Wednesday, 7 November 2012

At last - fool proof method for spiling planks

Having suffered too many instances of "edge setting" (I'm still not sure what that is, but I'm blaming it anyway, as most observers seem to suggest it's the main culprit for incorrect planking spiling with a compass), I opted to use a slower method, which I call the two batten and trellis method.  I'm sure there is a more accurate term, but when you see the photo, you'll know what I mean:-

Yes it is a little tedious and adds more steps, but when you end up with a perfectly fitting plank, it's worth every minute of tedium.

As luck would have it my 14 year old son joined me today, as he is off school on mid term break this week. Together we turned out the perfect plank and he's probably wondering what all the fuss is about!

Simply pinned the battens to the desired upper and lower edges of the planks and hot glued the trellis between the battens to hold them in shape.  I then nailed the batten to the planking stock, removed the trellis and then continued as before with the circular saw jig and router method which John Brooks describes in his book - GLWB.

I also sanded back some the the planks at the transom to see how the dory gains were had turned out:-

You can see where the cuts on the underside of the plank allowed it to bend onto the curve of the transom, but at the same time the third plank has not completely settled down onto the transom, the lighter shade shows the epoxy glue filling the void - not that it will be any less strong I imagine, but it's still a fiddle to get both boards mated and sitting snug into the curve of the transom.


  1. Hi Paul,

    I just re-read this posting about your method of spiling and this is what I've decided to do also. Your method is a variant of some that I read about last evening on the woodenboat forum.

    Today was frustrating because I can't seem to get John's method of using the spiling jig to work. I tried it three times, each time resetting the jig and making new marks. Each time I got the same results... a plank that doesn't fit without forcing it into position. And that is something I've read is to be avoided at all costs. So, as an quick experiment I did sort of what you outlined except I stapled the ladder (or truss) together. Didn't use hot glue. This "plank" is different enough that I'm sure it will work perfectly. Its flatter, less of a smile. Just what the trial plank needed to be.

    Now my goal is to improve on my method and make it fast. Actually, I don't find John's jig/compass method to be all that quick either.

    Thanks again and best regards,

  2. Hello, I've been lurking on your blog for awhile now. I've just started planking and it's been a battle. I've been using the spiling jig a la John Brooks, and things fit well until I get to about station 4 forward to the stem. I'm really having to pull down hard on the plank to meet my marks which has created a "lump" along the plank. I figure only the fish and barnacles will see it! Live and learn. I'm moving on to your technique for plank #3 and hoping for a better result. I have to find a better way or I won't have this boat planked until 2020.

  3. Have a look at the yahoo group for lspstrake boat building which John Brooks established. There are quite a lot of comments on his spiling technique. Most agree that the main culprit is using too thick spilling pattern. It needs to be very thin to follow the lines even to the extent that it is barely able to support its own weight.

  4. Thank you for your article. I made the hinged batten from John Brooks' book but it was not accurate for me. I think it was too thin and could move. I used the truss spiling batten and that was right on. I like you ideas about the dozuki saw and shoulder plane too. Thanks again.