Making sawdust again, part II – I was framed!

Yesterday was another gorgeous day, with a light breeze and a clear sky. Chesapeake Bay looked gorgeous, shimmering below me, as a crossed it on the Bay Bridge, headed East again for another day with Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Apprentice for a Day program. Last week had whetted my appetite; yesterday I was hungry, though. I couldn’t wait to get back in the shop and see how the boat was coming along. And here she was, already looking more herself:

Crabbing skiff

Seeing a boat right-side up for the first time is always exciting, though I was interested to so how much had NOT been done in the week I had been away (which included two full building days). Most of her planking was done, but not all. There were a couple gaps up forward that seemed odd, until they were explained by my master for the day, Tony. It turns out, with these cross-planked boats, that there is so much twist up forward that the conventional way, even after steaming, doesn’t work. The forward planks were literally being carved from solid blocks of pine. Wow – what a chore! This boat was going to be authentic, but there is a reason most boats have fore-and-aft planking, and this might be part of it. Can’t say I hadn’t already learned something, and class had yet to begin.


The task for the day was frames. The boat has three sets of full frames and then additional half-frames on roughly 2′ centers. Each frame had to be beveled right athwartships and then notched over the chine log [editors note: first time I have used the term for real!]. Frame detailThe task was a bit tricky as the sheer-plank had its own ideas still of where it wished to lie, there was a compound bevel at the top of the chine log, and there were some slight roll to the main bevel. I began working on one that had been only rough fit, and after nit-picky work with a plane, chisel, and sanding block I had it worked out. I then moved forward to one that was still just a milled stick of oak. Tony guided me through finding the bevels, and I am not ashamed to say working it all through took the better part of the day but was quite satisfying (OK, and a little maddening at times). Frames in placeWhen I finally moved forward again, though, I was able to knock out a second full one in under an hour. That was great to be able to do. I can’t wait to get back there in two weeks. It sounds like I may be able to help get the centerboard I began work on last week into place. Good fun.

Again I took the opportunity of being out at the museum to look around a bit. The museum has a nice collection of Chesapeake working and recreational boats, from the large:


To the small:

Chesapeake log canoe

This last one is the so called log canoe, a local recreational boat that looks totally insane. They are narrow as can be and wickedly over-canvased and compensate with a stack of 2×10 tens. Don’t get me wrong, they look like fun and they are lovely, but egads – not for those out for a relaxing day on the water. It’s wild what tradition will make people do… The blog has more pictures and info.

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