Featured image: CGI reconstruction of the London.
Most of the warships, especially the very largest, would have been built in the royal dockyards, since no other yards had the infrastructure or the manpower to support such endeavours. Historians think that scaled plans were being used by the 17th Century. During construction in English yards, the main frames were all fastened to the keel and raised before work began on floors and planking. Each frame was made of three main sections; the floor timbers crossing the keel, the futtocks below the waterline, and the top timbers. The planking process progressed roughly at the same time as framing, being reinforced with bands of timber than ran the entire length of the hull.
The most common type of fastening on warships was the ‘treenail’ which was a wooden peg slotted into a hole. Gunports (holes for the cannons to fire out of) were cut in the planks on the sides of the ship. To make the hulls strong and watertight, they were caulked (sealed) with oakum, a substance made from old sails and ropes boiled down. Planks were coated with ‘white stuff’, a substance made from resin, brimstone and oil. Deck beams inside the ship would have been supported by pillars, with a lattice framework fitted over them to form the decks. The whole structure had to be strong enough to support the immense weight of the ship’s ordnance and to withstand the force of the cannons firing.