaway drawing of two planks meeting along their edges. The frame is not drawn in, but it would be on the left side.

Assuming that the upper plank was already installed, this is how the planks would meet if the lower plank was cut out from the spiling without taking the plank bevels into account. In other words, if the plank were cut out with edges that were square to the inner face. This is way too open. The wood that needs to fill that V-shaped gap is called bevel wood, since it's the wood required to make a bevel for the planks to meet up properly. Like this:

Now this would be just right if the planks were not going to be caulked. The Beetle cats are caulked, however, so a small relief is shaved off of the upper 2/3 of the bevel to create a caulking bevel.

The properly fit plank will meet wood-to-wood for the inner 1/3 of the plank thickness, and then flare out a little to allow caulking to be driven in to seam created by the caulking bevel.

The amount of bevel wood to be added to the width of the plank is worked out using bevel angles taken along the length of the plank. These angles are drawn on a scrap of wood, and a second line, parallel to the edge of the board and as wide as the plank is thick is then drawn though these bevels. Finally, lines that are perpendicular to the scrap's edge are drawn so that they cross the bevel-thickness intersection for each bevel. This yields the following:

Each bevel is numbered by the frame that it was taken from. The left-to-right long line is the plank thickness. The perpendicular / bevel lines make little triangles. The bottoms of those triangles at the edge of the board represents the amount of bevel wood that needs to be added to the edge of the plank at each of the measured locations. In summary, the process is:

  • spile the plank
  • draw the spiled shape onto plank stock
  • Mark for the added bevel wood at each location
  • Draw a fair line through those new widths
  • Cut and plane to that line
  • Plane the bevel along the plank edge
  • Check for fit and tune up
  • Plane in a caulking bevel

So, when you see students doing this:

They're up to one of those last steps.

You might see students backing out their planks if you stopped by.

Those little scraps of wood along the plank are curved to match the curve of the frames that the plank meets up with. The student is matching his backing out to those curves.

After all that is done, the plank is fit to the boat,

fastener locations are marked.

and fastener holes are drilled.

The preferred tool for fastening planks here is the bit brace.

It takes some time to get used to using this tool, but the payoff is excellent control over the torque used to drive a fastener into the plank and frame.

One of the boats being built this year is a left over from a previous class. This boat had a lot of problems, and so a few students are re-planking it to turn it into a workable vessel.

Note, this work is In Addition to the other work that they have to do on their own boats. These folks will have a LOT of planking experience under their belts when they leave here.

And lastly, here's another student side-project.

This is a relief-carved walnut picture frame. The student worked out the design himself. Absolutely elegant.


1 comment(s) so far...

Frame It

Looks like that DeBisschop kids' handiwork.

By PNG on   2/9/2012 9:04 PM

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