Books to build by

Plank 7 is curing as I write this.  I had hoped to finish it yesterday, and be fitting the sheer strake today, but I made an error that cost me some time yesterday, and thus finished up #7 today.  If all goes well tomorrow, the last plank will go up, marking the midpoint of the building process.  My suspicion is that it is closer to thirdsies.

Hanging planks is becoming old hat, and as I prepare to move on to the 'outbone' -- the outer stem, the rails, the keel and the skeg, I am reading the relevant parts of the two boat building books I am relying upon.  A good time to say a few words about these references.

Auklet is an Iain Oughtred design.  Oughtred is perhaps the best known designer of glued-lapstrake wooden boats, and to undertake one of his designs without his book on the subject would be nearly unthinkable.  For all that, I like the design far more than the book (Clinker Plywood Boatbuilding Manual).  It is intended as a manual for clinker plywood boatbuilding... not particularly your chosen design.  The book is filled with conditional instructions... if you're doing a dory, do X, else if a pram, do Y... that sort of thing.  To make it worse, the conditions are asterisk-coded (*D, *P... etc.).  It is confusing and annoying.  I can't say that I see a practical alternative, but I don't like it much.

Stylistically, the book is sometimes difficult to follow as well.  Boatbuilding has a jargon all its own, and the particular Scottish vernacular in Oughtred's writing takes some adjustment.  Its all worth it, but at times, requires multiple passes over the same material.  Not that you don't need to do that in any case!

The second book I am using is more extensive, better illustrated, more general (a feature and a bug), and clearer.  Brooks and Hill are married co-authors, and the book benefits from the absorption in building of John Brooks, and a similar dedication to writing of Ruth Ann Hill.  If I were allowed only one book, this would be the one.

Brooks is oriented towards production efficiency -- he builds and teaches for a living, and speed is clearly important to him.  Lots of jigs for power-tool cutting, laying out, and speeding-up production.  As a single boat builder, I'm not much interested in pattern sawing or plank-cutting jigs, and (for example), suggesting the use of a jigsaw as a quieter alternative for plank cutting is sort of laughable.  That job is more accurately, far more quietly, and nearly as quickly done with a dozuki saw. These are hand crafted boats intended to be build by individuals and small production shops, and Brooks is manifestly in the latter category.  You won't find poetic tributes to the virtues of hand tools here.

How to Build Glued-Lapstrake Wooden Boats is about as close as I can imagine to a comprehensive manual for the tasks of this genre of boatbuilding.  Its the book I pick up and read and reread to work out what I need to do next.


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