Lofting is a technique to move from a table of offsets to a set of full sized plans from which you work to build a boat. Many different things can be derived from the lofting process, but probably the most useful thing is almost subliminal – you get a feel for the boat you are about to build, the frames, the shape and how you are going to go about building it.
Lofting is a technique mostly associated with boat building, but can apply to the creation of any structure where there are a load of curved lines – such lines do not really lend themselves to mathematical calculation and even when you think you’ve got it cracked you may find that some lines do still have a curve and need fairing. Lofting is particularly useful in boat building, when it is used to draw and cut pieces for hulls and keels. These are usually curved, often in three dimensions.
Traditionally loftsmen at the mould lofts of shipyards were responsible for taking the dimensions and details from drawings and plans, and translating this information into templates, battens, ordinates, cutting sketches, profiles, margins and other data, however now it is possible to digitise drawings and reproduce them by computer. This is progress, however it is just possible that this takes the builder a step too far away from the project and away from the feel of what he is creating. Lofting on a full scale basis is still my preferred route to take as I still have a feel for the size and shape of the scantlings and don’t sit there looking at a computer generated component wondering if it will be large enough and strong enough and finding myself blindly trusting a computer programme I have had no part in creating. Yes, I will probably build a little heavier than ideal, but then the sea can play those tricks same on you as well and just when you don’t want them!!
(Source of definition: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lofting)