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miércoles 22 noviembre 2017



Bertan > Our boats > Construction types. Clinker and carvel building
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Construction types. Clinker and carvel building


In this region, the characteristic clinker-built hulls of the Eu-ropean Atlantic began to be replaced by flush-built hulls in the period leading up to the Renaissance. The two building techniques are conceptually opposed. Whereas in clinker building, the outer planks of the hull are overlapped and an internal structure added afterwards, in carvel building, a technique which has survived to the present day, work begins with the skeleton; this is then covered with planking which is “carvelled” or joined together at the edges. There are advantages and disadvantages to both techniques. The main advantage of clinker is that freshly felled or green timber can be used to build the hull, without requiring a sealing process. In carvel-built hulls, much more precise design of the shape of the ship made it possible to optimise capacity. This feature was particularly appealing for ships plying the new trading routes to the Americas and Newfoundland.

Replica of a nineteenth-century fishing potina built by the
Albaola association. The construction of flush-laid hulls at Basque
shipyards was fully developed during the Renaissance period,
replacing clinker and lasting down to the present day.
Replica of a nineteenth-century fishing potina built by the Albaola association. The construction of flush-laid hulls at Basque shipyards was fully developed during the Renaissance period, replacing clinker and lasting down to the present day. © José Lopez
Caulking tools; for inserting the oakum between the carvelled
planks.
Caulking tools; for inserting the oakum between the carvelled planks. © José Lopez

Caulking tools; for inserting the oakum between the carvelled
planks.
Caulking tools; for inserting the oakum between the carvelled planks. © José Lopez
Carvelling. It is important that the wood used to build a flushlaid
hull should be relatively dry. Before launching the boat, the
joins between the planks are filled with plant fibre; once it gets
wet, the wood will swell, ensuring that the hull remains watertight.
The smooth hull has the advantage of moving smoothly and
stealthily through the water.
Carvelling. It is important that the wood used to build a flushlaid hull should be relatively dry. Before launching the boat, the joins between the planks are filled with plant fibre; once it gets wet, the wood will swell, ensuring that the hull remains watertight. The smooth hull has the advantage of moving smoothly and stealthily through the water. © José Lopez

Clinker-building. Because the strakes of the hull overlap, they
can be thinner, giving a lighter vessel. Moreover, green or recently
felled timber can be used. However, the relief on of the hull causes
turbulence during sailing, with a characteristic noise; as well as
affecting the hydrodynamics, the sound can betray the vessel’s
presence to potential prey, such as whales.
Clinker-building. Because the strakes of the hull overlap, they can be thinner, giving a lighter vessel. Moreover, green or recently felled timber can be used. However, the relief on of the hull causes turbulence during sailing, with a characteristic noise; as well as affecting the hydrodynamics, the sound can betray the vessel’s presence to potential prey, such as whales. © José Lopez
Model of the launch belonging to the Consulado of San Sebastian. A clinker-built hull is easy to identify; the overlapping strakes give her an outline which is recognisable from a distance. Small official and military vessels were frequently kept on land and were therefore often clinker-built, so that they could be launched at any time without problems of watertightness. © José Lopez
Model of the launch belonging to the Consulado of San Sebastian. A clinker-built hull is easy to identify; the overlapping strakes give her an outline which is recognisable from a distance. Small official and military vessels were frequently kept on land and were therefore often clinker-built, so that they could be launched at any time without problems of watertightness. © José Lopez

The Urbieta wreck. This was an ore-carrying pinnace from the
second half of the fifteenth century, excavated in Gernika (Guernica).
The vessel, which was entirely clinker-built, comes from the
last period of the use of this technology which was completely replaced
by the carvel-built hull over the following century.
The Urbieta wreck. This was an ore-carrying pinnace from the second half of the fifteenth century, excavated in Gernika (Guernica). The vessel, which was entirely clinker-built, comes from the last period of the use of this technology which was completely replaced by the carvel-built hull over the following century. © José Lopez
Cracking the plank along the grain in Aezkoa
Cracking the plank along the grain in Aezkoa. © José Lopez

Scene from King Sancho the Strong's Pamplona Bible (1194).
(Harburg-Oettinghen Manuscript). The use of the axe by ship's
carpenters predated the use of the saw to make planks. Instead, the
logs were opened up by inserting wedges, first with the help of
mallets, to break up the logs and then cracking them along the
grain of the wood, with the axe. Finally they were smoothed out
with smaller hatchets.
Scene from King Sancho the Strong's Pamplona Bible (1194). (Harburg-Oettinghen Manuscript). The use of the axe by ship's carpenters predated the use of the saw to make planks. Instead, the logs were opened up by inserting wedges, first with the help of mallets, to break up the logs and then cracking them along the grain of the wood, with the axe. Finally they were smoothed out with smaller hatchets. © José Lopez
Basque axe, made by the Erbiti family in Leitza, Navarre.
Basque axe, made by the Erbiti family in Leitza, Navarre. © José Lopez

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