Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Planking the Quarter Deck

June 18, 2016

Day 79.

The quarter deck is the rear deck of the ship.  Like the fore deck, it needs to be planked with individual deck planks.  Similar to the fore deck, it needs to follow a planking pattern, and it requires nibbed planks.  However, the quarter deck adds tapering.

The planks on the quarter deck are tapered in towards the stern.  This creates a curve in the   planks as they go aft.

To get started, the first few planks require some special attention.  The first pair planks on the centerline end early, right before the steering wheel.  These were added first.  Next, the second set of planks were added, which are notched to wrap around the first two planks.  These end just before the boom crutch.


The two center planks end at the steering wheel, and the next two planks are notched to wrap around them, ending at the boom crutch.  You can see the first deck planking butt joint on the left.

The next several planks on each side are tapered, and run the full length of the quarter deck.  Since I’m following an every 5 planking pattern, there will be assorted joints necessary to get the layout I’m after.  On the fore deck, I simply cut planks to length from wood strips and glued them in place.  Since the quarter deck planks require tapering, things get a little more complicated.

I decided the best approach was to measure and cut a strip that runs the full length of the quarter deck.  Next I would taper the plank to get the right sizing, then I’d cut the tapered strip into individual planks.  This ensures that my taper remains consistent down the deck.

The practicum recommends tapering from 6″ back on each strip.  Seems legit, so we’ll do that.  To help, I built a jig to hold the strips in place while I cut the taper.  The bottom part of the jig is exactly 6″, so I can lay a strip in there, mark the width I want at the end, and use a straight edge to make the cut.



A jig to hold strips for tapering.  Ignore the funky shapes on the top side of the jig – the pieces I used to make the jig were scrap wood left over from a previous build, and those pieces had been used to cut some odd pieces.

Each strip was measured to run the length of the quarter deck, plus an extra millimeter or two.  (Since we’ll be cutting the strip into planks, we need some extra length because cutting planks will eat some material.)  Each strip was placed into the jig and tapered.



After tapering, the piece was placed on deck and the location of the joint was marked according to our every 5 planking plan.  I only did one joint at a time, since each cut eats some of the material.

Before cutting any planks out of the strip, I colored one edge with a graphite pencil to simulate caulking.  Coloring before cutting helps to keep the taper on the right side.

Each individual plank was cut and glued into place.


Quarter deck planking, at the point where the tapered planks filled out the stern.  Planks after this point are not tapered, but are nibbed.

Before I knew it, I had enough planks in place to fill to the stern.  (Actually it took over a week, but whatever.)

One note…I wanted the same number of planks on the port and starboard side of the centerline.  If I had been really consistent with tapering, that would have happened automatically.  However, there was some inconsistency in my tapering.  As I got close to filling out the stern, I used proportional dividers to calculate the tapered ends of the last 4 planks on each side.  This allowed me to get exactly the same number of strips on each side of the centerline.

The remaining planks on the quarter deck are not tapered, but they are nibbed.  I found this part to be much easier, and it was very similar to the work on the fore deck.  It went very quickly (4-5 hours).

As I went to put in the last plank on each side, I realized there was a small gap.


Dang.  A gap.

Obviously it isn’t enough space to add another plank.  If I glue the last plank in, I probably won’t be able to cut and fit a filler in there.  The gap is also too big to use wood putty (and since the deck will be stained, I don’t want a big sliver of oddly colored planking).

So, I pulled that last plank out and added some material to it.


Top to bottom…the nibbed plank and the filler piece that will be attached, the two glued together and clamped for drying, and the final piece after sanding to fit.

This made the plank wider where it would hit the gap.  Then I spent time test-fitting, sanding, and re-test-fitting until it fit into the spot and filled the gap.  Once it fit, I glued it into place.


The adjusted nibbed plank in place, filling the gap.

After a little over two weeks, I was done with the quarter deck.  The deck was sanded with 80 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit, and 400 grit to smooth it out.  Filler was used in a few spots between sanding.


The completed quarter deck.

Perfect?  Nope.  But not bad.

The decks will get final sanding just before they get stained and sealed, which won’t happen until after the hull is primered.

With the quarter deck planked, the hull is now ‘sealed’ – you can no longer see the internal structure of the ship.


The whole deck is planked!

Before I can start priming and paining, I still need to deal with bulwark stanchions, hawse pipes, the transom fashion piece, and drilling the mounting holes in the keel.