In theatre terminology, the batten (as taken from meaning as 'a sawed timber') is an element of the Fly System of a stage. It is the long piece of wood or metal that the drops and drapes hang off of, which is connected (usually through pullies) to either a weighted Arbor in the case of a counterweight system or a peg in the case of a dead-hung system.

Battens have plenty of other uses besides battening down hatches. Some specialized types of battens are invaluable tools in wooden boat construction:
  • A fairing batten (usually called just a "batten") is used for drawing fair curves (i.e. splines) on your lofting board, or on the wood you're working. You, the shipbuilder, will:

    1. Make a series of pencil marks on the work surface based upon a series of other measurements.
    2. Nail the batten into work surface so that one edge of the batten is right up against every mark. As you might guess, a nail for each mark is most practical. The natural springiness of the wood does most of the work.
    3. Eyeball the curve produced by the nailed-in batten. If it's not fair, you'll know it; you'll see bumps or valleys around particular nails. Those nails get knocked out and nailed back in in a better place. Sometimes you can simply tap the nail on the side.
    4. Draw the line, when the you're satisfied with the fairness of the curve.
    5. Pull up the nails, put the batten aside, and go on the the next curve.

    You need a more-or-less square strip of clear pine or fir as long as the boat. The grain has to be even so that the strip will bend evenly. The thickness of the batten depends upon how gentle you want your curves to be: the thicker the batten, the less it likes to bend, the more it likes to spring back, and the more gentle the curve will be. For a particularly twisty curve you need a thin (1cmx1cm), light, floppy batten; for a 30-meter-plus ship you might need a 33-meter long batten, 5cmx5cm, made of oak. As you might guess from the state of the world's forests, good battens are hard to come by, so treat yours with respect. Of course, don't be afraid to put a nail through one if you need to!

  • A spiling batten, a wide, flat piece of scrap wood used during "spiling", measuring for points along the edge of a strake (side plank) of the boat. A spiling batten has to be flexible enough to drape across the roundness of the boat, but shouldn't bend in the direction you're measuring the points. A spiling batten needs to be about 1/2 meter longer than the strake you're about to carve. You can glue one up if you don't have a piece long enough.

Good wooden shipwright's battens are really hard to find in large lengths now. The shop that I work in has switched over to fiberglass battens (It makes sense to us because we build fiberglass boats.) We have battens that are about 10 meters long. Since fiberglass is a pretty stable material the batten isn't affected by temperature or humidity. To make a fiberglass batten you'll need:

Once you've acquired the materials and found a good build area you can start to construct your future batten.

  1. Wax the surface of your mold until it is smooth and you are absolutely sure your batten will not stick to it
  2. Cut your fiberglass into strips a little wider than the finished batten will be
  3. Mix about a 2 L of resin and the correct amount of catalyst together in a bucket.
  4. Wet out the strips using a piece of mat then spread a bit of resin over it and place a piece of roving or cloth on top of the mat brush until the white color has left the fiberglass
  5. Lay that on your mold
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 overlapping the pieces of fiberglass
  7. Wet out a piece of mat and lay it on top of the previous ones
  8. Repeat for the remaining length of the batten
  9. Brush the fiberglass once it is in place in one direction to remove air bubbles
  10. Let the batten sit until it is firm and able to be cut by a sharp razor knife
  11. Cut the edges of the batten to the finished size making as long and straight a cut as possible (A straight edge will make this easier)
  12. Once you have done this remove the batten from the mold and sand the edges so that they are smooth and rounded.

Okay you now have a finished batten. this batten will last for decades and never lose it's fair or springiness.

please feel free to /msg with corrections and/or questions.

In the windsurfing sails, the fiberglass or carbon fiber stripes (or rods, tubes) which support the shape of the sail. Battens are tensioned in the batten pockets in the sail almost perpendicular to the mast. In modern sails, usually there are 5-7 battens. Usually they are tapered towards the mast to give more camber near the leading edge (luff) of the sail.

Bat"ten (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Battened (); p. pr. & vb. n. Battening.] [See Batful.]


To make fat by plenteous feeding; to fatten.

"Battening our flocks."



To fertilize or enrich, as land.


© Webster 1913.

Bat"ten, v. i.

To grow fat; to grow fat in ease and luxury; to glut one's self.


The pampered monarch lay battening in ease. Garth.

Skeptics, with a taste for carrion, who batten on the hideous facts in history, -- persecutions, inquisitions. Emerson.


© Webster 1913.

Bat"ten, n . [F. bton stick, staff. See Baton.]

A strip of sawed stuff, or a scantling; as, (a) pl. Com. & Arch. Sawed timbers about 7 by 2 1/2 inches and not less than 6 feet long. Brande & C. (b) Naut. A strip of wood used in fastening the edges of a tarpaulin to the deck, also around masts to prevent chafing. (c) A long, thin strip used to strengthen a part, to cover a crack, etc.

Batten door Arch., a door made of boards of the whole length of the door, secured by battens nailed crosswise.


© Webster 1913.

Bat"ten, v. t.

To furnish or fasten with battens.

To batten down, to fasten down with battens, as the tarpaulin over the hatches of a ship during a storm.


© Webster 1913.

Bat"ten, n. [F. battant. See Batter, v. t.]

The movable bar of a loom, which strikes home or closes the threads of a woof.


© Webster 1913.

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