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Production Notes – The Boats

I shaped my models in bass wood one at a time by hand. The roughest shaping was done with a ryoba hand saw. The rest of the shaping was done with a small draw knife, rasps and sandpaper.

Recently, I read a very interesting account of how the Star Yacht boats were shaped in the factory in Birkenhead. The company received their timber in the form of logs. The logs were debarked and milled into usable pieces that were then turned on a lathe into bullet shapes. These shapes were then left to dry in fishing nets that hung from the ceiling of the factory. When the bullets had dried they were sawn in half to form two hulls. This is a very ingenious system and after looking at my old models it is clear that the hulls are horizontally symmetrical and were clearly made using this process.

Each Star Yacht hull is a single piece of wood that the steel keel is embedded in. I was always curious how this process took place. Now, after learning that the hulls were shaped in pairs on a lathe I am envisioning a jig similar to a common cross cut jig on a table saw. The jig would be specially designed to hold the round shape of the bullet. One pass with the blade in a high position would cut the bullet in half creating the two hulls. A second pass, with the blade in a much lower position, would cut a slit in the bottom of each hull. This slit would accept the steel keel.

With my own boats, I glued two blocks of wood together to create each single hull. Before glue-up I removed a small amount of material from the inside of each block to create a chamber that would later accept the steel keel. This system worked very well since I had chosen to complete the work using only hand tools. It also worked well to use two blocks of wood because it created a full length seam at dead centre. This seam was invaluable while shaping the hulls freehand.


— Chris Boyne

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