📝 Fitting the side skins.
Fitting the skins is always an exciting part of the build for me as it starts to make the project start to look like a boat. the first job is to make sure the former's are “in line” by this I mean that the transition from one to another and on to the next doesn’t make the skin look as if you left something behind it and shows an undesirable bump in the profile. This is done with a piece of scrap flat wood with some say 120 grit abrasive glued flat to it, gently draw the block over the profile to remove any high spots, I sometimes mark the edges with a marker pen to show where the high spots are and in theory when a light rub remove or touches all areas you can assume the profile is ready for the skin.
Skins are provided well over size and also will benefit from a little heat treatment on the bow. I like to trim as close as possible before gluing so a minimum of planning and sanding is required after. I first lay the skin over the frame and then and clamp along the length, then at the bow I applied some heat along with a light spray of water which quickly turns to steam but allows the ply to become pliable this is then bent around the bow and clamped, I now leave this overnight to dry and cool, which will hopefully retain the bend.
I then drill 2 x 3mm holes on the bow into the pre-prepared reference blocks to take a 3mm bamboo dowel; I then do the same at the stern. This is followed by scribing around the skin with a pencil to indicate the excess and also mark the position of the formers so holes can be drilled for pins to be driven into the formers exactly in the middle I then remove the clamps and dowels and remove the excess ply close to the pencil marks, and then drill some 0.4mm holes in the former positions for later pinning. Next I prepare some epoxy, the frame is then “glued up” ready for the application of the skin. Using the dowels the bow is located first, closely followed by the stern dowel; this locates the skin exactly ready for all the clamps to be applied, I then work along the marked positions of the formers and use some 0.5mm brass pins to ensure contact along the length of the formers, a final check that all the skin is in contact with the frame this is left to cure overnight.
The other side is next but first some trimming at the bow is required so it doesn’t catch on the previously applied skin. I followed the same process on the second skin
The final operation on the side skins is to remove the excess ply, I prefer to use a jack plane for this job, which may sound OTT but I find its size an assistance in gauging the angle of the plane against the skins to get it level with the deck and the bottom chine, it’s also so easy to keep razor sharp and is easily adjustable to take minute cuts when required. It’s now ready for the bottom skins to be applied.