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Page Title: Construction Methods



Glued Plywood Lapstrake Construction

Glued Plywood Lapstrake construction was developed sometime after WWII and became popular with power boat builders such as Chris Craft and Thompson among others in the 1950’s and 60’s. Its shortcoming at that picture of glued lapstrake boat under constructiontime was that the plywood was susceptible to rot because there was nothing other than paint to keep water from soaking in to the edge grain of the plywood. Still, it proved to be a cost effective way to build a durable, handsome boat. In the late 70’s the Gougeon Brothers came out with their book on boat construction using West epoxy resins and everything changed in plywood construction. Wood epoxy saturation treatment very effectively seals the edge grain of the plywood used in Glued Lapstrake construction as well as being an excellent glue to glue the panels together. Rot is no longer an issue even with boats that are left in the water for long periods of time. The boats also stay light and stiff because they don’t soak up water. Because the planks are glued together there are no leaks and far fewer fasteners. In fact what fasteners that are used are primarily there to hold the boat together while the glue cures.

Glued plywood Lapstrake construction can be achieved with a number of techniques including stitch andpicture of a dory made in 1980 glue, however Joe prefers systems developed by Joel White, Tom Hill (Ultra-light Boat Building) and John Brooks (How To Build Glued-Lapstrake Wooden Boats) as well as tricks he has developed over the years. Typically Joe's boats have a thicker bottom plank or wide keel to give the boat a wider glue seam at the gar-board plank as well as a tougher bottom. The bottom is then glassed up to the top of the gar-board planks with 3 oz. or 4 oz. glass cloth. He prefers mahogany for transoms, gunwales and seat stringers, clear pine for seats, and cedar or teak for floor boards. The boats receive two coats of epoxy inside and out followed by four coats or more of paint or varnish. Seat systems, sail rigs, centerboards and rudders, and oars can be simple or traditional (fancy) depending on the owners preference.

These boats tend to be very durable, low maintenance, and long lived. Joe's first Dory built in 1980 (pictured here in a recent photo) is still in use and looking fine, as are most of the later boats I have built.

Maintenance for a yacht tender, for example, that stays in the water all summer beating up against other boats and the dinghy dock is as follows. Inspect the boat at the end of the season for dings and scratches. Repair the dings and scratches with epoxy and fillers. Lightly sand the hull with 220 grit sandpaper. Paint or vanish up to 2 coats. Re finish seats if necessary. Refinish interior if necessary. Repair gunwale guard if necessary. Store upside down until launch in spring. This requires as little as 4 hrs. of labor.


Strip Plank Construction
The Slipper in the water

I have heard that strip plank construction started in the late 1940ʻs when mills began producing production windows and doors. A waste material of these mills were long strips of wood that the local fisherman-boatbuilders began using to build fishing boats. They would edge nail the strips together over sawn frames using a bedding compound in between the strips.

Modern strip planking was developed for canoe building using epoxy and fiberglass to enhance the strength of the boats. In modern strip planking we mill strips with a cove on one side of the strip and a bead on the other side so that the strips lock together. The strips on a Salt Pond Slipper are 3/4 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick. I use western red cedar for the strips above the water line and white cedar below the water line.

Planking is started at the sheer. Each plank is glued to the previous plank and clamped to the molds. When the planking reaches the water line the planks are trimmed to the water line and planking continues in white cedar.

When the planking is done and the outer keel and stem have been glued in place the hull is sanded smooth and epoxy coated and glassed. The hull is then removed from the molds, sanded smooth on the inside and epoxied and glassed inside. The hull can then be finished out with rails, knees, and interior.

The result is a very light, strong, and beautiful boat.

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