18th Century Longboat

Keel and Frames

January 7, 2018

Day 1.

UPDATE: This build was put on hold in April 2018.  After finishing the hull planking, I simply wasn’t happy with the results and decided to box the build and move on to the Fair American build.  

Time to get started on my third build…the Model Shipways 18th Century Longboat.

This build is a plank-on-frame model, so rather than have solid bulkheads to support the structure, it has thinner ‘ribs’ that come up from the keel called frames.  The kit is designed so that the frames are installed like bulkheads, then later in the process we cut out the center of each frame to make it into an actual frame.

So my first task is to get the keel assembled and the frames glued into place.

The keel is provided as three laser cut parts that need to be glued together.  It starts with the false keel, a long piece with notches where the frames will go.

The false keel is cut free from the sheet and given a good sanding.  I started with 400 grit paper, then finished up with 800 grit paper.  I focused on removing the laser char and getting a smooth finish.


The false keel.

The false keel has a laser etched line one side.  This line will be used to form the rabbet.  This is the area that will be tapered so the planks lay nicely.  I took a bunch of measurements, and transferred the line to the other side of the keel.  Next I used a #11 blade and slowly removed material to create the taper.

The keel is 3/32″ thick, and the goal is to have it slowly taper from the line down to the bottom, where it will be 1/32″ thick.

I used sandpaper to finish up the taper and ensure everything was smooth.


The false keel has a laser etched line indicating where the rabbet goes.

Next I cut the other two pieces of the keel from the sheets.  These are also provided as laser cut pieces.  Both were sanded with 400 and 800 grit paper to remove laser char.


The three pieces making up the keel.

The three pieces were then glued together.  I had to file the pieces where they join together to get a good fit.


The pieces are glued together.

Since the other two pieces are also 3/32″, you can now see the effect of tapering for the rabbet line.  It is a slight notch where a plank can rest,


Once the pieces are joined, the rabbet is noticiable.

Next I prepped the frames.  These are all laser cut.  In total there are 16 frames.  They were all cut free, then sanded to remove laser char.

I only sanded the front and back, and only focused on the outer areas.  The center of each frame will be cut out later, so there’s no need to clean those up. The edges of the frames will be sanded later when I fair the hull, so for now I’ve left them untouched.


Frames are sanded and prepped.

Around this time, it became obvious that I needed a way to hold the model while I work on it.  This model is pretty small, so I don’t want to use my normal keel vise (the vise is WAY bigger than the model).  So I built a little board to hold the model.


A simple board is made to hold the boat while I work on it.

The frames were then glued in.  Several dry test-fits were done first, and most of the joints required a little sanding and filing to get the right fit.  It is critical at this point to ensure that each frame is straight an even.


Bulkheads glued in place.

Now I let these sit overnight.