View Full Version : Buzzards Bay 14 Planking ? & Photo

07-24-2005, 09:25 PM
I'm a bit reluctant to put another question on this board and thereby admit my lack of progress over the last couple of months. I do have excuses, though - new job, kid-related commitmemnts, "honey-do" chores and all that... Here's the limited progress to date:



I'm still determined to get some progress on this BB14. I've had a heck of a time getting these first few planks in. The reverse curves, incredible beveling and scarfing needed to accomodate the severe sweep for this hull shape has really taken a lot. The stealers weren't easy to fit either. At one point, I was even thinking of taking a torch to the whole project. I knew I was losing it when I heard one of my kids yell.."Dad just spiked another C-clamp on the garage floor again!"

Anyway, I have a question for the experienced carvel plankers:

After I hung the first few planks, I noticed the plank-to-plank fits looked pretty snug from the outside, but when I crawled up underneath near the stern post, I noticed my beveling wasn't so great, and there's about 1/16th to 1/8th gap running about the last two feet or so of the plank. The photo might help:


I realize it's a cardinal sin to have a planking seam wider on the inside, but this plank in particular was a nightmare to fit, and I guess when it was actually screwed down at the reverse tuck, the little gap became evident. One of my thoughts was to caulk with cotton in the usual fashion, and maybe when the hull is flipped over, I might be able to glue a thin spline from the inside. I really hate the thought of replanking (I'm not even sure I could do better on another try and I'd hate to put a new set of screw holes through my frames). Thoughts?


[ 07-24-2005, 10:28 PM: Message edited by: DanO ]

Paul Girouard
07-24-2005, 10:44 PM
Now I could be wrong , but I think your over doing it . Wood will crush , swell , pull up tight, when put into water . Old boat builder put it tight as they could , but didn't" over stress" on perfect joints , ain't going to happen,, some part of the wood will shrink more than another spot and gaps will be different till she hits the water and swells . Then she'll be tight . I think you should just carry on as you have, do a neat , clean job , she'll swell ;) and be swell smile.gif HTBH ;) PEG

Ken Hutchins
07-25-2005, 06:05 AM
Other than the bevel it looks mighty fine.
So, what to do, hmmm the problem is made worse by the nice red lead paint. I would remove the planks, record the current width of the planks and the gap at several places so you will know how much to add. Then plane off enough of the painted edge to get to clean wood. Then glue on a thin strip of wood using resorcinol glue, rebevel and reinstall the planks. I suppose I could show you a photo of a plank with just such a repair, but that would be showing off an ooops on my own boat so just pretent you can see the photo.

07-25-2005, 04:33 PM
Ken and Paul.. your comments are reassuring!

Wood will crush , swell , pull up tight, when put into water While I'd like to think that I'll have no problems with these little planking gaps, I've never carvel planked a boat before, never mind one that has a 900lb lead keel. I'm still a little nervous about this.

Ken, I like your idea of gluing a thin strip to the plank edge. What do you think about waiting until the whole hull is planked and faired, and then caulking from the sheer down toward these planks to see if these little gaps tighten? Once again, I'm not sure what to expect when I start caulking, but I would think that there might be a slight movement of the planks to tighten up some of this gap. What d'ya think?


07-25-2005, 10:23 PM
What I would like to know is how deep is this gap and how thick is your planking. After all, from a looks point of view it will be below the floor boards I would guess. As far as water tightness is concerned there are several things you can do apart from taking the plank off, fixing the plank and get into some other or the same problem putting it back on. This is a terrible plank to put on. I carvel planked a Catspaw as well as a Poulsbo Boat. So I have been here, done that. Cheating is an art.

Bob Cleek
07-25-2005, 11:57 PM
The plank may swell, but to close the gap, it will have to crush more someplace else. Not a good option, really. The main question is what are these gaps going to do to your caulking job? You can't drive caulking into the seam if there isn't anything to back it against. You'll just drive the cotton straight through into the boat. (There are ways to deal with this, but you don't want to go there!) If, on the other hand, you have a tight fit all along, but gaps only on the back beyond the tight fit, you can caulk, if you do it carefully.

Frankly, though, give it a day or two and think about it. If you have to redo a couple of planks at this stage, it may be worth avoiding a leaky boat and the grief of always knowing it would have been easy to do it over right when you had the chance. Take your time building. It's a hobby and taking the time for perfection is what really sets a boat built as a "labor of love" apart from the rest.

07-26-2005, 08:03 PM
Once again, I'm getting some good advice here.

These are 5/8" planks (closer to 3/4" before fairing/smoothing) and the gaps only run about the last 2' or so of these 14' planks. The gaps are mostly about 1/16th, but there's an area where the bevel gap may approach 1/8". I think it's too precarious to leave as is.

Bob...I'm taking your advice and thinking about this some more. At a minimum, I'll probably remove the last 4' (from sternpost forward)and evaluate the plank and consider options such as gluing in a thin, beveled spline. I agree that this whole project is a labor of love, but remember, there's often a fine line between love and hate!


07-26-2005, 09:26 PM
I suppose this discussion is about the margin of error and as an amateur I do not claim to be very knowledgable about that. But commom sense helps. How deep the gap is, is important I think. Further, where is this boat going to spend her life. In the water most of the time or on a trailer somewhere. If in the water the planks indeed will have a chance to swell and close many gaps. I carvel planked two boats, the first one caulked with cotton and Sikaflex and the second one with cotton and roofing tar below the waterline, red lead putty above the water line. My lesson from all this is that I have built two boats the old fashioned way as if they were going into the water for long periods of time but they don't. They sit on trailers untill I take them out for a day. So I think a lot of precautions I did take I did not have to. On the other hand I do not feel sorry. They are doing well and it was fun to do. Another question. What does the seam look like on the outside. Is there adequate space for caulking or is it tight. Cutting the plank at a frame and rejoining it later creates other problems I have just read about, no experience.
I think you are doing a great job and I DO understand the pickle you are in. Let us know what happens.

07-27-2005, 07:47 PM
Just for clarification, this boat will live on a mooring probably from May to October each year. I know that these planks should take up and swell some, and I've used air dried oak and Atlantic White Cedar accordingly.

What I'm not planning to do is cut out and replace the aft portion of these planks. Instead, my plan is to remove the fastenings and the natural spring-back of the planks and curve of the hull should allow me sufficient room to work on readdressing the bevels while the rest of the plank is in place.

Since I'm not entirely sure of how much margin of error is acceptable in getting plank seams tight, I figure I should err on the side of caution. I recall reading a funny passage in Bud McIntosh's book "How to Build a Wooden" when he describes planking with an old builder he used to apprentice with. He says something to the effect that when planking a particular boat, there were some seams where you could stand inside the boat and recognize people walking by on the street outside. The old builder apparently said to Bud:

"Now I know those seams are fit properly, and you know those seams are fit properly, but for God's sake get some cotton stuffed into those seams before the owner shows up because he don't know anything!"

I'd have to say I've probably got more in common with the owner than the builder and his apprentice! Hey, I'm learning though.


Ken Hutchins
07-28-2005, 07:03 AM
Dan, I would pull the planks now and fix them. It is much easier to do right now before more planks are put on. Also if you don't do the fix it will be nagging and worrying you constantly. :( Ah the feeling of fixing it right instead of worrying. smile.gif

07-29-2005, 01:24 PM
Ken's right. If you can get at enough of the planks to spline without removing them altogether, well and good. But it would still be worth the effort to remove them entirely if necessary. You'll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to get a perfect fit with the splines. You are spending a lot of time and effort building a beautiful boat, and now's the time to make those planks fit as good as you can, and it will end the worry.

[ 07-29-2005, 02:30 PM: Message edited by: Bayboat ]

Stephen Hutchins
07-29-2005, 01:59 PM
If the 1/8" gap is closer to the transom than the 1/16" gap, you could edge set the plank with dogs and oak wedges.

07-29-2005, 03:28 PM
You guys all have me convinced that taking the time now to correct, rather than hoping for the best later, is the best way to go. That's just what I'm going to do.

I'm also taking the next two weeks and devoting them to sailing my Penobscot 14 when the wind's up, paddling our restored 1941 Old Town canoe when it's calm, fishing and swimming when the mood strikes, and tipping back a few cold ones (drinks, that is, not fish) when necessary. I'm sure after that relaxation, my planking dilemma won't look so bad.

As far as these splines are concerned, wouldn't epoxy glue work just as well, if not better than resorcinal? I've had great success with System 3's T-88 epoxy glue and cedar.

I'll be sure to post some photos in a couple of weeks.


[ 07-29-2005, 04:29 PM: Message edited by: DanO ]

Stephen Hutchins
07-29-2005, 03:49 PM
Epoxy is just fine for the spline. Very good looking boat you have there. Thanks for the pics!