The millennium-old profile cut into the plank edges of Norse boats had a recess for the rivet heads, and as flanked by grooves.Photos and video by the author

A millennium-old profile pattern cut into the plank edges of Norse boats has a recess for the rivet heads and is flanked by a pair of grooves.

There can be a lot of scrambling around on a small boat, so it’s best to take the curse off the edges of all the bits of wood. The rounded corners will not only keep the your shins and knuckles intact, they will also hold on to varnish and paint longer. You could just take a quarter-round router bit to everything, but the softening of all the edges blurs the sweet, sweeping lines that make a wooden boat such a pleasant study. Putting a bead on an edge rounds the corner and adds a small groove that creates a crisp yet well-protected accent line. Risers, inwales, and outwales all have sweeping curves that carry this decorative element well. A slightly more intricate treatment for plank edges has a long history. Traditional Norse boats have at their planks’ edges a decorative molding that dates back over a 1,000 years. The tool used to cut the molding, a strek høvel (strake plane), is a U-shaped piece of iron with a wood handle spanning its ends. The cutting edge was at the center of the curve and appears to have done its work by scraping rather than shaving.
The curves of this cutter match two Dremel grinding bits. It took only a couple of minutes to repurpose this bit of hacksaw blade.

The curves of this cutter match two Dremel grinding bits. It took only a couple of minutes to repurpose this bit of hacksaw blade.

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