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Making and Using Tools - Layout and Measuring Tools

  Ticking Sticks - Duplicating Curves by Bob Smalser 1 of 2  



Ever have to scribe fit

a kitchen cabinet

to fit a wavy and

out-of-plumb wall?



How about fitting a bulkhead or partition-wall panel into the inside hull of a yacht or ship? Can you scribe fit a curve as high as 7 feet and as deep as 3 feet? And in a space where nothing is square, little is plumb and level changes constantly with payload and wind?

Welcome to the world of interior ship joinery sans lasers and computers, and file away another handy but simple, old-time skill for when you may need it.

I took a half hour and got out some scaled-down panels, sticks and battens to answer a question on how to build bunkbeds into the inside curve of a yacht hull. Now there are plenty of yachts sufficiently slab-sided for simple scribe fitting to work. But not this one. This one is a 180-ton ocean-going tug being converted to a family liveaboard. The space in question is around 7 feet high with a bulge in the outside wall around three feet deep. Time to get out some ticking sticks.

First some old-time jargon. Woodworkers “make” or “build” objects and their components. Boatbuilders and shipwrights “get out” parts as components of a “build”. What y’all call a “ceiling” in a house isn’t the same thing in a boat. Boats have “overheads” instead. “Ceilings” in boats are the interior lining of the hull, in this one softwood planks. “Floors” in boats are framing members similar to the joists above your house foundation. What you walk on in a boat is it “sole”.

A vertical template is clamped temporarily next to the curve in the ceiling your new panel has to fit. Find a distance that fits both curve and template and mark it on the ticking stick. Here I'm using 16 1/2". Draw the line and distance from several points on the curve to the template. For more complicated profiles you can use multiple distances and even make your ticking sticks from wooden yardsticks

Remove the template to your work area, align it to your bulkhead or bunk panel and simply transfer line and distance to marks.

Learn how. Discover why. Build better.
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