One would think that fitting a rather thin sheet of wood into the triangular shape at the bow and stern of a guideboat wouldn’t be all that difficult. What complicates matters is that the triangle is a “fat” one. It bulges outward as it follows the line of the gunwale to the stem.
I have chosen to make the decks of bird’s eye maple and cherry. These possess wonderful “figure” as you will see. Before I can use this beautiful wood I must reduce the thickness of each parent plank from four quarters (about one inch thick) to a final thickness of 3/16″.
I resaw the planks (cut them lengthwise in two). I start by using my table saw that is set so that it does not cut entirely through the plank after making two passes (one pass through the plank bottom and then a flip to cut what was the top of the plank). This leaves a “web” about 1 1/2″ or so thick. I then cut the two planks free by running the webbed plank through my band saw. The two planks resulting from this operation are surface planed down to a final thickness of 3/16″. I now have what boat builders and wood workers call book matched stock. The figure on one piece is the mirror image of that on the other.
The maximum span of the bow deck is about 18″. My stock is not wide enough to accommodate a deck that wide. So I glue the two book matched pieces of maple to a triangular piece of cherry to get the required width.
The decks will be inlayed into their allotted space at each end of the boat so that they are even with the top of the gunwale. A rabbet must be cut out of the planking adjacent to the gunwale to accept the deck.
Blocks 3/4″ square are then fastened along the bottom edge of the rabbet. They will accept the fasteners holding the deck in place.
Next, I set the glued up deck stock in position over the gunwales. I draw a line on the deck stock down the outside of the gunwale and cut away the waste. Now I have a really “fat” deck that must be slimmed down to fit into the rabbet.
I get closer to a fit by scribing a line down one side of the deck material. This line follows the inner contour of the gunwale and is the width of the gunwale. Then I switch and do the same on the other side.
I want to err on the side of being too “fat” here since I want the decks to fit tightly between the gunwales. One nice thing about the triangular shape of the decks is that the apex of the triangle works for you. If you take too much off in any one part of a side you can remove some material from the rest of that side and push the triangle towards the stem to get a better fit.
It is is not an easy job to get the decks to fit into their allotted space. After much sanding a little away here and checking the fit innumerable times I finally am satisfied.
Now to fasten the deck in place. I use #8 X 3/4″ brass oval head screws to fasten it. The oval head gives a decorative touch to the deck. The photo below shows drilling the holes for the deck fasteners.
The midships end of the deck needs to be cut away to follow the contour of the bow. I let the deck edge extend about 1/4″ out from the deck bridge bow. Then I make a cap of cherry to fit over the stem end side of the deck. The photo below shows the deck nearly complete.
As I mentioned before, Chase liked to put a feed thru in the bow decks of his boats for holding a candle lantern or a pennant. I found one that would work from an outfit called Tendercraft. I drilled a hole with a Forstner bit and dropped it in.
Here is the finished bow deck. Notice the figure on the maple. It appears to me to take the shape of butterflies, one on each side.
One final photo to show the curvature of the decks, in this case the bow deck.
Next time we tackle guideboat “furniture”.