Marine Classics
Marine Classics
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Wooden Boat Building - Traditional Style

This method of boat building has been refined over  thousands of years. Also called 'plank on frame' construction, it is sub divided into the differing ways of framing and applying the planks.

Carvel Planking. A smooth hull is formed by long wooden planks attached to a substantial frame. The planks may be curved in cross section like barrel staves. The gaps between carvel planks are generally sealed (caulked) with oakum or cotton that is driven in and covered with a waterproof  layer of tar or modern sealant. The planks are generally not fastened to each other, just to the frames.

Clinker Planking (Lapstrake) The rows of  long planks are fixed tight to each other with a beveled overlap like roof tiles or shingles. The planks are normally riveted, screwed, glued or even stitched to each other. Steam bent wooden frames are fitted inside the hull. These frames are much thinner but more numerous than in a corresponding clinker built hull. This method of construction is at least 2000 years old - Viking ships were built this way. It makes an attracive light hull and is still used for building some smaller craft for example rowing boats.

clinker and carvel boat planking

Double Diagonal and other types of double planking were particularly popular during world war 2. As the name implies it has 2 (or occasionally 3) layers of plankng on top of each other. The two layers are separated by and made waterproof with a layer of canvas or cloth soaked in something waterproof like tar or bitumen. The  layers are generally at an angle of between 45 and 90 degrees to each other, although there was a variation where both layers ran fore and aft, with the edges staggered. The planks were fastened to each other and to the frames with copper rivets called 'roves'

Traditional wooden boats have recently got a reputation for being high maintenance. But this is a least partly because people are comparing very old wooden boats with new plastic boats. It is fair to say that when the fibreglass boats are a hundred years old, they will have problems too.