Traditionally-built wooden boats consist of thick wooden planks screwed to strong wooden frames. Cotton strands pounded into the seams become compressed when the wood swells, effectively sealing the joints between the planks. If the planks have dried out, the boat will leak extensively until the moisture has swelled the planking.
In addition to traditional methods, restoration of an older wooden boat can be accomplished by one of three “modern” methods. In the late 1970s, boatbuilder Allan Vaitses pioneered a method of sheathing wooden boats with fiberglass. The Vaitses method requires fairly heavy laminations, with mechanical fasteners (staples). This method assumes that the wood is in very bad shape, or will be at some point soon, and that the fiberglass would serve the purpose. This method also adds considerable weight and reduces buoyancy (Covering Wooden Boats With Fiberglass, Allan Vaitses).
Another choice—and the preferred one in my view—involves cold molding wood veneers over the planking, and then sheathing the hull with a light layer of glass cloth. This method eliminates the need for caulking, stabilizes the hull, and the boat will still float on her lines because the wood veneers add buoyancy along with weight.
The method chosen by Eric Paulsen works well for boats that are already fairly sound. The epoxy stabilizes the planking dimensions and the wood splines bind the plank edges together, eliminating the need for cotton caulking. For this method and the one above, refer to information found at www.westsystem.com.
SPLINTERS PHOTO GALLERY
Deep in Colorado's heartland, Eric Paulsen is breathing new life into a classic Grand Banks. Read Splinters' story in our May/June 2016 issue on stands 5/3/2016!