Thursday, February 17, 2011

DoryMan's Glossary

A new feature here on DoryMan is a sailor's glossary. To navigate to the new page, click on the tab at the top left side of this page and use the same toggle to navigate back here to the Home pages.
I'm still undecided how much to include in this list. Of course, every country or region has their own language to describe the elements of a boat. It's not my intention to create an encyclopedic volume of terminology, but to facilitate understanding the language used here, on this blog.
Below is a list of the words currently entered in the Glossary for your perusal. If you have something you would like to add, please leave a comment at the end of this post:

Bevel - A surface which has been angled to make a fit with another.

Blind fastening - One in which the point of the nail does not protrude through the timber.

Bottom Boards - Lengths of timber fastened together and laid over the bottom of a boat or on top of frames (floors).

Carvel build - This term is sometimes taken to be synonymous with a skeleton build with flush-laid strakes. A form of boat building in which the strakes or planks are placed edge to edge so that they are flush with one another.

Caulk - To insert material between two members after they have been assembled, and thus make the junction watertight. (See luting.)

Clench - Rivet. To deform the end of a fastening so that it will not draw out - often done over a rove.

Clinker build - A form of boatbuilding in which the strakes are placed so that they partly overlap one another - upper strake outboard of lower strake. (see Lapstrake)

Construction plan - A scale drawing of the boat with a longitudinal section, horizontal plan and several transverse sections. The position and nature of the scarfs and other important construction details and scantlings may also be given.

Cove - Scotia. A hollow shaped moulding. May be used to hold the luting between two strakes.

Clamp - Gripe. A device for holding elements of a boat together temporarily.

Crook - A curved piece of wood which has grown into a shape useful for boatbuilding.

Dolly - A metal billet held against the head of a boat nail while it is being clenched.

Double-ended - A boat which is (nearly) symmetrical about the transverse axis.

Fair - A line is fair when it has no abrupt changes of direction.

Feather-edge - Tapering to nothing.

Floor - A transverse member - often a crook - extending from the turn of bilge to turn of bilge and set against the planking.

Frame - A transverse member made up of more than one piece of timber. usually extending from sheer to sheer and set against the planking.

Garboard - The strake laid next to the keel or keel plank.

Grommet - Strand(s) of rope laid up in the form of a ring.

Gunwale - Gunnel. A longitudinal member fitted round the inside top edge of the sheer strake of an open boat.

Horn - To check the squareness of a mold, relative to the boat's centerline.

Joggle - To cut out a notch in a piece of timber so that it will fit close against another member.

Keel - The main longitudinal strength member, scarfed to the stempost forward and the sternpost or transom, aft.

Land - That part of a strake which is overlapped by the strake immediately above it.

Lapstake - A form of boatbuilding in which the strakes are placed so that they partly overlap one another - upper strake outboard of lower strake. (see Clinker build)

Lay-off - Lofting. To draw out the lines of a boat full size.

Lines - The interrelation of sections in different planes which show the shape of a boat's hull. They usually consist of (i) sheer plan with longitudinal sections, (ii) half breadth plan with waterlines or horizontal sections, (iii) body plan with transverse sections. Diagonal lines, longitudinal section lines on the half breadth plan, and waterlines on the sheer plan enable the three plans to be related to each other and checked for fairness. Lines converted to numbers are known as a Table of Offsets.

Loom - That part of an oar inboard of the point of pivot; it includes the grip. The section of an oar between the loom and the blade is called the shaft.

Luting - Traditionally luting is a plastic substance such as paint used between two adjacent members. (See Caulk)

Mast Step - Fitting used to locate the heel of a mast.

Moisture content - The weight of water in a specimen of wood expressed as a percentage of the weight of oven-dry wood. Thus this figure can be greater than 100%.

Molds - Transverse wooden patterns taking their shape from the body plan.

Moulding - A pattern or linear decoration cut into a length of timber.

Plank - A component of a strake that is not all in one piece.

Rabbet - Rabet. Rebate. A groove or channel worked in a member to accept another, without a lip being formed.

Rays - Layers of parenchyma cells in horizontal strands running out from the centre of a tree towards the circumference.

Rib - A sample form of frame. This term may be more appropriate than frame, when applied to small open boats.

Rove - Roove. A washer-like a piece of metal, which is forced over the point of a nail before it is clenched.

Scarf - Scarph. Scarve. A tapered or wedge shaped joint between pieces of similar section at the join.

Shake - A crack or split forming in wood, usually during drying or seasoning. ie:
cup shakes - curved clefts between the growth rings
heart shakes - splits radiating from the center of tree
star shakes - splits forming in the shape of a star

Shear - Sheer line. The curve of the upper edge of the hull.

Shear strake - The top strake of planking on a hull.

Shell construction - A method of boatbuilding in which the shell (ie the watertight envelope of stems, keel and planking) is built or partly built, before the ribs and other internal strengthening members are fitted.

Shrouds - Wire(s) leading from the masthead to the sides of the boat to support the mast athwartships.

Skeleton construction - A method of boatbuilding in which a framework of stems, keep and ribs is first erected. This skeleton is then covered by a "skin" of planking.

Spanish windlass - A simple rope and lever device for forcing two elements closer together and holding them there.

Spile - To transfer an existing curved line onto a pattern for creating a matching plank or other wood shape.

Station - The horizontal position of the transverse sections on the Lines. They are used as datum lines when building from drawings and molds are generally made of transverse sections at some or all of these stations.

Stockholm tar - A blackish semi-liquid prepared by the destructive distillation of various trees of the Pinaceae family.

Stocks - Set-up. The temporary wooden support on which a boat is built.

Strake - A single plank or combination of planks which stretches from one end of a boat to the other.

Stretcher - An athwartships length of timber against which a rower braces his feet.

Template - A shaped pattern of an element or section of a boat made of plywood or hardboard, etc.

Thole - A pin projecting upwards at sheer level to provide a pivot for an oar.

Thwart - A transverse member used as a seat.

Timber - An element of a frame or rib. May also be used generally referring to any piece of wood used in boatbuilding.

Treenail - Trenail. Trunnel. Wooden peg or through fastening used to join two members. It is secured at each or either end by the insertion of a wedge.


Brandon Ford said...

Nice list! This is quite a task. Here's a question: What's the difference between Stockholm tar and plain old pine tar? I can TELL the difference, but I don't KNOW the difference.


doryman said...

Well, Stockholm Tar is from Stockholm, ain't it?

Anonymous said...

Stockholm tar is so named because for many years a single company, NorrlSndska TjSrkompaniet, held a Royal Monopoly on its export out of Stockholm, Sweden. Over the years the term has come to mean high quality, light colored wood tar. The actual substance is the same, with the quality depending on tree species and distillation method.

Interesting article on the history of pine tar here -

Chris Partridge said...

I went to Oulu, on the Gulf of Bothnia in Finland, and they are still rather peeved that the tar they produced for 200 years was known as Stockholm tar because it was sent to the Royal Navy via that port. See for more (if you are really bored).

EyeInHand said...

Excellent resource Michael, and I'll refer to it often. I fear, however, you may quickly need to dedicate an entire blog to it.

doryman said...

So Chris, you're saying they are disgruntled military contractors?

doryman said...

Barry, I don't know how much space there is on this new tab, but I assume it's similar to the home tab which is a very generous infinity.

So, if you think of any useful terms, drop me a line.
(please be polite?)

Anne K said...

Dory Man
I am the daughter of the man who designed and built the Teak Ladies at A King shipyard in 1938.
I saw your post about the restored one in Toledo OR.
Please write to me at
Anne Kilkenny

Brandon Ford said...

Mary, you are awesome! Michael... well, you're lucky to be married to Mary. Chris P., thanks as well.

Brandon Ford said...

Here's another one: Is what you are calling a "Dolly" the same as a "bucking iron" or is it something different? A bucking iron seems much more descriptive. It could be one of those regional things, or it could be a shipwright/boatwright thing: shipwright-bucking iron, boatwright-dolly.


doryman said...

I think those terms could be interchangeable. Most of these terms come from the UK along with our US building traditions and it depends on where you learned your trade.
A "dolly" is a helper, which describes the monkey inside the boat.
When I learned this method from my father, it was two ordinary hammers and the little monkey (me) had to know just the twist of the hammer head that would make the nail curl just right or the ol' man would take his hammer to my head.

doryman said...

To further confuse the issue, my dad referred to this as peening, which I understand applies to copper rivets and roves, not clinch nailing.

doryman said...

It's like learning a whole new language! The glossary tab at the top left of the page is more comprehensive and growing.