Building a Northumbrian Coble in Clinker Ply

Plank, Plank, Plank, Plank, Plank, Plank, Gunwales, and so on


cleaned up a bit

After weeks and weeks of dreary planking, I was finally finished. Visitors and other distractions had not helped productivity either, but their company was a welcome break. Contrary to popular opinion, the garboards were actually the easiest planks, and they just got harder from there. While I did get better at cutting gains and bevels, the direction of the grain in the transom made the bevels for the later planks much more work, and the sharp angles between planks also complicated matters. Not wanting to shovel epoxy into the gaps betwen the sharply angled planks, as is usual practice, I filled the seams first with strips of plywood. This greatly cut down on the amount of epoxy needed, and will probably make it stronger and lighter. It wasn't even very hard to plane 'em down to shape. The epoxy along the seams was very easily cleaned up with a sharp scraper. Scraping sure beats sanding, although keeping the scraper sharp makes a big difference. Nonetheless it is much easier to clean up if you do a good job scraping the epoxy with a putty knife before it cures. Isolated drips were much more of a pain that the very thin layer of epoxy left over from the putty knife scraping.

Carefully Balanced

Ready to Roll

Planking complete, I had to come up with a plan to roll the boat over by myself without any large crashes. I ended up proping the bow and stern up with cribbing and wedges, and then removing all the upright supports. I then gradually lowered it to the ground by removing a couple bits of wood from the cribs at a time. The actual roll was far easier than I was expecting. It turned out that I could roll half way and then just walk around and roll it down the rest of the way. Absolutely no thuds. It sure looks smaller like this.



Before I took the frames out I had to glue on the outer gunwales. These are made from some obscenely expensively fir that I stupidly got cut before I asked the price. $16/board foot for a douglas fir nominal 2x4 is quite outrageous as far as I'm concered. That's twice as much as the sapele I bought, and the sapele was part of a true 2x14. Futhering the insult, I had only chosen fir because I was getting a bit over budget and this seemed like somewhere I could save a bit with little loss. Oh, and to top it off the fir is kiln dried too, which I found out after I bought it. I was going to pick up some red cedar too, but when that turned out to be TWENTY SIX dollars a board foot (for a nominal 1x8); I, after recoving from the shock, hurriedly put it back. .


Anyway, the outer gunwales are 25mm tall, and since the strips I had cut were the height of a nominal 2x4, I had to cut them to size. That went quite quickly with my superb japanese ripsaw, and soon enough I had them clamped into place. I then attached them with screws, since that greatly helps alignment when everything is gooped up with epoxy. The inner gunwales were a different matter. They were supposed to be 35x15mm (according to the plans), but I had 38x9mm strips. The specified size is about 30% harder to bend in the hard direction than mine, so I am not sure how it would be possible, especially since douglas fir is the specified wood. My strips were basically impossible to bend by myself (ie one handed), so I ended up building another steam box. Of course kiln dried douglas fir is probably one of the worst woods for steaming, but at least that helped enough to let me make the bend. Nonetheless I encountered extreme diffculty gluing up the inner gunwales, and the frustration wasn't soothed by the fact that I could have bought oak or ash for half the price, and they'd have bent much easier. After spending nearly 2 weeks gluing all the gunwale pieces up I finally got onto more fun things, like the breasthook.

go back Onward!