Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Hull Fairing and Stern Blocks

April 17, 2016

Day 16.

The next big step is to fair the hull.  This is an important step, because if not done correctly, the hull planking won’t lay flat.  Fortunately, it is a pretty straightforward process, so you just kind of ‘dive in’.

Basically, it is just a lot of sanding.

The goal of hull fairing is to bevel the edges of the bulkheads so that the hull planks lay flat.  If we didn’t do this, the planks would only hit the corners of the bulkheads.


The process is pretty simple:

  1. Hold or secure a hull plank against the bulkheads.
  2. Note where the plank doesn’t lie flat across the bulkhead edges.
  3. Sand until it does.

Using a sanding block that can span several bulkheads helps, since you can ‘rough in’ the bevel across multiple bulkheads.

Photo Apr 16, 4 00 01 PM

Fairing the hull

Sometimes, a bulkhead will be too short, and there will be a gap between the bulkhead and the plank.  Rather than sanding down the surrounding bulkheads, you add a little strip of wood to fill it out.  I ended up adding two – one one each side of the ship (different bulkheads).

I also faired the deck, using a deck plank to ensure that the tops of the bulkheads were even and straight.

Overall fairing the hull took several hours.

The next step was the horn timbers.  These are strips near the stern that run along the keel. They form the beams that planks will be attached to.  In the practicum I’ve got, and in some build logs, I see these installed flush with the surface of the keel, and the planking goes over the keel.  When I look at the plans, this looks wrong.  According to the hull planking plan, the planks in this area should sit flush with the keel.  The horn timbers should be recessed from the surface of the keel to allow for this.


Let’s go with what the plans do.  The horn timbers were cut, the ends were angled, and the pieces installed.  I used a piece of hull planking to verify the placement.

Photo Apr 16, 2 57 18 PM

Planks should sit on the horn timbers and lie flush with the keel.

Next up are the stern blocks.  These are blocks of wood that are added at the very back of the ship to finish out the shape of the hull.  This requires you to take block of wood, cut it into two pieces, and shape it to fit.

Photo Apr 16, 3 38 03 PM

These blocks of wood need to be heavily shaped to create the stern.

This took a while – probably 4-5 hours spread over two days.  If I had a scroll saw it might have gone faster, but I don’t have one.  The pieces were cut on a table saw to the right width.  I then traced the shape onto each piece and cut it out using a hand saw.

Photo Apr 16, 3 38 37 PM

I’m adding a scroll saw to my wish list.

The pieces were then glued into place and shaped by hand.  I used a combination of my Dremel, a sanding block, and my Proxxon pen sander.

Once the bottoms were shaped, I flipped the ship back over and worked on the top.  It needed to be leveled out, as well has tapered in towards the back.  I traced the shape from the plans and made a template to be sure I tapered correctly.

Photo Apr 17, 8 35 54 AM

Completed stern blocks.

So, my hull is faired, and the work at the stern is finished.  What’s next?