Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fairing the Utility

I have been slowly and cautiously fairing the Utility. I still have a long way to go, but I am making progress.

"Fairing," in case you didn't already know, is the process of beveling all of the parts of the sub-structure of the hull (frames, stem, chines, breasthook, transom, etc...), so that the plywood planking, when added, will have properly-angled surfaces to mate to.

For the newbie amateur builder (ie: Me), it's probably the most daunting and intimidating step of building a boat. However, it's a necessary and extremely important step.

I started by fairing the aft bottom section of the boat. Testing with a couple of plywood pieces shows that I've got some slight gaps between the outer floor battens and the inner surface of the bottom planking. I'm planning to fill these gaps with thickened epoxy when I attach the planking.

I've done preliminary fairing on the bottom of the chines up to the forward frame.

Over the last several weeks, (since adding the chine strips described in my last post), I have been fairing the forward bottom section. Most of this work has been on the starboard side. I've been using the Rabl method for fairing this area. The Rabl method was developed by Sam Rabl, and is described in detail on the Glen-L website here:

For me it is slow work. I've been using a couple of sizes of hand planes and a belt sander, and checking progress frequently with straight edges and my plywood test pieces. My recommendation to the new builder beginning the fairing process would be to simply take your time. Proceed slowly, check your work frequently, and expect this stage to take a long time. It's easy to try to hurry the work along, then inadvertently create gaps or gouges that you'll have to fix. (Trust me.)

I've still got a long way to go, but I will share some photos of the progress so far.

Fairing the stem

Fairing work in progress at the stem, chines and forward sheer.

Slowly bringing everything together to a point at the bow.

More fairing work has been done on the starboard sheer than on the port side so far.

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