Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Boatbuilding again, and other odd things

Boatbuilding again.

“Cold” here in the north of New Zealand only means a vest and a reasonably thick sweater.  Epoxy still sets ok, but with rain, wind and  work to do on the drawing board I’ve been for the most part stuck inside for a week.  SEI needs some love and attention to make progress from bare bones frames to looking as though she’ll be a boat this summer, so I took a day away from other things and put some hours in.
I’ve fitted the seat risers. They are stringers that run along as supports for the seats and buoyancy tanks, they also hold the frames and prevent them moving around when the first plank is being fitted.  They’re glued and screwed in, not so many screws actually, just in the ends where they fit to the stems as the where the very small section strip passes the frames I’ve drilled and pinned with long nails rather than risk breaking the small section stringer where its bent sharply around the stern sections.

The second job was to scarf up the bottom panel, more than a plywood sheet length long this comes out of one sheet of ply cut slightly on an angle then fitted wide ends together, a sloping scarf joint cut then glued up.  I've cut this to shape, glued it up and in two or three days will be able to fit it to the boat, and voila! The boat will have a bottom and I can get on with the “interesting” job of working out the plank shapes.

 The two pieces cut out and lined up ready to cut the slope for the scarf joint, string lined and the ends of the two pieces are staggered for the slope of the join.

I dont mind planing scarf joints up by hand, the one in the pic is a bit more than  30 in across, it’s a 6/1 scarf which I can get away with as its to be fiberglassed on the outside.  Hand planing this plywood with a sharp no 3 Stanley with the corners of the blade slightly rounded is nice work. The laminations of the plywood and the  dark lines of the waterproof glue are good guidelines that help keep the slope straight and the joint shown here would have taken maybe 10 mins to make.

 The scarf slope cut, just the hand plane, no other tools . It does not take long to do and is pleasant work.  The Japanese saw ( From by the way, excellent tool) was used to cut the bottom panel out, its as fast as a fine cut jigsaw and leaves a nicer finish.

I used a big chunk of 150 x 250 x 9mm wall box section steel as a weight, but made very sure that the assembly was lined up dead straight before I left it.
To keep it that way I’ve used very fine finishing nails to nail both parts to the plywood table, it wont move and the fine nails will pull out without leaving a noticeable blemish.

The steel?  That is destined to become a small upright woodburning stove. But I can tell you that my attempts to cut it with a small angle grinder with cutoff wheel were not too successful so I’m carting all 45 kg of it around to my friends engineering works to do the big cuts.
Hacksaw? You are kidding!

 An easy way to put clamping pressure on the join, 45 kg is just shy of 100 lbs, that join is not going to move!

On another subject, a month from today I’ll be in the belly of the big silver bird heading for Sydney, then Los Angeles and from there to Seattle, rail, ferry and friends car through to Port Ludlow where I will be staying with said friends while doing the SCAMP Camp thing, then a sailing school class and the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival.

I’ve come to know quite a few people there, this will be visit number five and I like Port Townsend a lot. The Banana Leaf is a lovely place to eat, the coffee shop in the Maritime Centers Chandlery makes great hot chocolate and tea (I am not a coffee drinker,)  the Maritime Center is a wonderful place to work, and the little harbour and marina next door is full of stunning boats. 
If you can get to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, do, its one of the best.
See you there.

This year I"m in much better shape than last, ( fingers crossed).
I’m very much looking forward to teaming up with Howard Rice, my hosts Helen and Pete Leenhouts, Josh and Anica Colvin of Small Craft Advisor magazine, Scott, Ace, Jake, Russell, Steve, Katy, Hasse ( I’ll get to go sailing in her lovely Folkboat yet). It’s a long list and I don’t see them nearly often enough.


  1. Hi John - reading your comments about weather made me smile. Last night -2C in Palmy and had a small glassing job to do on a home made furler. This morning it was still tacky, so popped it into the oven at 50C for a few minutes. Softened the epoxy just enough to really work into the corners, then back into the oven for another 15 min. Set rock hard & perfect. Just finishing the last bits of a complete rebuild of a Shearwater catamaran inclusive of trailer. Not going to wait until summer for a launch = wetsuit + booties + lots of hot coffee :)

  2. I've used UV lamps a few times, they are very effective if used carefully, its important to not overheat the surface of the resin but otherwise is good on cold nights.
    This time though the test piece ( leftover glue slapped onto a piece of scrap) was cured and hard 12 hours after the joint was laid up, but I have had other things to do today and a wedding to go to tomorrow ( not mine) so it will be sunday before I take the weight off and cut the centercase slot before dropping that panel onto the boat.

    All the best on launch day,