History of the Col. Lewis

First Stages of Re-building

First float in 27 years

Sails and rigging

Re-building (frames)



Fave Boat Building Schools

Assorted Details

Other Sharpie hull designs

Photos From WBF 2007

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Planking the boat is another one of those processes that is simultaneously simple and complex.  As with replacing the frames, the simple part is to remove the planks that are too rotten, weathered, and cracked to hold water anymore and replace them with shiny new, tight-fitting planks.  The complex parts are that a) it is difficult to find pieces of full one-inch planking 17 feet long and b) get them to fit tightly on the hull. 

This has been the most time-consuming, but rewarding, part of the project so far.  And there's kind of a neat story to where I got the wood I'll be using for the planks.......

1. Salvage of planks from the Lake Saganaga Trading Post
    One of Grandpa Lewis' friends in northern Minnesota was Jock Richardson.  He owned property on Red Pine Island, less than a mile away from the small island where my grandpa spent his summers on Lake Saganaga in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  Jock set up a saw mill, then built himself a lodge, resort, and Trading Post that continued to operate into the early 1980s.

In the summer of 2005, the new owner of the Trading Post, Eric Johnson, started the process of salvaging what he could of the buildings that had been abandoned for over 20 years (does this story sound familiar?).  When Eric heard that I was rebuilding my grandpa's wooden boat, he offered me as many red pine paneling boards as I wanted from one of the buildings that could not be saved.  So, the wood I'm using to plank the Colonel Lewis was originally milled by one of my grandpa's friends, probably sometime in the 1950s.

2. Milling the boards
    The pine paneling boards that Eric Johnson gave me were full 1" thick, 7' long, and anywhere from 4 to 10 inches across.  So the first step was to run them all through a planer to get them to uniform thickness.  The original hull planks were also pine (probably white pine), and were 0.75" thick. 

Running the replacement red pine planks through the planer at the Home Port Learning Center.

3. Scarfing the boards
    In order to cover the full length of the hull, I've had to splice, or scarf, multiple pieces of the salvaged pine paneling together.  The original scarfs were cut with a combination lapped/feathered  (see picture below) and held together with glue and fasteners (nails), but I'll be using simple feather-edged scarfs held together with epoxy.  I'm using the 10:1 rule for the length of the scarf.  With the planks planed down to 0.75", that makes for easy math--the length of the scarf was marked off at 7.5" and planed down to a uniform taper using a power planer first, then a jack plane (my grandpa's!), and finished off with a belt sander.

Planks set up for removal of marked wood for scarf.  Note the grain direction of the top pair and the bottom pair of boards. Planks planed to a uniform taper with a feather edge.  The surface was checked for flatness with a straight edge. Scarfed joint clamped in place using wood screws (lined with bee's wax) and scrap plywood (lined with plastic).. 

Because these planks are going to be experiencing repeated cycles of wetting and drying, I had to make sure that the orientation of the grain in each joint was the same (so that any cupping will be similar in both boards making up the scarf).  That meant that when I was cutting the scarfs, the orientation had be opposite (so that they would match up when the scarfs were aligned--see picture above).  After checking for fit, the surface was coated with epoxy and clamped together using scrap plywood.  Make sure you put some bee's wax on the threads of the screws, and line the plywood with a thin film of plastic or else the epoxy will stick to things you don't want stuck!

Image not availble yet.
Original scarf with a combination lap and feather edge construction New scarf with a simple feather edge and epoxy construction, using a 10:1 width-to-thickness ratio.

4. Installing the planks
    Once the planks are scarfed together, there is a bit of futzing around with getting the edges of the planks to match up in a nice, tight seam.  But other than that, it's really pretty straightforward.  I'm using No. 10, 2.5" stainless steel wood screws to fasten the planks to the frames.  Planking the bottom of the hull went well.  It has a little bit of rocker to it, but I did not need to steam bend the planks at all. 

First pair of hull planks clamped and ready for fastening. Starboard chine strake (also called the garboard) clamped into place.  The board will be trimmed and planed to the red curved line (see arrow).

Planking the sides has been a bit more challenging because a) I am trying to salvage the original central side planks on both the port and starboard sides and b) I am running short of planking stock.  I actually ended up having my parents drag 7 more lengths of paneling from the Trading Post to Knoxville.  I picked them up when I was home for a visit, and checked the pile of planks as over-sized baggage.  The $50 I spent for that is the first money I have spent so far on lumber for this project!

5. Caulking the seams
    This will be the last thing I do before I paint the hull.  I've managed to get the seams on the planks tight to within about 1/32", which should be plenty tight once it swells up to keep it watertight.  Each seam has a slight bevel, or opening, on the outboard side.  This is where the cotton caulking will be driven in using a caulking iron.  Then the seam will be covered with putty, and then painted.

Marking a plank for removal of the bevel for inserting the caulking. Bevel on hull plank seams at the stem prior to caulking and puttying.