First Build Day: Building Form

After months of hemming and hawing over plans and possibilities and uncertainties and even driving to the Middle of Nowhere to get a trailer, finally we start building the boat.  Or at least we build something that is essential for building the boat.

The Glen-L plans call for making a building form upon which to build the boat.  With the building form you get the boat at a height you can work on it, as well as have a level, plum, and square form upon which to assemble the individual pieces.

From these photos you also get an idea of just how beautiful a location we have to build the Shantyboat  Thanks to Lawrence and his family for their generosity, and perhaps their healthy curiosity as they watch the project slowly come together from a pile of lumber to a boat.

I actually found an error on Glen-L’s otherwise flawless building plans.  The plans called for the cross spalls to be 97″, which is one inch over 8′ (a frustrating waste of conventional length lumber).  Another measurement in an end view gave half the measurement of the cross spall as 3′-11 1/2″, or 95 inches. As usual after a little back and forth clarification, I got a message from Gayle:


I had Glen take a look at the plans and here's his

Seems to be an error. The cross palls should
extend 3' 11-1/2" each side of CL or 95" long. You
have thickness of side planking, plus FG plus rub
rail to obtain beam of 8' 2". This will make an 8'
width on the bottom to match the two 4' wide PW

Gayle Brantuk

This building form was mostly made of scrap lumber.  The
stringers (the frames of the boat that run longitudinally) will sit on
top of and perpendicular to these cross spalls on top of the building

I actually built the form wrong, at least according to the plans (the
side pieces are reversed inside out).  And though it didn’t hurt
anything, it set me off on a cascade of self-recrimination at my
carelessness.  If I assembled the boat with as little attention to detail, I would be wasting material, causing undue frustration, and making an ugly boat.

This made me rethink ways I could balance my eagerness with my sense of precision.  The next week I switched gears from my cavalier construction of the building form to a slower more careful approach.

Jen and Kai both helped me make the building form.  And after Kai and I had a pretty pointless conflict, I realized one very important boatbuilding need that I hadn’t taken into account for people working hard in the hot sun all day:  Snacks!

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