Butt sawing (for carvel planking)


Levelling the facing edges between the planks of a ship to be able to caulk them evenly.

How can the shipbuilder make the seams between adjacent planks even in order to be able to caulk in the most efficient and easy way?

"Plank" in this context means a hull plank. A strip of the ship hull from stem to stern which can consist of one or more planks.

In the first section we look at what implements the shipbuilder uses for this and in the second part we analyse the successive operations.

Saw: A saw with a large hole in the end of the saw blade through which a handle can be inserted.

Handle: A handle that allows the saw to be operated by two people. It is important that a strong and sufficiently long object is used so that it can be held by both hands. The handle must also be made in such a way that it wedges into the hole in the saw blade. In the example shown this is resolved easily by tapering the handle.


Before running through the seam between two planks with the saw, the shipbuilder must determine the thickness of the caulking that he will use. The thicker the caulking the wider he will have to make the gap to allow the caulking to fit into the seam. If he wants a thicker seam then he will have to use a saw with a thicker saw blade. For more details see "Caulking".

The saw blade is pushed between the seams (image 1).

An assistant is located inside the ship

The assistant holds the end of the saw blade by both sides of the handle that is inserted into the hole in the saw blade (image 2).

The actual butt sawing; The butt sawing can now be started (image 3). By both people operating the saw, pushing and pulling in turn, the unevenness between the two planks is evened out and sized. After this operation the seam is ready for caulking.

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Tools Required

  • Saw
  • Handle

Materials Required

None applicable