Tom Tweed's Boatbuilding Pages

Table of Contents

Page 1- The Saga Begins

Page 2- Laminating

Page 3- Coating and Keel Mockup

Page 4- Turning the Hull

Page 5- Interior Coating and Decking

Page 6- The Hog Fish Era

Page 7- Closing Her In

Page 8- Details

Page 9- Finish Work

Page 10- Launching

Page 11- Sailing

Page 1- The Saga Begins

The sailboat disease started a long time ago, way back, even before the Porsche disease. I think it was around 1960, when I was about 12 years old, that my father bought a little bastardized Lightning class sloop and we first learned to sail around San Diego Bay with it, bouncing off all manner of fixed objects and other moored boats. I think the experience convinced my Dad that a motor was a good thing in a watercraft, as he has owned nothing but powerboats ever since.

In 1976, I built a 3-story house for him on the northeast side of Mt. Helix in La Mesa, CA, (above), and there was a 1200 sq. ft. garage and shop area on the first floor sitting empty when we got done. My father had always had projects going in the garage the entire time I was growing up, usually experimental aircraft, including 3 homebuilt sailplanes he had designed himself and then built in his spare time, and he suggested we put the space to use. "We've got all these woodworking tools and a few scraps of wood left over," he noted, "maybe a little wooden boat would be fun to build in there."

It just so happened that I had been researching such a project for several years, and this fact was not lost on him. The man knows how to set a hook. Before too long, I was in possession of the plans for a beautiful little double-ended cruising cutter designed by Chuck Paine called a Frances 26. It wasn't much longer before we were lofting the plans into full size patterns and erecting a male mold on a strongback on the floor in the garage.

The hull was to be built of 5 layers of Western Red Cedar veneers, each layer an 1/8" thick and epoxy-glued together in a "double-diagonal" pattern, to make a very strong and lightweight monocoque shell of "cold-molded" plywood, but first we needed to define the shape. The temporary station molds above do that, and then the keelson, fixed bulkheads, and longitudinal stringers are attached to them.

The stem and sternposts were laminated and shaped out of Douglas Fir and attached to the keelson (also D. Fir built up to about 3" x 12" at it's widest, thickest point) and bent over the molds, defining the bottom curve of the canoe-shaped hull. 1" x 1" longitudinals were scarfed full-length and attached at bow and stern and glued to the permanent bulkheads (but not the temporary station molds) on about 6" centers. The picture below shows the aft section pretty well, and you can see the permanent lazarette bulkhead between the #2 and #3 station molds, counting from the rear.


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