In small boats, where lightness and strength are of first importance, it is necessary that the material should be very carefully selected, both as to quality and as to the fitness of each kind for the required purpose. Beginning with the keel, the best wood is white oak, with a clear, straight grain. In planing it will be found that the grain of the wood in one direction splinters and roughs up, while in the other it lies smooth and the keel should be so placed in the boat that the splinters or rough ends point aft, otherwise it will be torn in dragging over rocks and rough ground. In looking at the end of the wood, a series of concentric layers will be noticed. The piece should, if possible, be placed in such a position that the nails in it will pass through the layers, and not between two of them. for instance, in a keel the nails will be mostly vertical, so the layers of the wood should lie horizontally, and the same is true of the ribs, the nails through them being at right angles to the length of the boat, and the layers in each rib running fore and aft, thus avoiding any liability to split. Next to oak, either ash or yellow pine will make a good keel, but hickory should never be used in a boat, as it decays rapidly.
For the stem and stern, which are usually curved, the best material by far is hackmatack, or as it is sometimes called, tamarack, which may be had in knees of almost any curvature, from three to ten inches thick, or larger. For canoes a three-inch knee is the best, as if of full thickness it may be sawn into three slabs, each of which will make a stem and stern. Oak knees are also used, and are very good, but heavier. If knees cannot be had, the stem and stern may be cut out of straight plank.
For the sides of a centerboard trunk, clear, dry white pine is good, but mahogany is better, though much more costly. The timbers or ribs are usually of oak, though elm is excellent for this purpose. The wood must be clear and of the best quality in order to bend easily. The best oak for this purpose is found in the shape of stave timber used by coopers for the staves of barrels. These pieces are from three to five feet long, and about two by five inches square, one being sufficient for an ordinary lapstreak boat.
For planking, the very best material is white cedar, varieties of which are found along the entire length of the Atlantic seaboard. It is usually sold in boards 3/4, 1 and 1-1/4 in. thick for boat work, and from 12 to 20 feet long. For small boats it should be clear from sap and knots, but for larger work that is painted, the latter, if hard and sound, do not matter much, in fact, the knotty cedar is considered tougher and stronger than the clear.
Where cedar cannot be had, white pine can be used to advantage; in fact, the amateur will often find it much easier to buy pine of 1/4 in. already planed than to work up the thick cedar himself, while pine is not so apt to change its shape in working, a source of much trouble with cedar. Where neither of these can be had spruce may be used, but it is inferior. Mahogany and Spanish cedar make excellent planking, but they are no better than white cedar and cost much more. Most of the English books on canoeing recommend oak for planking, but it is never used here, being too heavy.
For the bulkheads, floor boards and inside work white pine is the best; for decks, rudder and upper streak of planking, mahogany, and for deck beams and carlings, spruce. The gunwale may be of spruce or pine, or, if outside, as will be shown, of mahogany, oak or yellow pine, the coamings of the cockpit being of oak. Paddles and spars are made either of white pine or spruce, the latter being stiffer and stronger, but a little heavier.
The other necessary materials - nails, screws, metal work, etc. - will be mentioned in detail as are required.
The excellence of amateur work depends not, as many imagine, on the number of tools at hand, but on the care and perseverance devoted to it. The best work may be done with very few tools; but, on the other hand, it can be done much more quickly with a larger number.
If the amateur desires to build but one boat, at as small an outlay for tools as possible, the following will be sufficient:
Panel saw, 16 in., 5 teeth to the inch $1 00 Rip saw. 28 in. 5 teeth to the inch 2 00 Compass saw, 12 in 40 Jack plane, double iron 1 00 Smoothing plane, double iron 85 Thumb plane 25 Claw hammer 75 Riveting hammer 40 Cutting pliers, Stubbs's or Hall's 85c. to 1 25 Small screwdriver 50 Three gimlets, 1-16, 1/8, 1/4 in 50 Three brad awls 25 Six-inch try-square 35 Spokeshave 50 marking gauge 10 Chisels, 1/8, 1/2, 1 in 75 Two-foot rule 25 Gouges, 1/2-1 in., inside bevel 50 Oilstone 1 00 Compasses, 5 in 40 Four iron clamps, 4 in 2 00 Chalk line and scratch awl 25 $15 25
The above are about the prices of the best quality tools, cheap ones not being worth buying, and with them any kind of small boat can be built, but the addition of the following tools will save some time and trouble:
Eight-inch ratchet brace $1 85 Center and German bits, various sizes 1 50 Countersink 25 Rabbet plane 60 Bead plane, one-quarter inch 50 Draw knife, nine-inch wide blade 1 50 Screwdriver, ten-inch 65 Twenty -six-inch hand saw - Instead of sixteen 1 75 Eight-inch back saw inch panel saw 1 10
These will be all that are needed, except a few files, and two or three drills to fit the brace. for the brasswork, such as the stemband, but there are some others that are very useful though by no means indispensable, as follows:
Two-foot steel square.
Expansion bit, seven-eighths to three-inch
Convex spokeshave, for oars and paddles.
Adze, for larger boats.
Small hand-drill stock with drills.
Two or three round sole planes for spars.
Besides these tools there will be needed a block of Iron called a "set," or riveting iron, used to hold against the head of a nail in riveting; a "burr starter," which is a piece of iron or brass rod 3/8 in. in diameter and 3 in. long, with a small hole in one end, used to drive the burrs on to the nails, and some wooden clamps, shown in Fig. 7. The solid ones are sawed out of oak, 6 to 8 in. long and 1 in. thick, strengthened by a rivet through them. The others are of the same size, but in two pieces, joined by a bolt or rivet. In use a wedge is driven in the back, closing the other ends of the jaws.
A work bench of some kind must be had, the simplest form being a plank 2 in. thick, 10 in. wide, and, if possible, several feet longer than the intended boat, so as to allow room for a vise on one end, as well as space to plane up long boards. This plank should be securely fastened along a wall, 2 ft. 8 in. above the floor and with its outer edge 20 in. from the wall, the space at the back being filled in with 1 in. boards, making a bench 20 in. wide, the top being level and smooth, as the material to be planed on it will be very thin. A vise of some kind must be placed near the left hand end, an iron one being the best, but the, common wooden one will answer, and is much cheaper.
Fig. 8 shows a permanent bench fastened to the wall. The top is 3 in. thick, of oak, and should be 24 in. wide, and at least 10 ft. long, a piece of 2 in. plank being fastened at the right hand end by way of an extension for planing long stuff. A series of 3/4 in. holes about 3 in. apart are bored in each leg, a peg being inserted in one of them to support long boards, in planing the edges. A bench hook (a) is placed near the vise; the bracket (c) is cut out of 2 in. stuff and is bolted to the bench, being used to support spars, paddles and similar pieces, one end being held in the vise, and the other resting on the bracket.
Drawers are provided under the bench for tools, nails, screws, etc. At the back of the bench an upright board 12 in. wide, carries a rack for the chisels, gouges, gimlets and small tools, above it, on the wall, the saws, draw-knife, spokeshave, brace, etc., are hung, a rack for the small planes, and another for sandpaper is fastened, also small boxes for such nails and screws as are most frequently required.
Two saw horses or benches are also necessary, the tops being 3 in. thick, 6 in. wide and 3 ft. long, and the legs 2 ft. long. Two pins of hard wood 1 in. in diameter are driven tightly into holes about 1-1/2 in. apart in one of the benches. When not in use they are driven down flush with the top, but in slitting long boards, they are driven up and the board wedged between them.
Another useful piece of furniture is a stool about l ft.x18 in. on top and 18 in. high, one-half of the top being a seat and the other half, the right hand side, making a tray to hold nails. screws, hammer, pliers, and other small tools used in fastening the plank, thus avoiding the necessity of stooping over the work, and also keeping the tools off the floor.
A framework of some description is always necessary to support the boat or vessel in building. If a ship or yacht, the keel is laid on blocks a short distance apart, but in boat work, the "stocks," as they are called, are usually a plank set on edge, at such a height above the floor as will bring the boat in a convenient position (Fig. 9). The piece (a) is a common pine or spruce board, 1 in. thick, 8 or 10 in. wide and 13 ft. long, the upper edge being cut to the rocker of the keel, as taken from the drawing. This board is supported on three legs and securely braced in all directions, the top being 20 in. from the floor, so as to give room to work on the garboards.
Another style of stocks is shown in Fig. 10, a table being built about 13 ft. long and 30 in. wide, somewhat like a canoe in breadth; the top, which is 20 in. from the floor, is perfectly level. A line is drawn down the center, while across the board, battens, 1 in. wide and 1-1/2 in. deep, are nailed, 2 ft. apart, to each of which a mould is screwed, the boat, of course, being built keel upward.
This method of building (similar to that employed for shell boats) is the easiest and best, but involves more labor in the construction of the table or stocks; however, if several boats are to be built, it will pay to make a strong level table, as when once a set of moulds are made and each fitted to the screw-holes in its respective crosspiece, they may be set in place in a few minutes with every certainty that they are correctly placed, and that they must remain so, while the table makes a convenient place to lay tools.
Finally a steam box of some kind is necessary, Its size depending on the work to be done. Usually all the steaming required for a canoe is the timbers, perhaps 1/4 or 5/16 in. thick, which may be done with care in a trough of boiling water, but if anything larger is to be bent, a kettle, holding a couple of pails of water, should be arranged over a stove, or roughly bricked in if out of doors, a top of 2 in. plank being fitted closely to it with a pipe leading from the top to the steam box, which is of 1-1/2 or even 1 in. boards, and may be 3x6 in. inside and 7f t. long, supported on trestles or legs near the kettle, and fitted on one end with a hinged door to close tightly, or the end may be closed with a bundle of rags (See Plate XV. and page 129.)