Archive for April, 2010

Eva Too – Deck Glassed

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Excuses for no “before” or “during” pictures:

  • The dog ate them. Ooops, we don’t have a dog.
  • You’ve seen this stuff before.
  • Didn’t want to get poxy all over the camera.
  • Forgot.
  • Too stressed by the messy challenge.

photo of scored and ripped fiberglassphoto of full deckGlassing the deck was simpler because it’s smaller than glassing the full hull. It was more difficult because it consists of two overlapping pieces. Other than that, it went quickly and with a little less mess than the big job.

Like many woodworking jobs, prep takes almost as long as doing the job. Prep in this case included much better sanding than the hull because the deck will be finished bright and every little scratch is visible through the glass: 120, 150, 220, 320, brush off, vacuum, wipe with tack cloth, wipe with alcohol.

Hint: wipe on a liberal wetting of alcohol. This briefly simulates a clear finish, highlighting any remaining scratches. It evaporates off quickly, leaving no stains.

Prep also included applying package tape where I don’t want new fiberglass sticking to the hull. The tape was applied with it’s top edge right at the line which will be the bottom of the rubrail, 3/4 inch below the rounded over deck edge.

After about 8 hours of cure, I scored the fiberglass that was hanging over the side with a sharp knife. That score line is about the middle of where the rubrail will be, about 3/8 inch below the deck. Then, I pulled the excess fiberglass upward, breaking off at the score line. Score and rip. Neat!

Pencil Box

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Inspiration from Roy Underhill, Kari Hultman, and Dan Lauder. THANKS to all! (click any image for a larger version.)

photo of closed box photo of box with sliding lid removed photo of fully open box

Roy Underhill, author, Colonial era woodworking master, and proprietor of The Woodwright’s Shop, opened his 2009 season with the making of a palm sized grease pot that used a sliding lid and dovetail latch to secure its contents. Some of us live in parts of the country “too sophisticated” to carry a back woods woodworking show on TV. (New York City’s last country music radio station shut down in April of 1983, giving way to light jazz or some other kind of funk.)

So, along comes Kari Hultman, The Village Carpenter, to tell us about her replica of Roy’s little grease pot. Like Kari, I had that project on my to-do list. She got there first with a very nicely made box and some great construction photos.

It was Dan Lauder, and an approaching birthday, that moved the project to the top of the list with his discovery of an 1879 pencil box. While a bit different than the grease pot, the pencil box shared a similar 3 part construction of interlocking parts that qualifies it, like the grease pot, as “clever.”

The lid slides in a dovetailed track. Sliding it out reveals the top tray. That action also unlocks the top tray so that it can swing sideways revealing the bottom of the box. As an aside, the box that Dan discovered had a little pocket in top layer. I don’t know it’s purpose, but in my version, that pocket is now a resting place for a good luck charm, the happy little pig.

photo collage of making the pencil groovesOK, let’s look into how it was made. The lumber was stuff on hand, some tulip poplar. More about that later.

That roughly drawn sketch was my only “plan.” Like Kari, I used only hand tools. Unlike Dan, I don’t have a huge choice of planes, so I routed the pencil grooves with a scratch stock. It was slow going, but worked out OK. It needed more than one scratch. Use your sharp eyes to find my first error. It’s in the very first photo.

photo collage of making the lidThe sliding lid is about 1/8 inch thick. A router plane provided the space for it, and another small scratch (no photo) made the dovetailed tracks.

photo collage of making the bottomThe bottom, and the piggy’s nest, were excavated with forstner bits. Back to the router plane for cleanup. The last photo in this sequence shows that error corrected.

photo of raw edges and tack clothFinishing took more time than building. That’s because I don’t have a clean room for finishing (blame the tools) and I used a very slow drying paint. I wanted to use the same color as the gift recipient’s (not-yet-done) boat, a slow drying enamel. I call it “siren paint,” because as it dries it is constantly singing “Come to Me” to every dust bit in the building. To counteract the dust, I used a hand rubbed finish technique. After a few coats, that technique highlighted the fact that sharp edges need to be rounded to hold paint. So, correction and more coats. As an aside, the Norton tack cloth is a very handy aid. No more waxy cheesecloth.

Briefly, my hand rubbed finishing regime included: wet sanding with 600 grit, fine sanding with 0000 steel wool, rubbing with pumice, then with rottenstone, and lastly several layers of paste wax to bring to a high satin sheen. For service veterans, “spit shining” is the paste wax method that works best.

Lessons Learned

  • Double, triple, quadruple check that angled cuts lean the right way.
  • Hardwood would have been a better choice and avoided a few little “dings.” A lot of labor gets invested, and why invest in anything less than the best quality wood?
  • Double, triple, quadruple check that angled cuts lean the right way.
  • Make the sliding top thicker to lessen bow and give more “meat” to the dovetails.
  • Double, triple, quadruple check that angled cuts lean the right way.
  • A shellac sealer would have been better than the white sealer I used. The white really shows brightly when edge finish wears.
  • Double, triple, quadruple check that angled cuts lean the right way.
  • Slow drying paint gathers more dust than fast drying paint. (Doh!)
  • Double, triple, quadruple check that angled cuts lean the right way.
  • Finish gets really thin on sharp edges. Rounded edges hold finish much better and will wear better. I’ve often read this, but needed to wrestle with the problem myself, and ended up reshaping the work after several rounds of white undercoating showing up as I polished the finish.
  • Double, triple, quadruple check that angled cuts lean the right way.
  • Hand rubbed finishing takes a lot of time. Well actually, waiting for paint to dry firm enough for hand rubbing take a lot of time.
  • Starting 4 days before a birthday isn’t enough time when finishing alone needs 16 days.

Eva Too – Deck Trimming

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Phew! That little dimple in the deck (at the peak of the forward bulkhead) flattened out. Not that the 4 Jorgensen clamps had anything to do with it.

photo of shavings on the floor in the shape of a boatphoto of AccuScribe compassTrimming the overhang, inside and out, was the next task. There’s not a whole lot to this, other than burnin’ calories, almost a Milky Way’s bar worth. The outer edge of the deck was easy with the old 1897 Stanley #60 1/2 block plane. Inside curves, the cockpit area, are a different matter. I did them in two stages, first saw off most of the excess, then trim with a spokeshave.

Two tools are very useful for this task. The AccuScribe compass gave me another way of doing “reach around” marking. It’s 3 adjustment points give it a lot of flexibility, and also lots of possibility for something being loose. (Don’t ask.) The little Kataba saw is very handy. Like most Japanese saws, it cuts on the pull stroke, has a narrow kerf and hardened teeth.

photo of japanese kataba saw and a spoke shave

Eva Too – Decked! Send More Clamps

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Long ago, more than a week ago, I cut two large triangles of plywood for the deck and leaned them against the shop wall. If you are ever going to to this, make sure they lean in the direction that imparts a curve sympathetic to the curve of the deck, not the opposite. Don’t ask why I suggest this.

photo of template resting on the sheersOne of the first things to do after turning the boat over is to make a template with two curves, one an 18 inch radius, the other a 30 inch radius. It’s always good to have some 1/8 inch Luan plywood, other wise called “door skins,” on hand for patterns and templates. The template is used as a quide for shaping the  top edge of the sheer clamps. The small radius is for the fore deck, the larger for the aft. Space between is a rolling bevel that joins the two. The intent is to provide a flat landing surface for the deck, one that helps the deck fit neatly and maximizes the faying surfaces for glue contact. A super sharp block plane (1897 version) makes quick work of this step.

photo of drilling a painter holeAh, but before we close up the hull, let’s make a couple of holes in it. Yeah, I know. I’m adverse to holes in hulls, but these are different. They are ones that will never admit water. I like to use painters on my boats. They make it very easy to tie the boats to either the truck rack or something near the water. One of the reasons for making the false stems and burying them well was to provide solid timber for the painter holes. Forstner bits are fabulous! Start drilling from one side. Get the axis established. Then use a 1/16 inch pilot drill to poke through and establish the center that enables drilling from the opposite face. Voila, perfect, clean holes. Doing this now, before closing up that part of the boat makes it easy to ensure the holes won’t admit water.

Another name for stitch-n-glue construction is “tortured plywood.” The deck goes on in two parts. The aft deck is easier because the top of the bulkhead is a large radius and the plywood needs little torturing. So, under the prescription of “eat dessert first,” I did the easier deck first. The underside of the deck gets a clear coat of epoxy rolled on. Then, before it cures much, thickened epoxy is applied to the sheer clamps, the top of the bulkhead, the tops of the knees, and the carlins, every surface the deck will touch. Then the deck is flipped “jelly side down” onto the boat and fastened with ring nails every three inches. Ring nails are copper nails with rings cast onto their surface. Once pounded into place, they are very resistant to being removed.

photo of marking gauge in useOf course, all of this happens after carefully pre-fitting the deck and accurately marking every nail hole to within 1/256 inch tolerance. The challenge is knowing where to mark when the deck lumber is oversize (to be trimmed later) and the target for the nail is only 1/2 inch wide and invisible when marking. The helpful tool is the reach around marking gauge which is used to transfer the edge line. Mark the edge line, then mark a point 5/16 of an inch further inboard. One is then lucky to finally place the deck to within 1/4 inch of the fitting position. (Actually, 3 pilot holes and some brads helped with that.)

photo of forward deck's contortionsThe forward deck is more tortured.  The bulkhead has a much smaller radius producing a barrel like rounding. This rounding is counteracted by sheer lines that want to be smooth and flatter. Sitting in the boat, one sees the sides of the deck rise up to the barrel shape at the bulkhead and then swoop back down to near flatness before taking a short upward curl at the bow. photo of installed deckPre-fitting this deck entailed strapping it down in three places to mark the edges and nail holes. Installing it entailed abandoning many of those careful markings as the nailing proceeded. You see, three tight lashings is not a sufficient substitute for actual nailing every three inches, and the wood flares in interesting ways when tortured.

The forward deck meets the aft deck in the middle of the cockpit area. Making this join is a matter of sawing through the overlapped pieces with a very thin kerf Japanese pull saw. Simple!

No nails into the carlins. They are too scant. Simple epoxy bonding does the job, along with a lot of clamps, a couple of which are providing further torture to flatten a dimple. We’ll see what the morrow holds.

Two decks, four glue mixings, lots of banging and “talking to the boat,” made for a torturous day, more I think for the builder than the boat.

photo of ring nailsAn update for Larry and others who have not yet enjoyed using ring nails. They are intentionally tenacious. Once in, they hold. They can be extracted from soft wood, but bring the surrounding wood with them. When used in hardwood, extracting them usually means pulling the head off and leaving the nail in the wood. The heads are thin and two blows with a wide nail set will leave the heads nicely flush with the surface of soft wood, perfect for attaching decks. The ones shown here are #14 by 7/8 inch. Yet another form of torture (when they miss their mark).

Eva Too – Fillin’ the Weave

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

photo of glassed hullSo, people really build one of these in a week? After the fiberglass is applied, several thin coats of epoxy are rolled on to “fill the weave” of the cloth. I guess one could roll on a new coat every 8 hours and get it done in a day, but my days don’t work out that neatly. Instead, I get one, maybe two coats a day and work on another project (to be revealed soon) while epoxy cures. The idea is to build thin coats, to keep a 40 pound boat from weighing 72 pounds. Stop when the weave is filled. You know, it’s really hard to show the filled / not-filled condition in a photograph.

photo of brushes, rollers, spatulas and glovesIf you ever approach one of these stitch-n-glue projects, be prepared to buy supplies in bulk. I have a couple of really nice badger hair paint brushes that will last a lifetime of painting. Epoxy’s different. Precious few of the supplies can be cleaned and reused. Get a full box of chip brushes, a dozen or so of those yellow spatulas (they can be easily cut to smaller sizes), 8 or 10 rollers which get cut in half for small quarter use, and LOTS of nitrile or latex gloves.

About midway through coating the hull, I reached the half way point in my epoxy supply, which I think is close to plan for a not-too-heavy boat.

Eva Too – Hull Fiberglass

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

(3rd of 3 postings today) When our children were young, my wife volunteered to help with food preparation for some school event which included an evening meal. She called a food distributor to explain her task and ask how many servings are in a gallon can of baked beans. The woman on the other end of the line answered, “Oh honey, that won’t be nearly enough.”

photo of hull with fabric draped over itThe instructions for the Mill Creek 13 are a little bit like that. … But, I’m getting ahead of things.

This boat is covered with fiberglass fabric that is adhered with epoxy. After making the hull suitably smooth, the fabric is draped on the hull, smoothed, and trimmed. The weave of the fabric is loose enough that it complies very easily to the shape of the hull. I was expecting ripples and pleats, but was very pleasantly surprised to see the fabric fit neatly. After draping, the instructions call for trimming the fabric to within 1/4 inch of the edges of the hull. Right! The experienced stitch-n-glue builders probably work to that tolerance, but I’m apprehensive about making a trimming error. I got to within 1/2 inch on average.

photo of hull with glassing doneOK, back to baked bean servings and epoxy mixing instructions. The intent of this stage of work is to “wet out” the cloth. That is, apply enough epoxy to wet the cloth, make it turn from white to transparent, enough to make it adhere, but not so much as to flood it, create runs and puddles. So  … the instructions say to mix up 8 ounces of epoxy (that’s a cup for you folks who cook), and I’m thinking “Oh honey, that won’t be nearly enough.”

There is actually a very good reason for that mixing suggestion. A cup is about the right amount for the working time needed to spread, smooth, re-spread, squeegee off, the epoxy. Any more than a cup and it will start thickening before it’s all spread. In the end, it took me about 2 1/2 cups. Whether that’s the right amount, I don’t know. Yet, there’s fiberglass stuck to the boat, no runs, and it looks like it was done by someone who knew what they were doing.

Oh yeah … spread drop cloths (trash bags in my case) on the floor under the edges of the boat before your (gloved) epoxy soaked hands get too sticky to handle the drop cloths. (Don’t ask how I came up with this tip.)

Oh yeah … (once more) the reason for trimming to 1/4 inch is to minimize wagging interference from the cloth hanging at the bottom, but more importantly to minimize the amount of epoxy it can absorb.