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Step 5: Making a Wooden Blank

Ok so lets get to making the blank, the first step is to trace out the stringer template on each piece of lumber. I tried to keep the order of the lumber the same so if there was any warping the pieces of wood would fit together similarly (hopefully). When tracing out the template I made sure to look for parts of the lumber that had the least amount of knots and inclusions. When tracing out the template the ends of the stringer (nose and tail) were extended to the ends of the lumber and also the mid point was marked. The reason for this is it makes lining up the templated lumber easier and ensures everything will be square.

After tracing, using a jigsaw each piece of lumber was cut to shape. A bit of a gap was left between the blade and line so there would be extra wood to make up for any variations between each template. Square up the ends of the boards and then using a combination square extend the stringer template lines across the end grain of the lumber. See the pictures or video as it becomes clear once viewed instead of reading about it.

Next is to screw the templated lumber together to create a rough blank. This requires some thought and planning as I made a mistake and ended up with a few screws protruding out one of the boards, not a big deal since the lumber I am using has a lot of knots and different variations in color but if you were using more homogeneous or expensive wood I could see it would be a bit disappointing.

The pieces of templated lumber were lined up and clamped together temporarily so the paper surfboard template could be traced out onto the block of lumber. I lined up the mid-point line and the lines at the nose and tail ends of the lumber. Before tracing out the template there were a few high bumps so I used a hand power planer to level those areas.

I started by screwing from the middle stringer outward on one side and then the other side. Then the two pieces at glued together at the stringer with a tiny bit of wood glue. The reason for this is so the screw heads will be hidden and it avoids any large holes if were just to screw the lumber together starting from one side to the other. The screw heads have to show at either the left most or right most piece of lumber.

When screwing the boards together try to keep the screws between the top and bottom of the traced out stringer (in the middle part is best). If the screws are too close to the bottom or top, you run the risk of shaping into it especially when shaping near the rails. Pay attention near where the traced out template is, keep at least 1" away from those areas with the tip of the screw. I needed a few different lengths of screws to do accomplish this.

Once the two halves have been screwed together, I used used a few dabs or lines of glue to hold the two halves together. Do not use too much glue or you run the risk of not being able to take it apart later, this is only a temporary glue joint. Clamping was accomplished by using a few bar clamps and some ratchet straps. Ratchet straps are a very cost effective way to clamp large objects!

Once the glue sets, it's time to start shaping. I started by using my power planer and flattening the bottom of the blank. You want to get the bottom as flat as possible, remove the wood so the left and right sides of the stringer template match up. I should mention that it is important to level your stands so when you are shaping you can use a level to check that the deck of the board is level. When levelling the deck of the blank make sure check for evenness with a level.

When removing material around the deck of the nose, it is necessary to turn the hand power planer so it runs crosswise against the pieces of lumber. Once the blank is flattened and squared, re-trace the template onto the blank. Then using a jigsaw with a long blade cut out around the template. Clean up the edges of the blank with the power planer.

This is what a rough foam blank would be like if you purchased one, except this one weights 10 times more!