Nigel belongs to: The Coble and Keelboat Society
Nigel was born near Hexham. He has always been interested in traditional boats and has operated a variety of wooden boats for commercial and recreational purposes. He has recently built his own boat in his garage using traditional tools and techniques.
Nigel was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 13 November 2005. The interview took place at the Interviewee's living room and lasted 34 minutes and 25 seconds.
Sound of caulking
"Right, what weíre doing here is caulking the stem seam where the planks meet the stem to make the forward end of the boat watertight"
Right, what weíre doing here is caulking the stem seam where the planks meet the stem to make the forward end of the boat watertight. And what Iím doing is Iím pressing in, lightly at first, some strands of cotton which are bone dry. The idea being that they be pushed in half tight and then whatís called hardened off. The idea of this is so that the caulking actually swells even further when exposed to water in the seam and making the boat watertight by that means.
So the first strikes of the mallet are whatís called nipping in the cotton or knifing it in and then the later strikes, which should sound a bit different, are whatís called the hardening off so the cotton is driven tight into the seam and below the surface of the planking so that it can be covered over with putty afterwards.
So the first little strike of the hammer should be a bit softer.
And here we are, Iím just knifing in, as itís called, a little loop of cotton. The idea is that you can vary the amount of cotton thatís going in the seam to adjust itself to the width of the seam because thereís fractional variations. So Iím putting a loop in there half an inch at a time. So thatís just working around now the bottom end of the stem in towards the planks that go beneath the waterline of the boat.
Now this just at the turn of the forefoot is probably the most important part of the caulking because itís the part of the boat thatís underwater the most and is also subject to some of the most stress as well, so Iím kind of putting in just a wee bit more into this particular part of the seam.
Right, weíve driven the first strands of caulking in in a loop fashion into the seam at the forward end of the boat, which is the stem where the bow of the boat where the planks meet the stem. Now, to make that watertight the cotton thatís been driven in needs to be hardened off. So the first strikes that you heard are actually the cotton going in quite loose to hold it in position. And what Iím going to do now is harden it off and that is drive it deep into the seams beneath the surface of the planking so you can putty it up later. So here we goÖ
Now you should notice a difference in the note. What you hear now is a deeper, a deeper ring as the mallet hits the end of the metal caulking iron because the malletís made of hard wood. Thatís something falling inside the boat, which is a regular occurrence, things like that often happen!
The trick is to put just enough in but not to overfill the seams. What can happen is the caulking can get pushed out the seam altogether as the boat expands in the water.
Iím just going to change irons to whatís called a jerry iron. A jerry iron is a narrow iron to get a rounder curve, which is narrower, a bit more like a screwdriver and forces the cotton into seams which are around a curve or in an awkward place to find.
Thatís just hardened off there nicely.
I think, Iíve just aboutÖ
Thatíll do nicely that!
Nigel has 22 memories in the memorynet:
Nigel's memories with a Skills theme:
- Interest in traditional boats
- Process of building a wooden boat
- Sourcing traditional boat building tools
- The adze and caulking irons
- Sound of the adze
- Sound of the augur
- Sound of caulking
- Sound of a jack plane
- Caulking irons
- Hand brace and augurs
- Wooden caulking mallet
- Jack plane
- Half model and plans
- Nigel at work in his workshop
Nigel's other memories: