Thursday, March 03, 2011

Traditional Wooden Boatbuilding

There’s boat building and there’s ‘real’ boat building. Any boats I have built come in the former category. The latter category comprises those that require skills and knowledge that I do not have. I have never built a clinker hull with steam bent ribs, for example, nor have I built a cold-moulded one over a frame. I have shied away from attempting even the most simple clinker dinghy, because of the amount of work required to build her and because of my diffidence about being able to do it. I’ve even avoided strip planking, which should not be too difficult, but having to prepare a supporting mould or frame before starting the hull proper, was enough to put me off.

When I see examples of wooden boats at the likes of the Beale Boat Show, I boggle at the craftsmanship, and I admire the skill of their builders. Any such vessel which has been crafted to perfection is a joy to see and a pleasure to touch. Wood is so appealing with its uniqueness, colour and texture. Today there are a variety of adhesives that can be employed for bonding wood; epoxies being much favoured because of their strength and capacity for filling voids when mixed with agents such as colloidal silica, Cab-o-sil or Microfibers. The traditional means for fixing planking to ribs or frames is to hold them together with copper nails and roves; elsewhere bronze or copper nails may be used. Caulking cotton and oakum can be employed for filling gaps, especially suitable for seams between planks on carvel vessels. Carvel hulls are occasionally splined, i.e., in-filled with thin wedges of wood which take the place of caulking.

If you want to learn how to build ‘real’ wooden boats you can do so by attending one of the UK boat building institutions such as the International Boat Building College at Lowestoft, or the Boat Building Academy at Lyme Regis. Depending on the course you select, from basic boat building to advanced, you will need between £6000 and £15,000 approximately to pay for tuition fees.


International Boatbuilding College

Boat Building Academy

Partnership teaches traditional boa building skills

Wooden Boat Building

Traditional Clinker Rowing/Sailing Boat

DYS Wood Boat.Com - Wooden Boats at the Beale Park Boat Show 2009

Beale Park Boat Show

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