Archive for the ‘Fiddlehead’ Category


Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Finishing is going smoothly, with only a slight detour.

cetolMy choice of finish is “bright” for the interior and decks and paint for the hull. There are lots of options for “bright,” and I decided upon one that is closer to work boat than show boat. For a show boat, one can tediously work up to 12 coats of fine varnish. That’s beyond my patience, and I want to get in the water some time this century. Instead, I decided to use Sikkens Marine Cetol, an alkyd resin that builds much faster than varnish. Three coats will do instead of twelve. I know the stuff is tough because I helped my son strip some of it off a rustic swing last summer. Tenacious stuff! Looking back on notes I took while at the Wooden Boat School, I was amused to see that Greg said this about Cetol, “The first coat will scare you.” Yep. It does. The first coat is uneven and blotching from the way the material sinks in. It evens out with additional coats. Cetol has a bit more pigment, resulting in an amber cast that’s not as clear as plain varnish.  The photo shows two coats.

paint colorsThere’s a slight delay for the hull paint. I ordered, and received, it way back in April. One small problem. Wrong color. Kirby is a brand of marine paints that is now being run by the 4th or 5th generation George Kirby. I saw Kirby color chips, real ones, last spring and decided on a color. When I ordered from Jamestown Distributors, I sought out that color … as indicated on the tiny little swatches on their web site. That was a mistake! The swatches Jamestown uses are not correct. Before opening the can, something prodded me to look at Kirby’s online color chart. Ouch, the #37 Permanent Green that I ordered was not the #12 Bottle Green I wanted.

Jamestown’s policy says they will authorize returns within 30 days, but not for certain items, such as paint. Yet, even though this was paint and the order well beyond the 30 day period, they said “send it back.” No questions, no fuss. They have always treated me well, and going beyond the letter of their policy is better than I expected. Thank You Jamestown Distributors. The correct color is on a UPS truck somewhere.

Lesson: Check and double check, maybe even triple check, paint colors and be very careful about what you see on web pages. Going back to those class notes, I found “#12 Bottle Green” as a marginal note.

Last Laps and Other Small Jobs

Monday, August 24th, 2009

fine caulkingLapstrake construction often wants a sealant applied where the laps meet. The sealant / adhesive of choice for this boat is 3M 5200, the “white goop” that easily, and tenaciously, gets all over everything. The boat’s designer wisely advised against using 5200 for the full length of each lap while planking. Looking back, you’ll see that I only used adhesive on the gains areas near the ends of the planks. Deferring the lap caulking made for a much neater job. It’s done this way: Use the tip of a screwdriver to make a shallow groove (about 1/8 inch) along the join of each lap.  Then, fill that shallow groove with 5200. The technique works very well and avoids a big mess. To make it easy, I used a syringe with a quite small tip rather than the large nozzles usually found on caulking tubes. The same technique was used for the 5200 along the laps and for the simple acrylic latex caulk along the coamings. Oh yeah, the corner of a credit card is perfect for shaping these fine caulk lines.

A couple of other small jobs. …

seat mount rivetsThe brackets that mount the seat back are designed to have rivets through them to prevent splitting when lifting the boat by the seat back. A few inches of #12 copper electric wire and a few roves provided the raw material. Tap tap tap did the rest.

rub stripsHalf-round brass rub strips at the base of each stem offer a bit more protection and wrap up the last of the small assemblies. Well, maybe the penultimate small assembly. I’m considering a cane seat instead of a simple cushion but haven’t decided yet.

Harry specs the 12 foot Fiddlehead at 46 pounds weight when built as he does. My lumber is slightly different and I wondered if it would add extra weight. Without paint, the boat now weighs 47 pounds. Not bad. Actually, much better than I anticipated.


Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

The backrest will help transfer some energy from paddle, through the body, and into the boat. A footrest helps even more.

footrestIt’s adjustable. The rail attached to the boat’s bottom has 5 10-24 nuts spaced along its length and epoxied into recesses. The footrest itself can be moved along the rail to the desired positioned and fastened down with the knob which, of course, holds a 10-24 threaded rod. Making it from white ash was straightforward. Drilling holes for fastening into the bottom of the boat offered a bit of tension.

This was the last structural component. Finishing is next.


Monday, July 20th, 2009

The boat has no seat. The paddler sits on the bottom of the boat, or a cushion of some sort. I might do something about that later. There is, however, a back rest. One needs something to brace against paddling effort.

backrest shapingbackrestThe backrest is pretty simple, an 8-sided, tapered bar with a couple of curved pads. All parts are white ash. The pads were curved by boiling for a few minutes and then clamping over nicely curved surfaces, which just happened to be chair backs. The backrest rotates to provide a comfortable fit.

No mishaps with this component, except for losing one of the mounting screws. Time to listen to Beethoven’s Rage Over a Lost Screw.

Guards, Rails, Gunwales

Monday, July 20th, 2009

gunwalesThey have several different names. This boat’s designer called then guards. Others call them gunwales, or sometimes rails.

They weren’t hard to do. Many people like half rounds. The designer suggested half 8-sided because he has no router. Neither do I, and I like the looks of the half-8-sided.

These are made of Sitka spruce, absolutely delightful to shape. However, part of getting the right shape is getting the shape right. I’m fairly adept at planing something that is parallel to the bench top.

gunwales planing 1gunwales planing 2I’m not nearly as adept planing a 45 degree surface. After a bit of fumbling, I put a good 45 degree surface on a piece of poplar. It was then cut into about ten small chunks and glued with rubber cement to the qunwale. That positioned the workpiece for easier planing.  Pop off the props and refit for the opposite surface. Easy.

Attachment is with ring nails. Bedding is Dolfinite, a tan colored material with a consistency a bit stiffer than peanut butter. The only mishap was dropping one of the guards immediately after buttering it with Dolfinite. Of course, it hit the floor butter side down. Dolfinite cleans up rather easily with mineral spirits.

False Stems

Friday, July 17th, 2009

These were too easy. So, I had to make them harder.

The false stems are white ash, hard enough to be the boat’s shock absorbers. They are only about an inch thick, in either dimension, but are curved in almost all directions. Rough patterns made of thin plywood held up against the ends of the boat (one at each end) provided the initial cutting lines.

I thought they would be difficult to fit but was very pleasantly surprised. The trick is chalk. Coat the fixed surface with a heavy layer of chalk. Place the false stem piece against the chalked surface and wiggle back and forth. The transferred chalk marks the high spots. There might be only a few at the start. Remove them. Repeat until the fit is so good that the whole piece is covered with chalk. It goes a lot faster than I expected.

false stemBeveling comes after fitting. So, how do we hold the clumsy pieces? Some scrap stock screwed to the inside of the curve offers a lot of surface for the leg vice to hold. Beveling is also pretty quick work with a sharp spokeshave (Stanley #51, circa 1920) and a cabinet rasp.

So far, so easy.  Too easy. Can’t have that. Let’s make it a bit more difficult.

Harry Bryan called these boats “Fiddleheads” for some reason I don’t know. Why stick with the usual ogee curve found atop many stems? How about decorating the tops of the false stems with fiddleheads? Hmmm. Never carved one of those. Actually, I’ve never carved much of anything. Off to the world wide library to find some examples. …

stem fiddlehead 1stem fiddlehead 2Some basic carving chisels and some practice time on a scrap of ash led to the following conclusion. Don’t let anyone tell you that ash is good carving wood. The alternations of tight grain and loose grain may be great for shock absorption, but definitely not for carving. Yet, ash is what we want on the ends of the boat and the carvings will be what they are. Despite the less than optimal wood, I’m pleased with the results (which still need some final sanding). … Just don’t invite Stradivari to inspect.

Attachment is with four #8 x 1 and 1/4 inch screws for each end and the usual 5200 marine adhesive. The screws are deeply sunk with bungs to cover them.