Carvel planking on traditional wooden boats relies on the wood and caulking between the planks swelling to seal the hull against leaks. Since the 1950s numerous marine sealing compounds and adhesives have been developed, allowing progressive boat builders to modify this traditional construction method to take advantage of these new products.
Everett Saunders of Eastport typically builds small boats ranging from 14- to 17-feet that require only a small motor and can be easily rowed or sculled. Mr. Saunders writes that his “method of construction is quite different from the traditional Newfoundland style of boat building.” In the mid 1970s he adopted the strip planking method and hasn’t looked back since. His largest boat, a 35 foot fishing boat operating off the southern shore built in the mid 1980s, is still going strong to this day.
Everett says “the method is quite simple.” Each plank can be taken from wood found at any lumber yard – no woods harvesting required! – and is ripped to the desired thickness for the particular length of boat: 1 1/4 inches for the 35 footer, 3/4 inch for a 15-footer.
Spiling has to be considered, of course, because the distance from the garboard to the stem head, the girth amidships and the girth at the counter are each quite different. Some beveling is required as you advance around the chine.
The stem is laminated inch birch or juniper that can be easily scarfed to the keel. Planks, wrapped around temporary frames defined by a three piece mould, are edge nailed and glued (920 marine sealant is excellent). The first, or garboard plank, is nailed to the keel. Juniper ribs, steamed and walked in after the planking is complete, are fastened from the inside with stainless steel screws. The temporary frames are then removed and the inside of the hull is sealed. The inside is usually completed before the outside is sanded and coated with paint or sheathed in fibre reinforced glass.