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Schooner Mary Day by jdbondy - 1:64 scale (3/16" to 1 foot)

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In my last post, I showed how I had to cut frame #50 to accommodate the stern post. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last frame. Frame 51 also exists, but it doesn’t articulate with the keel, deadwood, or sternpost. Rather, it will articulate with the framing for the transom, presumably fitting into what might be called a horn timber although I don’t think that’s quite the right term for this case. Feel free to correct my terminology.


In the picture above, you can see how the bulkhead that will become frame 51 is unable to sit on its line indicated on the baseboard.


The support for the stern post I had previously created ends right on the station line for frame 51. So I will have to do some carving on frame 51 just as I did for number 50.


Maybe this will do it…


Well, that certainly gets the upper part of the frame to sit on its station, but the frame is clearly tilted because the remainder is bumping up against the stern post.


I carved out additional wood in a ramp-like fashion.


Now frame 51 can sit vertically, parallel to all the other frames. As with frame 50, the shape of frame 51 is pretty arbitrary. I have no reference points to make sure that it is sitting neither too high nor too low on its station. This frame sits well above the waterline, so that can’t be used as a reference point.


I am still facing the same problem with fairing the stern as I was facing during a previous post: How do I create some kind of guide for the shape of the stern so that I can accurately fair the aft frames as the planking leads into the transom? I really need some kind of filler block that simulates the shape of the transom, not only as viewed from astern but also in a way that follows the curvature of the planking.


If only I had some kind of model to help me reproduce the 3-dimensional shape of the transom…


Duh! The resource I needed was hanging on the wall of my shop.


“Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings!” (More like a few days…)


I built this half model of the Mary Day while attending a class at the Wooden Boat School in 2004. It was built based on the lines drawings I had received from Barry and Jen a few years earlier, before the builders plans had been uncovered. It was the first of two I made; the other one went to them and is now at their office. I am certainly glad now to have made two models. It never occurred to me that I would use my own half model in the same way as boatbuilders have historically used half models: to reconstruct the hull at full scale. OK, I won’t be doing it at full scale, but still it’s a thrill to have this resource available so that I can directly transfer dimensions to a block of wood and fabricate the filler block I need.


I put a strip of painters tape along the transom so I could mark up some reference points.


And where two lifts of wood meet, a very convenient waterline is visible that can be cross-referenced on the lines drawing. Another good reference point turns out to be where the bottom of the transom meets the stern post.


Here, the builders plan is placed just above the lines drawing and a weight secures them relative to each other. I did this to get a sense of how different the scales were between the two plans. The lines drawing shows the waterlines A1 and A2 and where they cross the transom.


The old lines drawing has a spacing between stations of 1 inch plus 13/32”. The builder’s plan has spacing of 1 inch plus 14/32”. So, over about 1-1/2”, there is a difference of about 1/32”. This is a difference in scale of about 2%, with the builders plan slightly larger than the lines plan. But this is plenty accurate enough to generate a useful transom pattern and filler block.


Here are the tools I used to transfer dimensions. They include a small carpenter’s square, a compass, a 1/32” Incra rule, and calipers. The dimensions taken off the model were transferred to a transom drawing on the blue paper.


On the drawing, reference lines included the (horizontal) waterlines labeled A1 and A2. At the bottom is the junction of the transom with the stern post. Then of course the centerline. The distance from the transom-stern post junction to waterlines A1 and A2 were measured off the model, and slightly adjusted given the differences in scale. The width of the transom on the half model was measured using the Incra rule, which worked better than the carpenter’s square or the calipers. The tips of the calipers could not get into the point where the half model meets its mounting board, but the Incra rule could sit directly up against the transom. The distances were transferred to the drawing using the compass. Intermediate points between the waterlines A1 and A2 were used to fill out the shape of the curve.


Then I created a new Rhino file and entered the coordinates, then used Rhino’s curve drawing capabilities to create a smooth curve that traveled through all the points. The mirror function duplicated the curve for each side, and gives us a nice transom pattern.


Now I need a block of wood to serve as the transom filler block. I glued up some ¼” basswood,


…and a notch was cut into it using the table saw, so the block could sit against the sternpost.


Now I am planing it to shape. A strip of wood was screwed into the bottom surface so it could be held in the vise.


One of the basswood pieces wasn’t big enough, leaving a defect in what will become the face of the transom. So a filler was glued in place.


The edges were marked at an angle corresponding to the angle of the transom, and the blocks were planed down to the line.


The pattern was then put in place with its bottom edge against the sternpost, and a pin was used to accurately place the centerline of the pattern on the centerline of the filler block.


The transom pattern marks the outer surface of the hull, so the thickness of the planking needs to be accounted for. So purely as a starting point, the thickness of the planks (3/64”) was marked along the transom pattern. This of course is not structurally accurate, because the planking thickness actually changes depending on the angle with which the planks meet the transom.


But I will leave that for the next post, as I am already up to 21 pictures.


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  • 2 weeks later...



I have a confession to make.


Last week I was back in Maine, taking more measurements from the Mary Day while she is cooped up in Camden, waiting out this tourist season that has been cancelled due to COVID-19. 


Down the road from Camden, in Rockland, is the Apprenticeshop, which is a school for apprenticing individuals into the traditional skills of boatbuilding. (apprenticeshop.org) They had this boat for sale...and I bought it! As if I needed a distraction from my model building efforts! She will make the journey from Maine to Texas next week, and hopefully will be here in time for the weekend of Sept 12-13.


It really wasn't as spontaneous a buy as I make it sound. I have had my eyes on this boat since about this past January, when I learned about her design and then found an example for sale. This was just my first opportunity to make it back up to Maine since the pandemic started.


Anyone who can tell me the name of this design will win...my undying respect!

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My colleagues, have a look at this photo and give me your opinion. The portion of the plan showing the sternpost, rudder, and deadwood are presented, and my keel assembly is lying on top of it. I am beginning to work out the rabbet (although this picture does not show the work I have done to this end). The question I have is where the rabbet ends on the sternpost. I think that the dotted line traveling nearly vertically along the sternpost represents the end of the rabbet and the end of the counter planking. Right? Is there any reason to suspect that the planking should instead end where the sterpost and the deadwood meet? Any reason to suspect that the planking would travel further aft than the dotted line? Certainly the end grain of the planking should not be exposed, as it would be if the planking extended to the aft surface of the sternpost.


Thanks in advance for any input.

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I think I see what you are pointing out, so I have taken another photo now that I have begun carving out the rabbet. I haven't extended the rabbet into the sternpost yet.



In my previous picture, the keel timber on my model may have appeared deceptively small. The top of the keel timber is indicated on my model and on the plan by the red arrows. My photo doesn't show the details of the keel further forward on the plans or on the model, so I can see how it's easy to lose track of what is where.


I got a response back from Skipper Barry King about the position of the rabbet and the sternpost. He said he couldn't remember, mumbling something about how I now seem to know more about the details of his schooner's construction than he does...

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  • 3 months later...

It has been since August that I posted on any model work. I have indeed been distracted by projects related to the new sailboat, but other things were going on, like COVID 19 working its way through our household in December! But work on the model has been occurring, relating to planking prep and construction of the transom. The transom work is particularly interesting and challenging. I hope to do a couple of posts in relatively rapid succession to bring things up to speed.




This is an example of how lucky I am when it comes to the documentation of my subject. Cap’n Barry gave me a shell diagram to the Mary Day that lays out the planking on each side of the hull. He explained that each plank’s age is tracked because at any time the Coast Guard can ask for a sample of a particular plank. I suppose that means they take a core sample, then fill the hole with the equivalent of a treenail. Their shell diagram keeps track of when particular planks have been replaced and where samples have been taken in the past.




For our purposes, the width of each plank is documented with respect to where the plank crosses a particular frame. I bring this up at this stage of the build because I need to be able to visualize how the planking bands lie, particularly as the bands approach the transom, so I can properly fair the frames (and stern filler blocks, if I end up using them).


Also included, but not shown here, is a planking diagram of the transom.




The first step of the process was to take each of the 3 sheets depicting the shell diagram and merge them into one image.




At each major station location, the width of all the planks was totaled and used for the denominator, then the widths of the planks within a band were totaled.




The length of the tick strips was determined by the length on the model from the rabbet to the level of the bottom of the covering board, which is effectively where the hull planking meets the level of the deck planking. The tick strips were then divided according to the relative widths of the planking bands.




Marks from the tick strip are transferred to each frame so that despite fairing the frames, the placement of the bands will still be evident.




The lovely wife serving as my hand model for this picture.




I have marked the edges of the planking bands with red or green marks. These will of course get obliterated as I do more fairing, but they can be restored after that is finished.




I started with four planking bands, marked in green, but realized that as you approach the stern, I needed to add a band to cover all the additional territory that opens up. That is marked in red.




So the tape gives me a sense of how the planks approach the transom. Portions of the transom filler block have been carved away on each side.




I was told there would be no math. But I needed to know more about where the planks land on the transom, and how much I would have to rebate the filler block for the hull planking and the transom planking to meet at the right point.




Using that information, I drew a new curve on the transom that was set back the appropriate distance (3/16” maximum) and carved to that curve.




This was carried out on the other side.




In order to try to keep the shape symmetric, I tried using some creative “feeler gauges” to make sure I was rebating to the same depth on each side.




But I ended up just doing it by eye.




Back to the rabbet. Here I am checking the depth and angle of the rabbet at a certain frame location with a small piece of wood that is the same thickness as the hull planking, 3/64”.




The rabbet was extended in the same way as it would be done at full scale, creating reference points of appropriate angle and depth, which are then connected up.




The rabbet has been extended to the start of the deadwood.




The rabbet carved into the port side deadwood.




And the same for the starboard side. The blue tape prevents scuffing of the keel timber.




Before forgetting to do so, I worked on shaping the contour of the stem, which narrows from the full width of 5/32” to a minimum of 1/16”.




The narrowing of the keel hasn’t been finished on this picture, but you get the idea. One nice thing I was able to do with the microscope was to achieve a really smooth finish after sanding to 320 and 400 grit by scraping with a razor. I will eventually do that with the rest of the keel, but I have to make sure that fairing is finished first so I don’t accidentally mar the finish.




At this point, I feel confident enough about the frame shapes that I wanted to try to preserve them for the future.




So I traced out the shape of each frame (larger side of each frame, of course) onto card stock, and scanned them into PDF files.




Maybe this will come in handy in the future.


So the next post, which will hopefully follow soon, will focus on transom construction. It’s nice to be back at it!

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In a previous post I went over creation of a transom filler block, created by obtaining measurements off my half model of the Mary Day hanging on the wall of the shop. In order to put that filler block on the work surface, I had to extend the baseboard. In its current form, the filler block rests against the aft surface of frame #50, shown here inside of the sternpost.




This wood strip was attached and the surface was planed flat with a block plane. Frame 51 is shown in place here, just aft of the stern post.




Next step is to cut the transom filler block so that it can rest against frame 51. I used the table saw to cut slots of appropriate depth. These were joined to form a flat surface that would rest against frame 51.




In the centerline, a large timber extends aft from the sternpost and supports the transom planking in the centerline. To accommodate that timber (I will call it a horn timber, which would be correct in other designs but I’m not sure if it’s the correct term for a schooner such as this), a slot had to be created in the centerline of the transom filler block. Plus the plans show additional smaller timbers on each side of the horn timber, so the slot was made wide enough to accommodate all 3.




A slot also had to be created in frame 51 to accommodate the horn timber.




Transom framing has been added on each side of the horn timber, which enabled me to go ahead and attach that horn timber to the sternpost.


The plans indicate that transom planking only begins a certain level above the sternpost, so these smaller transom frames are notched at that point where the transom planking begins.




Next I carefully marked on the filler block the location of the other transom frames, and used the table saw to cut slots in the filler block to accommodate those frames. There are a total of 5 frames on each side of the horn timber.


At a certain point, I remembered that the transom is not flat across its face, but it has a certain degree of camber. The builder’s plan and line drawing were able to give me a sense of the degree of curvature, and at this point the filler block was sanded to a curved surface on each side. So each of the most peripheral slots had to be deepened to make sure that once they were glued in place, they would form a curved surface for the planking. I only remembered to mention this as I was putting this build log post together!




The filler block in place with the most central transom frames and no keel/horn timber assembly.




The starboard side transom frames have been glued using straight butt joints against the aft surface of the last frame.




All the transom frames were glued up, but I came to realize very quickly that the butt joints were not stable enough for practical use. So I pulled them off…




…and went to the microscope to carve out mortises that would receive each transom frame.




Since the assembly consists of frames 50 and 51 joined by some blocks adjacent to the centerline, the outside edges of 50 and 51 are unstable. I stabilized them with the pieces of wood shown above, slotted in between the two frames.




Transom frames are being glued in place again, and glue squeeze-out was carefully removed using the microscope.




That results in an assembly that looks like this. The frames are still solid sheets of wood at this point. To carve all the wood out from inside the frames would leave a very unstable and fragile structure. So the plan is to carve out the wood to the level of the deck beams, leaving the bulwark stanchions in place.




To further stabilize this modular transom assembly, I decided to go ahead and apply some transom planking. The first plank is in place…see if you can figure out the problem I just created. The horizontally oriented slots in the filler block helped to make sure the plank was perpendicular to the transom frames.




It is pretty cool to separate this modular structure from the transom filler block and find yourself with a stable assembly. I started with a solid block of wood, and through process of wood elimination I will hopefully end up with a respectable transom assembly that actually resembles the real hull framing structure.




Two more transom planks have been added before I figured out the problem I had created. I think I was out of the room when I thought…wait a minute, I can no longer put the keel/horn timber assembly into the transom framework! I walked back in, and sure enough, when I tried putting the keel back in place, I ended up with this.


The solution was to separate the horn timber from the sternpost, with the plan to make it part of the transom assembly.




Now to eliminate more wood. I had to figure out how to carefully carve out wood I didn’t want from frames 50 and 51. But to carve carefully, I would have to figure out how to hold this complex structure steady. So in the above picture, frame 50 is clamped between two thicknesses of wood that are separated by a sheet of wood that is the same thickness as the frame it is holding. Plus I have some grippy rubber material in there too.




Holding frame 51 still is more complicated, due to the transom frames. So I slotted out some wood from a block that would fit between the frame and the planking that had been applied.




Looks something like this.




This is positioned high in the clamp for the sake of the picture. In order to actually do any carving, though, the clamped frame would have to be low in the clamp to minimize movement.




A Japanese crosscut saw was used to slowly and carefully create the slots in each frame. They could only go to a certain depth before they would be in danger of cutting the transom planking. Then I used a ½” chisel under careful control to slowly cut away material from the frame while leaving stanchions behind.




Despite all that care and control, you can see how the chisel would still hit frame 51 and leave behind lots of little cuts. Fortunately the affected wood of frame 51 will be removed later on.




Finished removing wood from frames 50 and 51, for now. The deck camber was marked by using patterns for deck beams I had created earlier. Wood was removed up to those pencil marks, but not beyond. I figure there will need to be deck fairing later on.


This has been fun creating this modular transom structure! I plan to harvest the outboard edges of the filler block and install them to the transom assembly in order to define the outer surface of the transom and to give the bulwark planking something to key into.


Big decisions lie ahead when it comes to hull planking. I honestly don’t know what I am going to do after planking the transom and trimming its edges to accommodate the hull planking. But things just seem to be making themselves apparent to me as the work progresses, which is really cool.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Again, just catching up to you. I'm relieved to read that you and your family have come through Covid OK. Not a nice experience, I'm sure.


Lovely work and progress, JD. Might I suggest that for lining out planking that thread is more precise than tape? Just a little white glue does it. If you need to shift the line a bit, simply moisten a finger and roll the thread. up or down as needed.

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I'm just catching up on this thread also. I'm glad to hear that you and your family are recovering from COVID. I love the detail you are showing JD. Especially around cutting the rabet.

Druxey: Thanks for the idea on the using thread instead of tape for marking out the planking.


A Wonderful Schooner!


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Thanks, Dave. Cutting the rabbet was made so much easier thanks to the microscope. Right now my challenge is finishing the shape of the transom, where the hull planks will intersect with the transom planks, as well as where the hull planks will flow into the sternpost. Fortunately I will be in Maine in March, and I will hopefully be able to look at this area directly. The challenge there is that the schooner is docked bow-to, so I would need to row around the boat to get access to the transom!

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Just finished going over the entire log JD. Very nice! I enjoyed the transom bit very much, properly complex to make!

Could I share couple of thoughts:

Re your issues with the height and position of frames, position of rabet and the shape/angle of transom: Rhino is really powerful, it can give you all these answers. One solution is to extend the frames, sternpost and stem beyond the sheer to the same horizontal plane. This way all frames and transom will sit at the proper height. You can also project the transom to an appropriately angled plane to get its shape. Also, perhaps consider before tackling the frame shape to first fully define sheer, rabet and edge of transom as a continuity.

I am very interested to see how you ll approach the planking, at this scale you ll probably be able to get away with a lot of edge setting.




Edited by vaddoc
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Thanks Vaddoc, I am glad I bit the bullet and paid for the full version of Rhino. Huge capabilities that I have barely tapped into.


I am picturing that when you describe extending the frames, you are essentially describing a Hahn-style method, with all frames upside-down on a flat surface. I would then come along later and cut the extended portions of the frames down to the level of the sheer. Is that correct? My surface is curved, following the sheer at the level where the frames and bulwark stanchions meet the undersurface of the rail. I can see how the more traditional Hahn method could lead to a more accurate leveling of the frames.


Edge setting will indeed be possible, but I do plan on spiling planks. The planking will be boxwood, which will be more resistant to edge set than basswood. Also, since I plan on replicating the actual planking pattern, this leads to shorter segments of boxwood planks that would be even more resistant to edge set.

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