shaping the keel

There’s nothing quite like the ring of a good chisel melting through good lumber. Although we are using “construction grade” fir we spent hours sorting through, and hand picked all 50  pieces for the keel. Many people don’t know that if you take the time and effort there are some real gems at any lumber yard with a large enough inventory. Sure, we may have gone to three or four different yards to come up with all that we needed but in a way thats part of the fun. Like a hunt for anything elusive, the harder it is to find the sweeter it will be when you do. So I continue on happily with a cup of cold coffee carving away at my prize, while my chisel sings a song of wood and iron.

We have progressed to the next stage of our build where we have begun shaping the individual pieces of the keel so they will all come together into the correct shape. So far we have just been gluing them into large chunks big enough to cut down to size. This is where those keel patterns we made earlier will come into play. We plane down the sides of the timbers first so they are relatively flat. then tack on the pattern to the side and trace out the shape.

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Next we draw 90 degree lines across the top about every 2 or so inches. On the side that we have the shape traced out we measure down from the top of the timber to the outline of the pattern. Then on the other side of the timber along that 90 degree line we measure down that same distance. Now we have a point on each side to run a hand saw down to.


Once we have made a bunch of cuts along the timber down to the depth of the outline we can take a chisel and start hacking away the big chunks. Since there are cuts down to the correct depth all along the timber it easily guides the chisel to take off just the right amount for a rough shape.

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Next we progress to a electric planer to bring it down within a 16th of an inch or less.Then we move on to a hand plane to fine tune the face to exactly the right shape.

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It can be a long monotonous process. So I set up a comfortable area to work, get in the groove, and just except that it’s gonna take a while.


2 thoughts on “shaping the keel

  1. I have never built a boat but I have been involved in a number of home builds . Like yourself the best carpenters handpicked lumber for the best homes.


  2. Garrett ur a really good writer! And I love how u illustrate each point or technique. I’m very very proud of u!!!


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