Velocette part 7, strip planking the hull
22 November 2021
Time to start butchering wood. Anyone who has seen a cedar strip canoe agrees they are a work of art. I wanted to use this construction technique not only for its beauty but to build a light, strong hull that could easily conform to the compound curves of the design. There is a lot of boat building these days using the stitch-and-glue method. Planks of plywood are literally stitched together with wire or zip ties and the joints are reinforced with epoxy putty and fiberglass. I call this the plywood and playdo method. It is not the type of woodworking I enjoy but there are some cool boats built with this technique.
Building Strip-Planked Boats by Nick Schade is an excellent book to describe the techniques I used and served as my reference.
Strips of cedar are stapled in place to the building form and edge glued together. That's pretty much all that is involved. As the boat curves, the square strip edges must be beveled so they fit tightly. But construction does not need to be perfect. The inside and outside of the hull are fiberglassed for strength and waterproofing.
The 1/4" thick cedar strips conform quite easily to the curved mold. But they can start to twist when forced to bend in two different directions. Then strips need to be tapered along the length to lay flat. All of this requires the use of a sharp plane. My 7th grade woodshop class prepared me for this. Mr Jones has us spend the first six weeks using a plane to make a flat, square board from a rough plank. My dad thought it was too much time spent on plane craft. No way, it taught useful woodworking basics that have served me well.
As strip edges butt against each other, it is very important to be sure they don't shift up or down. Any step in the joint must be smoothed out to the lowest spot to have a smooth hull. I would recommend using clamps or masking tape to hold the joints flush with each other while the glue dries. It will save a lot of work later on.
If one decides to build a strip-planked boat should give it a try. Canoe shapes, with their straighter lines, will be easier to build than Velocette. I would strongly suggest buying a CNC cut mold instead of making your own. It will eliminate a lot of work and ensure a smooth hull. Chesapeake Light Craft is a great source.
It only took a week to complete the strip planking.