Boat Building and Design

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Building Boats with Fiberglass (5055)

You can work with fiberglass either from sheets prepared in the factory, or you can work directly from the component materials, molding the fiberglass mat or fabric with polyester resins in one or more laminations. Either method presents the amateur boat builder with that timehonored word--challenge. Many optimistic boat builders, unfortunately, miss the challenge and quit halfway through the job--for working with fiberglass is not simple--but those who stay with it get that peculiar satisfaction known to the man who builds his boat himself, plus a bonus: the sense of accomplishment. There are, however, certain aspects of building a boat from fiberglass which remain the same as those involved in building from wood or plywood. For one thing, the designs are identical in concept. It is the translation of them that differs. The interior for the most part remains the same, except that flotation material must be l~luded because of the non-porosity of the fiberglass hull, which is thus unable to float on its own.

32 pages

Building With Annular Ring Nails (5261)

by Independent Nail & Packing Company

The strength and permanence of fastening which can be achieved with annular thread nails and the substantial savings in time, labor and cost which result from their use, make them ideal for boat building. This booklet explains the reasons for their superiority to other methods of fastening, and will show you how to use them in your boat.

33 pages

Lofting--Making Full-Size Boat Plans (5276)

by William D. Jackson, Naval Architect

You can build better boats by learnng the loftsman’s trade.

If you can do a good job of~Iaying down boat-design lines full size, you can qualify as a mold loftsman which incidentally, is a well paid profession. The job of the mold loftsman is to enlarge to full size and fair certain portions of the naval architect’s drawings (basic designs shown as the lines), so that templates and patterns can be made and the actual form, of the boat obtained with true fair lines. (A line is fair when,it makes a smooth curve with no abrupt change in shape, and is pleasing to the eye.) Making full-size layouts also serves to avoid the errors that occur when dimensions taken are scaled directly from the architect’s small scale blue-prints and applied to the actual construction.

10 pages, 2 plate(s)

How to Build Boats (4906)

by Wid Hauber

I am writing this especially for those who have little or no experience with boat building. I have taken the attitude that the reader is an amateur, therefore I ask those who read this that are familiar with boat terms and building methods to bear with me. I will endeavor to explain every step in such a way as to save the builder those costly and very discouraging mistakes that the amateur is most likely to make. I find that these mistakes are due mostly to the builder not knowing boat building methods and terms, rather than his lack of skill as a wood worker and mechanic. Contrary to popular belief, boat building does not require as much wood working skill as it does the knowledge of what to do and how to do it. I have seen some rank amateurs who hardly knew one end of the boat from the other, but who were willing to learn and could take and follow advice, turn out a sweet little craft that the average person would swear was built by a professional. The greatest mistake that the amateur usually makes is the failure to realize the relation of one part of the boat to the other. In other words, the boat itself will only be as strong as its weakest part. Consider building the keel of a boat, for instance from timbers 12 inches square, and then fastening them together with ten-penny spikes. That would be like a blacksmith fastening together two links of heavy chain with a piece of wire. It is very obvious that the first requirement of a boat is strength, then comes seaworthiness and performance, pleasing lines, resistance to rot and deterioration, etc. The builder must consistenty bear all these features in mind in order to build a boat that will give the utmost in satisfaction and pleasure. One can derive a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction in watching the boat progress—-and the work on a boat never becomes monotonous because of the ever changing form, and the finished job gives that satisfaction of achievement that one can be proud of. I’ve heard many boat enthusiasts and yachtsmen say that they got almost as much fun out of building their own boat as they get out of using it.

90 pages

Cat Book--The (4913)

Containing the Designs and Plans of Twelve Cat-Rigged Yachts
(Reprinted from "The Rudeer" 1903)

(From the Preface.) "The catboat is the most extensively employed small craft upon our Eastern coast, and a popular rig among yachting men in many localities.    It is not the favorite it once was for use as a pleasure boat, owing to the advent of the knockabout and raceabout, which rigs being better adapted for racing have supplanted the cat in many places. As a one-man boat, and for the purpose of fishing and sailing parties, the cat has no rival. It is roomy, easy to handle, and having no spar or gear forward of the stem can be brought up to a pier or dock without hindrance or trouble. The best boats of this type are those turned out by rule-of-thumb men; the trained designer generally fails when he tries to produce a cat boat.This is because he fines it down; drawing in the ends, sharpening the floor, and reducing the proportion of breadth. The cat to be a success must be as nearly a box as is possible to make it and have it a boat. The breadth must be carried clear aft, so that the boat being nearly as broad across the stern as amidships will bear on the quarter when sailing. The bottom should have as little deadrise as will allow of sufficient inside depth for the needed room. The ballast should be placed inside and be well spread over the bottom. Outside ballast will injure the sailing ability of a properly designed cat."
Designs include both the classic jib-less cat, and those with bowsprits and jibs. The designs included are:
Fifteen-foot Boat
Eighteen-Foot Hilda
Nineteen-foot Varuna
Twenty-foot Kittle
Twenty-foot Scat
Twenty-one-foot Racer
Twenty-two-foot Uarda
Twenty-three-foot Swananoa
Twenty-five-foot Step Lively
Twenty-five foot boat.
Twenty-seven-foot Camilla
Twenty-eight-foot Harbinger
(All boats are nominated on the water-line length.)

72 pages
Plywood Has Its Place (7020)

Like any other good boathuilding material, plywood must be understood to use it to the best advantage. For many applications, it’s a boon to the boat builder. To use it intelligently in marine service, take some of the practical tips suggested by the author in this informative article

Every once in a while a new product is introduced upon the market which is such a startling improvement over what is already available that at first it almost seems as if the ultimate had been reached. But even though this new material is highly acclaimed and at first appears to be the answer to many problems and is generally admitted to be an improvement, it isn’t long before you will find one group of users praising the new material to the sky while there will also be those who see nothing good about it and will condemn it to the limit. Plywood is not a new product but since there seems to be a sort of “for-and-against” attitude concerning the use of marine plywood, we are wondering if it has been overrated or if it is unpopular with some because it has been put to uses for which it is not fitted. Because marine plywood has so much to offer the amateur boatbuilder, per. haps it would be worth while to consider some of the various applications to which this material is put to see if it has been used properly as well as to consider some of the current objections regarding it.

4 page(s)

Designing for Construction in Plywood (7021)

There came recently to our attention an unusual comment on a build-it-yourself boat design which has prompted the writer to give here the results of a year’s sporadic research in plywood development for boats.

The statement in question was to the effect that the bottom lines of a certain boat had not been altered except to adapt it to plywood construction; that is, apparently concave lines of cross section were straightened out from keel to chine and from chine to sheer. We have examined dozens of V-bottom designs for plywood adaptation and have seen but one in which the designer did not labor under the delusion that straight sections would accommodate a plywood bottom without strain. As a matter of fact, there is only one time when such a condition can exist and that is when section lines are parallel, or generating lines of a cylindric surface at right angles to the center plane of the boat. In such a case a deep-bottomed sail boat with easy lines may be developed which will be more or less orthodox, but this is an exception. Although we labored under the straight line section delusion for awhile, we soon disproved it, as you may do, by carving a half model of a stock V-bottomed runabout with the sections straightened out and then attempting to cover it with a plane surface (cardboard). When the carboard was forced to meet all points on chine and keel, it buckled badly; and even on the sides there was sufficient distortion to demonstrate that only a convex section of some nature would meet the conditions necessary for plywood covering. To determine the proper form for the accommodation of plywood covering we turned to the drawing board, and thus was evolved the design for Conendric.

4 page(s)

Developing a Plywood Design (7022)

Moulded plywood has greatly affected the production-boat field, it is true. But there has been some over-optimism as to the application of the process to all types of boat construction.

The plywood mould is an expensive item, too costly for the small shops which can pattern and produce a bent plywood boat to compete with the production plants even though their sales are counted in the dozens instead of hundreds. Often the bent plywood boat answers the need of the buyer who wants something a little different from those available in stock boats. It is almost always ideal for the amateur who can turn out an acceptable piece of boatbuilding even when the conventionally planked boat baffles him completely. There is little question but that the field of the bent plywood boat has barely been tapped. Newer and better glues and methods of glueing are being used, both in the manufacture of the plywood itself and by builders in the construction assembly. By cutting darts into boat sides hollows can be worked into them which cannot be pulled into the bent sheet. Where bends are too great for the thickness of plywood desired it can be applied in double or even triple layers, glued together to form a structurally stronger member than the single sheet would have been. And designs are being adapted to the characteristics of bent plywood to produce boats which have their own unique advantages.

4 page(s)

Designing a Sailboat to Use Plywood (7023)

Planking with plywood has opened a new field of marine design. It was soon found that adaptation of hulls to the bent plywood sheet evolved new designing methods.

Bent plywood design depends on judgement of the character of curved planes rather than on the conventional buttocks-waterlines-sections cross fairing method of arriving at the finished set of hull lines. Design and lofting of plywood, therefore, entails development methods not commonly used in conventional hull drawings. But when the characteristics of bent plywood are comprehended, the design of plywood hulls is found to be a simple procedure, and requires less drawing and lofting time than the conventional hull lines.

4 page(s)

Loft Before You Build (7024)

If you expect to turn out a professional job of boatbuilding, don’t think you can short-cut by not laying the lines down full size. It’s not difficult, and pays off.

All over this boat-minded land of ours amateur boatbuilders are planning to construct the boat of their choice. While many will purchase their boat in kit form in order to eliminate some of the layout and other preliminary work, a considerable number will obtain plans from competent marine architects or build directly from one of the many excellent “how-to-build” articles. In either case, in one’s eagerness to get at the actual construction of a boat, it is a temptation to skip some of the preliminary work shch as the task of making a full-size layout of the lines from the table of offsets. This is thought of by some as being a tedious, laborious task to be done grudgingly and gotten over with as soon as possible. We have never thought about it in this manner, but have always looked on it as the opening of a door to a new project, the necessary beginning to a new venture.

4 page(s)

Tricks of the Trade for Home Boatbuilders (7025)

To build a boat at home is a fascinating and rewarding experience, but all too often gremlins creep into the process to threaten both the progress and the fun of building. Boathuilding pros know how to keep these gremlins at a safe distance and here are some of the ways they do it.

First and foremost, construction jig stringers must be level—really level—both fore and aft and athwartship, if the boatbuilding operation is to begin properly. Backyard boatbuilders are likely to skimp on this important part of the operation, either through carelessness or the use of inaccurate levels. Most V-bottom boats are set up on a construction jig which is little more than a pair of joist stringers rigged parallel to each other, level in both directions and marked off with station lines for cross frames and transom. But these stringers must be level, and they must be kept level throughout the operation.

2 page(s)

Tips on Using Plywood (7026)

Professional boat builders have been looking for a material with all the outstanding advantages of waterproof resinbonded plywood for many years. However, with the successful development of this material, the one who has reaped the greatest benefit has been the amateur builder. Armed with knowledge of this material’s peculiar characteristics and with certain information regarding its application, the amateur builder can turn out small boats in one half the time, with greater strength and permanency, less likelihood of leaks, and better appearance throughout. It should be understood from the outset that not all boats designed for conventional planking can be adapted to plywood without change. Frequently hull lines do conform to the natural curves taken by plywood. This happened to be true of the Rebel Class racing sailboat. (Available as Booklet #5374) If you have selected a conventional design and would avoid trouble, it is recommended that a small model incorporating the frames, keel, chine and sheer line be built and thin wood sheets representing the plywood be bent in place to test the natural curves which will result in the finished hull.

3 page(s)

Planking a Plywood Hull (7027)

Some good tips on the proper procedures for planking the plywood hulls of small boats.

Most plywood boats are not a true V-bottom, especially near the bow, where the sections are given a curved or rounded form, with the chine line running up very high. This is necessary because a flat piece of plywood cannot be bent two ways without cracking. The boathouse people did not want this type of bottom as all their planked boats were V-bottom boats with flat sections, and with the chine kept reasonably low. It was their opinion that anything but a bottom with flat sections and a lot of deadrise forward would slap and pound. Another point they raised was the fact that most plywood boats do not have any frames and, due to the rough handling their boats get, they would have to be as strong as possible. To accomplish this I built the boat with conventional frames, using oak stem, keel, chines and battens. Port Orford cedar frames were used, joined at chine and keel with 1/4-inch waterproof plywood gussets on each side of frames. These gussets are glued with Wieldwood glue and screwed to frames.

2 page(s)

Build Her on a Sound Foundation (7030)

If you want your boat to be a success, take just as much care in the setting up of forms as you do with the hull construction itself.

Have you ever been a sidewalk superintendent? I mean, have you ever had enough leisure time so that you could stand around and watch the construction of a large building. It’s fun and educational, too. If you have ever witnessed the whole procedure from start to finish, you were probably greatly surprised at the amount of work that went into the project before any of the steel was erected and any building done above the ground level. In fact, before any of the excavation was even started, sample drillings were taken to find out what lay under the surface of the ground to support the building and a lot of calculations were made to determine the size and shape of the footings on which the proposed building would rest. Large buildings must rest on secure foundations or they will go out of shape and, in extreme cases, collapse altogether. Now, although your boat will ultimately have water for a foundation, supporting it uniformly under every square inch of the bottom, it is essential during its construction that the hull be erected on some sort of construction frame which will properly support it and maintain all the component parts in perfect alignment until the hull is completely planked. It is then fairly rigid and self-supporting and if it is then turned over and set in a cradle it will stand by itself without going out of shape. Such a construetion frame must not only be strong enough to support the entire weight of the boat, but must also be rigid enough to withstand the strains set up as the various structural members are forced into position.

4 page(s)

Developable-Surface Boats (7035)

by Edson I. Schock

When using sheet plywood for planking, you’ll save labor if you plan on this type of hull.

If you are planning to build a boat using sheet plywood for planking, your work will be made easier if you select a design having a developable-surface hull. This means a flat or V-bottom hull, with conical or cylindrical bottom and topsides. Either a cone or a cylinder may be developed, or laid out flat, on plywood or sheet metal, and the plank cut from this development put on the boat without twist. Plywood bends fairly easily in one direction only. If you try to bend it in two directions at the same time, it will resent this and resist your efforts. It may even crack. Let us consider what developable-surface boats look like. The simplest form is one having cylindrical surfaces for both sides and bottom, with the elements of the cylinder showing true length in the body plan or sections. Such a boat is shown in Fig. 1.

4 page(s)

More About "Developable" Surfaces (7047)

by Clarence E. Werback

During the past two or three years various articles have appeared discussing the methc of designing "developable" surfaces as applied to hull form.
The intent of this discussion is to acquaint those interested in this design principle with further possibilities of its application and procedure. At the outset we should like to say that so far as we know, C. P. Burgess presented the first paper explaining the principle and method of geometrical projection involved in the development of this type of hull lines. We wish also to acknowledge the great amount of research done by Bruce N. Crandall*, who has possibly expanded the possibilities of this design principle more than any other designer and at the moment is giving the Navy Department the benefit his skill. To those not familiar with the principle let it be said in simple terms that the surfaces of the sides and bottom forms of boats designed on the principle, are segments of either cones or cylinders or combinations of both. Surfaces so developed will be free of compound curvature and hull forms will be such as to permit the application of plywood in full lengths without buckling or the necessity of steaming. In the case of steel hulls the plating can be applied cold without furnacing or working. It can seen at once that a tremendous amount of labor is saved on hulls designed around this principle. In the use of plywood there is no dress down, no seams to caulk and no sanding. Priming, and even finish coats of paint, may be applied on both inner and outer surfaces before the plywood is fastened on. Also, since there are certain stresses built up in the plywood skin because of the curvature induced as it is warped around (which should be kept within minimum bending radius set up the plywood manufacturers), frames can be more widely spaced without affecting the overall strength, of the hull structure.

2 page(s)

How To Use Waterproof Plywood in Boat Construction (7048)

by Charles G. MacGregor

Only resin bonded plywood should be used for boat building.

There are many other kinds on the market, including the so-called waterproof variety. Insist, however, on resin bonded plywood for marine work, manufactured by the hot press process. If in doubt about the material you are planning to, use, boil a small sample in water for about an hour. The plies or laminations of the resin bonded plywood will not separate. This product is sold under various trade names adopted by the` manufacturers. When possible order plywood in stock panels. They can generally be obtained from your lumber dealer or direct from the manufacturer's distributors or agents. Resin bonded plywood of fir is the least expensive material suitable for boats. It is manufactured on the West Coast of the United States in the region where the giant trees grow, and is shipped to the distributors in all parts of the United States and Canada. Examine each panel very carefully before accepting it. Inspect the outer laminations on each side of the panel, for blemishes, such as transverse joints and graving pieces. Examine the long edges for voids or gaps between joints of the inner lamination. Do not accept any joint showing more than 1/32" in 3-ply.    They seldom exceed this in 5- or 9-ply material. Stand the panels on edge in a dry room, in a rack or against the wall, with short cleats laid on the floor and a few narrow spacers between each two panels so that each will be separated from the other to allow circulation of air. Choose a shop with good light to build your boat, ample circulation of air and a solid, level, dry wood floor. Keep a clear space of at least 2 to 3 feet all around the building form. Be sure the boat can be moved out when completed without tearing the building down. Many amateur builders have overlooked this simple precaution to their sorrow.

4 page(s)

Developable Surfaces for Plywood Boats (7051)

by Chas. P. Burgess

Laying out a hull so that the true surface of it can be readily determined.

The rapidly growing popularity of plywood and sheet metal for the construction of small boats and yachts makes the problem of designing developable bottom and sides one of timely interest to both professional and amateur yacht designers.    Strangely enough, it appears that very few designers, even among the professionals, know the solution to the problem, and yet it is quite simple, and can provide the amateur with a lot of fun when he knows how the trick is turned. All curved surfaces may be classified as "developable" or "undevelopable." The side of a cylinder is a familiar example of a developable surface, and a sphere an undevelopable one. A sheet of paper may be rolled into any form of developable surface, but it cannot be formed into a sphere or any other undevelopable surface without crinkling or stretching. It is generally supposed that a V-bottom boat with straight lines in all cross-sections is developable; but, a matter of fact, it is not strictly developable unless th angle of deadrise is constant throughout the length, though it may be near enough to true developability to permit forcing plywood into it. A better shape of bottom, and one which is strictly developable, can be designed with slightly convex sections forward, and with the angle of deadrise increasing towards the bow. A widespread and quite erroneous belief is that a developable surface cannot be curved in two direction at right angles to each other, e.g., longitudinally and transversely in a boat.    The fallacy of this belief may be seen at once by imagining two diagonal sections through a cylinder, intersecting one another at right angles. Both of these sections have curved intercepts with the surface of the cylinder. In fact, with the exception of lines parallel to the axis, all lines on the surface of a cylinder are curved; and yet a cylindrical surfae is indubitably developable.

2 page(s)

Plywood Instead of Deadwood for Keels (7063)

by Robert M. Steward

The hollow fin keel construction illustrated in the accompanying drawing was designed for the prevention of aching backs and blistered hands usually accumulated by amateur boat builders when working solid deadwood into shape. There is another, easier way out, and that is to make the deadwood slab-sided, but why muss up the water with such disregard of naval architects' experience and tank testing? The essentials of the hollow fin keel, which is especially adapted to hull construction of the bent keel type, can be explained briefly. It is made possible by the manufacture of the waterproof plywood. These sheets are made of Douglas fir, or Oregon pine, call it what you will. The outline of the fin is laid down on the mold loft, or living room floor, together with the waterlines through the fin and the outline of the ballast keel. After the ballast keel bolts and other deadwood bolts are drawn in the locations of the webs can be decided upon, the number of webs being more or less guessed at. After going through the operation of laying down the hull lines and sections it can be readily seen that a section through the boat can be drawn any place by simply drawing in a station line, picking up the half breadths, transferring them to the body plan, and drawing in the section. So don't skimp on the number of webs, because all one has to do to get one out is to draw a section where a web comes, deduct the thickness of the plywood planking, move the net shape onto a 3/4 or 7/8 inch board and slide it through a band saw. The plywood skin should be screwed to the webs and to pieces of oak forming the leading edge, the bottom of the fin abaft the keel, and the stern post, also to plain fillers on top of the keel and one bolted to the under side of the bent keel. The stern post will have the same cross-section from top to bottom and therefore can be gotten out on a circular saw. The other rabbeted pieces can probably be roughed out pretty well on a saw, too. It goes without saying that all joints and interior surfaces should be painted during assembly. Anyone with enough ingenuity to try this construction can very well work out the missing details himself. And how about filling up the spaces with cement? I am not advocating that all fin keels be built this way from now on, but do think that it might be tried on a small boat.

1 page(s)

Building of the Boat-The Snark, The (5510)

by Jack London

reprinted from Harper's Weekly (ca. 1920)

"Spare no money," I said to Roscoe "Let everything on the "Snark" be of the best. And never mind decoration. Plain pine boards are good enough finishing for me. But put the money into the construciton. Let the "Snark" be as stanch and strong as any boat afloat. Never mind what it costs to make her stanch and strong: you see that she is made stanch and strong, and I'll gonon writing and earning the money to pay for it." And I did . . . as well as I could: for the "Snark" ate up money faster than I could earn it. In fact, every little while I had to borrow some money with which to supplement my earnings. Now I borrowed on thousand dollars, now I borrowed two thousand dollars, and now I borrowed five thousand dollars. And all the time I went on working every day, and sinking the earnings in the venture. I worked Sundays as well, and I took no holidays. But it was worth it. Every time I thought of the "Snark" I knew she was worth it.

8 pages

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