December 3, 2017 § Leave a comment
When I last posted, I was in the process of creating the loon inlay and adding strips. Well, the loon is done, and I’m still laying strips.
With the treatment of the football, things are getting interesting again, at least more interesting than simply laying strips. The effect I’m trying to get with this build is the same as I did for an earlier one:
So here it goes.
At first, I placed two glued strips along the center line. Towards the bow and stern, the edges are beveled a little so that they create a slight angle. Then it’s a matter of alternating light and dark strips. A note on the design is that the dark (and light) strips form a continuous line, which decreases as you get to the center of the half-football. The following picture gives you an idea.
At any rate, it’s a finicky bit of business, dry-fitting the pieces, making sure the tapered ends of the strips meet the neighboring strip properly. The other thing to note is that it’s crucial that the two strips that form the center line are exactly in the center. I know too well how a minor miscalculation throws off the design (whereby the points of the football half don’t line up with the other half-football on the other side). Fortunately, things are working out.
That’s it for now.
October 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
This is the fun part of the build — laying strips and watching the canoe slowly take shape. This particular build features a loon inlay.
For the first ten or so rows, I used straight strips (in other words, no bead and cove), partly because the sides of the boat are upright and the strips sit nicely against each other, mostly because I don’t want to router a bunch of strips if I don’t have to. When I get close to the curve, I router one row that is cove only. This, then, helps me transition to the bead and cove until I get around the curve.
When clamping, bar clamps work best before the hull starts to curve. When you get to that point, the pressure of the clamp can force the strip away from the form. So when I get to the curve, I employ a variety of tools.
Bungee cords work great. I place the cord either inside or outside the hull depending on where I need a bit of extra force. Note that I use the bead part of a scrap strip to protect the cove. The blue clamp is there to press the strip against the form. In the second photo, I’ve used a C clamp and a clamp with a scrap piece of cedar to keep the bar clamps from pressing the strip away from the form, as the force at this point is as much out as down. The clamp with the wooden bracket (on the left) works to keep the strips against the form, but the downward force is seldom enough by itself to do the job well. In the third photo, I’ve used a longer bungee to wrap around the newly glued strip (again using scrap bead pieces to protect the cove). When I can’t use bar clamps any more, I use bungees almost exclusively.
And that’s about it for now.
August 27, 2017 § Leave a comment
Now that the weather is growing cooler, it’s a perfect time to start a new build!
Much of the weekend was spent on prep work — setting up the forms, ripping strips, and fashioning the internal stems.
After an embarrassing mishap with the router last year (the finger has recovered), I decided to invest in some safety hardware to keep my digits away from spinning metal. To that end, I purchased some board buddies to keep the boards down and tight against the fence, and my fingers clear.
I have to tell you, they worked like a charm and I was able to make quick work of (hopefully) enough boards for the canoe. As well, because there is so much variability within the same board, I made sure to keep adjacent strips together.
For the internal stems, I used some left-over cedar strips from another build. I floated them in the bathtub in hot water for several hours to make the strips more pliable (I really have to rig up a steaming device).
Next steps: beveling the stems and starting the build!
March 25, 2017 § Leave a comment
While I wait for the garage to warm up before fiberglassing the deck, I thought I’d update on the progress thus far and mention some mistakes that I’ve made. It seems that no matter how many boats I build, I’m constantly learning and often relearning lessons.
The last post saw the hull being completed. Here it is just before it was fiberglassed.
For the deck, I decided on a maple leaf motif and a set of stripes aft of the cockpit.
The stripes that run off the deck align with the stripes on the hull, so it’s a pretty cool effect.
Now, in terms of lessons learned or relearned…
Glue lines drive me crazy. Most can be eliminated by sanding properly and while they are hard to see, wetting the surface usually causes them to jump out, giving you the opportunity to sand them away or using an iron to heat the glue, rendering it transparent. Knowing this, you’d think I’d be building glue line-free boats these days. Unfortunately, no. And while there are relatively few visible glue lines, where they do appear is annoying knowing that I could have averted this problem had I been less impatient.
It’s nothing critical and probably won’t be too visible when all is said and done, but it’s a lesson relearned… Don’t rush.
The other mistake has to do with wood selection. I use 10′ strips that I join using a scarf joint. I’m pretty careful that I join strips from the same end of the board to avoid wildly different grain and color at the joint. Usually. At any rate, I had 2 joined strips left over from the hull and used these for the outside strips of the deck. Dry, the strip looked pretty contiguous, but when I put the seal coat of epoxy on, I realized that I’d been napping when I’d joined the two pieces. As a result, the color of the joined pieces is very different.
Again, it’s nothing critical, but it still rankles.
That said, I’m pleased with the overall look of the boat and look forward to playing with it this summer.
So, on the eve of fiberglassing the deck, that elusive “perfect boat” still eludes me.
Oh, and another lesson learned: protect the hull against drips when glassing the hull. Thankfully, I remembered that one!
December 3, 2016 § Leave a comment
Okay, so it’s been a long time since the last update. Since I’m now into the sanding phase and I prefer blog updates (and just about anything else) to sanding, I thought this a good time to show some highlights.
In this shot, I’m just finishing up the football. Rather than strip on half of the football, cut along the centerline, and then strip the other half, I do both halves at the same time. This is the same technique as I used on my last canoe (see Starting the football). Apart from the finicky cuts, it enabled you to better match the color of the strips on either side. If you’re wondering about the bungee cords and clamps, this is the best way I’ve found to keep the strips firmly against the forms.
Of course, by the time you get to the last strip, you have to create a very narrow, slightly curved piece that you have
to size perfectly and insert into the gap. It’s a lot of fiddly work with the block plane, but the end result looks pretty good.
And finally, with the hull done, we’re into the seemingly endless task of sanding. There are the usual gaps I have to fill in with epoxy and wood dust (aka dookie schmutz). Because this kayak is a bit lighter than the last one and dookie schmutz tends to be pretty dark, I’m going to try mixing some baking flour or talc into the mixture. We’ll see what happens.
September 29, 2016 § Leave a comment
Just when I was getting worried that the growing armada of boats in my garage would prevent me from building another kayak over the winter, my newest build (see pics here) found a new home. Of course, it had to happen the day before I was to take it along on a camping trip, but what can you do?
Now that it’s cooler, a man’s mind turns to thoughts of stripping. But before that can happen, he must make the necessary preparations.
And so I mounted the forms on my trusty strongback, made sure everything was aligned properly, and it was off to the races.
This build features a sheer clamp as shown below.
The sheer clamp is made out of a 3/4″ x 7/8″ length of cedar which is rounded on the inside edge.
The instructions suggest using finishing nails to fasten the sheer to the forms, but I find that drywall screws keep everything nice and tight against the form. Just be careful that you don’t drive in the screw too much as this will crack the sheer. And yes, I am speaking from experience.
Next, I set about fashioning the internal stems. For these, I used discarded lengths of cedar strips. I floated them in the bathtub for a day to make them more bendable. Even then, the stern caused me a little trouble with the outside strip cracking a little because of the pronounced curve of the stern mold. Next time, I’ll plane these strips a little thinner, as I normally do for the outside stems, to make them complain less at being bent.
For the inner stems, I used Gorilla Glue between the strips, which has never failed me before. The glue leaves a crusty foam, but this is easily removed.
Next steps: shaping the stems and preparing strips.
It’s good to be building again.
February 25, 2016 § Leave a comment
In the last post, I described drawing the design on a length of vapor barrier. In this post shows the result (in progress).
Essentially, I ran two strips (consisting of light cedar sandwiched between walnut) down the center of the deck. At a certain point, the accent strips split and then meet again at the stern. Before I physically split the accent strips, I stripped the edges of the deck with cedar (overlapping the line where the accent strip would be). Then I transferred the line to the cedar and sawed off the excess. With thickened epoxy, the accent strips were affixed to the edge of the cedar. Finally, I started stripping the center of the deck with some Douglas Fir that I had. The contrast between the cedar (which darkens a lot under epoxy) and the fir (which doesn’t) should look pretty cool.