When I made the breasthook and the quarter knees, I left a “tab” on each to mount the inwale. Each of the tabs end at an approximate 45 degree angle. The next step is the cut the inwales so they fit nicely against the ‘hook and the knees. A very competent craftsman would measure the angle(s) – it might be a compound bevel – on either the ‘hook or the knee, lay out that angle on the inwale stock, cut it very carefully, and be done with it. I’m not that person, so I had to sneak up on it.
I measured the angle with on the knee with the bevel gage, transferred that angle to the inwale stock, cut it, and when I brought the stock to the knee, there was a little bit of a gap between the two pieces. The angles of the knee and the inwale stock weren’t exactly the same. So I clamped the inwale in place, then took a backsaw and cut the joint line between the knee and the inwale. This left a saw cut the thickness of the saw blade. Taking a hammer, I tapped the inwale up against the knee. There’s still a small gap, but it’s less than before. I repeated the process until the gap was closed.
The end result for the starboard quarter knee is shown above. If you look carefully, you can see the joint between the knee and the inwale, but I’m satisfied with the result. The process was repeated for the port side quarter knee, and both tabs on the breasthook.
The next issue is the ends of the knees and breasthook. The picture above shows the end of the starboard knee on the left side; the tab was cut straight. But all the spacer blocks have a coved shape on the ends. This was visually distracting, so I removed the knees and the breasthook, set up the drill press, and put a cove on the ends like I had done on the spacer blocks.
In this picture, the port side quarter knee is on the right side of the photo, with a small cove cut into it.
Prior to epoxying the breasthook, knees, and spacer blocks, I put two coats of varnish on the underside and the end grain of these pieces. Sealing these areas will be difficult to get at once they are installed, so it’s best to get it done now. I’m not worried about varnishing the top sides; the tops will all get a final sanding after the assembly is glued together and varnish will be applied later.
I decided it would be easier to cut the top of the transom before gluing the quarter knees in place. The plans show a “flat top” transom with a small curve at either side, but I like a more arched top. ‘Way back when I lofted the transom onto mylar, I drew in an arch that I liked. Masking tape on the transom gave me a surface that I could draw on. The height of the sheer was drawn across from one side to the next, a centerline drawn, and the height of the crown of the arc was established. A flexible batten was then clamped to each sheer and the crown, and a line drawn to establish the curve. The curve was cut a little proud with the jig saw, and then finished up with hand tools and sandpaper.
Finally it’s time to start some gluing. The breasthook and quarter knees were epoxied in place first. In addition to the epoxy, each knee is also secured with two bronze screws, and the ‘hook has two bronze screws on either side. Those pieces aren’t going anywhere. The spacer blocks for the oarlocks were epoxied in place next, followed by the remaining spacer blocks.
There’s a saying that “you can never have too many clamps.” Gluing in the spacer blocks took every clamp I own.
While waiting for the glue to dry on the spacer blocks, I got the inwales ready to install. The inside edges need to be rounded over, and it’s easier to do that now rather than wait until after the inwales are installed permanently. The edge that mates up against the spacer blocks will get a “sandpaper round” later on. Also it’s easier to seal the bottom of the inwales before they’re installed.
Rather than use varnish as I did on the other parts, I used Clear Coat epoxy. Why the Clear Coat? I wanted to glue some of the inwales the next day and didn’t have time for two coats of varnish to dry.
Gluing on the inwales is going to be a step-wise process. The inwales have quite a bit of bend. They can be cold bent, but it takes some serious clamping pressure to hold the inwales against the spacer blocks. My spring clamps aren’t up to the job; I can use only my bar clamps. The inwale between the breasthook and the forward oarlock is the longest of the three segments, has the most spacer blocks and of the three segments, has the most severe bend. Because of the bending pressure the inwales put on the sheer, I need to install both segments at the same time. For instance, if I install the inwale between the breasthook and first oarlock on the port side, I need to install the similar inwale on the starboard side at the same time.
Installing the inwales is something of a circus. I chose to install the forward inwales first, since they were the most difficult. Once you start, you can’t stop. Because it’s the middle of summer, I don’t have too much time to work before the epoxy starts to kick off. In addition to wrestling with the inwales trying to get them all clamped up, you’re constantly looking for glue blobs and cleaning them up before they set up. Wear gloves, and have plenty of paper towels handy to wipe off any glue squeeze-out.
With all the clamps, it’s hard to see the inwales, but we’ll give the epoxy plenty of time to cure before the clamps are removed, and know that the most difficult of the three segments are done.