Light Schooner Construction : Hull Construction


Hull construction

You can see the butt strap that joins two panels of the plywood sides. Along the bottom edge (top of picture) is the chine log, which provides a gluing surface between the sides and bottom. It is constructed out of clear 1x2 spruce, beveled to 13 degrees. This adds a lot of stiffness to the sides.


Looking aft


Looking aft, this gives a good sense of scale. The hull is 24 feet long, and the basement is 32 feet across. I'm standing about 2/3 of the way back...


Looking forward at bulkhead #1

Bulkhead detail

Here you can see bulkhead #3, notched on the bottom (top of picture) for the chine log and on the top (bottom of picture) for a deck support beam. The bulkhead itself is 1/4" ply glued to 1x4 select spruce with polyurethane glue.


Looking aft from bulkhead #1, you can see bulkheads #2 & #3, and a tiny bit of the transom

Scarfing Jig

I made a jig for cutting 6-to-1 scarfs in the mahogany gunwales


The first of 2 layers of 1/4" plywood bottom is dry-fitted. Getting the alignment just right is important to the final shape of the boat.

Bottom layer 2

Here I am clamping down the second bottom layer with cinder blocks while the epoxy sets up.

Fiberglass on

The outer fiberglass sheathing is now on, and I've finally flipped the boat right-side up.


Here is a look at the inside, looking towards the transom from the bow

False Stem

I laminated the false stem out of mahogany strips, with a single strip of oak for appearance. At the local lumberyard (, 1x4 mahogany is the same price as lousy 1x6 "select" pine at Home Depot or Lowes (about .89/lin foot).

Daggerboard case

These panels will form the daggerboard case. They are 1/4" plywood, backed up with cleats for stiffness and to provide extra gluing surface.

Daggerboard case finishing

The inside surfaces of the daggerboard case get a thorough coating of epoxy to seal it up. I could have used regular epoxy, but I wanted to ensure a very smooth, low-friction surface, so I used special low-viscosity epoxy, mixed with graphite powder additive. The Low-V epoxy flows out very smoothly since it is so thin, and the graphite supposedly makes for a very hard, very slick surface.


It takes a "boatload" of clamps to attach the 24' long gunwale.


Here is the stem as detailed in the plans.

Stem Reinforcement

I added some additional reinforcement pieces. Here they are just before installation.

Installed reinforcements

Daggerboard trunk

I ended up with a fairly elaborate clamping jig for the daggerboard case. The rope across the top is a spanish windlass to pull the bulkheads together.

Daggerboard trunk 2

The 1/4" sides of the bulkheads needed a little coercion to come into uniform contact with the edges of the case. I set this up by placing a 2x4 vertically, clamping at the top and wedging it with a long fore-and-aft 2x4 at the bottom. Then, I forced pairs of wedges in the gap, squeezing the bulkhead sides against the edges of the case.


I used 2" thick blue foam insulation for floation below the decks. I used most of a 4x8 sheet, providing about 325 pounds of positive bouyancy. In a capsize, this gives a nice safety factor on top of the already slightly-positive bouyancy of the hull itself. I think the foam floatation sits too high to allow it to be pumped out unless the water it is flat-calm, so I have sealed the bulkhead lockers in the hopes of floating it a little higher in case of a capsize on a choppy day.


The inside is varnished and the outside is primed. I ended up switching to grey primer, which works much better with a dark green finish coat. There is still LOTS more sanding to do...

Windows out

First, the windows have to come out... I had some help for this part...

A boat is born

One-half inch to spare on either side :-)


I had some help in getting the boat out the basement window

Almost out...


Now that it's out of the house, I've still got some finishing work to do. Here, the decks are going on...

On the trailer

Photo album generated by album from Dave's MarginalHacks on Fri Jun 10 09:24:54 2005