Shipyard Memories #3: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Bending the Ribs

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 11-14-2010 03:54 AM 5650 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Backbone and Framing Part 3 of Shipyard Memories series Part 4: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Planking »

OK, the time has come to explain the reasons for the jogged frames and the inside and outside ribbands. (I hope I’m not just confusing you) The usual way to set up for ribbing is to make the station frames to fit the inside of the planking. Then the ribbands go outside the frames and the ribs bend entirely inside the boat against the inside of the ribbands, That puts the outer faces of the ribs where they should be, at the inside of the planking. Then stringers are bent inside the ribs. In this method the ribbands remain in place to brace the ribs as the planking begins. They are only removed as the approaching planking demands. The plans for this hull however required that a 5” x 1/8” bronze strap be installed in an “M” pattern over the ribs and under the planking to stiffen the ship against the strains of the square rigging she was to get. In order to install this strip we needed to be able to access the outside of the ribs over the whole hull before any planking was on.

The first photo jumps ahead to show this bronze strap and you can see that it could not be installed with ribbands outside the ribs.

In the second photo, we are bending one of the 1 1/2” x 2 1/4” oak ribs. Hot from the steam box the rib is pre-bent at the bottom and then inserted between the ribbands at the jog so that when the rib sockets into it’s pocket in the keelson, it can be bent outward against the inside of the lower ribbands and then back inward over the outsides of the upper ribbbands and stringers. It should be becoming clearer now. Sorry for the intrigue but it was a complex process and required a lot of planning at the time.

In photo #3 I’ve moved up to the deck to finish the bend while my helper (on deck with me) and the owner stand by with clamps to secure the piece. Once clamped carriage bolts are used to fasten the rib to each stringer and the sheer clamp. Two screws go in at the pocket.

In this one the bending is finished and the lower ribbands have been removed to allow the bronze to be inset into the ribs. It is screwed into each rib and after planking, back screwed into the planks. You can see the heads of the carriage bolts holding the ribs to the stringers. I just love the patterns made by these pieces. They just look good from any angle.

Here you can see the bronze strap let into the ribs and the stem.

In this photo the hull is completely framed, the ribs trimmed off at the sheer and she’s almost ready for her skin.

This photo shows the “floors” that are bolted to each rib pair and drifted into the keelson to form a rigid and very strong unit. The beginnings of the engine beds are in the background.

Before planking can begin the rabbets must be chopped in the stem, sternpost and deadwood with a mallet and chisel and the deadwood must be faired. There’s no tool made that does this job like an adze.

Thanks for watching and as always comments , critiques, and questions are encouraged.

Tomorrow we plank!


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

11 comments so far

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4014 days

#1 posted 11-14-2010 04:10 AM

Very interesting. Have enjoyed seeing how this is done. Thanks for sharing.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4317 days

#2 posted 11-14-2010 04:19 AM

Very cool…

One question—-what is the time line from beginning to this point—-is this a months work? More?

Looks like an amazing amount of work!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View sras's profile


4970 posts in 3369 days

#3 posted 11-14-2010 04:21 AM

This is quite the story – enjoying every post!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3477 days

#4 posted 11-14-2010 04:48 AM

Amazing photos and story. Thanks for sharing.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View shipwright's profile


8187 posts in 3038 days

#5 posted 11-14-2010 05:19 AM

Thanks again, I’m enjoying this as much as you are, maybe even more.
Napaman, It was a long time ago but I’d say less than a month to here. I was working with one helper and occasional help from the owner. This stuff goes pretty fast when you’re young. I think we were planked after two months.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3258 days

#6 posted 11-14-2010 06:07 AM

You say you welcomed critiques however I hardly think that anyone on this LJ site is qualified to give one and if there is one I would say he would only have complimentary things to say! I have greatly enjoyed reading and following along. I would like to see close up pictures of various joints if you have any available? Many thanks.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Manitario's profile


2705 posts in 3123 days

#7 posted 11-14-2010 06:48 AM

love the beards and the toques, true west coast style!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View shipwright's profile


8187 posts in 3038 days

#8 posted 11-14-2010 07:41 AM

Thanks Erwin, I was mostly, although not entirely, referring to criticism of the blogging itself to which I am very new. ie: too wordy, too technical, etc. as for the close ups, that’s something I do on a regular basis now but back then, I think the overall look of the job at the end of the day was the main thing that I was preserving (for some occasion like this I guess) and I don’t remember seeing a lot of real detail shots in my box of photos. We took good fits for granted I guess. I will have a look and see if I can find some.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3531 days

#9 posted 11-19-2010 12:55 AM

Picture 3 looks like it could have come from the 1977 JC Penney’s Mens’ Winter Catalog. ;o)

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View MikeMc's profile


14 posts in 2915 days

#10 posted 02-17-2011 05:21 PM

Paul, your blogging techniques should be emulated, not critiqued. Nice job, and thanks for sharing your craft!

-- -I'm new here, but feel just as capable of making firewood as the next guy.

View stefang's profile


16219 posts in 3574 days

#11 posted 11-02-2013 06:39 PM

Beautiful shape with the ribs installed.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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