Batten fabrication

My my my… I just noticed that I never posted anything about making the battens for the Trac 16 mainsail… OOPS!  So much for continuity and flow.

marking battens

Getting ready to use the power planer!

I located some 1.50″ by 0.25″ pine stock at Home Depot, which looked pretty good (meaning it was long enough, and would fit into the batten pockets!).  I used the miter box there to cut them into my pre-measured lengths, and left a 10º angle on the forward ends to match the sewn pockets and plastic end protectors.

Carrying them to the car, I suddenly realised that these wood strips were literally stiff as boards, and, unless I was making a Chinese Junk sail, were going to be way too stiff.  I tried thinning and tapering one of them with a pad sander, but, other than getting a numb arm, it didn’t do too much.

Thus, the Power Planer mentioned in a previous post came into my life.  Having never used one, I figured that I’d be lucky not to ruin a couple of the battens, but the tool was actually pretty easy to use… pretty much like a belt sander with real bite.  I marked the battens with lines at about 10, 20, 30, and 40% from the leading edge, and used the planer, taking off 1/32″ with each pass (one side of batten only) starting at the 10% mark, and moving back.

Tapering batten stock

Tapering the battens

With proper clamping on a 6′ table, this was pretty easy to do.  After the initial cuts, I thinned out the batten stock a little more, back to about 65% of length.  This tapering left me with battens that naturally curved into a proper airfoil shape, allowing the sail to set well.  Note that I did not taper the top batten at all, as it acts as sort of a gaff, but I may make another with some taper to it as an experiment in improving flow.  In the end, I was very pleased with the results, I got a lot of pine chips mixed into my yard mulch, and I’ve decided not to use the planer as a cheese grater.

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