The next step is to assemble the pieces which make up the actual keel of the boat. The main section, and the two parts making up the stem, are provided in two halves which must be glued together after releasing them from the sheets of wood they were cut from. The stern post (not shown here) is laser cut from a much thicker sheet and is one piece, rather than two halves.
Here you can see the separate parts of the keel being glued together. In order to align the pieces properly, it is recommended that you lay them over the plans. I have placed a thin sheet of cling film over the plans themselves in order to prevent adhesion due to excess glue being squeezed from the joints.
Once the keel is assembled, you need to cut a groove along the full length to take the edge of the lower-most hull plank. Along most of the keel, the groove is marked by two laser cut lines known respectively as the bearding line, and the rabbet line. The lines have not been inscribed into the stern post, unfortunately, but the groove needs to extend through this as well, so I have used a pencil to continue the guiding lines.
Here, you can see where I have begun cutting out the groove on the first side (it needs to be cut on both). The laser cut lines are actually quite deep, so, except at the stern post, some of the work is done for you already.
I use a thin modelling knife to deepen the laser cut lines as necessary, and then a very sharp chisel to lever out the strip of wood in between. This is a bit tedious and will take a while, but avoid trying to rush as it would be quite easy to go too deep and damage the section of keel above the groove.
After the plank groove has been cut into both sides, you need to sand down the stem to give it the correct ‘blade’ shape. The plans mark the are of sanding with two lines and I copied these onto the stem itself with a pencil. Here, you can see the job just before being completed. Later, the rest of the keel will need a bit of sanding to round out the edges, but this can wait until after planking.
The chisel leaves the keel groove rather rough and we need to smooth it out so that it will take the plank properly. For this task, I used a narrow file, followed by an emery board.
To finish the jig, we need to place the keel on to it temporarily. The keel is NEVER glued to the jig, and here I have used several clamps to hold it in place, The keel is positioned so the that rib notches carved into it line up with the corresponding notches in the bulkheads.
In order to properly hold the keel in place for installing the ribs and doing the planking, a pair of stem blocks are provided. These are glued to the base board against bulkhead number one and positioned so that the hole cut into each lines up with the hole in the stem. A dowl, or the like can then be slid though the holes to hold the stem firmly. Here, I have used a piece of brass rod which just happens to be the perfect size.
The kit also provides two blocks known as ‘transom horses’, which are glued to the base board on either side of the stern post. Engineer’s Squares are used to make sure they are properly vertical, and perpendicular to frame number fifteen. These ‘horses’ are used to position the transom on the stern post.
The plans indicate that it may be necessary to add stock to the transom horses, or else sand them down so that their slope matches and is in the same plane as the stern post. Here, you can see that the transom horse edges extend aft just a little bit further than the sternpost, so I ended up having to do a bit of sanding.