Transoms and Then Some

Inner Transom 


(to start of project)

 Yellow Pine smells like Georgia.

And Sandalwood incense.

And the rosin in my grandfather’s fiddle case.

When working a fresh board the whole room fills with the smell, and memories of building forts with buddies as a kid with scraps scavenged off construction sites. Loblolly Pine was so common we held the tree in general disdain. Thick amber sap, oozing from wounds in the trees,  made us sticky when we leaned against them, or coated palms if you handled a limb, and nothing would take it off but gasoline or lighter fluid. Our mothers fretted over laundry. What we didn’t appreciate at the time was how well suited the wood is for many things, including boat building – that rosin, like a natural varnish, makes the wood resistant to rot.

This weekend the basement smelled like Georgia.

The inner transoms are done. The rake makes for some interesting shaping. Each strip plank, falling on a different spot, essentially needs it’s own beveled contact point on the transom, and that bevel changes for each strip. You start out with a hand plane, then switch to a disk sander, and use a piece of strip to check the bevel all the way around as you go.





The Edges of the molds are all taped, so they won’t be permanently glued to the hull, and a batten is pinned along the top to hold them steady. Once some strips are in place the batten can be removed.





The next step is to start planking the hull with cedar strips. Each strip is round on one edge and cupped on the other – bead and cove – so they interlock. You have to run a thin string of glue in the cove for the full 15 foot length of each strip before mounting it in place against the bead of the previous strip. It’s a very long and wobbly piece of wood; throw in a coating of sticky glue and you have all the elements of a Laurel and Hardy skit.

Some people turn the strips over, mounting them to the hull cove side up, and fill the cove of the first strip before adding the next one. There is some wisdom in this, especially if you’re building a canoe. But most of the Melonseed hull is horizontal, so I think the glue would run out before you got the next strip on tight. Also, you have to figure out weird holdy things to press the strip in place. Just pressing with your fingers damages the fragile fine edges of the cove. Hmmm.

So, I made these handy strip holders to prop them in place while applying the glue. Then there’s problem of getting the wobbly gluey strips from the holder on to the boat. Should be interesting.



We’ll know just how interesting soon enough – I’ll start putting strips on by the weekend, if not before.

melonseed skiff, mellonseed skiff, melon seed, mellon seed   

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