September / October 2021

Building a Tolman Wide-Body Skiff: Part 3

A rugged, handsome, and easy-to-build boat
Tolman Skiff

The Tolman Wide-Body skiff is 21’ LOA and can be outfitted in a number of different ways. The New York–based client for this boat chose a center-console configuration.

In this installment of our series describing the construction of Renn Tolman’s Wide-Body Alaskan Skiff, we plank the topsides and begin building the interior. (The following photos are numbered to pick up where Part 2 left off.)

Photo 45. To hold the chine shelves to a fair shape, I temporarily screwed a 2×4 on each side, as shown, to support their straight after sections. This also guided the forward pieces into fair curves to the bow. I left the 2×4s in place until the topside planking was finished.

With the chine positions supported, I proceeded to the side framing, which is made from 2×4s ripped in half to be 11⁄2" × 13⁄4". I cut the pieces a little long, rounded their inboard edges, and sanded them. The end bevels were measured in place and cut to fit, following Tolman’s specifications on page 112 of his book Tolman Alaskan Skiffs for spacing. My aftermost frame was centered 2' 6" forward of the transom, with two others spaced on 5' centers. These spans may seem lightly supported for their length, but the heavy spray rails added later provided reinforcement.

I added one more frame forward of 1×4 stock, centered 5' aft of the bow. In his book, Tolman showed how to fit and fillet the bulkhead for the forward flotation chamber and stowage locker directly to the bottom and topside planking. I thought it would be best to have a frame to strengthen that construction. I installed the frame pieces on both sides at the same time, fitting them to a straight batten clamped square across the boat to assure their alignment, as visible in the photo.

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