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Archive for September, 2013

After some debate about what boat to build next, I decided to build the very elegant Shearwater by Joel White. Several considerations went into settling on this design; not the least of which was the fact that I will need to get it out of a window that is only 4’7″ wide and 22″ tall. Never mind that the window currently has a few bars over it and isn’t set up to open. It will. I thought about renting a space and working to build a larger and more capable beach cruising sail and oar boat( perhaps Tirrik or the Arctic Tern?), but given current budget constraints I decided to stick to something smaller that I could build at home and with just a bit of luck even have completed for spring sailing( In my experience life can have a way of slowing down the process in unexpected ways). I also like being able to wander down to the basement to pick away at the process whenever I’ve got a spare couple minutes.

Looking over the plans it looks like it will be a fun build. It does not have many pieces. Only three planks per side and minimal frames. It also has some unusual details such as the ‘rangs’- the diagonal frames at each end of the boat. The plans look thorough, even though there are not step-by-step instructions included. When needed I’ll probably first consult Ultralight Boatbuilding by Tom Hill or the Clinker Plywood Boatbuilding Manual by Iain Oughtred.

Looking over the plans, I saw that most of the frames will be laminated fir, so before I even begin building the strongback, I’ll have a fair bit of laminating to do for both the frames as well as the stems. As pieces start coming together, I’ll keep my progress posted. Also, for anyone out there who has built one, I’d love to hear from you, and to hear if there were any steps of the process to look out for!

imageIf you zoom in and read the text closely, you will be able to see where Joel White tells you not to drill pilot holes through your fingers.

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Apparently I also build Waldorf movable classroom style benches. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who was just hired to teach at a tiny brand new school in Portland called the Living School let me know that they were asking for quotes from people who could build them 12 benches. As part of the project, the school was interested in finding ways to include the students in their construction. Naturally, as someone who recently earned a masters in teaching but who also got into teaching initially through substitute teaching for my former wood shop teacher, and as someone who is currently under employed, I was very interested! I wrote up a quote describing how I would create a series of kits, assemble one myself and then assemble as many additional benches as possible over the course of a day with the students. A week later, I found out that I received the commission!

Among other things, it was a great excuse to go out an buy myself a router (I picked up a used Porter Cable 6911 off of craigslist), and I set myself to work. I was given some basic dimensions to work with. The benches were to be 4 feet long, have an 18 inch wide top, be 15.5 inches tall, and have ends that were 14.5 inches wide. I decided to use long course threaded screws for the ends of the stretchers with finish washers, and pocket screws to attach the top. Ah yes, this was also a good excuse to but a pocket screw drilling jig. The wood is all birch plywood except for the 2 by 4 lower stretcher. This project also happened to be a great way to put my still new-to-me table saw to the test ( A Delta TS300 bought off of craigslist for $200). Perhaps it is a little loud, and perhaps it could use a bit more power, but the fence and additional width I can rip boards to is a massive improvement over my ancient Atlas saw. With less than 20 hours of work I had all the pieces cut and routed for 12 benches, as well as the first one assembled.

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Last Thursday I went into the school, and had the opportunity to assemble benches with the the students which range from kindergarten through 3rd grade. I had the school round up additional drills and safety glasses, and we ended up with a drill for almost every bit we were using, which was awesome. It turned out to be a beautiful day, so we worked outside. All the pieces were cut to shape, but I had the students do almost all of the drilling. The students were great, and I had so much fun! I was usually working with a group of about 3 students, and had them take turns drilling holes and driving screws. I had a variety of jigs to show where the holes needed to be drilled on the end pieces and to hold the stretchers in place as they were attached. I also had students using clamps, grabbing pieces, and sanding all day long. My favorite image of the day was the small girl with the big ol’ safety goggles using the big ol’ 18 volt Dewalt drill. You can see it below. I LOVE IT! And I think they loved it too. Every student seemed to have a great time using the tools and assembling the benches. It was great to see how we could meet each student where they were at with the use of the drills to make sure they felt included and like they contributed to the construction of these benches.

In the end we might have gotten fewer benches built than I had hoped, and there are ways that it could have been structured differently to be more efficient, but the way I did it. all the students were able to watch the full assembly process of at least one bench. They watched the whole process from pieces of wood in a variety of different piles to something they could sit on as well as flip over and walk across the balance beam central stretcher. In the end I took home and assembled the last few kits myself. The school also asked me to apply the finish to them, so on Monday the assembled benches will be delivered to my house, where I am thinking about applying a few coats of Watco and a layer of paste wax. Regardless though, Thursday was a fantastic day. I’m going to toss it out there, if anyone has the need to have another series of benches built and wants to involve students, I would happily do this again!

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Love it!

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Last week I finished the whale! As usual, it took longer than expected, but I think the results are worth it. Bending the ribs into place was an interesting challenge. As expected, I broke a number of pieces before getting them all into place, and had to experiment with different thicknesses especially near the front where the cross section becomes flatter. The ribs are pegged at each end and lashed in the same way that the stringers were lashed on my kayak. To finish it, I first fumed it using ammonia cleaner for eleven and a half hours. I oiled the entire thing with two coats of linseed oil, and finished things off by waxing outward facing surfaces. It was a great project, and I’m happy with the results.

A few pictures of it fully assembled before and during finishing.image

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And here it is completely finished. Currently, it resides on my living room wall, though I’ve been thinking about finding a show to enter it in.
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