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

Fitting the keel

I laminated the keel in 6 sections using the same method that I illustrated for the bow excepting that I only needed to make the outer section. It is made of 18 layers of Mahogany veneer. The tricky bit was scarfing the sections together, as the different bits are curved. I cut the rear scarf on the bow, then offered up the next section of the keel, and, using the first section as a template, marked the scarf angle onto it. I made a jig with several strong magnets on a vertical face, and used a Japanese saw to hand cut the scarf. To my amazement and delight, the scarves cut this way fitted exactly together, as shown below.

When I was happy with the joints and fit, I screwed and epoxy bonded the keel to the hull, and then plugged the screw holes with Mahogany plugs. (If you use a plug cutter, you can match the grain direction of the plug with the surrounding timber, which is not possible if you use a dowel as a plug) . I used a tip that I learned at the West Systems epoxy course: I backed off the screws after the initial fit, then ran epoxy into the screw holes with a piece of ear-bud plastic, and also dipped the screws into epoxy. Inserting the screws drives the epoxy into the fibres of the timber surrounding the screw. When the epoxy has set, it not only increases the holding power of the screw, but ensures that there is no water ingress into the timber.

 The keel-band

Having searched the online chandlers for keel band, I decided that their products, typically £18 to £20 per metre, were too expensive, so I bought 12mm X 3mm stainless steel flat bar at £12 for 3 metres. In my ignorance, I assumed that it would arrive gleaming, just needing holes to fit. Ha! No such luck, it came as rolled at the steel mill, dull and slightly textured. I tried to polish it with a 1000 grit diamond sharpening stone without success, and then hit on the idea of using my orbital sander with a series of increasingly finer grits, and in no time I had a gleam on it. I finished it with rubbing compound on a felt wheel on my hand drill, and Bingo! - Stainless steel as I envisaged it.