Construction and Design Journal – 14ft Dory for Rowing and Sailing – Part 5

by Roy Heberger - Boise, Idaho - USA


Today I had boat and non-boat related errands to run, so I was out the door as soon as stores and the bank were open.  I bought a single 1-1/4″ X  4″ X 8′ white oak plank which I will cut into two 4-ft boards and glue together for the laminated stem.  I figure with the grain running opposite on each side of the glued stem it will serve to strengthen that piece.  I went to a place called High Desert Hardwoods and found a great piece of African mahogany for the transom.  I had my boat school hat on.  It turns out the guy who sold me the wood – Bill Yancy – had taken two short courses at the NWSWB – one for copper/brass work and the other for lofting.  The lofting instructor was Richard Wilmore – the same instructor I had for the Banks dory class.  Small world.

I will need more braces when I fit the frame members together, so I dug into my scrap/kindling box and came up with some wood from Sean and Lisa’s stairs I helped to build a year ago. I’ll go at that in the morning.  Also, I’ve arranged the frame members so that I can put a coat of epoxy on the ends of each piece. I’ll do that tomorrow as well.  While I have the epoxy out, I may as well glue the stem sides together and secure it with clamps.  It’s getting close.

STRONG BACK and FIRST EPOXY WORK – February 14, 2004

After setting out a dozen, long-stem, red roses with a card for Merine (she was still sleeping) I set off to deliver Valentines to grand children.  Once back I set to work coating the ends of the frame members with epoxy thinned with lacquer thinner to insure they are saturated when I begin to fit those members together on the lofting board.  I also cut the 8-ft. oak plank I had purchased for the stem and coated the two sides that are to be clued together with epoxy.  After about 20 minutes I added more epoxy and clamped the planks securely.

I began truing the strong back.  Using an old bumper jack, I’ve added four corner legs to the ends so that wherever I place a hand level it reads true.  I have yet to fasten angle braces to handle the horizontal trueness.

Using a center line obtained from a string fastened to a centered nail on each end of the strong back, I located a center line on each cross brace.  I ran a tape down the center of the strong back and measured and marked the station locations along each side of the ladder frame.  These were taken for 32 inches above baseline starting with the inside of the stem as zero inches.  The readings in inches are as follows: Back of stem, 0; aft edge of Station 1, 20; aft edge of Station 2c, 32-15/16; aft edge of Station 3, 50; aft edge of Station 4, 80; forward edge of Station 5a, 103-5/16; forward edge of Station 6, 122; and inside of transom (extended to strong back line), 157-9/16.

Fitting Starboard Garboard and Giving Shape to the Bottom

Scarphs for Bottom Panels

Tomorrow, I will purchase materials needed to mount the frames to the strong back: cross spalls, and braces to hold Station 4’s frame true.

When I foraged for my old plumb bob (needed for mounting each frame to the strong back) I was reminded that I had removed the delicate point that screws into its end and stored it very well.  It is stored so well that I have yet to find it after looking in two tool boxes.  So I found a machine screw that fit the threads of the plum bob and made a new point by cutting off the head and filing the nub to a point while the screw turned in my hand drill mounted to my vice (like a lathe).  Merine said I should document this kind of creative stuff.  So, there it is.


Lots of details to consider, and I’d rather consider them on the lofting board than in wood later on when it may be a more difficult, three-dimensional a task.  I know the strong back is not square.   It’s perhaps 2 – 4 degrees off.   It’s level, but not square.  So, I need to think about the implications of that…or get it square. When I measured station lengths along the center string and extended them from side to side the lines don’t match up when I put the carpenter’s square across the strong back.  So, I need to do something about that before I get started mounting frames to the strong back.

The epoxy on the stem and frame member ends is taking a bit long to cure in the garage, so I’ve increased the setting on the heater tonight.  I’m hopeful that will do it.  If not, I may have to do another stem and sand the ends of the frame members lightly to get rid of the uncured epoxy.  Then its disposal time for the old glue.

Using a tick stick, I’ve estimated the lengths of lumber needed for the chine logs, (1′ X 3″) gunwales (inwales and outwales) (1″ X 2″), and seat risers (1″ X 2″), respectively.  I have to decide on the species I will use.  The outwale will likely be oak, but if I scarf the RBC that could work as well I think.  I have an abundant supply of the RBC.   Perhaps that’s the way to go for the chine logs and other scantlings as well – more to ponder.

I’ve pulled out the wood for Bob’s new set of oars.  I’m building a set of oars for a friend – Bob House – who built a fly rod for me.  I may as well have at those while I am busy in the garage…er…boat shop.

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 – Part 7 – Part 8 – Part 9 – Part 10

Part 11 – Part 12 – Part 13 – Part 14 – Part 15 – Part 16 – Part 17 – Part 18 – Part 19



  1. Don’t worry about things being a little out of square. I built a Victor Haristy Exporer 43 years ago. The boat went through several owners before I reaquired it. During installation of a new cabin I found I had built the cabin 1 inch out of square the rear wall was out of square to the centerline. In all the years of sailing by assorted people no one noticed untill I found my error during rebuild.

  2. On several subsequent builds I was less “fussy” about the buildimg jig being just a little out of square, and I can’t see any problems in the boats I built on thise jigs. But I’m talkimg just very-small numbers here.

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