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Installing the garboard and bottom planks (click to open/close)
From the wales, we will now move down to the bottom of the hull and install the garboard and bottom planks. Each bottom plank has to be "sailed" or cut to fit the shape of the hull. When the bottom planks are installed properly the last plank will set the run for the planking at the turn of the bilge and sides of the hull. This produces a fair sheer as it meets the wale. To begin, clean out any globs of glue or shallow areas along the rabbit. The garboard plank will have to be a tight fit in this rabbit.
How to cut the garboard (click to open/close)
The garboard is cut from a wide plank due to it's complex shape. Start with a strip of poster board cut to 3/8 wide. The strip is placed into the rabbit along the keel and left to overlap the stem. Pins are used to hold it in place. It may take a few tries to shape the forward end of the garboard. The plank will want to naturally sweep up the stem, but you want to keep it as low as possible. Every bit of space on the stem will be needed for the rest of the planking.
Transferring the shape to the wood plank (click to open/close)
Once the end of the garboard is shaped and fit into the rabbit, check along the keel for any kinks in the poster board pattern. Satisfied the pattern fits the rabbit and lays flat against the hull, transfer the shape to the wood plank. On the prototype model I used Sweet Gum because this wood is an off white color with light shades of gray and tans. It looks like weathered white paint. Sweet Gum is also flexible and takes the bends and twists of the hull. Using epoxy, the garboard is glued and clamped to the hull. By placing the spring clamps so they apply pressure in the correct direction the plank will form to the hull.The first clamp at the bow pushes the plank into the rabbit. The second clamp pushes the plank down and into the rabbit. The third clamp applies pressure downward and the last spring clamp holds the plank snug to the deadwood.
In planking a hull the process of "spiling" is used to obtain the shape of each plank. The instruction booklet gives an explanation of the process. I have my own way of shaping the planks however. Planks on the bottom of the hull have odd shapes when expanded. First they taper at the bow then widen out narrowing at the mid ship and flaring at the stern. Bottom planks will belly out at midship making it difficult to pull the ends of the planks down to fall against the previous plank. On some hulls the planks are allowed to sweep up at the stern and stealers are used to fill the gap between the planks. On smaller hulls using wide planks, the plank can be shaped to fit the contour of the hull and avoid the use of stealers.
Finding the shape of the planks (click to open/close)
The way I find the shape of the planks is to use an old piece of band saw blade. Clamp the blade at the edge of the plank at the bow and stern allowing the blade to take a natural bend along the hull. The section of plank sticking out beyond the blade is split off. Use a sharp blade to make a couple light passes along the band saw blade. Do this to avoid the cut from running off and following the wood grain. Once you made a deep enough score on the plank, apply pressure to the cut and split off the piece. This same process is used on ever bottom plank once it has been glued to the hull.
Taper each plank before gluing (click to open/close)
 Before each plank is glued to the hull, a long taper is cut at the forward end. A sharp blade and steel edge does the job. The end is also snipped at an angle to fit the rabbit. This taper is always the upper edge of the plank. If you try and put the taper against the last plank the new plank will buckle or twist edge wise.
The second plank (click to open/close)
The second plank is clamped to the garboard then pushed down and in with the two spring clamps at the stern. Again, the second plank is split off just like the garboard. Looking at the photo, you begin to see how the planking will belly out at mid ship and droop at both ends. If you don't split off the mid section, the next planks will spring edge wise as you try to bend them to meet the previous plank at the ends of the hull. Softer wood such as Basswood tends to dent from the use of clamps. It requires some pressure to coax the planks into place. All planks, if cut correctly and the proper wood used, will bend nicely into place without the use of heat or soaking . Repeat the same steps for each bottom plank until the last one is in place.
The bottom planking (click to open/close)
With all the bottom planking in place, the ends of the last plank will fall at the bottom of the lower transom and about half way up the stem. This forms a smooth run for the side planks to follow. I allowed a little epoxy to ooze out between the planks. When the hull is finish sanded the epoxy looks like scale caulking. Each plank tapers at the bow and flairs at the stern.

Go to part 6 - PLANKING THE HULL

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