Facing My Fears

Some steps during a build seem to have the psychological advantage over you.  I can’t predict which steps they will be, but they seem to manifest themselves all on their own.   Sort of like character weaknesses.  Installing the chine panels for whatever reason, had me concerned.  After thinking it over for a few days during our family camping trip to Craters National Monument, I was finally ready to try my hand at installing the chine panels.

DSC00508DSC00510DSC00512DSC00515My sequencing went like this:

  1. I first cut the lower aft panel 16-1/4″ wide.  This seemed to cover the gap just about right.
  2. I then tacked the panel into position with a few screws, just to hold it in place.  At this point, the panel overlapped both the top and bottom joints.
  3. I then stepped inside the boat and traced the side panel curve on the chine panel.  This told me exactly where to cut the chine panel to match the curve of the side panel.
  4. I then cut the curve and cleaned up the cut with a hand plane.
  5. I then installed the chine panel, screwing it into the upper panel and into the sole of the boat.
  6. I used Adam’s Clips where needed.  They worked beautifully.
  7. I then cut and rasped the inside protruding screws smooth, so they won’t interrupt my epoxy fillet job to come.


Fear no step in boat building.  If you do fear a step in boat building, move forward slowly and the proper sequencing will come.  Don’t forget to express your concerns with your boat…they become more understanding once they know how you feel.  


Cabin Upper Trim Pieces & Stuff

As I move forward with this build, it’s time to install the cabin upper trim pieces.  I didn’t have any mahogany, so I used a left over piece of Sapelli.


To match the corners of the cabin upper trim piece to the existing bulkhead is almost impossible.  One end of the board is a compound miter, the other end is sloping in one plane and the entire board is curved, making measuring and fitting very difficult.  Here’s the good news:  Don’t sweat it.  No, instead, install the trim pieces and then glom on thickened epoxy to the corner joints.  At first this will look very ugly.  DSC00483Then take your shinto rasp and begin cleaning up the joint.

DSC00485 DSC00484With thickened epoxy, you can perform all kinds of miracles.  Never sweat a mis-cut board, just fix it with epoxy.

DSC00491I then built filler pieces for the exposed aft corners of the cabin.






Small details matter to me.  I wanted to get these things right before I move on to the next major step, which is installing the chine panels.  This boat just keeps getting better and better every week.  I’m really enjoying this build.  I’m continually amazed at the beauty of this design by Kilburn Adams.  Major kudos going out to Kilburn for taking the time to design, test, build and develop plans for this wonderful little wooden boat.  

Completing Upper Stem

After receiving the navigation lights, I rebuilt the upper stem piece to better fit the lights.  I made the entire piece 1″ taller and 1″ deeper.


DSC00482I drilled two holes through the stem.  The smaller hole indexes the lights for proper positioning.  The bigger hole provides room to route the electrical wiring.

DSC00488I then drilled a hole through the bottom to route the wiring below the breast plate.


DSC00498DSC00497DSC00501Once the epoxy sets up, I’ll trim the outer oak stem flush with the top of the upper stem and blend the two pieces together.

DSC00504With the rope running through the smaller hole, down through the breast plate, I can keep it clear of epoxy while things set up.

DSC00505This shows the rope from beneath the breast plate.  I will run the wiring down the inner stem, below the false floor in the bow, then under the bunks in the cabin.


My upper stem is a little different from what the plans show, but it all works.   I’m now ready to build the bow caps.

Detail Pieces Epoxied

Just a few detail shots to show how things are coming.  After sanding all the surrounding areas, I rolled a thin layer of epoxy over all the parts.


I used a 3/8″ oak dowel to plug all the screw holes.  You can buy an oak dowel at Home Depot for $1.44.  That’s a lot of look for under 2 bucks.  I use a large nail to daub epoxy into the screw holes and then drive the dowel plugs into position.  I then use a Japanese hand saw to cut the dowels flush and follow up with a Shinto rasp to flush them with the gunwales.  This is really a simple process but offers an old world look to your boat.  I have 38 oak plugs in the gunwales.  Lots of fun folks.

Breast Plate Complete

With the breast plate installed, I was ready to install the cap piece on the aft edge of the plate.

DSC00486I chamfered the top edges of the cap piece to match the chamfer on the breast plate.

DSC00490The corners were a bit tricky to fit because they are angling two different directions.  I started with a piece 2″ longer than I thought I needed to make allowances for mistakes.

DSC00489I chose a simple no frills straight stick for the cap piece.  I plan to hang lines, fenders and an anchor underneath the plate against the bow.  It should provide a great place to store miscellaneous gear.


I’ll now focus on the upper stem and the bow cap pieces.  I’ve ordered my  bow navigation lights from Ductworks.  Once received, I’ll design these lights into the upper stem piece prior to installation.  

Breast Plate Installation

DSC00479I started by cutting the breast plate to its rough dimensions.

DSC00480I then used a block plane to taper the edges for a proper fit.  The top of the inner stem needed to be filed down a bit to allow the breast plate to fit flush.  DSC00481 This looks a bit long, but after looking things over very carefully, I prefer the longer breast plate.  It still allows me plenty of room to access the bow and climb into the boat, but also offers more organizational space under the plate to store lines, anchor and fenders.  I settled on an overall length of 16″.

DSC00483DSC00487DSC00485Prior to glueing the breast plate into position, I mocked up the stem.  I wanted to make sure these two pieces look good together.  I’ll be using a chunk of 2″mahogany for the upper stem.

DSC00490Once all looked good, I lubed everything up and dropped it into position.  I toe nailed the aft corners to hold it from falling.  I then added a fillet to the underneath sides and a strip of glass above the inner stem to further strengthen the bow.  Once cured, I’ll add an oak or mahogany strip to the raw aft edge.  This strip will also become a great organizational piece for hanging lines, lifejackets or fenders.


After installing the stem, I’ll add a cap strip to the entire top edge of the bow section of the boat.


Question:  You might be wondering why I held the bow plate flush to the top edge.  I plan to add a cap strip to the bow area, say 3/8″ x 1-3/8″.  This cap strip will widen (+3/8″) the top edge for more comfortable sitting as I swing my feet over the bow when loading and unloading.

The breast plate creates such an eye catching detail.  The function and beauty of this little boat just continues to amaze me.  It just keeps getting better.  

Beginning the Breast Plate

DSC00479I took the cutout from the transom and used it for the base of the bow breast plate.

DSC00480I then planed white oak and mahogany down to 1/2″ x 1″ strips.   I also chamfered the edges just a bit for a planked look.

DSC00482I then set them up to roll with epoxy.

DSC00484I then shot them onto the 3/4″ plywood using a brad nailer.  I left the pieces longer than needed so the brads can be cut off the ends once cured.  I then rolled the top with epoxy.


After I walked away from the breast plate, I looked at how Kilburn designed his breast plate.  Frankly, I like his pattern better than mine.  But, mine is done, so I probably won’t re-due it.  Once cured, I’ll begin fitting this breast plate into the bow of the boat. 

This is an amazingly beautiful wooden boat.  I want to thank Kilburn for this excellent design.  So far, this boat is far simpler to build than was my Scamp.  I believe one can build a Skiff America in half the time it takes to build a Scamp.  I’m very impressed with this design.  


Shaping French Curve & Cap Rails

Just a little touch up this morning of the French curve and bow cap rails.

DSC00480DSC00481The 3/8″ plywood piece needed to be blended with the original French curve.  This created a nice filler piece between the coaming and the cap rail.

DSC00484The first generation Ham n Egger (dad) suggested I further rasp the bow cap rails for a smoother transition.

DSC00486So, I carried the angle back further for a more gradual blending of the cap rail.


Get things the way you like them before moving on.  We build wooden boats for just this reason, you get to do it your way.  Little touches here and there make the boat uniquely yours.  I love being able to put my own touch on these little details.  

French Curve Stiffener

I needed to stiffen the French curve at the rear of the cockpit.  I cut a piece of 3/8″ plywood from scrap.

DSC00479After this cures, I’ll round the coaming for a smooth transition between these two pieces. I epoxied the 3/8″ to the outside of the hull to keep the inside smooth.  It also transitions nicely between the coaming and the cap rail.

DSC00486I had some thickened epoxy left over so I quickly made and attached two front bulkhead pieces shown below.



It’s a lot of fun to see all these pieces come together and trim the boat.  Daily progress is the goal here.  If you work on your boat every day, your boat will be completed.