More on Nick Smith’s latest motor launch

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Nick Smith has written in with some more photos of his current project, which he’s given the working title of Bamboo Viper II, because she’s very much like an earlier boat he built by the same name – you can see earlier posts here and here. Here’s what he says about his preparations for putting in the ribs.

‘BV II is now planked up, primed inside so the frames have paint behind them and less likely to rot out the contact faces between rib and plank. I have located some good New Forest oak and have machined that up ready at 15/16ths of an inch by 9/16ths.

‘I have had to pick and choose to avoid knots,short grain and sap, and despite that usually allow an extra 25 to 50 per cent extra for breakages anyway. It’s a nuisance to run short then have to machine and steam a second batch or even just an annoying one or two to finish off.

‘The oak is ‘green’ – that is wet almost straight from felling. It steams better having moisture inside, and in the meantime the ribs are wrapped in wet cloth and then polythene on the outside until they are ready to go in the steam box.

‘The cost of the material is around £200! English oak isn’t cheap, and amazingly kiln-dried American white oak is cheaper!

‘It’s getting ever more difficult to get hold of all three key components – seasoned planking timber, good oak and copper fastenings. The price of copper has rocketed in the last two or three years.

‘I’ll send some photos of the steaming out process and the planked and framed hull when it’s done – it’ll be a couple of weeks yet. Meanwhile I have jumped ahead a stage or two and machined the gun’ls and risers ready to go in on top of the frames.



Nick comes from Devon, learned boatbuilding the traditional way and specialises in new builds in clinker and carvel for sail, motor and rowing power from 8ft to 28ft with a special emphasis on West Country style and design, and also takes on repairs and refits from 25ft to 50ft. These days he’s based in Hampshire, and can be contacted by email at and by phone on phone on 07786 693370.

Want to learn more about boatbuilding using the clinker technique? Try John  Leather’s book Clinker boatbuilding at the revived A-store.