Whiskey Planks

Transferring Gap to the Last Planks


(to start of project)

I almost missed one of the more charming traditions of boat building, until Tony in Montana reminded me.

The last plank added to a boat hull is known as the “Whiskey Plank.” This is the plank that finally closes up the hull completely, making it viable as a boat for the first time. It’s called the Whiskey Plank because, traditionally, when this plank was finally put on, everyone in the boat shop got a shot of whiskey to celebrate. In my case, by the time I got these troublesome little pieces of wood in place I was past ready for a snort of something strong.

Knowing what I know now, I would definitely plan an easier way to piece in the last strips. Just planing off the beads and coves in advance would be a big help. As it was, the split strip was the easiest by far to install. Using a pair of dividers to transfer the gap width to the strip worked well. It was the twisting and fitting that was a pain. I know several easier ways to do it. I just didn’t use any of them.

But it’s all good now. Once they were done, I poured three fingers of something expensive, with a name that implies you need a boat to get there, unplugged the power tools, and put away the pointed objects. Then sat a safe distance away and enjoyed the view. Rumors that I was later seen dancing naked in the yard in the moonlight are, so far, unfounded.




Next morning the edges of the keels were beveled down flush, readied for fairing.


melonseed skiff, mellonseed skiff, melon seed, mellon seed   

3 Replies to “Whiskey Planks”

  1. Bevelled keel sides for easier planking


    Hello Barry,

    Here is a word from a Dutch wooden boat builder who follows your proceedings with great interest and hopes to benefit from your work when building my own Melonseed(s). On top of that, I admire your photography and writing. The story reads like a good book! You should publish it! …

    Have you considered beveling the sides of the keel for easier planking the Whiskey planks?

    And errr… why two Melonseeds?


    Claus van den Hoek
    the Netherlands

    Monday, August 24, 2009 – 01:29 PM

  2. Thanks, Claus.

    And thanks for the link – what a beautiful boat.

    I see the builders started from the keel and worked down. That changes the whole process and makes that one plank much easier. The trade off is all the planks have to be custom cut to fit. When you start from the sheer and work toward the keel, like I did, it’s much harder at the end, but with strip planking it looks odd to me done the other way. Builders of Melonseeds who use lapstrake planking do it the way your Dutch builders have – starting from a beveled keel and working down. That way you don’t end up with a hole to fill at the end with a precisely cut piece of wood to fill it. Stripping requires less skill over all, I think, until you get to the last few.

    I thought about beveling the keel, and that might help. But I was afraid I wouldn’t get the bevel true to the sides of the hull between stations, and I’d end up with a sloppy seam. I also thought about planking up the sides first, then using the keel as a guide to cut out the opening for it to fit into. I actually came up with two or three more possibilities, some of which might work.

    If you could bevel the keel enough so the planks could run out past it, then cut them all off flush, like you do at the transom, that would be easiest of all. You’d just need a good eye and steady hand to make that long rolling bevel.

    In the end, for me, just removing the bead and cove from the last couple of strips would have made all the difference in the world. The one last strip I did that way out of necessity was the easiest one of all to install. It was truly a moment of revelation.

    I’m still trying to think of a good way to answer your last question.

    By the way, I was in the Netherlands briefly years ago, and would love to go back for a longer stay to see more of the country. And more of you boats. This looks amazing:



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