December 18, 2014 Hours spent building to date: 452
Ray came over today and we put on the first two planks. I had spent three days head-scratching, patterning and scarfing, so it was good to see some real progress.
Mark provides super-detailed plank patterns, and all his measurements have been extremely accurate so far. So my first inclination was to cut the planking patterns using those layouts, and adjust from there. The first pattern was very close, but would still require a little trimming and filling to go final. Trimming is easy, but adjusting up to size where the initial pattern is too small is hard. You end up with a lot of colored pencil arrows and hieroglyphics trying to remember what to do (“add 1/8 to red line, move out 3/32 between green dots”). So I finally decided to use Mark’s plans as a rough guide to get to an oversized pattern on 1/8-inch luan plywood, put it on the boat, then take the final measurements. Seems a shame to waste all Mark’s work, but he says in the building instructions that you should make your own patterns anyway, and now I see why.
Scarfed up the first batch of plywood. Every instruction book tells you how to set up the stack, clamp it down, etc., so I won’t go into that. Working with a power planer, Ray’s huge 4X24 belt sander, my little belt sander and a random orbit sander is just grunt labor, but it has to be done. Frankly, working with 1/2-inch ply is easier than with little-boat thin stuff since it is so heavy that it can’t move, and the edge veneers are thicker and don’t tear.
The next problem to figure out was where to put the screws once the plank is on the boat. On little boats, you just look, because the planks are small and you can see the framing. On this boat, the frame is completely hidden by an 8-foot sheet. But in a flash of inspiration (that probably a hundred thousand boat builders before me have already had) I simply put the pattern on, climbed up under the boat, and made an exact tracing of the framing and stringers. Then it was easy to flip the pattern over and drill pilot holes at all the intersections and along the stringers.
The planks went on with no drama at all: plenty of glue squeeze out, flat to the frame, no gaps at the edges. But I really did need Ray: a five-foot-over-the-head dead lift of a full sheet of plywood is just not something I can do any more. The gap between the planks at the keel is a little wide, since I forgot to compensate for a small round-over I put on the chine edge of the planks to make it fit better, and had to pull the edges out about 1/4-inch at the last minute. The gap will be filled and covered by the keel.
Probably used way too many one-inch screws, but better safe than sorry. They are stainless-steel Sharx screws from Jamestown Distributors. A great product designed specifically for plywood construction. They bite like crazy even in end-grain and are very hard to back out. Counter-sunk them because they are going to stay in the boat.