During July we have made progress with making sections of planking and several new tools that we need to actually fasten up of the planks.

Unfortunately, the defects found in the centre of the log we are currently working on have meant that some of the planks are not wide enough for the sweeping curves of the ends of the ship. These sections will now need to be stored until we come to some of the straighter, thinner sections of planking higher up at the ends of the Ship.

The wavy lines in the way that the log has cleaved are caused by small branches present in the centre of the log probably from when the tree was relatively young. This reduces the available width in the converted plank. No evidence of this was seen on the outside of the tree because the wood had grown over and completely covered these short branches.

Volunteers have been fitting (but not fixing) more of these plank sections to the hull. These are the first garboard planks that will be fastened to the backbone or keel. The process includes cutting each scarf joint, using an axe, which will allow these to sit fair against the existing sections. These will, in due course, all be caulked (waterproofed) and rivetted up.

To drill the hole for these fastenings we have made breast augers – similar to the larger ones made for drilling holes for trenails – and an experimental bow drill (insert photo 5). This works by the friction of the bowstring turning the body of the drill and, with a bit more experimentation, we hope to have a drill which will be a bit more efficient and more able to get into tight spaces than the breast auger.

Work on the 1:5 scale model continues. Volunteers John Cannon and Clive Cartmell have now fitted eight strakes per side (in 5mm plywood for ease of use) and the thickened oak sheer strakes are now being prepared.

This has required some experimentation with a taper to the thickness of these strakes to take the width of the tholes on their top edge (thought to be three inches at full size) they are some 15mm thick at 1:5 scale, but the lower edges are known from the archaeology to have been 1” thick to match all the rest of the planking. This change in thickness requires some form of taper across the width of the strake which needs to look both aesthetically pleasing and take account of the need to accommodate 6” spikes fitted vertically through the planking to attach the tholes. The archaeology only shows the inside of the planking – hence the exact cross-section and profile of this taper is not known. This is yet another example of where we are having to reverse engineer aspects of the Ship’s construction and consider both the likely aesthetics of the Ship and the constructional requirements.

We hope to have timber for the replacement underloute delivered in the next two weeks so that we can start preparing the replacement section. Once we have a date for the felling, I will travel to Hainault with our Project Manager to see if we can also identify some of the curves that we need in the branches of the underloute trees. Wherever possible we aim to use every inch of the trees we find.

Finally, a big ‘well done’ and many thanks to all the volunteers and staff – production crew, crew mates and others – who have coped remarkably well with the recent very hot (for England!) weather.