56 foot Schooner transom replacement #5: The woodworking begins

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Blog entry by Scotach posted 09-01-2008 09:03 AM 1679 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Let the wrecking begin Part 5 of 56 foot Schooner transom replacement series Part 6: Graduated »

OK, two posts in one night….why not?

We finally reached the end of the wrecking phase of this project and are actually getting some woodworking done on the boat. After wrecking out the old transom, spiling the shape of the old transom, we began to layout the new transom. So, let’s look at the process.

layout begins
Here we are with that large pattern we made of the transom. We’ve laid out a couple of lifts that were laminated up and are transferring the shape over to the new stock.

the first lift
Here’s a picture of the first lift that will go onto the boat. This will be the very bottom of the transom. It has alot of shaping that is in store for it before it can become a permanent piece of the boat.

scary lary
Here’s a look at the same piece of wood form the previous picture. It was nicknamed Scary Larry by all of us, as it was by far the hardest piece of wood to make. There were so many compound curves going on on this piece, and we had to use a motor beaver (power planer) to take most of it down. Look how much of the original wood was removed to get this piece just right.

into the boat
And Scary Larry goes into the boat. Here is the first lift getting placed into the boat where it will live for the next 75 plus years. It took quite a bit more planing and hand shaping to get it in just right, but in the end, we prevailed! Wood – 0, Woodworkers – 1

You can also now see the two fashion pieces sitting up top. More on those in a moment.

origional fashion piece
In this picture you can see one of the original fashion pieces that formed the aft end of the bulwarks, and part of the transom. The original pieces were solid timbers hand cut and shaped to the transom.

new fashion piece
And here’s one of the replacements for the fashion pieces. It was much less expensive for us to laminate these new pieces. So you can see there are four layers glued up to make the new one. It’s made of larch. There is more material on the piece at this point that will be cut off as soon as the final lift for the transom is installed.

through bolted
We have cut, shaped and installed two more lifts on the transom at this point. Here’s a shot of how the entire thing is put together. Each lift is through bolted with lag bolts the the lift below it.

getting close
Alright, here you can see two more lifts that have been cut, shaped and installed on the boat. It’s beginning to look like a transom again. Once all of the lifts are installed on the boat, it will then receive a 1 inch thick veneer of Sapele to finish it off. Since the boat was constructed in this way, the plank ends rabbeted, and we did not want to shorten the boat by cutting the plank end off, we decided to replicate the original construction of the transom. We’re getting close at this stage. There is one more inner transom lift to install, finish off the fashion pieces and then make a new cap rail. We’ve only got 17 days left before we all graduate, hopefully we can button it up by then. What a great experience this has been!

-- Brian S. --- "If you’ve worked on the building of a boat, it belongs to you the rest of your life." -Bob Prothero

7 comments so far

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 3667 days

#1 posted 09-01-2008 11:33 AM

Looking good!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View Texasgaloot's profile


464 posts in 3664 days

#2 posted 09-01-2008 02:08 PM

Hey Brian!

What material are you using for the lifts? I’m also wondering if the lag bolts are galv. steel. Are you encapsulating the lifts in epoxy?

Thanks for this post—it’s great!

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4364 days

#3 posted 09-01-2008 03:37 PM

Great pictures and letting os know how these boats are made.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3676 days

#4 posted 09-01-2008 04:19 PM

Faxcinating to follow this, thanks for the posts!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 3955 days

#5 posted 09-02-2008 03:47 AM

Wow… I find myself a bit envious of this experience. I’ve loved boats since spending my childhood on the Chesapeake.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Scotach's profile


72 posts in 3583 days

#6 posted 09-03-2008 06:43 AM

Hey Galoot,

The lifts are Laminated out of Sapele, if I spelled that correctly. Their final thickness was 3 7/8” .
Yes the lags are galvanized steel, they are above the water so should be safe there. The entire boat was originally constructed with Galvy fasteners, while not a good idea today, we thought it safe inside the transom. I think that the individual lifts are going to be bedded together with 5200 and then lagged together for good. No epoxy will be used in final construction. It was only used to glue up the laminates. Thanks for the questions!


This whole boat thing is relatively new to me. I rode around in and behind fiberglass power boats when I was a kid. Rowed a few canoes as well…but these traditional wooden boats are an amazingly addictive thing! I can see myself building or sailing/rowing these things for the rest of my life.

-- Brian S. --- "If you’ve worked on the building of a boat, it belongs to you the rest of your life." -Bob Prothero

View rmchadwick's profile


3 posts in 3557 days

#7 posted 09-03-2008 06:54 AM

Nicely documented, see you tomorrow at the boat :)

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