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

Planking the hull

At last I have started planking the hull. The “traditional” method of fixing the strips is to nail each strip to each former, but as I want to varnish the topsides, I do not want a row of nail holes ruining the finish. I have been thinking about this problem almost since I started the build, and finally came up with a clamp and wedge solution. I imported 30 small toggle clamps direct from Hong-Kong, at a landed cost of 86 pence each. I then machined a length of scrap timber with a central groove slightly wider than the thickness of the formers, and cut it into blocks about 60 mm long. I then drilled a pair of holes through each block at right angles to the groove, and finally screwed a toggle clamp to each block. A finished clamp is shown below.

I nailed the first strip along the shear line, using just panel pins. As this strip will be covered by the inwale and outwale, the nail holes are not a concern. To hold the next strip, I positioned my clamps on the formers, using a small off-cut of a strip as a spacer, and drilled through the formers using the holes drilled in the blocks to guide the drill. Each clamp is held in position by a couple of nails inserted into the drilled holes.

I also made a clamp to hold the strips to the bow, and this is shown on the next page. When all the clamps are set up, it is a simple matter to spread epoxy to the convex face of the lower strip and the concave face of the next strip, clip them under the blocks for a rough alignment, and then just flip the toggles down to press the strip tightly to the formers, When the strip is in position I then insert a pair of wooden wedges between the block and the strip, using hand pressure. To my delight, I found that the pressure of the wedges pushed out small beads of epoxy evenly along the entire joint between adjacent frames. The worst part of the process is cleaning off excess epoxy both inside and out, but I have no wish to spend the rest of my life sanding off rock hard lumps of glue!