Ian has commented on how long it should take to to plank a float: it should be done in about two hours. I wish either that I could do it that fast or perhaps the truth is that I wish I had the guts to do it that fast. I didn't do my first float half in two hours -- maybe 6-8 hours, but I was going slow. A couple parts of the process I found semi-frustrating, I'll detail those as I go. I do think I'll be a lot closer to two hours next time. It is definitely not rocket-science. And always remember, "you're not building furniture".
First thing was to mount the keel strip, easy enough:
- Hold the blank in place, flat end against the deck mold piece, pushed down as close to the battens as possible, and make a mark about where the blank should be cut to fit against the keel strip.
- Go cut the blank at the mark.
- Push the blank into the float mold, and re-trim the keel cut as necessary. At this point I was only aiming for the keel cut to be "close enough", or maybe just a shade too long.
- Take the heat gun and use it to heat up the plank while molding it against the battens. Outside temperature was about 35-45 degrees F, so conditions weren't the best and the corecell was slow to heat up and mold. I didn't time myself, but if memory serves I was spending at least 8-10 minutes on each plank.
- Once the plank was reasonable curved into the right shape, I would then turn my attention to the keel cut. The plank foam is supposed to meet the keel foam at the angle given it from the battens; it's your job to miter that join so that the two foam pieces meet evenly. I may have been too anal about this, but it was certainly the most frustrating part for me. Kinda hard to use any kind of precision mitering tool (at least I couldn't think of a way, and precision isn't really called for), so I ended up just using a RO sander: I'd eyeball the joint, then sand down the keel end of the plank to about where I think it should be. Test-fit, then repeat as needed. On a couple of planks, too-much sanding\mitering resulted in the planks no longer meeting the the keel foam at all; these I re-did and saved the blank for a shorter section of the float half.
- Once a plank was as good as I could get it, I took a cordless drill and drilled two screw holes through each batten so that each hole was an inch from the sides of the plank. This goes fast.
- Then I would grab a handful of screws and get one started in each of the holes from underneath the float. Then it was just a matter of holding the plank down with one hand from above, and running the screws up and in to the foam with the cordless drill from beneath. At first I was using temporary clamps on the foam, but quickly discarded that step. The F22 float planks are short enough and narrow enough that you can do the job by hand.
- I was not edge-glueing as I went. For now I've butted all of the edges together, and will cut a groove later on between them.
- Things to look out for: 1) don't try to squeeze a slightly-too long plank into the mold; when I did this, it would push against and sometimes distort the keel foam; 2) make sure your screws have adequate holding power. The screws I have been using do not penetrate the foam very far and I sometimes had problems with foam under tension pulling out from the screw, unless I had adequately heat-formed it into place; 3) consider planking the float without the deck mold plate in place (see Ed's site for example) and just cut it to fit after all planks are in. I will do this on my other float halfs.
Here's a picture at the beginning of the job:
(I seem to be missing a shot of the fully planked float half, will add one to this post later.)
Other float-related things I've done already are 1) make the chainplates (haven't cut it into two yet); 2) vacuum bag all float bulkheads, plus transoms; 3) make up all 4 stringers, and 4) cut enough 3/4" x 3/4" deck support angle pieces for all four float halves. So there's a big pile of stuff ready to go.