Archive for May, 2009

Covering Boards and Decks

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

It’s looking more and more like a boat.

covering boardsThe covering boards, or long decks, cover the spaces between the sheer clamps and the long carlins. They are made from book matched resawn cedar slices finished to 3/16 inch thickness. Their undersides are sealed with a coat of epoxy. They are attached with epoxy and brass escutcheon pins.

After attaching the covering boards, four knees are added as additional framing for the short decks. They are spruce. Epoxied and screwed to the bulkheads and long carlins.

decksThe upper short decks complete the closing of the watertight compartments. They too are made from book matched resawn cedar slices finished to 3/16 inch thickness. Their undersides are sealed with epoxy. They are attached with simple household caulk and screws. No epoxy here because they might need to be removed occasionally.

Being a slow and deliberate builder is paying off. All of the recent work has moved along well with no time spent in the moaning chair. Most pleasing was avoiding inadvertent damage to the very thin very pointy ends of the upper deck boards.

Next come:

  • Coamings
  • False stems
  • Backrest (The seat is the bottom of the boat, no raised seat in this canoe.)
  • Footrest
  • Finishing (outside painted, inside and decks “bright”)

All of that will wait a few weeks while we do something else.

A New Marking Knife

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

knifeA beautiful new Pattern Pilot marking knife from Bob Zajicek at Czeck Edge Hand Tool is now hard at work in my shop. (Click image for a larger view.)

Making my own tools is something I enjoy, especially of I can make ones that function well and also look great. I’ve had drawings for marking knives waiting in the “to do” queue for quite some time and have been content to simply use pencils for the time being.

That changed last week when Al Navas ran a contest on his “Sandal Woods” blog. Al often has drawings for tools provided by his sponsors. I was very fortunate to win the marking knife as one of his Safety Week drawings. THANKS Al!

The knife is superb. It’s edge is keen and it feels great in the hand. Not only does it work very well, it is drop-dead beautiful. Maybe because I’m partial to blonds, I find the olive wood simply gorgeous. There aren’t any dovetails in the small boats I’m building, nor are there many straight lines. Yet, there are lots of ways to use this knife.

Not only is Bob Zajicek a very fine tool smith, he’s also a fortune teller. Along with the knife he sends not one, not two, but three plastic point guards. They are easily misplaced among the clutter of a busy project and the spares are appreciated.

Now, I can make marks that are 6 times more accurate than I can saw. A delightful tool. Very highly recommended! THANKS Bob!

Deck Framing and Hatches

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

carlinsThe first round of deck framing consists of several carlins made of 5/8″ by 3/4″ spruce. These will support covering boards along the outside edges of the boat. A  little fussy fitting, some careful positioning through the bulkheads, screws set at angles to avoid collisions, a little epoxy and it’s easily done.

Those areas at the ends of the boats become watertight flotation compartments. They are going to get closed up soon. So, while I can still get a brush in there, they’re getting painted with a couple of coats of Cetol.

hatch-facehatch backsideOne of the fussier parts of the construction are the oval hatch covers for the watertight compartments. One could handily purchase round, plastic, readily available, easily installed covers, but that would be far too easy. Instead, I followed Harry’s drawings for a semi-diabolical device that ends up looking a lot nicer than a round slab-o-plastic. All is in place except the gasket which the last part of the hatches.

In case you’re wondering how it operates, the small knob is free to turn and is used to pull the bar toward the knob. The bronze screws are not tightened down all the way because they allow the bar to move in and out as needed. Two small wood stops help with positioning. Insert the cover so the bar fits through the opening. Turn the whole cover clockwise until the bar registers against the stops. Then tighten the knob until the gasket seals the opening.

Safety Week 2009 – for Handtool Woodworkers

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

safetyweek 2009Warning: Unlike most others, there’s no blood involved in this safety tip.

Executive Summary: When the going gets tough, STOP. There’s something wrong with:

  • The tool you are using
  • The way you are using it
  • Your frame of mind.

Many of the safety tips we are seeing this week relate real life experiences. Here’s my confession. Back when I was learning how to effectively resaw long lumber with handtools, I did one trial cut using a simple, but sharp, Disston rip saw. I knew that the workholding setup was less than optimal and that I would need something better. I knew that this wasn’t the tool I ultimately wanted to use but had not yet built the much better frame saw. When the sawing got tougher than it should have been, I knew that I should stop and give up the test. Instead, I just ploughed on through, eager to see what that piece of wood looked like when sliced in that manner.

One of the oddities of rotator cuff injuries is that they don’t manifest immediately. They become apparent only when the injury, in this case a torn tendon under the anterior deltoid, is asked to do something that irritates the injury, such as reaching up to get something from a high shelf. It’s the coming down that goes “Zowie!” These sorts of injuries take months to heal, and this one is no exception. One can’t simply stop using a shoulder and wait. So, I’ve included some extra therapy to build muscle strength in the deltoids, and have continued on with life as usual, despite the rather frequent “Zowies!” After all, there’s a boat to be built!

Bottom line: When your sawing, or planing, or other handtool activity becomes difficult, STOP. Check your tools for sharpness. Optimize workholding. Diagnose why unusual force may be needed. Maybe all you need is a mental break and a fresh approach. Don’t just muscle your way through it. You could bear the consequences for months.

By the way, a comment about aging. I’ll become 65 this year. I’ve already noticed that nature starts taking things away from you as you age. Regular weight training is part of the way I fight that off, as is plenty of handtool work in my boatbuilding shop. Stretching and staying flexible is also part of that regimen. A few days ago I saw an entry on one of the woodworking forums where a guy said he wasn’t going to put a leg vise on his workbench because he doesn’t like bending down to adjust the vice. Making an assumption that he’s in his mid-life years, I’ve got news for him and others who think this way: Get use to bending and staying flexible, or by the time you retire and have more time for your hobby your body won’t be able to do it.

Turned Over

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

hull doneturned overThe hull is done. Dings removed, holes and fasteners faired, rough sanded. Turning over is usually a major milestone, sometimes indicating a halfway point. This boat is probably less than half done. There’s a lot of fussy fitting ahead.

Raising Hammer Dings

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

ironingThere are lots of ways of raising the depressions made by hammering. John Gardner says “rub them with a wet stick.” Harry Bryan says “pour boiling water…” I had enough of pouring boiling water back when I steam bent the garboards. Besides, the shop floor is still clean enough to not need washing again. A wet towel and a hot steam iron does the job nicely.

The real message of this post, for the observant among you, is that all planks are now on.

(And for the keenly observant, there’s a story about why this plank doesn’t match the bevel perfectly. The short version: This is what happens when the idiot boatbuilder cuts a gains rabbet on the wrong side of a plank and “fixes” it by putting that wrongly cut plank on the other / unintended side of the boat. The slight difference in plank spiling from one side to the other results in the bevel mismatch. He was then very careful with the only plank left, cutting its rabbets on the tripple checked correct side.)