America's Most Historic Yacht

Progress through June 2012

Posted By on November 24, 2012

In an effort to keep things more current, I’ll be doing shorter posts to keep the task at a manageable size. I may also include less text, since sometimes the thing that stops me is coming up with a coherent theme for each entry.

Thirteen frames have been installed at the aft end of the boat.

Eighteen frames are now up at the forward end.

Remember those huge piles of futtock stock? You may have wondered how they keep track of all this material. No? I did. Each end has been numbered and that number is connected to a particular futtock.

And is there a map of where each piece is located on the shop floor? Only in the heads of the shipwrights…

One of the challenges of working with long lengths of wood arises when you have to join two edges together along a long span. Take the planking that makes up the transom skin for instance.

The inner and outer layers are edge-joined, and you want those joints to be perfect. In the old days, the edges would have been planed flat using a jointer plane.

The long bed of the jointer plane rides over the slight bumps and hollows of the work, planing off only the high spots. This eventually leaves a very flat, straight edge that can be joined seamlessly to another flat edge. The boards were held stationary and the tool was moved over the edge to be jointed.

With the age of power tools came stationary power tools that did this same job.

The board to be jointed is moved over the long beds of this tool, and a rotating cutter head (hidden underneath the orange guard) cuts off the high areas, just like the hand plane would. So, instead of moving the tool over the work, the work is moved over the tool with these big machines. This is fine as long as the board is not so long as to be unwieldy. For longer boards, it’s easier to keep the board stable and move the tool.

However, using a jointer plane is slow, so the crew use a third method to get a dead-flat edge along their boards. They get one board perfectly straight using hand tools, and then use that board as a guide for a power tool like a router.

The top board is the guide, and the board underneath it is being worked on. The guide is tacked to the work so that it doesn’t move. The router has a bearing that rides along the edge of the top board, and a cutter that is exactly in line with that bearing.

Image courtesy of

As the bearing rides along the upper guide, the cutters below cut a perfectly straight line in the wood below. The result is an edge that mirrors the shape of the guide. This method is not just good for making long, straight edges, it’s good for replicating any shape from the guide to the work.

When you have as many boards being joined as are in the transom, you want to have a method that is fast and accurate like this.

There are always side project to be done as well. Here, Jono is working on a metal working vise.

He’s cleaned everything and is now putting on a coat of protective metal paint.

Big vises like this have a long foot that extends down to the ground. This stabilizes the vise and keeps the jaws from flexing down when parts held in the jaws are struck with a hammer. If the vise was simply mounted to a table top, each blow would flex the table top down a bit, and you’d lose some of the hammer’s energy into that flex.


Coronet’s transom

Posted By on November 10, 2012

Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve managed to get an update in.  My apologies to all.  Expect more frequent updates in the future!

One of the biggest changes over the summer has been the installation of Coronet’s transom. By June, Eric had completed the framework and hoisted it up to check the fit.

The structure is massive once you get close to it.

Here’s the view from just forward of the transom looking aft. The diagonal bracing is temporary. (more…)

Progress through May 2012

Posted By on June 10, 2012

If you stop by to see Coronet under construction, there’s a good chance that you’ll be impressed by the sheer size of not only the vessel but of the shop space surrounding her. It’s a very large building, and yet, there still is never enough room.

You can see the stacks of lumber drying to the left. There is just as much on the other side of the shed, although much of that is salvaged ceiling planks and other timbers from the deconstruction.

There are also stacks of stock that have been marked as possible frame stock, and this needs to be sorted through. One way to do this is to lay out as much stock as possible and walk through it with the patterns of the futtocks to be made.

As before, these parts are sawn to their patterns, laid out on the assembly floor, and put together. (more…)

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.




Progress from December 2011 through January 2012

Posted By on February 7, 2012

A boat the size of Coronet requires a huge amount of wood.  We’ve been fortunate to work with Ken Beck of Newport Nautical Timbers.

Ken has recently found some beautiful yellow pine that’s been reclaimed from an old mill building.

He can bring his portable Wood Mizer sawmill right to the shop to cut boards to our exact specs.

A little sweeping, and they’re ready for stickering and stacking. (more…)