External stems

December 23, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’ve completed the first round of sanding, but left the ends unsanded ahead of installing the external stems. Because I’m not equipped to steam wood, I thickness planed the strips of ash until I could bend them without fear of breaking the strips.

The next step was to notch the hull where the stem starts. Then it was a matter of applying thickened epoxy (epoxy and wood dust) to the hull and between individual strips. The sandwiched strips are then fastened to the hull using drywall screws. I’ll remove these later, expand the holes, and fill the holes with pieces of dowel.

Next steps are to shape the stems, more hull sanding, filling gaps with thickened epoxy, and then on to fiberglassing.

 

Let there be dust…

December 19, 2017 § Leave a comment

The stripping is done and now we’re into the dust.

Overall, I’m happy with the progress thus far. I’d wanted to add another arc to the design on the bottom, but the fates were against me. Uncooperative strips, the difficulty of getting a proper fit while battling the curve, and finally the lack of dark stock. In the end, I finished the halves with straight runs of lighter cedar parallel to the centerline. It’s not exactly what I wanted, but still looks nice.

The next steps are filling small gaps with epoxy/wood dust, installing the outer stems, a lot more sanding, and then (hopefully early in the new year) fiberglassing.

That’s it for now.

Stripping and the Football

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:

a_hull1

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.

a_hull3

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.

 

 

 

 

Progress and Clamping

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.

New Canoe Build

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.

IMG_1446

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!

Finishing the Deck

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.

z_finished hull

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.

z_glue

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.

z_matching

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!

z_ready for glassing

 

Finishing the Hull

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.

clampsIn 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 courlast-piece-2se, 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.

 

 

 

 


sanding-hull-2

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.