Scenes from Today

StemformTransomScarfingSqueezeoutFireI was trapped at home by the snow today so I got a running start on the Pooduck.  Boy am I sore!  Without a power planer and bandsaw I'm going to be doing a lot of hand planing, and that sure is a workout!  At least now I've gotten a hang of sharpening the blades.  It's no use getting them too sharp though, because they'll just get dull again. 

Progress today:

Constructed the stem form out of two layers of 3/4 in plywood screwed together with drywall screws.  The edges are covered with packing tape to keep it from sticking to the epoxy.

Cut out the blank for the transom out of 3/4 in Hydrotek.  I transferred the full size pattern to the plywood by punching along the lines with an awl, connected the dots on the plywood, then cut it out with a jigsaw.

Beveled the panels for scarfing.  The boat bottom panel is cut out of a 12 x 2 ft sheet of 3/4 in plywood that is scarfed together out of 8 ft panels.  It's an 8:1 scarf, so the plywood is beveled 6 in at the joint.  Paying attention to the appearance of the plys is the key to getting the bevel even. 

Glued up the strips to make the laminated midship frame.  Look at all that epoxy squeeze out! 

Last pic: Plywood scraps make great fires.

Laminating Yellow Cedar

Ripping_1PlaningLaminationIt was such a dry, sunny and beautiful afternoon.  I spent it sawing the 16 ft board of yellow cedar into thin strips for the midships frame.  First I ripped it with a circular saw, then with the table saw.  I finished just a little after dark, working outside. 

It is amazing what people will come up with as far as workspaces to build a boat.  I've heard of people building in basements, dining rooms, and carports.  A friend of mine even rented a 10 x 20 ft mini storage unit to build a Pygmy Arctic Tern 14.  It had one bare lightbulb for a light source and a single electrical outlet outside.  The light was on a timer and would only stay on for 20 minutes at a time.  It got very cold in the winter. 

It just so happened that right after I finished cleaning up outside and moving the work inside to the workshop it started snowing heavily.  It is still coming down now and I don't think I'll be able to drive up the hill to go to work tomorrow.  Oh well, they'll just have to do without me!

The strips are between 1/8th and 3/16 in thick.  It was very frustrating making them because my table saw is not very precise.  As much as possible I try to get away with using cheap tools. 

I clamped the strips together on a bench and planed them to even out the widths, then bent them cold and worked them carefully around the midships form.  It's a dry run before I join them together with thickened epoxy.  How's that for a lamination -- it's at least 3.5 in thick.  The epoxy will add even more thickness.   After the epoxy cures the resultant "blank" will be cut to match the midships frame pattern, then planed and sanded smooth. 

Midships Form

Kayak builders will be interested to know that there is no fiberglass used in the construction of this skiff.  None.  Then how do you protect the wood from abrasion and moisture?  The answer is to use high quality rot-resistant marine plywood.  The finish is going to be paint on the outside hull, maybe varnish on the sheer strake.  Epoxy is used in the joints but will not be necessary for the finish.  It may require a coat of paint once a year, depending on use. 

I got my plywood today from Edensaw, the local purveyor of fine marine lumber.  It's meranti Hydrotek.  I had originally asked for sapele but they said that meranti and sapele are basically the same as far as rot resistance, but sapele is darker, harder, heavier and more expensive, so I went with the meranti. They even delivered it for free! 

AwlThe instructions to build this boat come from the book  How to Build the Shellback Dinghy, which is essentially the same boat as the Pooduck Skiff, but smaller.  It is an excellent book, written with step-by-step clear and concise instructions and useful photographs.  I am also using the book  How to Build Glued-Lapstrake Wooden Boats which is extremely detailed and a little difficult to get through, but fills in the gaps left in How to Build the Shellback Dinghy.  The plans come with full size patterns for the forms and stems.  Just attach the paper to plywood with pushpins and punch through the pattern with an awl, remove the paper and connect the dots.  No lofting required!

Midshipform1Building these boats requires the construction of a lot of forms and jigs.  Today I put together the form for the midships frame (that's just construction grade plywood in the pic).  There is only one frame, and the plans call for it to be laminated out of several 1/8th in thick strips of fir.  The process involves slathering the strips with epoxy, then clamping them together around the form.  Since I have a big slab of yellow cedar that's been sitting around for a couple years I'm finally going to saw it up and use it.   It should bend a lot easier than Douglas fir.  I always thought it was too good to use for any of my previous projects. 

Midshipform2Damn -- I still don't have enough clamps!

PootlesprogressHere is a pic I found of a finished Pooduck Skiff from Pootle's Progress, a blog written about the construction of the Pooduck, including some pictures (of the interior and while sailing) of a finished boat.  I love the black and yellow paint job.  It'll look even better the older it gets.  Shabby chic.

Unfortunately, the builder stopped writing in the middle of planking his own boat and the blog hasn't been updated since March 2006.  Hey, whatever happened to that little sail boat you were building?

New Project

WorkshopPooduckskiffWell, it's finally time to get started on this year's boat building project.  This is a picture of my empty little workshop.  I don't think it has ever been so clean.  Of course minutes after I took this picture I unloaded a bunch of lumber and supplies for the next boat.

I think if you are planning to start a challenging new endeavour it's a good idea to tell all of your friends and family and even announce it to the whole world.  That way you are committed.  Say it loud, often and with conviction.  That way you might even convince yourself that you'll really get it done.  Then the consequence of not finishing will be a lifetime of people asking you, "Hey, whatever happened to that big project you were working on?"  It's very motivating.

After a little research I've decided to build the Pooduck Skiff, a 12 ft 10 in long sailboat designed by Brooklyn naval architect Joel White.  It is supposed to be easy to row, sail and build -- a great little boat all around.  These little dinghys are so unpretentious.  It really is something that I would use just to putter around in a light breeze with the kids during a warm summer afternoon.  By the way, Joel White was the son of EB White, author of Charlotte's Web.

Does this have anything to do with kayaking?  Well, I think it brings me back to the reasons I got into kayaking in the first place, which started as a family activity with Beatrice, our triple Pygmy Osprey.  I've since concluded that sea kayaking is simply not a family activity.  The big reason, other than safety issues, I think, is because of what I call the "wet butt" effect.  Unless they are really motivated, kids (and most adults for that matter) just don't like to sit in a puddle.  I'm hoping a little open sail boat will be more inviting -- plenty of room, dry seats, no fear of getting stuck in a small cockpit, and no need to paddle.  It has all of the joys of kayaking with none of the work!

NwschoolFor those of you who dream of going to boatbuilding school I found this great video on the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding at Port Hadlock on Google Video.  It was quite a surprise finding it because Warren has a cameo!  Also be sure to check out the blond chick in the scarf.  And I bet you thought only old retired guys went to boat building school!