Building the Bouchie Dory Part 13 – Fairing the building jig
This is one of those moments in the process of building a boat where you find out exactly how well you executed all your previous tasks going right back to the lofting stage.
In theory if you’ve been very accurate in your execution of tasks you shouldn’t have to do any fairing at all but that is a pipe dream. Even the most exacting craftsperson will experience small accumulative errors that will necessitate some sort of corrective process. In fact the best craftpeople anticipate these errors and will build in a little material specifically to fair everything together with little aggravation.
Fairing takes time and patience. There is no getting around that. If you rush it, you’ll just pay the price later on. That said, you can fair as you go, working just far enough ahead that you can get on with the planking. Just don’t box yourself in by not having room to drive the tools.
When I was part of the building crew on the 150’ schooner Pacific Grace we would fair the frames out for each plank as we went, leaving about an inch or two of faired surface to get the next one started.
We did it this way because our planks were three inches thick so there was no cupping or “backing-out” going on. The frames needed to have a flattened plane faired into them for each plank to sit on. This was pretty laborious. The frames were double-sawn Douglas fir, 8” thick on 12’ centres. Those planks were 25’-50’ long and weighed about 150 lb each at the low end.
Our fairing batten was about an inch thick and about two inches wide and maybe 20’ long but we also used a 50’ batten and short battens as we saw fit.
We used power planes to do the grunt work and finished it off with rabbet planes. The roofing tar we used for bedding compound on the planks would load up in the planes such that we had a bucket of diesel that we would soak them in at the end of the day to clean them off.
Each run of planking would take two of us a week to fair, fit and fasten.
I’ll tell you this. There were many times we wished that the lofting and frame making had been just a little more accurate because there were a lot of wood chips that had to fly.
Your fairing battens are the same as your lofting battens. You may need a variety depending on the shapes you are woking with. Stiff ones for long narrow boats and thin ones for shapely boats and bluff ends. You may find wide flat ones work better for some tasks or you may try tapered ones. Experiment with different sizes and wood species.
Whenever I am ripping material on the tablesaw, if a nice looking battens falls from the scrap pile I set it aside for later use as a batten. You never know when you’ll find the perfect one, and when you do, protect it like it’s your only child.
This is also the time to think about making some abrasive long boards. Just like battens, a variety of sizes and range of flexibility can come in handy. You’ll see me using one that I fitted with opposing plane type handles. Works great and took all of ten or fifteen minutes to make.
You can use spray adhesive and sandpaper on them or pick up some self adhesive longboard sheets from an auto-body supply. I use 40 grit and 80 grit.
So put on some tunes or a podcast and enjoy slowing down and getting in the groove. This is nice quiet, kids are in bed and I’ve got time to spend in the workshop kind of work.