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21' Fisherman's Launch by Vaddoc - Scale 1:10 - Plans from Howard Chapelle's "Boatbuilding"

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A few moths back I got Chapelle's "Boatbuilding". It is a lovely book and an enjoyable read.

The Launch drew my attention due to the simplicity of its construction and I started drafting it on CAD at the same time as I was drafting the Yawl. Now, the Yawl will be clinker planked but the Launch would be carvel. I just thought it made perfect sense to build both alongside so I could have my fill of spilling planks. Or maybe just double the frustration, time will tell!


Now this decision is not entirely unreasonable. Most of the CAD plans are ready. I will not use temporary frames and will not use steam bend frames. I intend to use solid frames and these will be made from the left over plywood that I laminated for the Yawl. Eitherway, the frames in this boat are entirely hidden from view.


I will use either cherry or pear for the keel and maybe beech for the planks, if there is enough left over from the Yawl. I think however that in the end I will need to order some more wood from Germany and maybe best to do it before Brexit kicks in. We ll see

Same as with the Yawl, I am thinking of using threaded brass wire to hold the planks. I ll need to experiment a bit though.


A few pictures.

This is the boat. There is nowhere to sit on-this boat is for hard work only


This is the half hull surface



Since the frames will be solid, some deviation from the plans is needed to accommodate the engine bay and the fish well. There will be plenty of floors and I had to move the bulkheads a bit. There is still a bit more work to be done as well as to make some form of a jig.


I think this should be easier to plank than the Yawl, not only because it will be carvel planked but also due to the much less curved bow. Time will tell!


Best wishes 


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Hi Vaddoc


What cad package do you use, I am trying to hard to do the same principle as yourself on a pinnace drawn by Harold Underhill on Fusion 360. Not been a cad literate person I am finding the experience frustrating trying to draw in 3d, especially the frames. Yours look very smooth, especially from frame to frame. Do you use control  points, and then flexible spline, a control spline command with dimensions or some other method.





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Hi Noel

I ve been using Rhino for many years. The real objective is to get a smooth (-ish) outer skin. To do this, you need to first define the rabet at stem, keel and sternpost, define the edge of the transom and the sheer line. These are the boundaries of your outer skin (surface of planking). Then draw all your lines, fair them (ask the computer to do it), then choose the most promising and use these to adjust all the others. Then again choose the most promising lines and try to get an outer surface. When you accomplish this, you are pretty much done. You can get any frame of any thickness including bevels by simply projecting vertical lines to this surface.


However don't get too obsessed with CAD accuracy, it is very difficult to transfer it to cut wood as I am actually finding out as we speak!




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  • 1 month later...

Welcome aboard Bob and Patrick!

I am really sorry it has taken me so long to post a reply-life has gone into hyperdrive.


Still, I managed to do a bit of work on the boat!The Yawl is ready for planking, so time to bring the launch to the same level.


First, I ordered some more wood, this time not from Oliver at Arcowood but from Massive Holz. Once again I find that the former provider indeed selects the timber that is sent out. The latter does not seem to do this as much. I received some sheets that have defects and colour variation which I think should not have been sent out, considering we pay £10 or so for a little plank. (I edited this part to be fair as most of the sheets were fine)

Then, I finished the whole boat on CAD, based on plywood frames 4 mm thick. The reason being I have 2 large sheets of 4 mm plywood I had laminated myself for the Yawl.

These frames will be completely hidden so no need to sweat making them from expensive pear or cherry. However, after I had finished, I cut half a frame and realised that my plywood was delaminating but also that 4 mm would not be thick enough to withstand the pressure during planking. I will use beech which might bend nicely but at 2 mm, is also a very strong wood.


So, back to the drawing board. I ordered some plywood 6.5 mm thick from Cornwall models and changed the frames to 6.5 mm. This took a decent amount of work!


So, here is where we are now


There will be 17 frames, initially very long to form the building jig, then cut to length. This is how to fit 17 frames in a 600 x 300 mm sheet!


It is great fun building this boat, it builds like a clipper with its rabet, horn timber, dead wood and all but it is such a tiny boat! It will even have a bit of deck...

Next update hopefully will have a bit of saw dust.


Take care 



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1 hour ago, vaddoc said:

I received wood with what I consider unacceptable defects and colour variation, considering we pay £10 or so for a little plank.

Wow...that is expensive...nearly $13 US dollars per plank! Are you using beech for the planking? What is the size of a single plank that you get for £10? 

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Beech is cheap Bob, I think around £4-5 per sheet 1000 x 100 mm. Pear, cherry and the other premium woods are much more expensive. If you visit both sites you can check the prices. 


1 hour ago, BobG said:

Are you using beech for the planking?


Yes, it is a wood I very much like. It bends nicely and I like how it combines with pear. Now, for the Deben I used maple which is a fantastic wood for planking. I did not appreciate however that beech, although it bends as nicely, is also much harder. I foresee troubles ahead!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Now, I need to correct a couple of mistakes.

The actual frame count is 16 as No 17 would be the transom. Furthermore, there only 14 frames in the above arrangement as somehow I missed two!


In any case, the templates have been glued to the 6 mm plywood sheet. This is very thick plywood bought from Cornwall models, it is very good quality with no voids, it reminds me of marine plywood although the wood is soft birch. The little Dremel Motosaw is actually doing a pretty good job and is cutting the plywood with relative ease. The frames at 6 mm thick I think will be sturdy enough for the job.







All frames will need to be finished to the exact lines. Then, somehow a mirror paper pattern will need to accurately be glued to the other side to allow for the inner bevel to be cut.

There is a lot of cutting and finishing to be done though!

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13 hours ago, vaddoc said:

This is very thick plywood bought from Cornwall models, it is very good quality with no voids, it reminds me of marine plywood although the wood is soft birch.



This is also a good supplier of wood and usually cheaper than Cornwall. https://www.slecuk.com/


13 hours ago, vaddoc said:

Then, somehow a mirror paper pattern will need to accurately be glued to the other side

Nice work with the scroll saw, but glueing pattern on the reverse sounds very tricky. Good luck.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I think another update is in order.


Box, many thanks but actually the frames on the photo were roughly cut , they were later finished to the exact pattern.

Keith, it was actually very easy to glue the mirror pattern on the back. I am pretty sure there are already significant tolerances in the build, a bit more to the left or to the right will make no difference I think!


I just managed to scrape a few moments here and there to work on the boat. I first finished all the frames to the exact pattern using the disc sander and mostly diamond files, which remove a lot of wood quickly. This took a while as the plywood at 6 mm is pretty thick. 







Then, I printed mirror patterns for all frames and with scissors cut the outline. Then I simply glued the frames to the back of the pattern. It actually worked pretty well.


I could not resist aligning the frames, nice curves I must say... The straight parts that ruin the poetry will later be cut off, they are there just to help to set up the frames.





However, this was the easier part. I now need to cut the bevels, both for the outer and the inner planking. This is pretty challenging.


The diamond files are not useful here. The disc sander is far too aggressive and far too large. What actually made the task easier was to attach round sand paper to the Dremel. I like this trick, it sands not too aggressively but also is flexible and can fit in tight spaces.





A mountain of work left, I ve only sanded the bevels for two frames.

I also printed the patterns for the keel and stem. I think I will cut the deadwood en block instead of building it up.

I am not 100% certain how the boat will be assembled, probably the right side up as the frames will be permanent so need to somehow be well attached to the keel. We ll see.




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Keith, you beat me to it.  I noticed the Fanta can/support piece as I am a fan of their products.  Not necessarily for health, but got to do something naughty now and then.   


Vaddoc, I am looking forward to continuing following your log!!  Great start.  This is the first time I have seen anyone gluing the patterns to both sides of a frame so another new trick to try.



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Bob many thanks, indeed this progress is pretty fast for my standards 

Keith and Allan, Fanta Zero Sugar is one of those little pleasures that make life meaningful!


Now, I stole a few moments to spend in the shipyard. I tidied up a bit and then did a tiny bit of work.


The frames are underway, so I wanted to start work on the keel, stem and deadwood/stern. These will be partly visible and furthermore the rabet will need to be curved, so they cannot be made from plywood. Even if I end up painting the boat (quite possible), they still need to be made from wood. I chose to use pear, mostly because I forgot I also had beech which is much cheaper.


Now, I have 2 sheets of pear to choose from, a lighter shade and one with the usual darker pear wood colour. I chose to use the lighter one because it was dead straight and flat, whereas the darker one was slightly warped and cupped. Shame really, lovely wood


The sheet is supposed to be 8mm but it is actually 8.5, no harm done though, I ll just sand the notches on the frames a bit more.


Now, this is the keel and the top view of all the frames


For the stern and dead view, I have the option of either building it up from pieces exactly as the plans show, or doing it en block, from the same 8 mm sheet. The first option is too complex and I am already cutting corners with this boat with the plywood frames. Makes sense to make it one piece



These are the patterns for the stem and knee, again from 8 mm sheet


This are the side views patterns for the bow and stern, will help to make sure all are in roughly the correct position


I managed to cut the keel straight but then I was summoned in the house. It will probably be a while before I can do any more work


Take care


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  • 3 weeks later...

A quick update


The keel has come a long way but of course there is more work needed. It is not glued together yet, I need to think how best to do it.




Shaping the inner bevels of the frames is proving to be a difficult and very time consuming job. It would be nice to have some kind of power tool, small enough to fit in and be controllable but also powerful enough to sand away the 6 mm plywood. I bought the Proxon pencil sander, it hope it will make the task easier but really I do not have high hopes. I will report when it arrives.

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On 12/8/2020 at 12:10 AM, KeithAug said:

I have wondered about that tool for a while, but never taken the plunge. I’ll be interested to see how it works out.

Keith, it did not work at all. The size of the tool is fine and it is powerful enough. I think the problem is the small length of the stroke.

To remove material, 100 grit or less is needed. The size of the sandpaper particles at this grit is large. The head of the pen sander vibrates around 3 mm (or so), not enough to effectively sand and remove material. I experimented a bit but it is simply the wrong tool for the job. At least I did not have to pay for it as I used some Amazon gift vouchers I was given.

I now carefully chisel the bevels (and occasionally my fingers). Power tools are too aggressive and files end up rounding the bevels. Not easy!




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  • 2 weeks later...

A bit of progress so time for another update.


I have not been able to work much and have not taken as many or as good photos as I could. I bought a few more chisels, two Narex 6 and 3 mm and a 3mm Ashley Isles V chisel. I really enjoy using the Narex chisels, they seem to get sharper and hold their edge better than the Aldi chisels I ve used. The Ashley isles seems very good as well, actually it arrived honed and ready to use!



I also made a new honing guide and a jig to maintain the honing angle. Very easy to make with scrap material but it is essential to use a drill press to make sure everything is parallel and horizontal. The guide functions very well but I did not take a picture-will do and post it.


Back on the boat I finished the bevels in all frames. Using an 8 mm Aldi chisel this job was actually quick, easy and accurate. I spend some time to hone it razor sharp but I found that even on the soft plywood, I had to use the strop very often. I ordered one from Narex.




I regretted using plywood for the frames very much. It is very soft and it seems to have internal stresses because it bends and changes its dimensions after cut to shape. The reason I used plywood was cost and also because it will be completely hidden. Never again.


Now, at this stage I need to think carefully before doing anything to make sure I don't mess things up, the various tasks need to be completed in a specific order. So, first I need to cut the rabet at the keel, deadwood and stem.


I made the first cut at frame 11, it came out very well.




However, then I realised that the keel is not horizontal but sloped and that the frames are vertical but at an angle to the keel. So I made a kind of base to keep the keel at its correct angle. I used scrap hardboard I found in the garage, it came out fine and does the job.




I then cut the rabet at frames 10 and 9. I used chisels taking it slowly and checking constantly. So far I am very happy with the outcome, the rabet is coming out much better than in the Yawl.





Complete the rabet

Attach the deadwood and stem

Deal with the frames to strengthen, straighten, arrange in the jig and somehow attach to the keel


Merry Christmas and a great new year to all!



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Many thanks to all for your comments and likes.

Now, there has been some more progress, and then things went pear shaped.


First I finished the rabbet at the keel. It came out fine I think and actually seems to be quite forgiving in regards to the angle the garboard will have. I was very careful to preserve the straightness of the rabet line. At the stern, a lot of wood had to be removed, this job was done relatively easily with sharp chisels.



Next it was time to fit the frames on the keel and see the shape of the boat for the first time. Something did not look right but of course the frames would not stay in place.



The most accurate way to positions the frames is upside down as the vertical projections from the sheer extend to the same horizontal level quite accurately. However, the frames are not rigid at all and some are a bit warped. Best thing to do is to accurately secure them to the top view pattern of the boat. I used little pieces of beech from strips that were too warped to be used in the model. I used initially Pritt stick to glue into position and then 1 mm screws. 


Then I tried to put everything together but things really didn't want to work together.  Every piece seemed to belong to a different boat...



After a lot of sanding-fitting-sanding-fitting, the whole thing came together.



Now it was time to check the bevels and the fairness of the planking. Midships and towards the stern, the bevels look ok. Towards the bow, the bevels on some frames look a bit too acute but should not be too big a problem. However, frames 2 and 3 seem too narrow and really wrong. 


Now, if these frames are indeed correct and it is just the shape of the hull, the planks going over frame 1 would actually never meet the rabet at the stem. 


Something is very wrong. I went back to CAD. Now, there was a small ripple on the hull surface near the bow which I thought was not important so did not bother to correct


Just to check, I quickly fixed it and then compared the difference in frame shape at position 2.

Oh dear...


I suspect frames 2 and 3 are about 2 mm to narrow. 


So now I need to go back to CAD and redo frames 2 and 3, possibly also frame 1 and 4, but leaving the rest unchanged.

Hopefully this is going to work, otherwise I ll need to make all the frames again. If this is needed though, I ll make them out of beech. Actually I have half a mind to just go for it, we ll see.


It is freezing cold in Cambridgeshire, there is Covid all around and most of my work commitments have been cancelled. I should be able to do some work and get some control over the situation.




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Ok, I think it is done


Next photo shows the new surface and how off frame 2 and to a lesser degree frame 3 was. I had to keep frame 1 as removing it I was getting a very wrong surface and I am absolutely not keen to re-loft the boat. I  hope it will be fine, bit of sanding, bit of shimming...


This are the new frame templates ready to be glued to the nasty plywood. 


This does not mean the hull will be fair, the frames need to be replaced and fairness to be rechecked with a batten




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