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The Construction Of Wooden Boats

There are different types of construction materials for our boats. The original construction method is wood, which has since evolved with more modern techniques.

When we think of wood, we obviously think of old plants and other traditional pleasure boats. Wood is the original material for building ships, just like canoes that were built directly from a tree trunk. Wood constructions compared to polyester ones are quite resistant and require little maintenance (when the wood is combined with resin). Finally, there is no risk of osmosis.

Classic wood or clapboard

The traditional wooden construction method is to build the entire boat out of wood, using boards of different sizes. They are assembled next to each other (free planking) or slightly overlapping (as in the case of drakkar), in which case it is a batten construction.

This construction method is still used in particular for amateur construction.

Plywood

This technique was developed in the 1960s, used by the architects of the time for the construction of well-known series: Muscadet, Corsaire, Vaurien, etc. Plywood is an assembly of wooden sheets (called plies) glued together. The greater the number of layers, the stiffer and stronger the structure.

The disadvantage of plywood is the use of glue that must resist water. To “marinize” the plywood, an epoxy resin must be used, which protects the wood from moisture.

The RM shipyard has made this construction technique its trademark.

Although this construction technique allows for weight savings compared to aluminium or monolithic composite boats, it requires the construction of hulls with chines. The plywood sheets are joined together and form edges, which are called chines.

This construction method is most commonly used for medium-sized boats and offers decent strength. On the other hand, the impact resistance is moderate.

Moulded wood

It is a construction on a mannequin onto which large sheets of veneer are glued. To increase strength, the veneer fibres are crossed between the different layers. Thus the hull is shaped (without chine), and the resistance is equal to that of plywood. It’s a bit like mounting plywood directly on the boat. Among the famous molded wooden boats, we can see Damien, who sailed around the world from 1969 to 1973, also wintering in the ice.

Striped strip

This construction method involves glueing wooden slats with epoxy to a mold (which is then removed) before covering them with a glass cloth (lamination) to add strength to the whole.

Unlike plywood, the slats are thin enough to fit the rounded shape of the mould and therefore do not create bilges. This method takes more time than plywood construction but is lighter in weight.

Boat Manufacturing Considerations

  • The skeleton of the boat is done first.
  • So the body is determined.
  • Then the deck lining is done.
  • Finally, the interior of the boat and the finishing works are completed.
  • When building a boat, sturdy scaffolding must be built for worker safety and easy transportation of parts.
  • If the ship is too large, the spirit level will not give enough accuracy. In these cases, a so-called pipe balance is established in this arrangement, which consists of a simple, transparent tube with water inserted into it. This tube is held between the points marked at the same height as a pair of mattresses (twin) on the starboard and Pier side and is meant on the boat ladder if the water level coincides with the points on both sides.
  • To protect the wooden parts of wooden boats, some protective materials are applied to these parts. For this purpose, it is preferable to increase the strength by adding copper compounds in oil paints. The lumber obtained from the chestnut trees, which are curved in nature and allowed to dry naturally, is used in the construction of the skeleton that forms the skeleton during the construction of the wooden boat described in detail above, and also in the lining of the skeleton.

Consequence

  • The materials to be used in the construction of plywood boats must be weather and water-resistant.
  • Particularly the parts of the hull that come into contact with water should be produced using high-quality plywood material.
  • The masts used for the curved parts of the boat should be smooth fiber masts.
  • Sea-fed animals can damage the boat. To avoid this, the ship must be impregnated with epoxy.

Consequently, both the wooden material used in the construction of the hull must meet the above criteria, and the structural connections between the load-bearing elements of the wooden hull must be extremely robust.