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My guess or my rule of thumb was to find the plank widths for the ship as different ships had different plank widths.  Mark out the largest frame and count the planks.  Add 10 to 25% for "oops" and "oh crap's".   Note that some plans have a cross section drawing at the dead flats (widest part) and the planks are drawn.  Just count them then.

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Chief

 

What ship, country, etc??  

The thickness of course varied for the various strakes from keel to bulwarks.  Depending on the era, you can find the various thicknesses in some sets of scantlings.  For the widths, these are not so well defined, but look at planking expansion drawings.   There are some on the NMM Collections site that may be clear enough to give you an idea of the number of strakes for a few ships.   The number of strakes combined with the amount of space at the various stations on the body plan will allow you to calculate the widths along the strake although if you purchase the expansion drawing, you can measure it as they are to scale.   Inboard planking varied in width and thickness as well.   There are some cross section drawings on the NMM site as well that will give a lot of information.   These are pretty much from the early 19th century on, but may be a few from the 17th century.  Others here may know of some specifics.   

Allan

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I think it has to do with the amount of spilling needed and the timber you would have available. In the boat I currently build, the planks needed very significant spilling. So, if I wanted really wide planks, to accommodate the curve the trees would need to be huge. For ships where straight planks were used, these could be wider.

Also, it depends on the curve of the hull at the bilge. Very wide planks will not accommodate the turn of the bilge well or would need to be very thick so they could be shaped concave. Much easier with narrow planks.

Other possible problems, the more wide the plank, the more difficult not to have defects and the more difficult to steam, handle and bend into place.

 

For models, I think a compromise of the above. Planking is easier with narrow planks but takes much longer. I started with 15 planks each side but were too wide, then wanted 22 but would take forever, finally settled for 17 which proved a sweet spot.

 

My 2 cents...

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