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.
February 7, 2016 § Leave a comment
So much for my vow (to myself at least) to be a better blogger. The fact is that a lot of the steps I would have written about have been covered in other posts, so I want to avoid being redundant. Sounds better than admitting to laziness, eh?
At any rate, I’ve started work on the deck, but before I get into that, I thought I’d include a few snapshots of the hull. The first picture might give you the impression that I want to camouflage the kayak as a leopard, but the reality is that there were a few (okay, more than a few) gaps between the strips. I’ve read that this isn’t uncommon and I know that these little gaps won’t be evident once the blotches are sanded off, so I’ve included the picture in the spirit of transparency. In my first few builds, I used to fill screw holes on the stems with the same stuff I used to fill gaps (epoxy and sawdust). This looked ugly because the epoxy was always darker than the ash that I used for the stems. Now I drill out the holes and glue in short lengths of dowel that are later cut off and sanded down. It’s still visible, but less gross looking. And finally, there’s a picture of the hull being fiberglassed.
For the deck, I decided to use a template. To this end, I stapled a length of vapor barrier to the forms. I then bent a scrap length of cedar and traced the line onto the plastic with a sharpie. I then traced this line onto the other side of the plastic and then folded it open to reveal two matching halves.
The idea here is to have an accent strip of that consists of a pair of: two thin walnut strips sandwiching a light cedar strip (imagine an oreo cookie). From the bow, these pairs of three thin strips will split, approach the gunwales, and then join again at the stern.
September 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
Looking back over the blog, I realized that the last build took over two years. Two years! Of course, a lot of things happened over that time (not to mention sheer laziness and a Netflix account).
Happily, I have the bug back and a certain renewed appreciation for wood therapy. And so I invite you into my shop (garage) for my next build — a Resolute 16’6″ kayak, based on plans from the good people at Bear Mountain Boats.
Why a kayak? Well, over the summer I came to realize that I don’t like sitting in canoes and my knees don’t like kneeling. A kayak, on the other hand, is far more comfortable if you ignore the painful clumsiness of an old fart trying to get in and out of the thing.
Why 16’6″? Because that’s just about all the room I have.
At any rate, the plans soon came and I set about cutting out the forms….
…and aligning them.
For this build, I decided to add an accent strip of alternating light and dark triangles. I think it’ll look pretty sharp. The one important thing to remember, if you choose to do something like this, is to make sure the triangles are aligned on each side. You certainly don’t want one side to end on half a light triangle and a third of a dark triangle on the other. Alignment was far more finicky than I expected. But in the end, with a bit of effort and some choice vocabulary, I got it done.
When I’m building the sides, I usually start with butt joints and then transition to bead and cove when the hull starts to curve (with a transitional cove-only strip between). Click here for info on making the strips. Of course, towards the middle of the boat the curve came into play a little prematurely, so I beveled the transitional strip where necessary.
I prefer using bar clamps to keep the strips together. The problem is that with too much pressure, the strips tend to buckle/accordion away from the forms. To combat this, I use C clamps to add some support where the strips meet and bungee cords to keep the strips tight against the forms. Note that I also use pieces of 1/4″ doweling to protect the coves.
(A note on the last picture: it’s a non-alcoholic beer. I learned early on that you shouldn’t drink and build boats unless you want a WTF moment the next morning).
That’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch.
September 3, 2015 § 3 Comments
For me at least, boat building is often a solitary affair. I suppose it’s no surprise; after all, I wouldn’t want to see me strip either. Strangely. the “stripping” tag always seems to drive traffic to the blog for some reason.
At any rate, I’m at the point now where it’s time to fill the football. Because the last canoe worked out so well, I’m planning on using the same pattern for the kayak — alternating light and dark strips that form a continuous line around the circumference of the football halves. Of course, the kayak is narrower than the canoe so I have less width to play with. Hopefully it works out. The following picture from the last canoe will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
It’s a cool design and spares me the challenge of stripping half of the football, cutting a straight line and then trying to match the wood color from side to side. That said, it’s a finicky bit of work, but the end result makes it worthwhile.
So here is the football and twinned center strips that run down the length of the hull. At this point, it’s a good idea to measure the distance between the center strips and the edge of the completed hull on both sides to make sure that the space is the same. As well, this is one of the few spots where I use finishing nails to make sure the center strips don’t move as I’m stripping the football. These nails will be removed when the football is finished.
Note that the two center strips are not beaded. I used a butt joint, beveled towards the bow and stern to accommodate the shape of the form. The middle of the hull is pretty flat, so no beveling was needed.