Boatbuilding as a Full Contact Sport

Using the linear planer is intense. I’ve adopted the role of board puller which means I’m face and eyes into the sawdust. I think I like it because it reminds me of skiing across Greenland or Sweden when we faced a blizzard. The sawdust from the planer whirls around just like snow. I also like taking all the sawdust for the team. It gets everywhere no matter how well I seal my clothing. I figure best to have only one of the team itching and plucking sawdust from every nook and cranny of their clothing. The linear planer enables us to make all the boards for a particular purpose the same thickness. Today we learned to use a jig in the planar to make two bevels on each board to create overlap ( a half-lap) on the planks on the sides of the dory.

You can see in the picture above, I’ve left a trail in the sawdust as I walked backwards from the planer. You can also see the bevel that the planer is cutting into the edge of the board. If you look closely, you can also see a finished yellow and green dory in the boat yard behind me. The boatbuilding shed just got a new concrete floor (note the lovely grey surface below my sawdust trail) and as a result, all the of the dories in progress had to spend the week outside. Next week, they’ll move back indoors for their finishing touches.

We also learned to cut the same bevel with a hand plane. Jerome, above, is demonstrating this for us. Once the long bevel was in place, we had to introduce another bevel right at the end of the plank bringing the leading edge to a tight feather. As you can see from many of the photos I’ve posted this week, boatbuilding requires full contact with the wood and with the boat that is taking shape from the wood. We wear the wood, shape the wood, cut the wood, smooth the wood, glue the wood, bend the wood, and fasten the wood into place. I’ve always loved working with wood-the smell, the feel, the lines so this week has been a thrilling learning experience.

Today progress was steady. We bevelled the first port garboard and then used it as a template for the starboard one. We installed both of them and then learned how to prepare the four planks that go over the garboards. We also scarfed two boards to enable them to be lengthened in order to be the top planks in our dory. They needed to set overnight so we will bevel and install them tomorrow. Our planing skills are getting better and better each day.

This is our dory at the close of building today. You can see the garboards and the first layer of planks installed. Taking the rectangular plank and wrapping it around the side of the boat was magical and a bit of a workout as we had to push hard to get it to attach at the counter and stem.

The lines and symmetry and mathematics of the dory are amazing to learn and see in action. The dory’s simplicity coupled with its functionality has made it a popular design in many parts of the world. We can’t believe that tomorrow is the last day of our workshop-the week has passed in the pass of a plane over a plank. Tomorrow we will finish as much as we can but there will be some leftover for Jerome and the two boatbuilding apprentices to complete as the summer goes on.

Happy Summer Solstice everyone!

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