To build a framed boat with a round bottom requires time, skilled labor and good material, but there are many cases where a boat is desired for temporary use, for hard work where a light boat would soon be destroyed, or in a hurry, in which cases beauty, light weight and speed are of little importance, the requisites being carrying capacity, cheapness, and a saving of time. In such cases the methods previously described are not applicable, but the ends in view will be best filled by some variety of "flat-bottomed" boat, as they are commonly called. With the rougher of these craft but little skill is required to turn out a strong and useful boat, the operations being little more difficult than the making of a common box, and even with the finer boats of this class no special skill is needed beyond the ability to use the ordinary tools of the house carpenter. While flat-bottomed boats are usually heavy clumsy and ill-shaped, there is no reason why they may not, with care and a little skill, be almost as light and shapely and for many purposes as good or even better than the more costly lapstreak or carvel built craft.
The cheapest and simplest of all boats is the scow (Fig. 1), a style of boat that may be built in a few hours and at an expense of two or three dollars only. In almost all places a few common boards of pine, spruce, or almost any wood, can readily be obtained, the commonest size in America being 13 ft. long, 10 in. wide and 1 in. thick. To construct a boat from such material to carry two or three persons, four or five boards will be necessary. Two of these should be selected and a length of 10 ft. sawn from each. The edges of these pieces are now planed or "jointed" up straight and square to the sides, the latter being either planed or left rough. These two side pieces (a) are laid one on the other, and two or three small nails driven through them to hold them temporarily together, and the outline of the side is now marked on the upper one. The upper edge of the boat will be straight, the bottom will be straight for 5 ft. amidships, and at each end for 2 ft. 6 in. will slant upward until the end pieces of the boat (b b) are but 4 in. deep. The two boards are now sawn to shape and planed square on the ends and the slanting portions of the bottom, then they may be taken apart.
Each end piece will be 3 ft. long, or longer if a wider boat is required, and 4-1/2 in. wide in the rough. The upper edges are planed up, and the sides are each nailed to the ends, using eight-penny nails, or ten-penny if the stuff is over 3/4 in. thick. The frame is now turned bottom up, the two end pieces are planed on their bottom edges to correspond with the bevel of the bottom, then a sufficient number of pieces to cover the bottom are sewn off the remaining boards. In this case they will each be 3 ft. 2 in. long. Their edges are carefully "jointed up" straight and square, and they are nailed in place across the bottom. When all are nailed on the ends may be planed down even with the sides of the boat. To stiffen the bottom a strip 5 in. wide and 3/4 to l in. thick (see i, Fig. 2) is laid down the center of the bottom inside and nailed with wrought or clinch nails to each plank, the nails being driven through and their points clinched or turned in, using a hammer and an iron set. About 2 ft. at each end will be covered with a deck, as at h, Fig. 2. One seat will be put in for rowing, being supported on two cleats, one nailed to each side. Iron rowlocks may be obtained in most localities at a cost of seventy-five cents per pair, and are better than wooden ones, but if they are not to be had, the latter can be made of oak. A cleat of oak 1-1/4 in. thick, 2 in. deep and 9 in. long is screwed along the inside of the gunwale. In each cleat two mortises are cut, 1-1/2 in. long, 1/2 in. wide, and 3-1/4 in. apart. The rowlocks are each 7 in. long, 1/2 in. thick, 2 in. wide above the cleat, and 1-1/2 in. wide in the mortises, projecting 4 in. above the gunwale and 3 in. below.
If all the joints are neatly made, the boat should be tight after being in the water a short time; but it is always best to paint or tar the entire boat, inside and out, preserving the wood and lessening the chance of leakage. In no case should caulking be needed in a new boat. If the builder desires, each edge can be painted as the board is put in place, which will still further prevent any leakage.
While such a boat is often all that is needed, with a little more care and skill a much better one may be built. The punt, as it is commonly called (Fig. 2), is a scow of rather better design than the one described above, but the operations of building are similar. These boats are often used for fishing on rivers and ponds, as they are roomy, stiff and safe from any danger of capsizing, and the occupants can sit all day in comfort, or move about freely, which cannot be done in a round-bottomed boat of similar size. Such a boat may be 14 to 16 ft. long, 4 ft. beam at gunwale, 3 ft. 4 in. at bottom, and the sides 14 in. deep. The sides (f f) will each be a little longer than the length of the completed boat, 14 in. wide and 3/4 in. thick. They should be free from knots and sap wood, and as nearly alike as possible, so as to bend equally. One is laid on two benches, the outline of the boat is marked out as shown, the ends sweeping upward in easy curves, and it is sawn and planed to shape. It is then laid on the second board, the two are lightly nailed together, and the latter planed to match, a center line being marked on both while nailed together. The two end pieces (c c) are next sawn out of 1 in. oak or ash, the ends being beveled, as the bottom of the boat throughout will be narrower than the top. Next a piece (d) 14 to 16 in. wide and 4 ft. long is sawn off and the ends beveled, making it 4 ft. long on the upper edge and 3 ft. 4 in. near the lower. The two small projections (e e) are left, to aid in setting the side correctly. This board or mould is placed on edge, one side board is laid in place against it at the center mark, and a few nails are driven through the side board into the end of the piece. Now the other side is fitted in the same manner The three pieces resting on a level floor the corresponding ends of the side pieces are drawn together with ropes until the end pieces will just fit between, then the sides are nailed or screwed to the ends. The best way to do this is to bore the boles and fit each side in turn to its corresponding end piece, putting in the screws, before the sides are nailed to the mould (the pieces after fitting being taken apart); then when the ends are finally in place there is no trouble in holding and adjusting them, the screws being reinserted in the holes already bored.
When sides and ends are well fastened together, both of the frames should have the same degree of curve, and the entire frame should be true and symmetrical. The lower edges of the sides having been planed square, now require to be beveled slightly, on. account of the outward flare of the sides. To do this a piece of board, one of those cut for the bottom, is laid across and used as a guide, the outer corner of each edge, both of sides and ends, being planed off until the board lies fiat across all the edges. The bottom boards are now cut to length and nailed in place, the edges of each being very carefully planed up to fit its neighbors. When the bottom is on, the ends are planed off even with the side of the boat, It is turned over and a strip (i) 5 in. wide is nailed down the middle of the bottom, as in the previous boat. This strip will be 1 in. thick at its center, but toward the ends it may diminish to 1/2 in. so as to bend more easily to the curve of the bottom. When it is in, the ends are decked over for two or three feet, as at h h. Two thwarts or seats (j j) will be put in. each 9 in. wide and 1 in. thick. They should be placed about 7 in. below the gunwale, and each end will rest on a short piece nailed to the side of the boat, long enough to reach from the bottom to the wider side of the seat. The seats should be secured well to the sides, as they serve to stiffen the boat. A gunwale strip is usually run around the outer edge. It may be of oak 3/4 in. wide and l-1/2 in. thick, screwed to the side pieces. Rowlocks and stretchers complete the boat. It will, however, be easier to row straight if a skag be added to the after end. A stern post of oak 1x1-1/4 in. is nailed down the center of the end, and in the angle between it and the bottom is fitted a piece of 1 in. board (o, Fig. 3) nailed to it and the bottom. On the stern post a rudder may be hung if desired.
While such a boat answers very well for fishing and similar purposes, if much rowing or sailing is done, a better form is that of the skiff or bateau shown in Fig. 3. In this boat the after end is similar to the previous one, but the bow is very different, resembling more a round-bottomed boat, The sideboards are marked and cut as in the former boat, but at the fore-end they are not cut up at all, but are sawn off at a slight bevel to fit the forward rake of the stem (k l shows the sideboard in the rough, with the side marked out). The gunwale will have a slight sheer, part of it being due to the bending of the sideboards, but to increase it the upper edges are made a little hollow, their concavity being from 1 to 2 in., according to the sheer desired. A middle mould is cut out similar to d, and also a stem piece, the latter of 1 in. oak. It is fitted and screwed to each sideboard in turn, then it is taken off, the sideboards are nailed to the mould along the lines A B, and the sternboard is replaced and screwed fast. Now the two sides are drawn together with a rope at their fore ends until they nearly or quite meet, as at t, and a piece of oak of triangular form (r) is cut to fit in the angle between them, and they are screwed fast to it. The bend of the sides will cause the bottom of the boat to have considerable rocker, usually much more than is desirable. To avoid this, when the frame is thus far completed, the bottom edges of both sideboards are planed down from m to n until the bottom is straight for some distance amidships.
This can best be determined by setting the frame, top upward, on a level floor. When the edges are planed off equally they must be beveled, as in the preceding boat, the floor is nailed on, the middle piece is put in and nailed down, and the thwarts put in. Both in bow and stern there will also be seats at about 3 in. below the gunwale and of the shape shown. To complete the bow, the ends of the sideboards are planed off, and another triangular piece of oak (s) is sawn out and nailed against the ends and the piece r as shown, making a sharp bow. A scag (o) is also added, wale strips are put on, and the boat is ready for painting. Such a boat may have a centerboard, as described in the previous chapters, and may also be fitted with sails in the same manner as an ordinary round-bottomed boat.
These boats are largely used by the fishermen of the Atlantic Coast, both along shore and on the fishing vessels, and they are also suitable for rowing and as service boats for yachts.
The boat here shown is planked with white pine, the sides, of three pieces each, being 9/16 in., and the bottom 7/8 in. The laps of the siding are rabbeted, so as to make a flush surface inside and out. The timbers are of oak 1-3/4 in.x1 in. and 2-1/2 in. in thwarts. The gunwales are l-1/8 in.x1-1/4 in., with a 5/8 in. strip on top, covering edge of upper streak also. There are three movable thwarts resting on risings, sad removed when the boats are nested or packed. The sizes are so arranged that five boats can be stored together, one within the other, thus occupying little space on deck.