Roughing Out the Carlins and Gunwales

Last time I build a Scamp I experienced some trouble when it came time to bend the carlins and gunwales.  I’ve written about this experience here.

This time, I’m hoping for a less dramatic experience.  I also decided to try a different species of wood.  Last time I used vertical grain Douglas Fir.  This wood is known to split, especially if you take a router to it.  After thinking through this, I decided to try Poplar.  Poplar has 3 characteristics that might lend favorably to carlins and wales:

  1. It’s almost entirely knot free and very smooth grained
  2. It’s light in weight
  3. It’s very soft
  4. It’s very affordable at $2.50/ board foot

Check it out:

The Poplar boards I found locally was nearly 16′ long and 10″ wide.  They were heavy and awkward to handle.  There was no way I was getting this big board on my power jointer.  Instead I decided to try using a hand plane, like your grandfather used.
I read an article on self reliance and its inspired me to buy some hand tools in the event of a power outage.  Hand tools were the way all woodworking was accomplished not very long ago.   This inspiration all came from Christopher Schwarz book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” (google him for some excellent reading).
The Lie-Neilson No. 7 is a very large hand plane and I can’t say I use it a lot, but for this big board, it was just the ticket.
I own 5 Lie-Nielson hand planes and I will say they are all a joy to use.  Buy once and you’ll have them for the rest of your life.  New technology won’t make them obsolete.  This absolutely can’t be said about your computer or cell phone.  As you know, they’re all throw away purchases, usually within 5 years.

Once I had one square and flat edge, I ripped the boards on my table saw.  The gunwales will be 1,1/2″ x 7/16″ while the carlins will be 1,1/8″ x 7/16″.

I used my Ridgid planer to bring the boards down to their desired thickness.
I planed the boards outside to keep the shavings out of my shop.  It took a while…
And, here are the light weight little birdies.  Notice how the grain is so clear.  I think these will work great–fingers crossed.


I plan to router the edges every so slightly using an 1/8″ round over bit set at a shallow depth.  My theory is that rounding the edges tends to keep the board from splintering when you put a bend on them.  And, don’t forget to let the boards vote which way they want to bend.  They’ll tell you if you listen carefully to their needs.  


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