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Thread: Repost "Plywood" (NIA)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Stuart, Florida


    Author Topic: Plywood
    T Crisp
    posted 10-29-1999 02:14 PM
    I get a kick out of Bob's continuing hatred of plywood and epoxy construction. I wonder if Noah or Columbus had the availability of plywood and epoxy, would they have built with it? Sometimes traditional methods are bettered by advances in technology. Does Bob still ride a horse or drive a car? I'm 50 years old and building a plywood boat that will outlast me. I don't plan to sell it, and what my kids and grandkids do with it after I'm gone is of little concern to me. All I want is to have fun building it and sailing it. If I were to build it with the traditional methods I wouldn't get it in the water for at least 5 years. Building it with modern materials will have me sailing in the spring.

    Bob Cleek
    posted 10-29-1999 05:27 PM
    I think folks take me too seriously, sometimes. (Judges never take me seriously enough, dambit!) I don't HATE plywood. I've owned at least four plywood boats, a Melody, a skiff dinghy, a dory and a 25' gaff ketch, all of plywood. YES, you can build a plywood boat quickly and easily and getting out on the water is reason enough to do so. If you do a good job, they can last a long time and look very nice. I DO respect the effort and craftsmanship that goes into building such a boat.
    What I seem to be miserably failing at accomplishing is encouraging folks to go beyond plywood into the realm of traditional construction. What I rail against is the school of thought that amateur and beginning boatbuilders can only build plywood boats and that the traditional methods are just too difficult. I think a lot of the ballyhoo over plywood and epoxy laminated construction techniques is more the result of the plywood manufacturer's association hype. A boat designed to be built in plywood, or to be cold molded, is fine, as far as it goes, but certainly that's about it.

    What I, and I know many others have found, is that building with traditional methods, and, of course not scorning modern epoxy and other adhesives, is faster, easier and far less expensive than trying to cut corners using plywood or trying to laminate a hull form that wasn't designed for it.

    Nobody has yet drawn the line where wooden boats end. All wooden boats are built from pieces of wood and I don't think it matters how you hold those pieces of wood together. However, when you reach the point where the structural strength of the vessel is no longer a function of the wood it's built of, and becomes a function of the glue that's holding it together, I think you've crossed the line. The key factor, I think, is whether individual pieces of wood carry the load stresses. I don't think that laminating 1/8" strips of veneer in tons of epoxy, while producing a servicable hull, results in a true "wooden" boat, any more than building a boat of fibreglass covered balsa blocks does. Now, I'm not saying that it can't produce a good boat at all. I am saying it may often be a much harder way to build one. I'm also saying, and this from experience as a broker, that the traditionally built boat will hold its value much more, and be worth more to begin with, than will the ply or epoxied boat.

    I don't think it is unreasonable for we hobbyist boatbuilders to aspire to mastering the skills of drafting and lofting and woodworking in the pursuit of the satisfaction of building boats. I don't fault those who have not yet gone beyond the two dimensions of plywood and a jig saw, but they do have far greater worlds to conquer, and far greater boatbuilding joys to behold. There is a difference between using wood to build a boat and wooden boat building!

    [This message has been edited by Bob Cleek (edited 10-29-99).]

    [This message has been edited by Bob Cleek (edited 10-29-99).]

    Paul Frederiksen
    posted 10-29-1999 11:27 PM
    Well I guess I might as well weigh in here. Bob, if your occupation was anything other than lawyer I would take your post at merely face value, but since I am a truck driver (read, not afraid to make a fool of myself) I will pick it apart.
    Having read numerous posts I would say that the only thing supporting your contention that you don't hate plywood boats is your statement above. Yet even in it there is distain dripping from almost every sentance. It usually shows itself in unstated presumptions which your arguements are based on. Such as "I do respect the effort and craftsmanship which goes into building such a boat." Which is followed by "...than trying to cut corners using plywood..." Why do you presume that the choice of plywood is an attempt to cut corners? Doesn't this type of presumption betray your supposed respect for the "effort and craftsmanship" you supposedly respect?

    A point you have tried to sell several times is that milled planking wood is cheaper and easier to obtain than plywood. This has not been my experience at all. I can purchase plywood in any thickness and any quality from numerous suppliers and have it delivered direct to my door. To accomplish the same results with standard lumber requires first finding a mill, convince the mill to cut the log I need to the dimensions I want and then either haul the wood myself or have it delivered. I have yet to find a mill within an hour of Sacramento willing to talk to anyone about one log. Nor have I found anyone willing to cut any large piece of lumber I have without charging $50 just to turn on the saw. Yes I know I can buy a chainsaw mill, but the cost of it is more than the load of plywood itself. Its $ 300 for a planer to thickness the stock...I could go on but you get the point.

    If I take oak an cut it thin and then laminate it to make a stem or frame.. that is still "wooden" boat building but if I cut a log real thin and wide and laminate it to make a plank then that is not really "wooden" boat building?????

    Bob Cleek
    posted 10-30-1999 03:40 PM
    You're right, Paul, I don't think that there is any contest between a traditionally built boat and a plywood boat. I don't think there are too many experts in the field that would disagree with that. I do try to encourage folks to build traditionally because it has been proven cheaper, easier, and produces a higher valued boat. I realize that a lot of guys think otherwise, but until the market starts supporting higher prices for plywood boats than traditionally built wooden boats, I remain unconvinced. I've said many times that there isn't anything wrong with a plywood dory or other boat designed specifically for plywood construction: i.e. no compound curves. That, however, really limits your choices in boats. If you are building a boat for your own satisfaction and plywood is your thing, go for it. If you are asking me what I think you OUGHT to do, I'll try to encourage you to take it a step higher and build traditionally.
    As for availability, it is true that plywood is easier to come by. It also only comes in 4x8 sheets. Most boats require planking considerably longer than that. Trees grow pretty much as long as we need them. There's no question that you can't find any sort of boatbuilding wood at even a decent lumberyard, let alone Home Depot. They don't carry marine ply either. Here in Northern California, we have access to many great boatbuilding woods and there are a lot of guys on the North Coast who are cutting boatbuilding wood. This is the land of Port Orford cedar and Douglas fir! The Balclutha at the SF National Maritime Museum just had her decks replaced with old growth Doug fir harvested here in our neighborhood. Check out and post an inquiry on the sawing/drying forum. I'm sure you will find a small sawyer who will be happy to provide you with good boatbuilding wood. I don't know about the Sacto area, but here in Larkspur we have Handloggers. They will find you any sort of wood you want and are completely hip to boatbuilding. (They supplied the fir for Balclutha's decks.) Handloggers sells boatbuilding quartersawn white oak for about $4.50 a board foot and probably less if you order in quantity. If you figure it out, that's less than marine plywood and will probably leave a lot less cutting waste too. It's really just a question of knowing where to go to find what you need, not a problem of basic availability. As for the cost of a thickness planer, well, yes, they are expensive. They pay for themselves, though, because you aren't limited to the dimensions that a manufacturer decides for your wood and you can mill your own from stock that is a lot less costly than the FAS stuff.

    I know it isn't popular these days to make "value judgments." We have become slaves to the almighty "diversity" and live walking on eggs to avoid somehow inadvertently offending someone. I think that really only results in a society which wallows in its own mediocrity. We should be free to criticize, and to take that criticism constructively so we can learn from it. I'm sorry, but a plywood boat is a plywood boat is a plywood boat.

    Paul Frederiksen
    posted 10-30-1999 07:55 PM
    Well Bob that is the problem. Most of the posters are NOT asking you a blanket "what do you think I ought to do?" type of question. Usually they are asking a specific question concerning THEIR application. Not "what boat should I build and how?" Now on a couple of occaisions I have seen this type of question and in those rare instances your arguement is not only appropriate but also, for the most part correct.
    I will not question for a moment your statement that traditionally built boats hold their value longer. It is clearly the truth. If resale value was the only criteria for choosing a boat design and building method we would not be at odds about this because I would agree with you.

    I don't resent your willingness to share your opinion regardless of who it might offend... I do the same myself...but their is a difference between political correct namby pamby and what we often refer to as tact. Tact is often demonstrated by answering the question someone asked rather than the question you think he/she ought to have asked. To tell a person that they are asking the wrong question presumes things about them that one could not possibly know and is usually interpreted as arrogance. A recent thread involving someone who turned out later to be a highly educated NA serves as a shining example of this.

    steve sparhawk
    posted 10-30-1999 08:36 PM
    Durn good to see two parties who can express themselves. Bob, I agree with you. (Not that you need the validation.) Paul, I agree with you. (Not that YOU need the validation.)
    I've certainly allowed myself the expression of distain for the purist who I immediately took as a traditionalist with his nose in the air. However, there is room for all and from both ends of the spectrum.

    Yes, there is validation for the ply boat. If not for plywood there would be too many who would have lost out on the thrill of getting on the water in their own creation. If not for traditional plank-on-frame construction there would be much less satisfaction enjoyed by those who were willing to take the effort to create a more "classic" form.

    Certainly there are ply boats which have met the criteria of beauty and serviceability to the joy of the owner as well as the more traditionally constructed hull. Certainly there are plank-on-frame craft which were a failure in all departments from the start.

    The craft must meet the objective of the user. Is it to simply get on the water? Leaning back in the cockpit under a well-set sail on a gorgeous day takes one away to Heaven be it in a gold plater or a ply pram.
    Some may only arrive at those pearly gates if they have lots of expensive wood around them. I may offer that those poor souls are sailing on their egoes more than any boat. However, the satisfaction of creating something finer escapes few who have begun in a more humble craft. I for one enjoy the construction as I anticipate the sail. And while sailing, I certainly enjoy it more having created my craft myself.

    So, we pays our money and we takes our choice. Under which shell is the little pea?

    Now for something nautical: In a small dingy, no gnus is good gnus.

    T Crisp
    posted 10-30-1999 10:57 PM
    Anyone that uses the resale value as a valid criteria for a boats design has knots in their head. I will spend around 150 hours building my plywood boat. I suspect it would take around 1500 hours to build the traditional way. If you place any value on time spent, the traditional boat would have to bring around $10000 more to cover labor costs. You don't see many homebuilt, under 20' used sailboats bringing more than $2500, if they can be sold at all. A factory built Flicka, or Cornish Shrimper will bring a big ticket price, but when a broker learns the boat is homebuilt, down goes the sticker. If you are building solely to make a profit, don't give up your day job.

    Bob Cleek
    posted 10-31-1999 01:59 AM
    Oh, this IS getting to be an interesting topic. Paul, you are right, I do sometimes shoot from the hip and occasionally miss, if not hit myself in the foot. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, though. Fact is, sometimes the question asked betrays a lot more than a need for the immediate answer. I suppose that's when I risk going astray. I can't resist tossing my two cents worth in when somebody asks how to do something that is really counterproductive to where they are trying to get. Seems to me if somebody asks about using ply for lapstrake plank, it makes sense to point out the benefits of regular plank, doesn't it? As for the NA who posted, his question really did indicate that he knew nothing about what he was contemplating. Now, it came to pass that he knew a lot about steel ships, apparently, but not about small sailing craft. Ultimately, he got all the info he needed.
    Now, Crisp, I can't really give you any other objective criteria for what is a good boat other than what it would bring in the marketplace. That seems to be the only unassailable opinion that isn't clouded by personal opinions. You are entirely correct that there is a stink on homebuilt boats, but that stink isn't because of where they were built, nor by whom, but rather HOW they are built. Nine times out of ten, a homebuilt boat of any size is junk. (Smaller craft being an exception, as the market bears out.) When I was selling boats, I saw all sorts of wierd concoctions whose owner builders loved dearly and felt were ever so special. Even where the design was good, and the craftsmanship excellent, they were hopeless, because of inappropriate materials and techniques. Few of these builders could resist the hubris of doing it their own way. Few could accept that in some three thousand years of western boatbuilding technology, they hadn't a chance of coming up with a better idea. Certainly, none had a chance of coming up with the slightest technological advance until they had at least mastered the craft as traditionally practiced so they would have something to build upon.

    Fads come and go in this game. Strip planking was big for a while. Then ferrocement was all the rage. Now it seems many think epoxy is a substitute for building a wooden boat well enough that it will keep the water out on its own.

    There is a passion to all this. There is a big difference between a Stradivarius and a Fender Stratocaster, even though both are fine instruments. But if you go to the wooden luthiers' forum (if such exists) you aren't going to see guys asking about epoxy laminated fiddles getting much better a reception that I give the plastic-dippers here. Wooden boat building is about the highest form of woodworking there is, save for musical instrument making. To continue the analogy, you can make a lot of fun music with a broomstick, string and a wash bucket, but that doesn't really make you an instrument maker, just a musician who makes his own instruments. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

    Now, I will take to heart much of the constructive criticism here, and it is appreciated. What I enjoy about the forum is the give and take, the humor, and the learning. No point in offering something nobody needs. So, I'll try to answer Crisp's first question: would Noah or Columbus have used plywood and epoxy. Noah definitely would have done so: he had no prior boatbuilding skill and no time to learn, (and no WB forum!) He only had to rely on his boat for forty days and it didn't have to go anywhere, it just had to float. Ply and epoxy would have been just the thing for Noah to whip up a big square box to fit all the animals in, had there been a biblical Home Depot for him to go shopping at. In fact, our experience in WWII bears this out. Plywood was the material of choice for "expendable" vessels which weren't intended to really last for long, like PT boats and Higgins landing craft. They were just the ticket. Fast to build, no skilled labor, cheap, light.

    Columbus, on the other hand, did go for the best ships he could afford. He knew he would have to rely on them and he didn't cut corners, even though his budget was limited. His ships stood him in good stead. Now, St. Brendan, my countryman, who reached the New World long before Columbus, did it in a frame boat covered with ox hide and pitch... sort of a seventh century version of dynel and epoxy, so ... what can I say? LOL

    T Crisp
    posted 10-31-1999 01:33 AM
    Well, this is a fun discussion and I appreciate your humor. Lets get the facts straight, though, Noah was rained upon for 40 days and 40 nights. I believe the boat had to last much longer than 40 days. I am no biblical scholar, so correct me if I am wrong! LOL It's also a good thing Columbus took 3 ships, because if I remember correctly, his flagship sank.

    Ross Millebr /> posted 10-31-1999 08:21 AM
    I'm not taking sides here, but your Strad/Strat analogy is a bit leaky. Some musical instruments are made of ply and epoxy, and no doubt they will survive longer in a marine environment, but the reason that they are rejected by the connoisseur does not apply to boats. It is, rather, that the sound is far superior from a traditionally-built instrument. Some prefer the music of waves on a wooden hull, but that's about as far as it goes. This, of course, does not negate your many vociferous arguments in favor of traditional methods, which I find valuable as I contemplate the plans for Atkin's Eric, but I have to jump in somewhere.

    [This message has been edited by Ross Miller (edited 10-31-99).]

    Scott D. Rosen
    unregistered posted 10-31-1999 07:02 PM
    There's an awful lot of B.S. flying about, so it must be time for me to join in.
    Bob, please don't take any of the criticism to heart. When you shoot from the hip, people run for cover. When they start shooting back, that's when the fun starts.

    Now, I'm no biblical scholar either, but I think we're walking on thin ice when we start using Noah in our arguments for traditional craft. There's countless volumes written about the Flood. But I would venture a guess that very little has been written about the ark's construction. The Bible itself says little: "Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make it an ark with compartments, and cover it inside and out with pitch. . . . The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make an opening for daylight in the ark, and terminate it within a cubit of the top. Put the entrance to the ark in its side; make it with bottom, second, and third decks."

    The plans, materials list and construction details must have gotten lost somewhere along the way. Oh well. It was the first and last boat designed by God, and we lost the plans. Just one more sign of man's failings.

    Noah wouldn't have used ply and epoxy, because he was building to God's specs, not his own. The theologians out there will shout, but the fact is God wanted to save Noah, and God presumably would have done anything necessary to keep the ark afloat. In other words, you can't really give Noah any credit for the ark. God designed it and told Noah how to build it. It only had to float as long as God decided the keep the flood going. For all we know, God stopped the flood after forty days because the ark would have fallen apart on the forty-first day. Kinda unusual that no other boats survived the flood; but what do I know?

    I like this debate. It's healthy. I agree with Bob completely on the plywood issue: the highest level of boatbuilding isn't achieved with plywood construction. At least not yet. On the other hand, I like plywood and will continue to build with it, with no apologies.

    As to resale value, I disagree with Bob completely. Why? Because 'glass boats have a much greater resale value than wood in almost every case. Price is determined by demand, and wooden boats, especially larger ones, no matter how well built, are not in high demand. Fiberglass boats are. But lets not kid ourselves. No one involved in this debate, including Bob, is building boats for resale. And we all know that it's almost impossible for any but the most skilled and devoted builder to make a profit on a wooden boat.

    The Strad/Strat analogy is right on. Each was designed to do a completely different job, and each does its job well. There is no debate that a Strad takes more skill than a Strat. But there is also no debate that a well built electric guitar, one that sounds good, represents a high level of craftsmanship, although no where near the level needed to build a fine violin. Another apt comparison would be a Nutshell Pram with a Herreshoff 12 1/2.

    'Nuff said. Who's up next?

    [This message has been edited by Scott D. Rosen (edited 10-31-99).]

    W. W. Wise
    posted 10-31-1999 07:12 PM
    Oh, Great Jaysus! Lots of opinions, mostly different, all correct (providing they don't step on one's personal pet theories.
    Highest market value? Hate to say it, guys, but it's that other material, hands down. And, no, thanks, I don't want one of those many floating horrors that bring the higest prices, resale and otherwise.

    Strad quality vs ply? I think I know a thing or two about that one, having played bass fiddle (yes, it's a double bass violin, but let's don't be pedantic here) in a dance band and a jazz band for many years in my misspent youth. That bass was American made of molded ply. Sound? As the saying went in the circles I ran in, when tuning at the beginning of the job, "that's close enough for jazz." Right! One night at a Mardi Gras ball, two bands, continuous music, the other band was from out of town, and the bass man was playing a wonderful Czech bass, one of those one ones made between the two wars. On our intermission I went over and stood beside him, admiring the instrument. Next set, he came over and stood beside me and offered to trade even for my bass. Reason? His sounded better, was easier to play, old, patched, fragile as all get out, and traveling all the time as they were doing, he kept busting it, as it just wasn't up to the rough road it was required to go. Mine would take it. Moral? If there is one, I suppose it's just that something is worth whatever it's worth for the use at hand, no more, no less.

    One of my favorite boat designs is owned by Bob C., and I just finished re-reading a book by Dr. David Lewis, recounting his experiences in the first single handed Atlantic race. Plank on frame, great design, built by one of the best builders going - and, he pumped his way across the ocean, both ways. Should have had her recaulked before the race. I've said it before and will say it again, I've no interest in mastering the art of caulking. So, in that regard, a well built ply boat would be of more value to me than one of plank on frame. True, she would be a different design, perhaps not as pretty - depending on the designer, at least to some extent.

    But, when walking the docks and admiring some of the boats, pitying the owners of others, there is no question but that the loveliest creations are plank on frame, wooden boats, when properly maintained. As I've said before, though, most that fall into that category are like admiring the most beautiful women - best admired from a distance, as the maintenance would be a horror.

    Nuff said for this time. As Bob C. and someone else said, though, I'll be back as I never know when I'm ahead. Luck to all.


    Bob Cleek
    posted 10-31-1999 10:01 PM
    Walt, you have hit the nail on the head... for free you gave me the answer I've paid thousands to my Jungian analyst to try to discover, to no avail. It is my apetite for beautiful boats and beautiful women... both are high maintenance acquistions and it is really beyond my ability to maintain one of each at the same time! ****... I guess I'm going to have to let the wife go!
    Scott, what the heck is gopher wood and do they carry it at Home Depot? Seems like there ought to be a big market for the stuff with the Fundamentalists! I forgot about the pitch! Sounds like Noah believed in sheathing as well! LOL

    Actually, believe it or not, here on the North West Coast, "pedigreed" traditionally constructed classic wooden boats are in far greater demand than fibreglass boats (in terms of comparable supply) and if decently maintained are fetching much higher prices and holding them much better. When fibreglass first became the rage in the late sixties and early seventies, the bottom did fall out of the wooden boat market. Fibreglass boats, however, are becoming a drug on the market. A new one still fetches a pretty penny, and, of course, the big ones are a thing unto themselves with all their gear and so on. However, folks here are giving away fibreglass boats to the Sea Scouts and other non-profits for the tax write-off because they can get more for them that way than by trying to sell them. This isn't happening with well built wooden boats, that's for sure. Those guys up in Port Townsend are scouring California for any decent wooden boat they can find, the prices up there have gone so high. They even buy our junkers and truck them north to restore for resale. Maybe it's different on the Right Coast, I don't know.

    As for caulking, it isn't rocket science. The "art" in caulking for the old time caulkers seems to have been in tightening up a lousey planking job. If the planking is tight, the caulking takes care of itself. As for David Lewis pumping all the way over and back in the first OSTAR, yea, it can be a drag, but remember, he took an old vessel and didn't do much repair work on her before setting out. If I recall, he lost his mast and had to return to the start under jury rig because of a rigging failure! He still took second, I think. LOL On the other hand, when plywood lets go, you don't pump, you swim!

    [This message has been edited by Bob Cleek (edited 10-31-99).]

    Dale Harvey
    posted 10-31-1999 10:36 PM
    Sorry fellas, it don't matter what you build it out of, its how you build it and how it does the job at hand. That Fender may be worth just about the same as a Strad in your marketplace, if the right person played it. As for amature verses "professional", one of the worst and most damaging things done to wooden boatbuilding was the crap cobbled up by major manufactures in the late fifties thru when they couldn't find any more fools to buy them. I get a real chuckle when I read of some misguided soul "restoring" a mid sixties timber planked Trojan, Chriscraft, Owens, ect. Most of the time there isn't enough decent hardware on one of those things to make them worth breaking up. Some were built too such poor scantlings that they can't be made as seaworthy as a worn out Novie lobsterboat globbered up with 'glass. There's right ways and wrong ways to build things out of any material. Time and the sea will prove what's best and most durable, but it's "eye candy" that brings the bucks in play boats.

    Paul Frederiksen
    posted 11-01-1999 01:08 AM
    Walt, seems your are living up to your name. What you said made a lot more sense than what I said. Nuf said...

    J. Dillon
    posted 11-01-1999 11:05 AM
    Plywood or traditional. I think it all depends on your goals. If you are in a hurry to get out on the water and enjoy your own home made boat,pick a method that you think you can handle. If it is ply or strip so what, you built and can enjoy your work. If you get inspired to tackle a more challenging method, got to it. For some it is the sheer enjoyment of the job as it proceeds and the use is an anti climax. For others the sail or use is the thing. I think I fit some where in between. I like doing the job and seeing the boat go together and the sailing to be anticipated and enjoyed later.

    Bob Cleek
    posted 11-01-1999 02:59 PM
    Right on, Dale!

    Keith Wilson
    posted 11-01-1999 04:48 PM
    Oooh boy, this is too good to pass up!
    One thing I don't understand is Bob C's antipathy to plywood lapstrake construction. Particularly for smaller boats that won't be kept in the water, and where light weight is a consideration, it seems an excellent way to make a light, strong, tight hull. Any shape that can be planked lapstrake with wood right from the tree can be done in plywood. In fact, becuse you can use thinner planking, the range of shapes that can be planked lapstrake without steaming is probably greater for plywood. Neither plywood nor any other type of wood will BEND into a compound curve. You can CARVE it into a compound curve, as in backing out planks, or the Chesapeake Bay carved forefoot, or you can make the hull out of such small pieces of wood relative to the size of the curves so that you get what appears to be a compound curve, but the wood still only bends one way.
    BTW, I sail a plywood Thunderbird on San Francisco Bay, and yes, despite its virtues, its a d***ed funny looking boat. One could, however, build a glued plywood Folkboat which, despite the howls of the traditionalists, would be superior in just about every respect to the traditionally-constructed version.

    Bob Cleek
    posted 11-01-1999 11:51 PM
    Keith, now, you won't get much argument from me on the Thunderbird. That's one great boat and she was designed solely for plywood construction. They do have their limitations, though, as I'm sure you know.
    All boatbuilding is an exercise in compromise. No method offers an absolute solution to all the problems that are inherent in the enterprise. I do think, however, that there is little merit to plywood lapstrake construction, as I've said before. Whole wood lapstrake plank can always be built more lightly than plywood. Plywood is heavy stuff. Its touted weight saving ability is only a function of employing its greater lateral rigidity over larger spaces, permitting a reduction in framing structure. That makes little or no difference in lapstrake construction where framing is minimal and the structural strength comes from the laps more so than from the frames.

    Plywood is a bear to plane across the edge and it is impossible to face plane. On the other hand, forming plank from good clear plank is a joy. I also consider the argument that plywood lap is better for boats kept out of the water because it won't shrink and leak pure bunk. Clinker building was invented to solve that problem. As I mentioned before, the planks swell and shrink across the grain and do not depend on caulking or an edge set to stay watertight in clinker construction. If you are really worried about a half hour worth of dribble, a bead of seam compound across the lap will prevent that. Covering the thing with epoxy only makes even more work, for it is nearly impossible to fair.

    I just don't see why anyone would go to the added trouble and expense of building a clinker boat out of plywood instead of real plank. Why not build one out of styrofoam sheet tacked together with a glue gun and then glass over the whole shebang? There is no difference, it will not leak, will be cheaper and easier to build and will be lighter than plywood?

    This gets us to what is a wooden boat and what is wooden boatbuilding. If you make something that floats, you are a boatbuilder. Nothing wrong with that. But if you build a boat out of wood, you aren't necessarily a wooden boat builder in the sense that the concept is generally understood. We could build boats out of chipboard covered with epoxy. We could build boats out of epoxy and sawdust. Boats have even been made out of paper mache. Would they be "wooden boats?" To some, yes, for they are made of wood, or more wood than anything else. To others, no. There are "wooden boats," and there are "WOOD PRODUCT boats." Plywood boats are "wood product" boats. Wooden boats, on the one hand, have evolved over a few thousand years and represent the culmination of a culture and artistic heritage. "Wood product boats" are something altogether different. As our technology advances, they may someday prove to be worthwhile. In the short haul, many have, such as the Thunderbird. There is nothing wrong with that.

    Still and all, it seems that as time goes on, the old maxim proves itself over and over again: a shortcut often ends up being the longest way around. Many will keep building plywood boats and have fun doing it. That's reason enough to do it.

    But, if you are adventurous and romantic, building traditionally will link you with generations of wooden boat builders throughout history who have faced and solved the very same problems in exactly the same way. If you build with plywood and epoxy, it is so very much harder to leave as much of your soul inside the boat you build. One of the old timer's stock answers when asked if one material or technique will "last" is to say, "It'll last as long as I do..." The joke is that no master boatbuilder builds boats to last as long as they do. Like any artist, the goal is to build something that will last longer than you do and in doing so, to leave something of yourself for others to enjoy in it. Some artists paint with poster paint on newsprint and others oil on canvas.

    [This message has been edited by Bob Cleek (edited 11-01-99).]

    T Crisp
    posted 11-02-1999 12:59 AM
    Reading Bob's broken record remarks gives me a laugh. Each post says the same thing. It's like a salesman saying over and over that the car was owned by a little old lady while he stands in front of the painted over yellow cab lettering. To suggest a plywood boat is not a wooden boat is ludicrous. Whether it's clinker, lapstrake, or any other type of boat boat construction, it's all about lamination. The only non-laminated boat you will ever find is a dugout canoe. Some use cotton caulk, others use pitch and tar, some use epoxy. Plywood is simply the same **** wood laminated in a factory. You should thank your lucky stars so many boats are being built from plywood and fiberglass. If everyone that wanted a boat was stuck with your "ONLY WAY" to properly build a boat, there wouldn't be a tree left in North America. 'nuff said

    NormMessingebr /> posted 11-02-1999 09:48 AM
    Well, "T", I'm puzzled as to why Bob's opinions make you laugh, which is from derision rather than good humor, I fear. Gosh, man, there is only so many ways one can express ones opinion regarding wood and wood products.
    I'm building a composite boat, wood on the inside, googue on the surface, but throw my lot in with the wooden boat, however it is defined, crowd and accept that some may not consider my boat pure. Macht nicht. Truth be told, it isn't, depending on the definition one uses. So what? We here in the prairie have to take our wood fibres any way we can get them, eh.

    By the way, if your are interested, let me know and I'll add your snail mail address to the Boats-of-Wood, world headquarters, David City, Nebraska, mailing list so you'll get a notice of the spring splash in probably at Branched Oak Lake near Lincoln. Our small group has some dandy wooden boats and boats of wood. What are you building or sailing? We'd welcome another.


    Bob Cleek
    posted 11-02-1999 01:33 PM
    It all just proves the old addage, you shouldn't speak ill of another guy's wife or boat...LOL

    posted 11-02-1999 02:52 PM
    A Strad is valuable in and of itself because of the fabulous (and so far unduplicated) sound. A Fender might be similarly valuable mostly because of which talented star owned it before he OD'd. In and of themselves they're all pretty much the same - middle quality machines built to take a fair ammount of abuse. But on a more interesting note: Here's to high-maintenance, but beautiful, boats and women. The world would been sad and boring without them.

    John Gearing
    posted 11-02-1999 04:31 PM
    And so we are back to arguing over whether plywood, cold molding, or strip planking, among other methodologies, can be called wooden boatbuilding? First off, let me say that this is one of those arugments, in my opinion, that is akin to fighting over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Instead of bullyragging each other over what is or isn't a wooden boat we ought to be working on our boats!
    And so, with that introduction I will now proceed to bullyrag some more. Bob C, it is my opinion that you do not know what you are talking about when it comes to the weight difference between small boats that have been built of glued lap ply vs.traditional clinker. Let's take canoes as an example. Pete Culler designed the Butternut solo canoe to be built in traditional lapstrake. The LOA is 12 feet 8 inches, the max beam 27 1/2 inches, the depth 10 inches. Built traditionally these boats weigh in at around 40 lbs. Tom Hill designed the Charlotte as a solo glued lap plywood canoe. It is 11 feet, 6 inches long, 27 inches max beam, and 12 inches depth amidships. It weighs around 25 lbs. Yes, Culler's boat is about a foot longer, but that difference can't begin to account for the 15 pound difference. Look at the weight per foot and it is clear that Hill's boat is lighter. I should also like to point out that Walt Simmons, in his fine book on building traditional lapstrake canoes, states that a typical Rushton canoe weighed about 4.2 lbs/foot of length. Now I am not talking about freak boats like Sairy Gamp. She was built specifically for George Washington Sears (Nessmuk) who was a short, lightly built man whose weight we would consider quite low today; and even Rushton thought it was too light. Assuming Simmons' numbers are correct, we can estimate that a traditional 11.5 foot canoe would weigh about 46 pounds. I think you are just flat-out wrong in claiming that plywood boats have to be heavier than their trad equivalents.

    Let's take another example. Culler's 15 foot 8 inch version of his Good Little Skiff. It is a flat-bottomed traditional skiff with a centerboard. When Culler built this boat the customer wanted it as light as possible. In Burke's "Pete Culler's Boats" Culler is quoted as saying that the boat came in at "303 lbs, not including her gear" and notes that they used cedar in a lot of places they would have ordinarily used oak or pine. Now, Steve Redmond's Whisp is 15 feet 8 inches long, built of plywood, and weighs 68 lbs. Sure, Culler's boat's beam is a foot more than Redmond's but if we made Whisp the same dimensions as the Good Little Skiff, what would it weigh? My guess is about 100 lbs. Your statement just doesn't bear up under the evidence I've seen, Bob.

    The whole argument about weight is a red herring anyway. Years ago small boat designers often designed their traditional hulls to be heavy. The believed, for instance, that heavy rowing boats carried better between strokes. Unfortunately, they were wrong, as Phil Bolger has pointed out. I would like to see someone design a traditionally built boat to Whisp's dimensions and have it weigh less, I really would. I just don't believe it can be done and if you know of any traditional designs that can meet this challenge would you please reference them?

    Secondly, you keep saying that traditionally constructed boats are easier to build. I have before me both Simmons' aforementioned building manual and Tom Hill's manual. They are both good books, but I am as certain as I can be that if you gave them both to a rank amateur, that first-time builder would have a vastly easier time building one of Hill's canoes than he would one of Simmons'. Regardless of the fact that Walt's book is well-written and clear, I firmly believe that Hills' method is much simpler for the novice. I don't believe you are correct in making a blanket statement regarding which method is inherently easier.

    Now, as for this issue about looks and beauty. Can't we all agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Why are we trying to legislate it on this forum? I have seen one of Culler's Butternuts built the way he intended and it is indeed a beautiful boat. Lovely rivets. Very salty and just oozing history. I have also seen William Clements' glued lap version of the same boat and find his product just as beautiful and showing just as much craftsmanship. They are different, to be sure. Bill's doesn't look traditional. It looks modern. It probably doesn't have a single metal fastener in it. I find them both beautiful. You may not. To each his own.

    And to just drive this point home yet again, in the realm of bigger boats. Sam Devlin and his crew build stitch and glue YACHTS for crying out loud and they are well-respected for it. And they do it in the Pacific NW of all places, not in Crib Death, Iowa. Have you read the articles on Devlin in Woodenboat? And as far as strip plank goes, I would be astounded if anyone on this forum, or anyone who loves classic boats, could read the article in WB on Spirit Yachts and not conclude that their level of craftsmanship is topnotch and that these boats are of the finest quality. And while we're talking about quality and non-traditional methods, it would behoove everyone to go through their back issues and read the article about Vic Carpenter of Superior Boats. Their boats are, to my eyes, beyond "furniture" quality. Every inch of the interior is gorgeous, glowing wood. And no, they are not cold-molded hulls. They are glued-seam planking and Carpenter offers a ten-year warranty against any hull leakage.

    Now, as to the claims that traditional lapstrake construction eliminates drying out for boats that are dry-sailed. I agree that it reduces drying out markedly, maybe "completely" if your laps are cut right and are tight or if you squirt some sealant in the laps. Now, let's consider travel. Richard Jagels wrote in WB that he cartopped his traditional Guideboat from Maine to Blue Mtn Lake, NY for a regatta. When he put the boat in the water it leaked so badly he couldn't use it. Not a few inches of weeping seam. Real leaks. Even though his laps are fastened mechanically every inch or so, evaporative drying caused by cartopping opened things up. This wouldn't have happened with a 'glas covered stripper. Of course the stripper isn't a traditional boat, but then the traditional boat wasn't designed to be hauled down the road in a 60 mph breeze, either. I'm sure you can quote counter examples, but that's not the point. The point is that blanket statements are simply pointless. Glued lap boats have disadvantages of their own. As to traditional lapstrake boats. To say that one is more valid a boat than the other is, to me, ridiculous.

    Yep, there can be horrid, ugly plywood boats. But as you yourself pointed out, even traditionally built boats can be quite effectively butchered by backyard builders hell-bent on "improving" the design. I like to think that if folks start out with a simple plywood boat they will have quick success and will get bitten by the boatbuilding bug and will want to learn traditional methods as their interest grows. Maybe it doesn't work this way, but I like to think it does, at least for some folks.

    And to say that market value is the only yardstick of a boat's worth is, to me, nonsensical. You are speaking strictly of exchange value and not use value. Dave Goodchild's purpose-built sailboat, in which he intends to "circumnavigate" the Atlantic, might not find ready buyers; but to him the boat is extremely valuable for precisely the reason that he couldn't find it's like anywhere else. Stop thinking like a broker.

    And I must take exception to your statement that true artists intend their work to outlast them so that they leave a cultural legacy. Many artists' work is of the moment, after which it is gone forever. Examples: a stage actor's performance; a Nolan Ryan no-hitter; any show by the Grateful Dead. In the realm of Architecture let's take the example of the Palace of Fine Arts in downtown San Francisco. It was built as part of the Pan-Pacific Exposition of 1915, which occupied most of what is now the Marina District. The buildings were designed to be impermanent. They were built of materials that would decompose fairly quickly once the fair was over. The idea was that the site should appear to be covered with ruined temples and buildings of great antiquity. Fact is that the Palace of Fine Arts was rebuilt using the original molds and plans, or else it would have crumbled to dust some 80 years ago. And in the realm of boatbuilding, I think you are all wet on this point. Herreshoff's racing sailboats--the NY30's, 40's, and 50's for example--were not intended for long lives. Racing boats in those days were commonly discarded by their owners after a season or two. Herreshoff's designs were elegant, his materials the finest and his methods topknotch. Craftsmanship was high, but not perfect. Those old Herreshoff racing boats in existence today have survived far longer than their designer thought they would, if one is to believe the people who make their living restoring them. And Bud McIntosh made it clear in his articles in WB that as a builder you have to balance the quality you build into the boat against the price you're being paid. Bud said he always ended up building the boats better than he should have, which probably accounts for why there are still McIntosh boats around as well as why Bud didn't get rich building them. Once again, I think you have made a sweeping generalization that can't stand up to scrutiny.

    Bob, I don't get this whole magilla of yours about political correctness and diversity. You have brought this up before but for the life of me I can't see what it has to do with wooden boats. Do you watch Rush Limbaugh on PC TV while you compose your forum replies? In my opinion it is you who are obsessed with being politically correct. Only traditional boats are "worthy" so that's what we should aspire to? Someone mentions plywood and you jump his case, so we're all supposed to walk on eggshells around you? See, you expect us to be politically correct with respect to your opinions regarding boatbuilding.

    And that brings me to the final (I'm sure many are glad to see that word) part of this screed: who died and made you the boatbuilding God, Bob? When you first got on the forum you really helped a lot of people but lately it seems to me that what is issuing forth from your keyboard are more like pronouncements from on high. Did all that praise go to your head? It's not up to you or any of us to decide for this forum what is and isn't a wooden boat. But to keep ragging on everyone who wants to buld a plywood boat, well, I think that your facts are faulty. And it's getting boring to read

    big jack
    posted 11-02-1999 05:21 PM
    Bob sure helped me out with modelling material even though I'm building a ply boat..
    and he sure does end alot of posts with LOL...

    maybe you just don't see the twinkle in his eye...


    landlocked sailobr /> posted 11-02-1999 07:55 PM
    John, that was a very well thought out, well researched and documented opinion. Your comparisons of specific examples of ply vs. traditional boats is very informative and useful. I agree with the pionts you make. Having said that, I do believe that Bob's heart is in the right place. I don't really get a self-righteous tone in his posts at all, more like "one voice in the wilderness. Having built one boat with traditional methods (Rich Kolin's flat bottom skiff), I am trying one using glue-lap ply. (Iain Oughtred's AUK). I want to try both methods. I'd like to try a stitch & glue boat some day. Why not? I think I can only improve my skills and my understanding by experimenting. Certainly these will all be for my own pleasure w/o thought of selling or market value. If I stick to small boats I can build more than one, use them more and have more fun. Rick

    Chris S
    posted 11-02-1999 08:22 PM
    Years ago I did a couple of tours on a Research Vessel on lake Erie. When the weather was too rough to do the lab work on station we made a point to try to get into one of the fishing ports on the Canadian side so while the lab personal were running there equipment the ship's company and volunteers could go to the local watering hole to do some 'research' by quizing the local fisherman. While are focus was on water quality we valued the info the locals had on there catch, particularly since disolved oxygen contant was a major issue back then. The important thing that was pointed out to me then was while you could bet your paycheck on there having the facts right about locations, sizes, specices etc, you had to be carefull to disern there opinions as to why the fish were where they were, which was often was contrary to the info we were getting from the lake. With all do respect to Canadian perch fisherman, what they learned from fishing years in the same local served them well and put them onto the fish even if the underlieing facts as to why the fish were there were a little off. I've since found this is true in just about every aspect of life, pay attention to those who've been there before and have had good results but don't confuse end results with facts. I think Bob's disirtations on ply or any other boatbuilding method he's talked about are full of great advise and usually well worth reading, but that's not to say his is the last word on any subject either (as he himself points out).If he hadn't been so opinionated on the subject chances are John would have never had such a good format to point out the facts as he saw them and I would have been deprived of such a fine learning opportunity from both ends of the spectrum. On the subject of what is a wood boat, keep in mind this forum is sponsered by WoodBoat magazine,not wood boat lovers asscs., Sinsce we are all just visitors and there the host, seems fair that they get to set the ground rules. If they report on it in there mag, feature it in there launchings, or even except it as advertising then it certainly seems fair game for discussion on this forum. I'm considering building one of Platt Monfort's designs, far strech to consider this a wood boat in the classical sense, yet they regularly appear in launchings as do a number of other "skinned" boats. I think Jon Wilson's article in the aniversry edition explains it best when he talks about room for both modern and traditional as long as it's quality and started life as a tree. I hope both Bob and John keep antagonizing each other just enough to draw out the best of both of them and hopefully not the worst. It sounds like you both have thick skins and can probabably take whatever the other dishes out. While I'm not sure I'd want to have the stool between the two of you in a bar, in the end I'm (and everybody else with an open mind)the biggest winner for having the both of you to sound off on one another. Keep up the good work and don't let it get personel.Thanks, Chris

    Bob Cleek
    posted 11-02-1999 11:24 PM
    My first post in this string, responding to a personal inquiry as to why I "hated" plywood and epoxy so much, began: "I think people take me too seriously!" I then denied hating it at all and tried to clarify my opinion for Crisp.
    Well, I sure seem to have agitated a whole bunch of people! I have to say, I'm chuckling over it. If you go back and read my various incendiary posts, I think you all will have to admit that my specific comments (which were purely opinion, nothing more) were directed at using plywood for lapstrake construction. From there, it all seems to have taken on a life of its own. What a fascinating process!

    I didn't begin with the intention of arousing passion in this forum, but that has been the result and I think it is a really good thing. Lots and lots of information has come forth, and I hope, a lot of people have been excited by it.

    John is right about lightweight small craft, no question about it. It is possible to build lighter small craft from certain types of ply given appropriate designs. However, I think John will agree that once you start sheathing it all in epoxy and glass cloth, the weight starts increasing rapidly. John's point about "air drying" on the car top is one I hadn't thought about. That would certainly make the case for ply/epoxy if it's a cartopper you are after.

    I also have to agree with you, John, that many designed for ply boats are indeed easier for the novice to build. I took pains to note that building anything that floats is a worthwhile enterprise and a feat to be admired. The whole thing got started because I urged someone who asked about plywood lapstrake to consider regular plank lapstrake because I though plank was EASIER to work than ply.

    John, the last thing anyone should do is walk around on eggshells near me! LOL I LOVE a good argument, even when I am wrong. I am fascinated by the strength of the reaction that my suggestion that traditional construction is somehow more noble than plywood and googe. I would have expected that the proposition would have simply been ignored, but instead, a whole school of fish have risen to the bait. Why is that, anyway? Why would they really care what I thought? Do some find something inherently threatening in the possibility? I really don't have an answer for that one.

    Now, there is no question that the "health" of traditional wooden boat revival phenomenon, and WB magazine itself, is in a fairly large measure attributable to the new construction systems dependent upon polymer adhesives. In a sense, the latest creation of say, Gannon and Benjamin, owes her existence to the accessibility of ol' Dynamite Payson's stitch and glue boats to the average Joe Sixpack. I am the first to champion anybody's building a boat out of whatever they can get their hands on. While you sure don't want me judging a plywood boat against a traditionally built boat of the same design in your wooden boat festival, that's just my own bias, and that of a few other curmudgeons. That bias, however, does fall short of jumping down anyone's throat. I certainly wasn't intending to hurt anyone's feelings, John, just to say what was on my mind.

    Rest assured that my credentials are about as politically incorrect as they can be, short of sedition. I am one of those throwbacks who believes that in some instances, there are absolutes. Some things work and some don't. Now, I may not always call 'em right, but I never hesitate to take a stand. I continue to believe that traditional construction is a higher level of the wooden boat art form than other construction methods, even though the alternative methods produce boats of quality in their own way. That shouldn't threaten anyone, or hurt feelings. It's really no different than saying that Beethoven is a far greater composer than McCartney. I listen to both their works frequently and enjoy each for different reasons, but if I aspired to be a composer, I'd rather write something like Beethoven than McCartney. Some may say the difference between the two is a matter of quality and others a matter of taste. What difference does it make? When it came to traditional vs. non-traditional wooden boats, it seems to have made a lot more difference to some than it ever did to me!

    [This message has been edited by Bob Cleek (edited 11-02-99).]

    Art Read
    posted 11-03-1999 01:53 AM
    Oh, God, Bob... NOW you've done it! If you think people are "touchy" about boatbuilding methods, wait till you get a Beatles fan going!! ;-}

    Miller, Robert W.
    posted 11-03-1999 03:15 AM
    I have followed the line of thought on this one and even went back and reread the original thoughts of Bob C. and plywood as recorded in the fourm. I find his views to be fairley consistant and fair to the subject at hand, plywood constuction of boats as opposed to "solid lumber" construction. Anyone who has taken the time to do the same, as T crisp (and by the way way, who the hello is "T crisp"?)evidently has done, would know that Bob C. would not fail to rise to the fight! T Crisp is 50 and Bob M. is 55, the difference between the two of us is not time in grade, its the number of hostile DZ's we've hit. If "T" were me, and I were he, our roles would be reversed you see, For then he would have boats as old as he, named for his grandsons, just like me.
    Build it any way you want "T", just remember that when the next guy has it, what you did reflects on just who in the hell you are. Bob M. P.S. I'll try on John G. on for size as soon as I quit being intimidated by the fact that he actualy thinks, before he types!

    Scott D. Rosen
    unregistered posted 11-03-1999 08:59 AM
    [This message has been edited by Scott D. Rosen (edited 11-03-99).]

    Scott D. Rosen
    unregistered posted 11-03-1999 09:00 AM
    I'm really enjoying this debate even though I don't have particularly strong feelings on the ply vs. solid lumber debate. I, too, am surprised by the visceral reactions to Bob C's opinions.
    John you make some excellent and informative points. But your last point . . . well . . .

    No one has appointed Bob C. as the wooden boat god. In fact, Bob repeatedly goes out of his way to state over and over that his opinion is just that: his opinion. He doesn't usually present it as anything but. I think you may be giving more value and weight to Bob's opinions than he gives to them himself. And, so long as his posts provoke informative responses like yours, this will never be boring.

    Viva la debate!

    [This message has been edited by Scott D. Rosen (edited 11-03-99).]

    T Crisp
    posted 11-03-1999 12:02 PM
    Mr. Miller,
    FYI, my name is Terry Crisp. Thats a good old English name passed down through several generations of our family. Sure, I baited Bob a little with my first post, but I wanted a good discussion about different methods of boat construction. This discussion had properly ended with
    Bob's last post and I was ready to let him have the last word. Now, you come along as the message thread is dying and attempt to recusitate it with a carefully shielded personal attack. You know nothing of my background, yet have made a rationalization stating that you have something I don't have, an old boat. Well, you are correct. I no longer have the first boat I built, a friend has it. It was a simple little pram, built for duck hunting, and after 26 years, its still in use. BTW, it was built from 1/4" ACX plywood with canvas and plastic resin glue in the seams and was painted with latex house paint. My Dad built three plywood boats in the mid 50's. All 28 footers with the same hull plan, one offshore and 2 cruisers. The offshore and one of the cruisers are still in use today. The other cruiser was destroyed in a fire.

    Bob responded like a gentleman to all in this post and I commend him for that. The only thing he said that I totally disagree with is the statement about Plywood boats not being "wooden boats", but being "wood products boats". It all comes from trees, but that is my opinion.

    Obviously, Mr. Miller, since you have boats as old as you, named for your grandsons, they are not boats you built. They were built by someone else and you either inherited them or purchased them. While you may have done lots of maintainence or rebuilding, your legacy will be something you acquired, not something you produced. Even though my little sailboat is built from plywood, my grandson will be able to say his grandfather built it, not bought it.

    posted 11-06-1999 08:58 AM
    This sure is a long thread. Took me forever to get to the bottom. Needs more substance, less steam.
    For what it's worth, here's the perspective of a new guy. (I'm 31 and I've yet to fulfill my dream of building a boat).

    After reading Chapelle's "Boatbuilding", and other texts, I found myself still open minded about what makes a boat "respectable" or "noble". Neither Chapelle nor the other authors placed any bias on real wood vice plywood. Although strip planking with epoxy is a relatively modern method, it seems pretty traditional to me; after all, the great Chapelle took the time to write about it.

    Okay, I'll get to the point. Bob urges us to be not afraid and try it the old way. To tell you the truth, working with epoxy scares me, as does smoothing plywood edges. On the other hand, I have no experience using a hand plane either. I’m looking for the experience of building a boat. In doing so, I want to experience the least frustration, and most satisfaction. I expect the satisfaction to come from learning a whole lot about the tools and methods of the trade, as well as creating a work of art that I can sit back and just look at for hours. I know I want my cake etc., that is, I know I will experience what I call "artist’s pain", the "if I only this and thats..." I guess I’ll have to build many boats before I get there, but stepping off on the right foot should help.

    Until now I would have been perfectly satisfied building a strip plank and epoxy hull (plywood on the other hand has always seemed something less to me, whether we’re talking boats or not). Now it seems that some may not consider such methods a true expression of the art (at least that’s how it comes across). I don’t believe this is a good thing. It could discourage someone like myself from attacking a project that is best suited for their skill level, one that encompasses minimal frustration and provides much satisfaction and personal growth. If cedar lapstrake is within reach for a beginner, and costs less, then it sounds perfect. I guess that’s Bob’s point. Why not encourage people to get familiar with traditional methods before experimenting with more modern techniques? Seems like such an approach will ensure that the richness of the old ways are never lost. I recall from 7th grade woodshop that we had to learn the hand tools before we could touch the power tools. That, I know, was a good thing.

    I recommend we stick to the facts, and keep words like "respectable" and "noble" out of it. I want to know more about the methods, successes, failures, and lessons learned, so that I can do it right the first time; for instance, for a beginner, what would be the recommended methods for planking a Whitehall, and why?


    Bob Cleek
    posted 11-06-1999 01:41 PM
    TM, before you do anything else, go down to your local tool store and spring for a Record or Stanley Bailey jack plane and a book on plane tuning and use. Spend a day playing with it, learning how to sharpen and polish it. Then get some soft wood (for starters) and start planing. I guarantee you will be up to your ankles in curly shavings and blissfully ignoring SWMBO's dinner summons! Using a well tuned plane is the most sensually satisfying activity around! And, you don't have to sleep on the wet spot!
    The real advantage of a plane is that you can sneak up on the fit. If you limit yourself to sawing, especially power saws, you only get as close as the saw cut, which is nearly always off plus or minus. With a plane, you can cut just shy of the line and then with a few licks come right up to that "fag paper" thin fit one of our British cousins recently described. Along the way, you will also realize why fitting planking with real wood is a lot easier than fitting planking with ply (but let's not go there again! LOL)

    There's no need to buy a gazillion expensive antique wooden planes or those jewelry quality Lie Nielsen jobs (although I wish I could bring myself to buy all of them!) Your basic Stanley or Record will work just fine and have been the industry standard forever. (These two brands are IDENTICAL, really.) These are $75 tools that you will be handing down to your grandchildren. You will be amazed how often you reach for a plane to take off that last little smidgen, once you get used to them. I would say that no self respecting individual can call themselves a woodworker or boatbuilder until they are comfortable with a hand plane! (Not THAT statement will start a whole 'nother arguement, I bet... I can hear it now: "Cleek, why do you hate power tools?" LOL)

    posted 11-06-1999 03:42 PM
    Bob, first of all, what the hay is "LOL"?
    Second, I currently live in an apartment with my wife and 2yr old daughter, but I have a Workmate I can take out on the porch. Can you recommend a small wood working project that introduces one to using a plane? Making chips just doesn't sound so exciting. Also, what book are you recommending?

    Thanks, Tony.

    Bob Cleek
    posted 11-07-1999 03:14 AM
    "LOL" is one of those stupid "computerese" abbreviations that have come into use on the net, and which I have to admit, I've caved in to using. It means, "laughing out loud" and is used generally to express that fact, or to signal that something was supposed to be humorous or sarcastic. The next step higher is ROTFLMAO, which stands for "rolling on the floor laughing my ass off." You will also see SWMBO used in here and it seems to be coming into common use. SWMBO stands for "she who must be obeyed," a reference to the term of endearment used by the long suffering Horace Rumpole for his nagging wife in the PBS series "Rumpole of the Bailey."
    Your workmate is great for planing. The bench dogs on it, and the long vise clamp are perfect for holding wood you may need to plane. As for projects, I remember my Dad telling me when I was old enough to want to mess with his "good" tools (he had junk I was previously permitted to play with) if I wanted to use his planes, I had to be able to make a perfect cube. Then he gave me this odd shaped chunk of pine and said, "Here's a plane and a tri square and a pencil. When you have a perfect cube made out of it, you can use the rest of my hand tools." It took me a while, but I succeeded. The cube was smaller than I'd planned, since I had to make more than a few revisions, but I did it! Why not get yourself some nice soft pine or mahogany with pretty straight grain (which is easiest to plane) and make some small planks out of it and then plane the edges and edge glue those until you have what you need to make a nice little "goodie box" for that little girl of yours. She can keep her treasures in it as she grows older. Kids always need a little stash box like that which is "theirs" to keep special little stuff in.

    Another option would be to build yourself an old fashioned carpenter's tool box with dovetailed corners and all. You must need something like that living in an apartment. I remember the two greatest luxuries I enjoyed most when I bought my first house were having a washer and dryer and not having to go to the laundromat anymore and a garage where I could build a workbench and tool cabinets!

    Fine Woodworking magazine has some good books out on planes and plane work. There is a fancy book out called "The Plane Book," which looks neat. These two are good, I think: "The Fundamentals of Fine Woodworking" by Robert Ferencsik, Sterling Publishing ISBN 0-8069-4250-9 and "Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking - Joinery: Tools and Techniques" (Fine Woodworking Mag) The Taunton Press ISBN 0-918804-04-3.

    Miller, Robert W.
    posted 11-08-1999 11:31 PM
    This is for an old son. No disrespect intended. Terry, you must walk down the warf with me as we watch the boats become who they are. There is no way to change a caravel hull to a clinker built one. Strip built or cold molded is the same, not! Now you, Terry C.(For you see as I know the name!} will now be a part of the game, and your presence will be required and please, just stick to the facts, if you please! The thing is not laughing out loud, it's, lot's of love!Bob Miller lol

    G. Schollmeiebr /> posted 11-09-1999 09:59 AM
    WOW!! This is why I keep coming back to this forum. What an education. I think wood will always be used in the construction of boats. How it is used will continue to change. I can only imagine the ridicule heaped upon the first person to plank build, when the dugout was the tradition. Also LOL.
    [This message has been edited by G. Schollmeier (edited 11-09-99).]

    [This message has been edited by G. Schollmeier (edited 11-09-99).]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    cambridge,ma. USA


    Plywood and glue...epoxy.....all at times....right on BC.

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