Preview: Louie Sauzedde and “Tips From a Shipwright”

May 12, 2016

Avatar Maynard Bray

We thought you might enjoy the videos below from Louis Sauzedde.

Louis is one of the most experienced and ingenious boatbuilders we know. He’s also skilled at explaining how he does things and why. Many of his Tips From a Shipwright videos are on YouTube, and in addition to those we've selected here, we recommend you check out the others.

In the following videos, Louie covers many techniques, mostly concentrating on his repair of a couple of old and hurting Herreshoff 12-1/2 footers. You may not own the same boat or have the same issues, but we can assure you that you'll be able to apply a few of Louie’s “tricks” to whatever work you’re facing.


Part 1: Analysis of leaking backbone timbers where the stem meets the keel—scarf joints that were previously, but inadequately, repaired:

Part 2: Removing paint to expose screw locations using a chisel (instead of a scraper) along with a heat gun. Exposing screws for removal using an awl followed by a custom tool to clean the slots. Shows typical screws being removed from frame heels and floor timbers. Using a screwdriver edge to clean countersunk holes. Using a reefing hook to dig out seam putty. Removing caulking cotton by twisting, then pulling. Finally, prying off the old plank:

Part 3: Sawing away the lower part of the stem and the forward end of the keel to make way for a new forefoot. Using blue tape to guide the sawblade-equipped angle grinder. Finishing the cut with a handsaw. It’s a potentially dangerous, but very effective, operation. Video concludes with explanation of how the new forefoot piece will fit in:

Part 4: Making a pattern for the new, longer forefoot using the old piece that’s been removed as a guide, then extending it to reach and join the keel with a scarf:

Part 5: Louie successfully laminates the new oak stem-and-forefoot piece around a jig. Both surfaces of each laminate are spread with glue using a notched trowel, the glue having been mixed right on top of the plastic bench cover:

Part 6: Installing the new forefoot piece by gluing the scarfs at each end (to the keel and stem). Uses TotalBoat’s pre-mixed thickened epoxy. (Unclear if the scarfs also have stopwaters installed afterwards.):

Part 7: Making and installing new floor timbers based on patterns whose edges are defined by blue tape stuck to a cedar spacer. Lifting off bevels and marking them on the pattern. Ingenious method of accurately transferring the cut lines onto the oak stock via a magic marker. Louie’s bandsaw is set up for progressive (aka changing) bevels, and he can make these sophisticated cuts single-handed. Marvelous bandsaw work:

Part 8: Video begins with the new floor timbers in place, and goes on to show an accurate pattern being made for the new plank using sticky tags, so that the pattern can be used rightside up. Uses magic marker for an accurate line:

Part 9: Fitting the new plank, which is a shutter, and adding caulking bevels to it while laid flat on the bench by using a slipboard. Shows how existing hole in frames can be reused by the new screws, using dividers to transfer the hole locations. This avoids weakening the delicate frames by drilling new holes in them:

Part 10: Fairing the new plank and new forefoot to the rest of the boat, first using a power plane, then finishing by hand with a block plane:

Part 11: Caulking the new plank seams with cotton. Louie first rolls the cotton, then knifes it into place before setting it with a caulking wheel. Afterwards, he sets it further in with a small caulking iron and mallet. Describes the tools he uses, and offers a good explanation of driving caulking cotton efficiently with a small iron:

Part 12: Making an exceptionally wide seam watertight with a glued-in batten to fill most of seam—one edge only glued to an existing plank; the other edge caulked. The glued edge is first pushed against the plank by temporarily (and gently) caulking the seam below it:

The REMORA series

Overview of the damage and discussion of how to replace it:

Getting uniform seams by compressing the edges of cedar planking:

Beveling the mating edge of a new plank and backing it out. Also, using a slipboard with the plank laid flat, to plane a square edge:

Tightening loose rivets that hold the sheerstrake to the sheer clamp:

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