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A Light Home-made Boat


The following gives an easy method of making a light and serviceable

bateau, which any boy, with moderate ingenuity or skill, could

easily construct:--

Select two boards, about three-quarters of an inch in thickness,

eighteen or twenty inches in width, and twelve feet in length,

which we will consider the required length of the boat. These boards

should be well seasoned, and free from knots, and at least
ne of

the sides should be straight.

Next, with the aid of a draw-shave, proceed to shape the ends of

one of the boards, as seen on our diagram, (e) representing the

forward, (g) the stern. The curve of the bow should commence at

about four feet from the end, and take a rounded slope upward,

leaving about ten inches of width at the end of the board (e).

The stern should be cut at the angle shown at (g), commencing

at about two and a half feet from the extremity of the board and

continuing upward to about ten inches from the upper edge. The

board thus shaped should now be laid evenly on the other, and the

outline of the cut portions carefully scratched upon it, after

which the second board should be cut in a similar manner as the

first, so as to form an exact duplicate.

This being accomplished, the two should be laid evenly, one over

the other, and the exact center of their long edges ascertained.

Marking off about five inches on each side of this centre on both


Next procure another board about ten inches in width, three feet

in length, and perfectly squared at the ends. Nail each end of

this piece securely and squarely in the space marked on each of

the long boards. Then turn the pieces carefully over and

nail another board across the bottom, directly opposite the first.

We will now leave them and give our attention to the bow piece,

which is the next requisite. This is shown at (a), and consists

of a solid piece of oak, or other hard wood, well seasoned, and

hewn out in the arrow shape, indicated in our illustration. It

should first be cut three-cornered, the inside face being about

eight inches, and the other two ten inches. Its length should be

about eleven inches, and its under side should be sloped off on a

line with the under curve of the bows. At about five inches from

the inner face, and on each side, a piece should be sawn out, one

inch in thickness, thus leaving on each side a notch which will

exactly receive the side-boards of the boat, as seen at (a).

The piece being thus ready, the bow ends of the boards should be

drawn together, fitted in the notches and securely spiked with

large nails. A bow piece of this kind adds greatly to the strength

of a boat, and will stand much rough usage. The board for the stem

should next be prepared. This should be ten inches in width and two

feet in length, and should be securely nailed between the ends of the

boards at the stem, as shown at (g), being afterwards overlapped

on the top by a board of similar size, as our illustration shows,

at (c). The bottom of the boat is now easily made by nailing

boards crosswise, sawing off the projecting ends close to the curve

of the side-boards. After the pieces are all nailed in place, the

seams and crevices should be caulked with hemp, using a blunt chisel,

or hard wooden wedge, and a mallet. The seats should now be put

in, as these are not only a matter of comfort, but of necessity,

acting as braces to the sides of the boat. They should be two in

number, one being placed three feet from the stern and the other

one foot beyond the brace board originally nailed across the top

of the boat. The seats should be cut at the ends in a curve

corresponding to the part of the boat in which they are placed,

and should be situated about a foot from the bottom of the boat,

their ends resting on short boards beneath them against the sides

of the boat. These are indicated by the dotted lines (h h) in

the diagram. When thus resting they should be securely fastened in

place by strong screws, driven through the sides of the boat into

their ends (f f), allowing some one to sit on the seat meanwhile

to keep it in place. Small cleats should now be tacked to the bottom

of the boat, beneath the seat and underneath the seat itself, in

order to keep the props in place; after which the original brace

board across the top of the boat may be knocked off and the bateau

is complete and ready for service. A boat thus made is quite comely

in shape, and may be painted to suit the fancy. Should a rudder

be required, the broad board at the stern offers a good place of

attachment, and oar-locks may be adjusted at the proper places.

These may consist of a pair of cleats attached to the inside of

the boat, as seen in the illustration. In case it may be found

difficult to obtain the large single boards for the sides of the

boat, two or more narrow ones will answer the purpose, although

not as perfectly. In this case they should first be firmly attached

together by cleats, securely screwed to the inside. When first put

on the water the boat will probably leak in places, but if left

to soak for a few hours the wood will generally swell sufficiently

to completely close the crevices. If, however, the leak should

continue, that particular part of the boat should be re-caulked

and smeared with pitch. This latter substance is of great value

to the trapper, not only in boat building but in the construction

of his shanties and in other various ways. It will most effectually

stop almost any leak in a canoe or boat, and of course should always

be applied hot.