Wooden Boat Terminology

Spanish Galleon - vintage wooden boat

As wood boat specialists we are often asked about terminology. What does that mean? How do you say that? What exactly is the correct term for that thingy I am talking about? Here is a list of common wooden boat terminology. Feel free to add in if we have overlooked any.

Definitions – Wooden Boat Terminolgy

  • Keel – the underside fore-aft backbone of the boat running at the very bottom of the structure and usually the heaviest timber
  • Horn Timber – the aft part of the Keel connecting between the Ballast and the Transom
  • Deadwood – A filler piece between the Keel and the lead Ballast at the bottom of keel appendage
  • Frames (also incorrectly called Ribs) – the vertical timbers than run in opposing pairs at regular intervals along the Keel making up the sides of the boat and providing the hull shape
  • Floors – timbers running over the Keel to connect each set of Frames to each other and to the Keel.
  • Sheer Clamp  (or just the Clamp) – a fore-aft timber on each side connecting the top of each set of Frames to the Deck Beams and defining the sheer line of the vessel
  • Transom – board forming the stern of the vessel
  • Ballast – the lead or iron weight bolted to the bottom of the keel and shaped to be part of the bottom line of the boat (sometimes incorrectly called the keel)
  • Knees – reinforcing pieces of wood, metal or other material to provide additional support and strength between the Deck beams and Clamp
  • Deck Beams – timbers running athwartships connecting the top of each set of frames to prevent the hull from spreading apart and to support the deck
  • Carlins – fore and aft support deck beams which which support the outside of openings in the deck for cockpits, cabins, hatches
  • Jack Beams – short Deck Beams which connect the Carlins to the Frames
  • Breasthook – triangular piece of reinforcing wood connecting the front end of each of the port and starboard Clamps to the Stem (front end of the Keel)
  • Quarter Knees – reinforcing wood that connects the trailing edge of each Clamp to the Transom and Deadwood