Starting the Inwales

The inwales are the rails that run along the interior side of the sheer, or upper edge of the boat, and can be either solid (glued directly to the sheer), or open, which have little spacer blocks between the inwale and the sheer.  Iain Oughtred, the designer of Tammie Norrie, describes making open inwales as taking “considerable extra time”, and painting and varnishing around open inwales as “fiddly work.”  All true, but I believe they’re worth the extra effort.  With open inwales, fenders or other items can be lashed anywhere along the sheer, and besides, they just plain look good.

Tammie Norrie will have two sets of oarlocks, which will divide the inwales into three segments:

1)  Segment 1, which will be from the breasthook to the first oarlock,

2)  Segment 2 will be between the oarlocks,

3) and finally, Segment 3, which will be between the second oarlock and the quarter knee.

Ripping the stock is the first step.  Fortunately, both the spacer blocks and the inwales are both 5/8″ x 7/8″.  Having them both the same size eliminates a possible goof.  Next, the location of the oarlocks is taken from the plans and laid out.

2017 07 16 Adding the spacers for the oarlocks.

Spacer blocks measuring the length of the oarlock are temporarily installed.  A cross beam running across the beam of the boat is fastened to the oarlock spacer block.  This cross beam helps the boat keep it’s shape, and won’t be removed until after the thwarts are installed sometime later.

The location of all the other spacer blocks are then marked.  The designer calls for spacers 2″ long, with each one separated by 3″.  Following a tip from boatbuilder Geoff Kerr, I cut a small block 5″ long and used it to mark nose to tail.  The spacing worked out very close; I had to fudge the spacing a little near the oarlocks but only a little.

2017 07 16 Jig used to make the spacers.

Next to cut the spacers.  I made a jig for the drill press so that the spacers could be cut simply and uniformly.  The spacers have a concave end, courtesy of a 1″ Forstner drill bit.  Dad came over and supervised the spacer-making operation, and was pleased to see the drill press that he had made in college still being put to good use.

2017 07 16 Spacers temporarily installed.

The jig and the drill press were really helpful.  Not counting the spacers for the four oarlocks, I cut a total of 48 spacers.  The spacers are temporarily installed with screws.  Glue won’t be used until the inwales are installed and shaped.  There’s still a lot of fitting and sanding to do.

2017 07 16 Close-up of the spacers.
2017 07 16 Third inwale segment temp installed.

Both the inwales and the spacers are made of cherry, and I was curious to see if cherry would take the bends required by the curve of the sheer.  The optimal situation would be if I could cold bend the inwale.  Plan B would involve soaking the inwale pieces in hot water and then clamping in place, and my “Oh, shucks!” plan would require ripping the inwales down and laminating in two pieces.  I tried cold bending the Segment 3 pieces first, and with the assistance of some clamps, the inwales didn’t complain too much.  I clamped both the port and starboard inwales, to keep the stress equal on the boat.  Segment 2 has relatively little curve, so I wasn’t too concerned about it.  Segment 1 has the most bend of the three segments, but I was able to cold bend both the port and starboard sides without hearing any cracking from the inwales.

2017 07 16 Inwales temp installed for first and third segments.

Next step will be to cut the inwales so they fit nicely against the breasthook and quarter knees, then shape and sand the entire assembly as a unit.  One other thing – I’m going to need more clamps.

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