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Examining the counter timbers (click to open/close)
The counter timbers serve an important part on the stern of a ship. They cover the end grain of the wales, the bulwark planking and the stern planking, but they also give the stern the final shape. On classic ships the counter timbers were often elaborately carved. These timbers are difficult to install because they not only bend to the side of the hull but also twist and tuck under the lower transom. There are a couple ways to approach the making of the timbers, one way is to cut them from thin stock so they can be steam bent and each thin piece laminated to form the full thickness. Another method is to carve them to shape, which was done on the prototype model. To begin a card board pattern is made for the shape of the timber.
Location and bend required (click to open/close)
These two photos show the location, the bend and twist required for the counter timber.
Drawing shape of counter timber (click to open/close)
Before the pattern is removed from the hull the lower shape of the counter timber is drawn on the wales. The wales butt against the forward edge of the counter timber. You can install the counter first then cut and fit the wales to the counter, or install the wales and later cut them to fit the counter timber. The line on the wales is a close general shape. The final shape will be adjusted to match up with the actual timber once it has been made.
Cutting wales away (click to open/close)

Using a small disk sander made from the bottom of a 35mm plastic film can on a Dremel the wales are cut away. A dremel drum sander and a knife were then used to finish the cut.
Tracing the patterns (click to open/close)
The patterns are traced on thick stock. Counter timbers are difficult to fabricate and fit to the hull. Thick stock is used because the timbers have a pronounced bend which can not be done by steam bending alone. The timbers will be cut to as close to fitting the hull and reducing the amount of bending.
Hollowing edge of timber (click to open/close)
Inside edge of the timber is hollowed out with a drum sander on a dremel or if you have a spindle sander that also works. Reduce the thickness at the center to about half the original thickness of the wood.
Pair counter timbers (click to open/close)
Make the counter timbers in a pair so you keep both the same shape. Every once in a while lay the pieces on the flat side and check to be sure the arc is the same on both pieces.
Examining timbers (click to open/close)
A side view shows the hollow arc on the inside of the timber, which fits against the hull. The other photo shows the timbers worked down to the final inside shape.
Sanding timbers (click to open/close)
In the first photo the arched shape of the counter timber is complete. Once the timber fits the hull the outside is shaped to match the curve created by the inside arc. Both timbers are worked together to maintain the same shape. Finally the pieces are sanded down to the correct thickness. Thickness of the counter timber and the wales are the same so there is a level transition between the wales and the lower section of the counter timber. The upper part of the counter timber will have a step where the bulkward planking meets the timber.
Soaking, bending, and placing timbers (click to open/close)
A small glass of water was boiled in a microwave, then the timbers were dropped in the water. The timbers were left in the water until it cooled then the glass was set in the microwave and boiled again. Once the piece was pliable it was clamped to the hull. In the photo the timber would not fit tight to the wales at this point. When the counter timber cooled and dried a final fitting between the timber and wales were done. You can also see how the counter timber will define the shape of the stern at the sides.
Sand and finish hull (click to open/close)
The counter timbers are now in place. When the hull is given a final sanding and finish the lower section of the counter and wales will be smooth and flush.
Add molding (click to open/close)
The counter timbers extend beyond the stern planking. The builder can put a half round or square molding where the timber and stern planking meet. The small molding can also continue under the transom rail.

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