Steve’s Boat Building An amateur’s attempt to build a strip plank dinghy

Making the “spine”

The spine of the boat is made up of plywood girders in the stem and stern, and the centreboard case amidships. These items are reinforced by the hog, and hardwood fillets along the bottom and the bow. Because I have been trying to use up several boards of 18 mm plywood that for probably 50 years have been the floor of a cycle repair shop, I decided to start by laminating the bow reinforcing, using some of the ply to make laminating moulds.

Laminating the bow

Over 40 years ago my father bought enough 2 mm mahogany veneer to build a 14 foot sailing dinghy to his own design. Unfortunately circumstances changed, and the boat never got beyond the “stored veneer” stage. This beautiful timber has moved around with the family until now, when it resides in my attic.

I decided to put some of it to its intended use, and so using the same technique as I used to make the formers, I cut three templates between which I could clamp layers of the veneer. Using templates 1 and 2, I laminated the outer section of the bow to a width of 54 mm, and with 14 lengths of veneer, to a thickness of 28 mm.

The next step was to use template 1 and 3 to bond another 22 strips of veneer 23 mm wide to the inner face of the first section. This resulted in a beautiful curve with an L section throughout its length. I ran the outer face over my planer, and then put it though the thicknesser to give parallel sides on a 50 mm wide bow.

The final step was to use this first laminate and template 3 to make a piece 24 mm wide with a curve which exactly matches the inner curve of the first laminate. Thicknessed to 22 mm, it will be bonded simultaneously to the plywood forward girder and the front section of the laminated bow.

That was cumbersome to describe, so there are some photos on the next page.