Carl H. Clark
The skiff which is the subject of the present article is of very simple and cheap construction. There are many persons who either do not realize their need of a boat until late in the season, or who put off the matter until then; for these this boat is well suited. For a cheap yacht tender, especially for use in shallow water, it is particularly well suited. It can be built by an amateur in about three days time at an expenditure of about six dollars for lumber, nails and paint. The one of which this is the copy was built by the author in about a week, working at odd times at a boat-house with few tools. The boat is 9 ft. long, 3 ft. 8in. wide and about 17 in. deep. The material may be of any soft wood, such as pine, cedar or cypress; the latter is to be preferred, as it is tough, easily worked, light and cheap.
The main material required consists of: - Four boards 10 ft. long for the sides, of 1/2 in. stock, two 8 in. wide and two 10 in. wide; also two boards 10 ft. long, 6 in. wide and 1/2 in. thick, for rails, etc., and two strips 12 ft. long of 1 in. square, for ribs.
Two boards 9 ft. long, 6 in. wide and 1/2 in. stock are needed for the bottom stiffeners, and about 30 ft. of 1/2 or 5/8 in. stock, preferably the latter, in about 10 in. widths, for the bottom.
The construction is very simple, as will be seen from the illustration. The sides are in two pieces stiffened by the ribs; the bottom is laid crosswise, and in the corner between the sides and bottom are fitted the corner strips. The bottom stiffeners run fore and aft and strengthen and protect the bottom.
Fig. 7 gives the pattern of the sides, formed of the 8 and 10 in. boards, the curved seat being cut out of the wider board. The edges of the boards should be carefully jointed and the outline cut out as shown. The boards should be fastened together temporarily with cleats on the inside, care being taken to keep them clear of all the points marked on the plan. The several lines should be drawn across square, on the side which will be the inside of the boat, for future use in placing the ribs. The seams between the two boards should be close and smooth.
Fig. 9 is the shape required for the form at the widest point; it is made of rough boards but must be strong and accurate. Fig. 8 illustrates the board for the stern, of 7/8 in. stock, cut to the shape shown, and the edges bevelled slightly, to fit the bevel of the sides.
The widest place in the boat occurs between the two 8 in. spaced lines at the middle seat. The form should be placed here and held in place by lightly nailing; the two sides should then be carefully bent around. Great care must be used in the work not to break or split the boards, and they must be bent slowly. A light frame may be made, a trifle larger than the stern, to slip over the after end of them, to hold them in place, leaving only the forward ends to be bent around. A cleat may be fastened across the forward ends and a rope passed around, and used for drawing them together. When the sides are sprung into place the bow will be found to be much more pointed than is desired; it must then be forced out by a board put across at about the after side of the forward seat, until the width here is exactly 3 ft. outside; the deck view should then appear as in Figs. 2-4.
The stern board should be fitted and secured in place; the sides may be forced down and held by driving the frame further forward. This should force them down firmly into place, and after painting the joint they may be fastened with screws or long nails. The frame should, however, be left in place until the sides have "set" and some of the spring is removed, as otherwise the joint may be opened slightly.
The forward ends of the side boards are brought to within about 1/4 in. of each other, leaving this amount all around the curved ends to be filled up by the stem. The stem on the inside must next be fitted. It will be necessary to do this entirely by trial on account of the curve of the bow. If a curved knee can be obtained the stem can be made in one piece, otherwise it can be in two pieces, as shown in Fig. 6. The bearing of the sides on the stem should be about 2 in., to allow good fastening. The sides are fastened on with brass screws and galvanized nails. All surfaces should be painted before putting together. Before finally fastening, great care must be taken to see that the boat is symmetrical and true, and should be held true by braces, to avoid any chance of changing shape.
The corner strips, as shown in Fig. 6, are next to be fitted; these strips are 2 in., wide and, as may be seen from the figure, are bevelled and fastened so that the bottom boards fit upon them and inside of the side boards. They are fastened about 5/8 in., from the lower edge of the side boards; at the after end when the curve is greater, they may require a saw cut at intervals to make them bend more easily. They are fastened to the sides with galvanized wire nails, clinched.
The ribs are now to be fitted from the 1 in. strips. They are cut out to fit over the corner strip as in Fig. 9, the object of this being to prevent, the sides from warping. The ribs are fastened to the sides, one on each side of the lines already marked, the middle of the rib on the line. They are fastened with the nails clinched over on the inside of the rib, two nails should be drawn through the lower end into the corner strips and carefully clinched. These pieces should make the sides very stiff and avoid any chance of splitting.
The bottom boards are laid crosswise, fitting between the side boards and resting upon the corner strips. The planks nearest the ends are fitted first, working toward the middle; the ends of the boards are bevelled to fit inside the sideboards, and the edges are made straight, with just enough bevel to make up for the curve of the bottom. The joint is well filled with paint and the boards nailed to the corner strips and also from the outside into the ends of the bottom boards; this nailing in the two directions makes a very strong joint. The nails for this purpose should be about 1 1/2 in. long. The last board should be fitted before the adjoining boards are nailed, as the sides may then be sprung out to let this board down into place, otherwise the slight bevel would prevent its entering.
The bottom stiffeners are fitted inside and outside and are through fastened; they stiffen the bottom and prevent the joints from working. The forwaid ends of the side plank are now finished off square across and the false stem fitted ; the latter is of oak of proper size to make a finish and is steamed and bent into place. It butts against the forward end of the outside bottom stiffener, which is tapered to meet it. A stern band should be fitted to cover the joint and take the wear.
The gunwales are 2 inches wide, and are let 1/4 in. into the tops of the ribs and well fastened; at the ends pieces are put between them and the sides to hold them parallel, and knees are fitted as shown in Fig. 4.
The seat braces are 1 1/2 in. wide and are fitted about 7 in. down from and parallel with the top of the gunwale; they should run from stem to stern. The seats rest upon these braces. The seats are 3/4 in. thick, the after one 12 in. wide and the other 8 in. wide. The forward seats are fitted in the position shown, bearing against the ribs, and act as braces to keep the sides apart; the ends are notched to fit around the ribs; the bearing should be upon the ribs and not upon the plank. The after seat is fitted in the same way and fastened to the fore and aft braces.
The small skeg under the stern adds to the rowing qualities of the boat; it is of 8 in. stock with a cleat on the back extending up on the stern. Rowlock blocks are secured on top of the gunwale and fitted with galvanized rowlocks; foot braces may also be fitted.
All the seams should be fairly tight, but any which are not may be fitted tightly with cotton and puttied. The entire boat should be given two coats of paint.
Seven foot oars are the proper length for this boat, and with the addition of a ling bolt for the painter the boat is now complete. This boat should be very satisfactory as it is light, easy rowing, and has excellent carrying capacity.