I finally finished round 4 of planking on my latest guideboat. This took longer than expected because we are preparing to downsize and move to a smaller home. The good news is that I will still have a boat shop. The bad news is that many interruptions occurred during planking because of other higher order things needing to be done. Interruptions break up the rhythm of planking and cause much more trips back and forth between the hull and the bench. Finally, all is ready for hanging a plank. The bedding compound is applied, the plank is fastened with brass screws and the tacks “stuck”. Here is what it looks like just before clinching the tacks.
A little diversion here, Scarf joints are necessary when planking because it is impossible to have a single plank span the width of the hull. A scarf is merely a bevel cut into each plank so that they fit smoothly together. Here I have located the scarf over a rib. That is a good place to locate it because the scarf is hidden from inside the hull. Also fastening it to the rib probably gives it added strength. I didn’t know of this custom when I built my first boat and my scarfs ended up between ribs. After 20 years of use I see adverse effects of doing it this way.
My scarf joints are 7/8″ wide. After laying it out I use a chisel to cut away the excess to form the scarf.
Incidentally I bought the Chinese chisel in the Long Lake hardware store for very little money. It is a great tool.
I use my sanding board to smooth the surface of the scarf.
Before the adjoining plank is fastened down, I make sure the fit is a good one. Then tacks are driven and clinched along the edge of the scarf. Here is a completed scarf. Tacks are driven close together to seal the joint.
Despite the challenge of planking a guideboat, or perhaps because of it, I enjoy doing it. There is great satisfaction in taking a bundle of sticks obtained from the root of a tree, fastening them to a long, tapered board and them covering the whole thing with an extraordinarily thin jacket of wood.
But even more, the guideboat hull reveals its sensuous, feminine nature as each round of planking is set in place. It is indeed a joy to fill space with such a beautiful object that many have called a “work of art”.
Here she is so far;
I learned something while planking this time around. It is a shortcut that avoids spiling. It uses the planks from the previous round as a template for the next round. So here is what you do. Taking round 4 as an example, you have both sides all set to hang round 4. Go ahead and fasten the planks on one side of round 4. Now take one of the planks from the other, unfastened side and hold it up against the fastened down round 4 plank. Obviously, it will not fit exactly to the previous plank but it won’t be too far off. Now lightly mark on the “template plank” how far off it is at several points. The deviations will come at the hood end (stem end) and around the midships.
Take the template plank and lay it down on fresh planking stock. Mark off on the fresh stock where it deviates and where it pretty much matches. Now you have a pretty good replication of where a round 5 plank matches the edge of round 4. Cut off the excess with a band saw and trim it with your block plane. Hold it up against round 4 and make corrections as necessary. Here is what it looks like.
What about the trailing edge of the plank? Slide the partial plank down past the tick mark denoting the end of plank 5. Don’t shift the plank sideways. Now measure the distance from the top of the bevel on plank 4 to the tick mark on the rib for round 5 at that station. Mark that distance on the new partial plank. Here is what is looks like.
Now you just connect the dots using a batten.
Next time I may go back into guideboat paddle lore to conquer up a story.