Archive for December, 2010

One of the things I do when not working on boats is turning wood. For Christmas this year I turned a number of bowls. Though they are obviously not related to boats I wanted to share them. I have been thinking about starting an Etsy page to try and sell some of them. When I start that page, I will add a link to it from this site.

The two bowls I have included pictures of below are carved from spalted maple I got from a coworker of mine at Oregon Mountain Community. I carved them on my Rikon mini lathe.


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As you can imagine, I am always working on some sort of project. Here are a few of my current boat related projects. I will be posting more about each of these projects as I make progress with them.

Spline weights! Aka ducks, aka whales. I made three of these with lead cores and walnut cases early in the fall. The lead I acquired from the letterpress/ book arts studio my girlfriend is a part of. They have a large bin of damaged lead type which I was able to raid for 40 lbs of lead (enough for 10 spline weights). I cast the first three weights using a simple fir and plywood form. The walnut shells are what I grew up calling bandsaw boxes (though I used a tablesaw). I was able to get 5 partially completed spline weights from my middle/ high school shop teacher. They were cast by his predecessor and never finished, so he gave them to me to finish and use. Those are the white spline weights in the picture. At some point I will make 7 more walnut spline weights. At that point I will take more pictures of the process I use to make them.

I made the spline weights with plans to begin designing my first sailboat. Here it is in profile. I will be doing an additional draft of the hull shape to increase the displacement at the designed waterline a bit. My goal with this design is to take the basic look of the 18 foot modified sharpie skiff documented by Howard Chapelle and to create a handsome smaller day sailor which would also row reasonably well. The LOA is about 14 feet, while the LWL is about 12.5 feet. I have worked to increase the deadrise near the bow for a finer entry to the water and to decrease the potential for pounding. The beam at the waterline has also been kept fairly narrow while preserving secondary stability with considerable flare in the sides. I have it designed with 90 square feet of sail area laid out in a gunter sloop rig. In particular I found myself attracted to the flexibility, relatively high aspect ratio, and short spar length offered by this configuration. Many people will also recognize the influence of Iain Oughtred’s designs.

Last project I will introduce in this update! I am working on a sort of rigging/ hacking knife. I have a good friend with a forge he occasionally fires up, which I took advantage of one day to hand forge the blade from a scrap piece of steel. The blank started out narrower and thicker than it is now. The blade is between 1/8″ and 3/16″ thick. The blade was shaped on a stationary belt sander while fully annealed and the handle is from scraps of walnut I had laying around from making the spline weights. I am planning to pad the interface between the full length and depth tang of the blade with thin pieces of leather to make up for the slight unevenness of the hand forged blade. I am planning on riveting it all together with a couple of copper pins.

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Thickened epoxy has been used to plug the stitch holes and further fill out any seams that needed it. On the bow and stern Joseph added more material to work with when he rounds them over.

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Some pictures from early in the build process, in my old garage. These were taken by Joseph and are from late fall or early winter of 2008.

The first strips. The inner stems have already been laminated. The pile of strips, all coved and beaded, can be seen to the right of the strongback.

Emily and I working on gluing the first strips to the inner stems.

Three strips on each side.

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My first round of pictures will be somewhat incomplete, so bare with me as I fill the collection out a bit. As many of you know, it took a while to finish this first boat, and part way through the project I moved into the granny flat I live in now. There will soon be pictures from the old garage, for now we start with the boat on top of Joseph’s car during the somewhat nerve-wracking task of moving it to the new place. Though it is not particularly visible, there is a large football-shaped gap in the planking in the bottom of the boat.

Here we have just wet out the 4 oz fibreglass boat on the boat with epoxy. We did a seal coat before fiberglassing to keep the potential formation of air bubbles to a minimum.

After the fiberglassing we did 4 additional coats of epoxy to fill out the weave of the cloth before sanding the outside smooth. It took a lot of sanding. Once it was smooth we pried it off the molds and got to work on the inside.

Me (right) and Joseph sanding the inside.

What fun! Here sanding and fiberglassing has been completed, and the outer gunwales and bulkheads have been glued in place. I decided early on that I did not want to see the thickness of the fiberglass and epoxy between the rails and the blocks spacing out the inner rails. To do this, I cut what might be best described as a rabbet the length of the rails so that they are actually L shaped in cross section and have a portion covering the top of the planking, and a portion on the outside of the planking. This was not recommended by any book I have seen, but I like how clean it has left the tops of the sides.

Fitting the breasthooks. I glued the breasthooks up from three pieces of wood in the fashion suggested by Tom Hill in Ultralight Boatbuilding. The inner and outer stems were cut down to the top of the planking, so that with the gunwales sitting partially on top of the planking, I was able to fit the breasthooks in with a sharp point at the front. If I had attacted the gunwales flush with the top of the planking, the top of the inner and outer stem would have either been visible or I would have had to build the breasthook on top of the planking and gunwales. I feel like my solution to the problem is strong while also being very clean aesthetically. If that description was not clear enough for anyone who really wants to understand what I am talking about, feel free to e-mail me. I’ll make a diagram.

Breasthooks glued in along with the spacer blocks, inner rails, thwart/ seat back, and seat runner allong the bottom. Here the breasthooks have also been planed and sanded flush with the top of the gunwales. They were glued in so they stood proud, and a certain amount of crown was left in them.

Varnishing the bottom.

On top of my car before launching.

Me with my first boat at the very informal, late evening launching. For those of you familiar with the area, that is the Selwood Bridge behind me, and we are just south of Oaks Park.

Paddling Abigail for the first time.

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The sanding is nearly complete on the one side of the kayak, and I feel the progress warrants a new picture. Joseph said it is a bit tricky to sand well, because the epoxy is harder than the wood, while those are also the high spots which need to be sanded down. Without being careful there is the potential to end up with low spots in the middle of the planks which would not help the performance of the finished kayak.

In other news: Stay tuned, I will soon be adding a bunch of pictures from building Abigail.

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