Randy's Boat Building

The Nutshell Pram

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Last updated on Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mold Stations

The bow and stern transom guide is in the foreground and the mold stations 1 and 3 are in the back ground.

Forekeel and 'Midship Frame

On the left is the form for the 'Midship Frame and on the right is the form for the Forekeel.

The Ladder Frame

The Ladder Frame is build up of 2x6's and 4x4's. The station molds 1 and 3 have been mounted.

Laminating the 'Midship Frame

A regular sea of clamps hold the 1/8" Fir strips to the 'Midship form. West System #105 Resin and #205 Fast Hardener are used to epoxy the frame. The 205 Fast Hardener can work down to 40F and sets up overnight.

Laminating the Forekeel

The Forekeel is made up of the same 1/8" Fir strips. The 100 year old 2x6 by 8 ft is reduced to mostly sawdust in the making of the two laminated pieces.

The Bottom

The bottom is cut out in preparation to gluing to the Forekeel, 'Midship Frame and Stern Transom.

The Laminated Forekeel and Bow Transom

The laminated Forekeel is epoxied to the Bow Transom. The temporary cleat is shown screwed to the Bow Transom.

'Midship Frame

The 'midship Frame is mounted to the ladder frame. Very little remains of the original 2x6.

Stern Transom

The Stern Transom is mounted to the ladder frame.

Almost a Boat

The two garboard planks have been installed with epoxy and silicon bronze screws. The bottom edge of the garboard plank will be planed flush with the bottom panel and the top edge will be planed with a bevel to accept the middle plank.

Looking More Like a Boat Every Day

The middle planks have been installed. Two battens are used to protect the plywood from the heads of the dry wall screws that are used to clamp the plywood together while the epoxy hardens.

Looks Like a Boat

The shearstrake planks has been added. Any holes have been filled with epoxy and filler. The next step would have been to paint the outside of the hull with West System #209 Slow Hardener and #105 Resin. The 209/105 is a very slow epoxy that takes days to setup and this give it time to soak in. Unfortunately the #209 Slow Hardener requires a minimum temperature of 70F and we have only had two day's last week that were higher than 70F, so this will have to wait.

Building the Daggerboard Trunk

Here are the two halves of the daggerboard trunk epoxied and screwed to the bedlogs. The insides of the plywood and the inside edge of the two side assemblies have been coated with epoxy to seal them.

Building the Keel

Here is the keel sitting on the boat. The keel is made out of 3/4 inch thick white oak. It is very hard and I had to sharpen all of my planes to work with it. Once the daggerboard trunk is installed I can install the keel. Shown in the picture are all holes have been filled. The boat is ready to be turned over.

Turned Over

Not even half way done, the boat is turned over and is sitting on the ladder frame. The epoxy drips and runs are removed with a heat gun and a chisel. Most have been removed but every time I look at it, I see another.

The View of the Bow

You can see the bow transom, and the forekeel and the 'midship frame. The corners of both transom's need to be rounded off to meet the shear plank.

The View of the Stern

Now you can see stern transom and 'midship frame.

Bow Quarter Knees

I picked up several boards of Port Orford Cedar from Urban Hardwood Recovery. Port Orford Cedar is really a cypress. The wood has a spicy smell, is light weight and is very strong, which makes it highly prized for boat building. The bow quarter knees and stern quarter knees were both make out of Port Orford Cedar.

Stern Quarter Knees

The bow quarter knees and stern quarter knees are shown here are just dry fitted. I will do a lot of the epoxying at one time to avoid wasting it. All four knees were make out of one board of about 1"x8"x30". The plans call for using 3/4" thick Mahogany but I liked the 1" thick Port Orford Cedar better.


I cut out the three thwarts. They are made from the tight knot Port Orford Cedar. They are 1" thick with rounded edges. The mid-thart, the bottom one in the photo, will be made easily removable. You also can see the thwart support blocks under the thwarts. These will be screwed and epoxied in place. The finished bow and stern thwarts will be screwed to the thwart blocks.

Thwarted Again

Here we we show the mid thwart, bottom again, and the bow thwart. Under the bow thwart you can see the piece of wood that I will make the mast set out of.

Mast Step Plans

The plans show two views of the mast step. It has to be cut with a notch in the center line and beveled on two angles. You will also notice that it is not parallel with the bow thwart. For a little block, it is going to be one of the harder pieces to make.

Steam Bending

I decided to install the Guard Rails. They are made out of White Oak 1 1/4" by 5/8" by 8ft and are very stiff. When I tried fitting them, the boat was slightly deformed. So with a ten foot of PVC pipe, 2 feet of hot water hose, a tea kettle, my Dragon Fly camping stove and an assortment of other junk, I have a steam box. The two Guard Rails were put in the steam box for an hour while the tea kettle provided the steam. The steamed boards will quickly cool so there was little time lost in fitting them.

First Guard Rail Fitted

Here is the starboard Guard Rail being held in place with clamps while it cools. It was easy to fit while it was still hot. The port Guard Rail cooled off too much while I was fitting the starboard so I had to steam it for another 20 minutes.

Second Guard Rail Fitted

In the foreground is the port Guard Rail and in the background is the starboard Guard Rail. When the rails had cooled, I only had about a inch each of spring back. I will put a 1/4 inch radius on the two outer edges with my router and then I will epoxy them in place. The screws are driven from the inside except where the knees are, then long screws are driven in from the outside.

Barrier Coating the Hull

Three coats of West System epoxy with aluminum powder seal the hull. I used the 209 extra slow harder to give me time to coat the hull before the epoxy started to gel. The hull will be sanded with 220 grit sand paper prior to three coats of white paint.

Barrier Coating the Thwarts, Centerboard Trunk and Keel

The thwarts were coated with the first of two coats of clear epoxy. After the second coat, the thwarts will be sanded and then three coats of polyurethane will be applied to provide a protective finish. The polyurethane has UV inhibitors that will protect the wood. The centerboard truck will be sanded and then glued and screwed as will the keel. I will be using 3M 5200 marine adhesive on the centerboard truck and keel; they will not becoming off in my life time.

Centerboard Trunk Installed

The Centerboard truck has been installed with 3M 5200 marine adhesive. The excess will be removed once it starts to cure. The bottom has been coated with epoxy and sanded in preparation of painting but there is a lot more sanding that must be done before painting can begin. The sides won't take much time but the corners and other tight areas will take some time.

Keel Installed

The keel has been installed with 3M 5200 marine adhesive and silicon bronze wood screws and one stainless steel bolt at the stern. A little more sanding needs to be done on the hull before painting. You also can see the posts from the centerboard truck sticking up. They will be cut flush with the hull once the adhesive cures.

On The Water

Forward or backwards the Nutshell Prams rows well. Sean, Mark and Rebbecca (left to right) take the newly launched Nutshell for a spin.