Fastening It All Together

Before you fasten pieces of wood together they need to actually be together. Since many of the planks of a boat are bent, a little force is necessary to close the joints. Even if the fit is perfect without force, the pieces need to be held in place while you fasten them. All this means that you can never have too many clamps, here are a few of ours that we arn't using now.

In some cases you need a curved piece, but you don't want to saw it because you want the grain to follow the curve. One solution is to bend the wood with heat and moisture: steam. A little steam box is shown on the left. A propane burner makes steam in the metal drum, which is carried by the rubber hose to the box. After the piece of wood has been steamed it can be remove and quickly bent to shape withour breaking. When it cools it will retain the shape.


If a plank is to be fastened into the edge of a bigger piece a Marine-Grade silicon bronze screw might be the best solution.

However, if we are fastening planks of a lapstrake boat to each other, a rivet is used. The rivet is made of a square copper ship's nail and a conical washer called a rove.

After the nail is driven through the planks, the rove is placed over the nail and driven down snugly against the wood with the brass rove set (the brass object at the top of the top left photo). The excess part of the nail is clipped off and the end is then peened (bent over) with a hammer.

A group of set rivets holding planks together is seen in the lower left pane.


If we are building or repairing a large boat, the planks are likely to be fastened to the ribs with seams between the planks. These seams will be caulked by driving in cotton and then a caulking compound to make the joint water tight. A special caulking hammer and iron is in this canvas bag.

The planks we put on the Wanda were caulked in this way.

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