Construction and Design Journal – 14ft Dory for Rowing and Sailing – Part 17

by Roy Heberger - Boise, Idaho - USA

CABIN WORK – April 23, 2005

Along the top of the plank at the sheer line I constructed a crown of sorts to provide support inside.  I used RBC.  The fair curves (plan view) to match the inside edge of the sheer plank (outside edge of the RBC) were all planed by hand.  Additionally, the RBC between stations 3-4 and 4-5 required much work with the spoke shave to obtain the fair curves (profile) already defined at the sheer.  My triceps from long hours using the spoke shave were sore for several days thereafter!  More work is needed on that starboard side.  The port side looks good.  

Since the last entry I have built the “struts/runners” that define the cabin lines, as they run fore and aft where the cabin ribs and beams join – from Station 3 to the stem and from station 5 to the transom.  I did a good job on the front cabin – first.  I notched the rib/beam joints to the correct bevel at each station, and using RBC I bent it and clamped it for fit several time to get it right.  Then I screwed and glued it.  On the aft cabin I did it better, because I DID IT TWICE!  I did not check the grain on the RBC and bent it wrong.  The next morning I found cracks developing in the stringers.  I remained in denial for a day-and-a-half, before I decided the right thing to do was to do it again.  The question was how, given the epoxy holding the bent RBC to each frame at stations 4 and 5 and at the transom was set up.

Eventually, I decided to cut the bent RBC near station 4 and the transom.  Then I cut it out of the notch (including hack sawing through a stainless screw) at station 5.  Using the “stumps” left from cutting the original RBC runners, I made a complex scarf (corner to corner) and trickily scarfed the new runner to insert between. I did this today, so we will see.  Across the two runners for the aft cabin I added several cross spalls of ¾” x ¾” RBC to provide additional support and rigidity.  The exercise of removing prior work was a real character builder!  It gives me some level of appreciation for what may be involved in restoration of old wooden boats.

I’ve cut some door skin to make a pattern for the forward cabin sides.

I’ve planed the inside curve of the side decks to obtain fairness.  Next will be to pull out some marine plywood stock, cut two planks for the coamings and fit them on the large side to the RBC deck supports already fastened.  Then it will be time to fasten the side decks and fit the coamings.

I’ve decided that the oak rub rails will be a two-person task.  I’m not sure I want to glue them as they are something I may want to replace over time.  So, my thought is to screw (brass or stainless?) them through the sheerboard into the RBC I’ve added all along the inside of the sheer for strength, support, and rigidity.  [Note:  Make a jig so that I can find and drill the center of the RBC dead wood.]  Then cover the screws (all in the same alignment) with an additional, smaller, and rounded rub rail attached with fewer brass screws left exposed.

Thoughts and Comments – It’s the little things!  Each day I look at the details of the boat that has taken shape in my “boat shop” and at the details of what is still to take shape.  These are things not envisioned on paper or on the lofting board.  Scantlings!  Maybe this is repetitious, but if so it bears repeating.  Scantlings are the major work of the project – parts that fit.  There are things I would do differently on a next boat of the same design or another boat design if I could take a thought or two there as well (like the Lowell skiff).  Given that this boat is really mine – my own design – it has been a real labor of love.  Do I have concerns about the design?  You bet! Have I shared those with others yet?  Some, I have, but not all.  My main concern is too much weight above the sheer line.  Ballast!   I am still enthused about its construction, but I am looking to the day that it gets wet the first time.  Friends have said they want it to be a party, I suspect I will launch it quietly on my own and not tell anyone.  Then launch it again for the party – perhaps not.

SIDE DECKS – April 24, 2005

Today I screwed and glued the side decks to the boat after a final fairing of the inside curves to fir the extended supports.  After the decks were fastened I used wood-flour-thickened epoxy to fill around the frames.  I am very glad I decided to build the RBC “crowns” (deadwood) inside the sheer, because it gave me additional support and deadwood in which to fasten and glue the side decks.

I have the shape of the aft cabin sides.  I have yet to cut the door skin to make the pattern.

LITTLE THINGS – May 2, 2005

I’ve been very busy the past week.  I figured out how to achieve the needed support for the mast step at the keelson and near to the cabin top.  I determined that the bottom of the mast will be rectangular so as not to twist in the step.  So, using RBC for its strong support, I cut two holes 2-¼” by 3” in planks cut to fit at the top and bottom between stations 2 and 3.  Each is “about” horizontal.  So the mast will step into the cabin top on which there will be framing and canvas aprons against the elements.  The empty hole in the cabin top will have a plug secured in place from below.

The coamings are installed, epoxy encapsulated and the side decks have received two undercoats and a single overcoat of white Interlux boat paint.  I’ve added additional support for the cabins (roofs and sides fore and aft), and have used a plane or spoke shave to further fair and bevel the cabin ribs.

I’m physically ready to cut the cabin sides.  But mentally the brakes are still pressed to a full stop. Have I forgotten anything?  Probably.  Is it important?   Maybe…but not likely.  Right?  Right!  So I have to get past this mental block.

AFT CABIN SIDES – May 4, 2005

I awoke at 2:30 a.m. and lay there thinking about the next step on the boat – affixing the cabin sides to the boat.  I had spend a good part of the day on May 3rd giving final and detailed shape to two pieces of the Okume marine plywood stock I had cut from form the door-skin pattern I’d made a week or so earlier.  In fitting the panels to the boat I had decided that more dead wood was needed just above the sheer line in the cabins to which I would screw and glue the side panels.  So, I built and shaped four, small RBC planks to sit atop the RBC crowns already fitted along the sheer.

So, at 3:15 a.m. I got up and slipped into my “grubbies” (work clothes dedicated for the sometimes goopy business of boat building).  I filled a large glass with ice water, grabbed some egg salad and crackers and went in the “boat shop.”  I had already fit the plywood panels, drilled all the screw holes necessary in them and the dead wood on the boat, and applied a coat of epoxy to the inner sides of the two panels by the early evening of May 3rd, so it was just a matter of mixing up some epoxy, adding the wood flour to obtain the desired, peanut-butter consistency and screwing and gluing.  It required three batches of West System epoxy for the two sides.  The side panels are now screwed and glued to the aft cabin.  Next, I will begin work on the forecabin’s sides.  I will use the same procedure there, as it seems to have worked rather well.  In the case of the forecabin I will need to add six or eight pieces of shaped RBC to just above the sheer crowns to obtain the dead wood I will need.


I fitted a full panel of 9-mm marine plywood to the top of the aft cabin, snugging the center of one end up against the transom.  Using two tool boxes for weight, I got the panel to lie solidly against the cabin frames and chines.  Examining all round for good contact with the chines, I decided that the fit was sufficient to draw the outline of the cabin top.  So with a sharp pencil and allowing for about 1/8th-inch extra overlap, I outlined the shape of the cabin top on the underside of the panel.  I have yet to apply finish coats of varnish to parts of the inside of the cabin, so there the panel sits.

Moving forward, I shaped six, RBC deadwood blocks to fasten atop the RBC sheer supports (crowns), drilled the holes, and screwed and glued them fast along the sheer forward of stations 3 and 2, and along the aft portion of the sheer forward of station 1.  The forward most part of the sheer where I had much earlier attached a very large knight’s head may need some dead wood as well.  I will need to assess that need before using the previously made door skin pattern to cut out the side panels for the forecabin.

MORE ON THE CABINS – May 30, 2005

I see the last entry was at the beginning of the month, but I’ve been busy.  The cabins are done.

I did not add deadwood at the sheer between the stem and station 1, resorting to an epoxy fillet like a stitch and glue joint.  Everywhere else I’m glad I thought to put the deadwood at the sheer as it gave a very good, deadwood base for screwing and gluing the cabin sides.

Because I changed the forecabin from the basic design by extending it to station 3, I almost ran out of fiberglass.  I did have to use a patch approach to get everything covered, but it seemed to work just fine.  As of this evening the cabins are glassed, sanded, chemical-washed, detergent-washed, and rinsed.  They are ready for a base coat of Interlux epoxy paint.

Almost there!!!

RUBRAILS – June 5, 2005

I got some help from Ray Frechette (on May 31) for the starboard rub rail and from Merine (on June 3) for the port rail.  I could not do the job of attaching the white oak myself.  I had tested the planks ahead of time to insure I could develop the bend to the sheer without steaming.  They are securely screwed and glued to the boat.  I had to use quite a bit of epoxy for fill on the underside of the rail between it and the sheer plank in places.

Later Dan Herrig showed up so I recruited him (he recruited himself actually) to help me weigh the boat.  We first weighed the stern end and then the bow end.

Aft      172 lbs

Bow    180 lbs

Total    352 lbs

That weight is prior to fastening most of the hardware and rigging and having the sails mast, boom, dagger board, rudder, tiller, anchor, lines, and oars on board.

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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