Not so for we poor amateurs trying to learn boat building out of books. I must admit they are still a bit of a mystery to me. Such a simple tool. So important. So easy to break!
|Perfectly nice batten (1" x 3/4") meets the wrong curve|
I got away with some really crude battens when building Cabin Boy because Cabin Boy didn't have any difficult curves. Vintage does. Lots of them.
In fact, you could say that Vintage is nothing more than a set of curves with wood wrapped around them.
|Vintage - a set of curves with wood wrapped around them.|
diagram Atkin Boat Plans
I knew battens would be important for this build, so I wanted to make a few really good ones. The problem is, what size? The boat building books are irritatingly vague and contradictory on this subject. Robert M. Steward in "Small Boat Construction" says it best: "Like a lot of boat building operations, accumulated experience will aid materially in the selection of batten sizes."
Experience gained, presumably, by breaking lots and lots of battens.
The battens themselves aren't much help. As far as I've been able to tell so far, they don't give any warning. No creaking or complaining as you bend them around a too-tight curve. Just a sudden crack! and they give up the ghost.
|1/2" x 3/4" batten... still too big to get around that buttock curve|
So, I started by buying a 12' length of clear white pine, one of the woods recommended for battens.
I ripped two fairly heavy battens from it, using my brand new Skilsaw. Yes, I finally broke down and bought one specifically to make ripping these battens a fairly easy job. I bought the model recommended by Tom Hill, the Model 77, because -- unlike every other circular saw -- it has the blade on the left side of the saw. This allows you to see where you are cutting without leaning over the saw. It's also very easy to adjust.
|Skilsaw Mag 77 -- the right tool for the job |
(if you don't have room for a table saw)
My largest batten -- 1 1/2" x 3/4" -- had no problems curving around Vintage's sheer line. It was quite stiff, but didn't break.
|Batten curving sweetly around the bottom of the sheer plank|
|Sorry, couldn't resist the obvious joke.|
Kim Kardashian photo
Well, after two battens gave up the ghost for the cause of accumulated experience, I gave up and went to bed. Will try again today with 1/4" battens.
Oh, and I'm not sure that black paint was a such good idea... it tends to rub off on the lofting board as you try to wrestle the batten into position. I certainly won't bother painting a batten black until it proves itself up to the job!
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