Archive for July, 2013

With graduate school FINALLY winding down( Its been a long year), I started asking myself what I should start working on as a boat builder without the space or money to begin a new boat. Here is my answer!

As I built my skin on frame kayak two years ago, several things occured to me: First, that the the frame of a skin on frame ends up being a beautiful work of art. Second, that steam bending is awesome, and third, that the frame looked awfully reminiscent of the skeleton of some sort of animal. I decided to start building an idea that has been floating around my head since first building my kayak. If it goes well, perhaps I’ll build more, but initially I’m working on building a framework to evoke the shape of a humpback whale. The construction methods will combine the techniques use in West Greenland skin on frame boat building with European boat building methods. I decided to make it about 4.5 feet long, broke out my battens and drafting ducks, and set myself to work!

To draw out the whale I began by searching for pictures of Humpback whales online. In particular, I was looking for pictures that were directly from the side, or that were from above. I was able to figure out some basic proportions from these pictures which guided me as as I figured out things such as where the widest part of the whale would be, and what its width should be compared to its length. Though I have heard that these whales tend to be somewhat flatter on top than on the bottom, I took a bit of artistic liberty and assumed an oval cross section. I drew in where I wanted cross sectional pieces to be, and an articulated backbone. I knew an oval could be drawn with a loop of string and two nails, so I did some math to figure out how wide to place he nails, and how long to make a loop of string to draw each oval cross section and started cutting pieces out. Everything is bolted together so that after all pieces are bent into place, I can completely take the jig apart inside the framework and remove it piece by piece.


The profile drawing( with a few things in the way).image

The nearly completed building jig.

Currently, I have bent the central top and bottom stringers into place and dowelled them to the nose and central tail pieces. The  I stringers are Oregon White Oak I bought when building the kayak. The nose and tail pieces are from an old 2×4 from the Rebuilding Center that has relatively tight grain. I am keeping sustainability in mind, and it has been great fun starting to see the shape emerge. More to come!


The first two pieces steam bent into place.


Testing the locations of the next two stringers.


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