Construction and Design Journal – 14ft Dory for Rowing and Sailing – Part 8

by Roy Heberger - Boise, Idaho - USA

FRAME 4, KNEES, TRANSOM, and GUSSETS – February 29, 2004

I planed the transom sides to the inside mark – just leaving the lines.  Although they were developed for three locations along the transom sides in the expanded transom exercise, I added no bevels at this point, preferring to do that when the transom is mounted on the strong back, and I can check the developed bevels with sprung batons.  I chose to glue braces from sheer line to the bottom of the inside of the transom.  Later, I may add ribs to the braces.  The new braces are glued and clamped and will sit all night.

I glued and screwed the gussets to the frame joints on the station-4 frame, drilling all screw holes before fastening the temporary screws.  Experimenting with scrap, I have noted that the RBC, much like oak, splits if holes are not drilled before fasteners are used.  Also, turning a screw is most difficult without a properly sized drill hole.

Moving to the knees, today I gave them shape, fitted them to the lines for the keelson and the stem and transom, respectively, found the center line all round, and drilled each with a countersink to accept a 5/16-inch, stainless steel lag screw and washer.  I’m getting close to fitting, screwing, and gluing knees to the keelson and their respective partners – the transom and stem, respectively.  Each fit will be a straight line to a straight line.  I added a very slight, side-to-side, concave surface on the faces of the two knees that will be screwed and glued to prevent the rocking of the knee on the joined surface.

Before clean up, I drilled all of the gussets to accept temporary fasteners.  It’s nice to have that chore done.


Today, I fastened the knees to the transom and stem and let them sit overnight.  I used two 5/16th-inch, stainless lag screws and washers and epoxy in each knee to make the connections fast.  The lag screws were counter sunk in 3/4th–inch holes to accommodate a ½-inch socket.  I will fill the holes with epoxy when the boat is eventually flipped upright.


I fastened the keelson to the new stem/knee and transom/knee components.  Again, I used 5/16th lag screws, counter sunk into the keelson.  The aft-most lag screw at the transom knee broke just before it seated.  I was able to remove the broken portion.  There was enough length to the remaining shaft of the screw that I was able to seat a second, shorter lag screw in its place.  I will consider placing a third screw in the keelson to insure that it is securely fastened to the knee. After experiencing that break, I used WD-40 sparingly-sprayed in the addition holes before inserting the lags.  It worked.  That RBC is tough stuff!

All Fastened

MORE ON THE STEM AND A TRANSOM NOTE – March 2, 2004, cont’d

I’m thinking the stem is too narrow, and I can resolve that problem now.  If I don’t, the bevels will come together, meeting at the bow.  If I add an additional oak lamination on each side of the stem – the front of which, will be a fair curve at the bearding line – I can extend that bearding line aft, have more purchase area for fastening the planks, and end up with a wider leading surface to the stem.

In a redesign of this boat I would have the bottom of the transom wider than the too-narrow 1-1/2 inches I have in this design.  With the bevels added the bottom of the stem will be close to or will be a point.  These are among things learned for the next boat…and I may need to consider further for this boat…


I inspected the glued and screwed joints of the knees and the stem and knees and transom, respectively, before unclamping them this morning.  All looked well.  So after removing the clamps I placed the unit on the floor of the garage, well out of the way.  Insuring the strong-back lines were on the stem and transom, my thoughts turned to centering, mounting, and truing frame 4 to the strong back.

As luck would have it, my old neighbor (actually, he’s not so old) – Randy Meenach stopped by, so I recruited him to help me lift the keelson assembly to the strong back.  I had the station-4 frame centered so now it was just a matter of having the frame sitting exactly vertically on the strong back.  The weight of the keelson was a help.  I’d had difficulty trying to level it by myself earlier.  Now the keelson, just sitting in the chiseled out groove on frame four was like an extra set of hands.  I made a simple set of A-frames the bottom of which would attach to the strong back and the top to the futtock of the station-4 frame.  Using the level I fiddled with each side and back again until the ribs were straight up and down (square to the strong back).

I fixed the stem in place, and the way I have done it, I can loosen it if necessary when I insert the frames for stations 1 and 2.  I supported the transom, but it is not fixed to the strong back.  When the other frames are in place and the transom and stem finally are fitted to the strong back the dead rise will become evident.  It is now only slight, sitting there without most of the frames.  Still, I took a picture, because it is just starting to look like a boat may be happening in my garage.

Then I re-sawed the seams/joints on the frames (5a and 2c) as they were laid out and braced to the lofting board, cleaned up the saw dust, glued the seams, and refitted the end block to insure the joints were tight. On frame 5a I added the gussets, but I had to hold on frame 2c because they go only on the forward side and the aft side was facing up.  The aft side of the 5a and the forward side of 2c will abut their respective bulkheads.

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


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