Building the TotalBoat Work Skiff: The Inwales & A Banana


Episode 28 finds LouĀ making beautiful cuts on a banana to offer his sageĀ advice on how to get to the best grain in a log. He is seeking this premier part of his timber to find the best piece for his inwales on the TotalBoat Work Skiff. (The Inwale is a horizontal timber binding together the frames along the top strake.) Join us in the Open Door Boat Shop for this latest installment of skiff making magic! As usual, Lou has lots to offer as he gets the skiff closer to completion.

Watch the whole series – all 28 Episodes – right here on our playlist. And comment below with your questions for Lou!

15 responses to “Building the TotalBoat Work Skiff: The Inwales & A Banana

  1. If it didn’t matter the shape of the curve, why didn’t you run your skillsaw with the guide parallel with your first rail? To me it doesn’t make sense to cut a completely different curve from the other edge. What am I missing?Job

    1. Although Steve’s response is certainly correct, I think the more important objective is to end up with inwale planks approximating “vertical grain” as closely as possible. The slab that Lou started with, like his banana slab, is essentially “slash cut” from the outside of the log but even at that the edges of the slab have the grain more aligned with the thickness direction (more “vertical grain”). The center piece he discarded is flat or slash grain with the grain more closely aligned with the width direction. Still a nice piece of wood but not as strong and more subject to weathering/checking. BTW, I grew up in and worked in several lumber mills in Northern California’s Redwood country as did my father and both my grandfathers.

  2. Thank you for the tips on how to fit the inwhale. I am building a 16′ dory and just finished the planking, inwhales are next. Your videos are very helpful. Thanks Again.

    1. @JohnL,

      I think the idea is to follow the grain of the wood as closely as possible. Because the trunk is slightly tapered, the curvature of the grain on one edge of the plank is different from the curvature on the other edge.

  3. I really love watching the videos of Lou in his boat shop. He pays attention to so much detail, which is very impressive. I have learned so much about boat building and work working from these videos, that I feel much more confident working on my boat restoration projects. Great boat shop, too! Do you think he will ever finish that sailboat?

  4. I own a construction company because I love building things with my hands. I rebuilding a big old sailboat and I’ve found that I love the process almost as much as I love sailing. Working with your hands has lost the respect and joy that it used to have and the trades have suffered because of that so thank you Lou for bringing the magic back!
    I really appreciate all the “tricks of the trade” and the patient pace that he uses to accomplish beautiful workmanship.

  5. Glad to see that the entire series will be available for viewing. Maybe a CD with all episodes would be marketable.

    Over the length of the series I notice that Lou doesn’t bother spending money on frequent haircuts. In so many ways just like my dad, a carpenter.

  6. I get a real kick out of listening to Lou’s commentaries. This must be the first time I have seen a banana used in boat carpentry, very descriptive.

  7. I grew up watching my uncle build mullet boats in fla. and always appreciated when the boat finally started coming together and looking like something. most of the homemade work boats and skiffs in fla. are plywood boats and take a lot less time to assemble than this guy. it’s very cool to see a boat go together like this and all its detail just getting to where it is. looks like a solid boat. and I enjoy watching the show. great job Lou and thanks for good Entertainment

  8. I’m really interested in watching that boat come together. Love the lines and shape. Do you have an estimate re: how much it will weigh when completed?

  9. Hey, Louis. A series like this would be great on PBS. I suspect Roy Underhill of “The Woodwright’s Shop” would be interested.

    The most counter-intuitive step in this process, to me, has been the transverse placement of the bottom planks. Initially, I expected longitudinal planking to be attached under these boards to be in line with water flow. Could you share your thoughts on the trade-off between cost/time/weight savings (plus any other advantages) of transverse orientation vs. the (presumably) increased hydrodynamics of longitudinal orientation?

    Secondly, given the transverse placement, 2 details surprised me: 1. the factory radius wasn’t completely removed from the plank corners – to minimize potential turbulence running over the water; and 2. the plank edges weren’t jointered to an angle in order to butt tight on the rising forward section. Your thoughts on these details would also be greatly appreciated.

    My apologies if these questions arose earlier and I missed them. Thanks so much for making this enjoyable series.


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