Building a Stitch and Glue Whitehall

In March, 2009 my Summer neighbor, Roger and I had a phone conversation after both attending the Maine Boatbuilders Show. It didn't take much effort to talk ourselves into a boat building project. We decided it would be nice to have a fine row boat, suitable for either single or double rowing. We discussed several possible boats over about a week of calls. We finally decided to build a 15 foot Whitehal type boat from a kit. We decided to buy a kit from Chesapeake Light Craft of their Chester Yawl

I placed the order by phone and in just about a week we had the kit.

It arrived in a big carton, about 4 feet wide and just over 8 feet long.

It was all very well packed. There were a couple layers of parts, and all of it was held down with about a mile of packing tape.

I unpacked it all in the garage and hauled the parts up to my shop. The kit included a good manual, a drawing and a good parts list. I looked it all over carefully and all the parts were included, nothing was broken or damaged in the shipping.

One of the first operations is to scarf the planks. The planks are supplied in 2 halves, with a fully formed scarf joint. You simply lay the planks on a bench, align them, check the amount of bow against the drawing and glue them together with epoxy. My bench was only wide enough to glue one plank at a time, there are 6 planks, and the glue requires 24 hours to cure.

Since Roger was not going to be in Maine for another couple weeks I started the process of gluing plans, and working on all the small parts, like the seats, foot brace, frames, etc.

Here are a lot of the parts stacked and sanded.

And then laid out and epoxy coated. Every surface of every part gets 2 coats of epoxy, so I decided to do all the parts before they were placed into the boat. That way I could sand them all after coating while they were still flat parts. The epoxy does not want to flow out smoothly, so a good bit of sanding is needed.

These are the seats and bulkheads.

There are 2 frames in the boat, supplied as half frames and a floor tie. They are glued together, the plan provided a dimension so you can be sure to get an accurate alignment.

After several days I had all the flat parts of the boat, except the planks, coated and sanded and ready to use.

Roger arrived and we were ready for the first assembly. Here Roger is applying the wire ties to the edge of the bottom plank.

The stitch and glue process uses copper wires to tie the planks together. 1/16" holes are drilled along all the plank edges, about 4 inches apart. a 3" piece of wire is threaded through the holes and twisted. At first the twists are loose, but as all the planks get together the boat is drawn into final shape by progressively twisting the wires.

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