America's Most Historic Yacht

Progress through March 2012

Posted By on April 4, 2012

As you’ve seen previously, a boat of this size requires a lot of framing stock. Those thick slabs of oak are carefully marked, rough cut with a chain saw and then finish cut on the ship’s saw. The ship’s saw allows the crew to cut both the shape and constantly changing bevel of the piece at the same time. One or more people guide the wood through the saw, while another person changes the saw’s bevel angle as the wood passes through the blade. It’s a carefully choreographed operation.




And here’s what it looks like in action:



After the frames are assembled, they are held in place using temporary gussets and blocks.



These are eventually replaced by permanent metal floors.



At the end of January, there were 16 forward and 5 aft frames installed.  By the beginning of March, 18 forward frames had been installed.



At the aft end of the boat, work was steadily progressing on the transom and supporting timbers.




These templates have been positioned to help visualize how the horn timber will connect to the transom knees.


Here is the transom frame, partially disassembled to show the joinery.



You can see how the lower edge of the frame connects to the transom knee using a mortise and tenon,



and the upper part of the knee joins the top of the transom frame with a half-lap joint. the lower and upper frames also are half-lapped together.



This type of joinery adds redundancy to the strength of the connection. One might be able to get by with fasteners, adhesive, and a connecting plates, but the mechanical connection afforded by good joinery provides extra strength and stiffness to the construction. This is why post and beam barns will long outlast a barn that’s built with only nails.


If you visit the shop, you’re likely to see some of the regular day-to-day work for prepping stock. For instance, you might see Jono and Leo feeding frame stock into the massive thickness planer.



Of the handy tools that the crew has built at the shop is a flattening bed. If you have stock that has a twist to it and you send it through the planer, it will thickness the stock but preserve the twist. However, if you flatten one face of your stock and feed that through the thickness planer flat side down, you’ll end up with stock that’s flat on both sides.


So, it’s really handy to have a way to flatten one side of your stock, and that’s what this sled does. In the back of the photo, you can see that there is a router mounted on a sled. The router can slide left and right on the sled. The sled itself rides on the rails that go alongside the stock. The stock is placed on the cross supports and the router is set to cut at the lowest point of the top surface of the stock. As the router is passed over the stock, it removes everything above the lowest point, leaving a perfectly flat surface. Simple, yes?


Once it’s flattened, it’s easy to lay out and trace the futtock pattern directly on the stock.



Oh, and those wooden parts that look like cd racks next to the stock? They’re just there to support the wide pattern paper so that it doesn’t flop off of the stock. These guys, they think of everything…

While the sled works great, sometimes it’s just easier to use hand tools to flatten your stock. This is particularly true when the stock is quite large like the horn timber.

Here, Claes is comparing the timber to his pattern.



The horn timber is on it’s side, with the top to the left. The pattern shows the shape of the rabbet that will be cut into the bottom of the timber.



You may be able to see the shape of the underside of the horn timber here in the aftmost pattern on the rudder post.



By mid March, the transom frame had been completed, and all parts fastened together.



It’ll be a while until the frame is installed, so Jono seals the wood with a linseed oil mix.



And then, it’s back to sawing out frames.




One of the things about scrap from boat building: you get lots of strangely shaped pieces that are rarely good for anything else. It’s not an accident that many boat builders have wood stoves in their homes or shops.




9 Responses to “Progress through March 2012”

  1. Tim Murray says:

    Again, great update, Tom. Many thanks. How about a sequence showing installation of a completed frame sometime? (Or the way the trunnels are driven in and finished off?) Those after frames are mortised into the deadwood and would make a fine demonstration of the amazing skills of these guys. That curved transom appears to be a work of art; it’ll give life to the whole structure when it goes into place. That, too, will be a great sequence to record.

  2. Tom Daniels says:

    Hi Tim,
    We’ll try to get more process shots. Right now it’s a bit of a toss up as to what gets in since I’m just up to the boat once a week.

  3. Marc says:

    Great story. Suggestion: To raise additional revenue perhaps by having daily or weekend tours of the restoration. Maybe set up some wine and food which was popular in the late 1860-70’s when it was originally being built, this would provide a more rounded experience of a tour.

  4. Tom Daniels says:

    Hi Marc,
    Thanks for taking the time to write. As you probably know, we do have a walkway all around the boat for people to see what’s going on, and that’s open as long as we’re open. However, we don’t have the free staff to offer any guided tours. It’s an interesting proposition and I’ll pass it along to Jeff, the project manager. I could certainly see tying it in with existing Newport tours. -Tom

  5. I hope when the yacht is done, you will have a DVD covering the project for sale!

  6. Tom Daniels says:

    I think that there’s a documentary team on board… so, hopefully, yes!

  7. Do you have a frame time,when the Coronet will be completed

  8. Robert Holberg says:

    Hi. Nice work and nice boat. I am intrested in the ship saw. if you know about any saw like that for sale somewhere. I am about to start a project building a 60 fot cutter. A vintage Norwegian fishing boat. with a 150 Hp 2 cylinder hotbulb engine.
    There is also a ship here you should look at. the sooner IDEAL. it is 120 feet and it is just finished. ready to sail. it is a copy from a ship that was build in 1890 here in Norway.


  9. admin says:

    Hi Robert,
    sorry to you and everyone else about my late replies. I have to figure out how to get WordPress to notify me when a comment appears on the site.

    I know that there are ships saws on the used tool market. Obviously a specialty item like this will be tough to track down, but I’d start with contacting larger boat shops for leads about auctions that they’re aware of.

    Best of luck,

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