Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Boatbuilders skills course

Ran it last weekend. We had a great time!  I enjoyed the happy, friendly group of guys I had here for the weekend, there were lots of laughs, a lot of pertinent questions, they paid attention, learned well, were apt pupils and good company.  The little workshop in the boatshed here by the river was just about the right space for five students and myself, and we had a good time at break times sitting in the saloon of my old ship chatting while eating lunch.
My estimate of how much time we’d need for each subject was close, close enough so we got through all of my “curriculum” with time enough for Q & A at the end and I’m particulaly pleased to have made more friends.
Here is a report written by Brian Hogg who’d flown in from Wellington for the weekend .  He sails the 6M Whaler “Emeraude”  http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/6m_whaler/index.htm
orginally built as a gaff sloop for Pat Quinn by Peter Murton http://www.murtons.co.nz  but now rigged as a gaff yawl.  Brian comes from “mainstream” single masted performance yachts and is having a ball learning about the two masted rig and sailing in open boats.
Here he is out sailing, a video taken by Richard Schmidt out in his Navigator.

 Brian, John, Tim, Tim and Callum with me on the right talking about scarf joints. 
 Making explanatory sketches on a piece of plywood, we're about to do the scarfing of plywood, which is scary until you actually do it then its easy peasy.

One of the nice finishing touches on any boat is to hide the screw heads under a matching plug of wood. Here I'm explaining how those bungs are cut, how to size the original hole to suit the plug cutter and how to get them out of the wood you've cut them from.  There is more to it than there appears but like a lot of things, once you know, its easy.

Many thanks to Paul Gilbert, Marine photographer, for the pics.

From Brian.
“May 2016
What a great weekend we all had immersed in boats and boat building essentials in the company of a few other guys keen to learn from John.
Personal safety was the first topic in the workshop on Saturday morning and included such things as the correct gloves and masks to use and what to do around the various power tools.
Next epoxy resin, glue powder and its properties and the applications and properties of the various sorts of the epoxy fillers got us started up the learning curve. Whilst on epoxy techniques John showed us a clever and easily made tool to accurately measure small quantities of resins for those wee jobs. Once measured out accurately we mixed the resins with another very simple and useful tool that again any of us can make in our own workshop, which also doubles as a versatile applicator.
During the weekend we created a number of different joints, fillets and structures using our newly gained knowledge of those resins and fillers. For example we created curved a laminated beam and learnt a very precise technique to easily set it out accurately. I had no idea there was so much to learn about creating laminated curved beams and the various amounts of spring-back that occurs. Moving onto joints John made filleting (joints not fish!) look easy and before long we all were able to produce both tidy fillets and tidy taped joints, the latter finished on Sunday to neatly disguise the edge of the cloth.
John also led us through the murky waters of sharpening woodworking tools, specifically chisels and planes. Before long we were all using the grindstone and oil with an increasing degree of confidence. Along the way we learnt about the correct type of grinding wheels to use to square up high speed steel blades and the correct stones for tool sharpening and the techniques to hold the blades at the correct angles
A great thing for me personally is that I have come away from the week-end confident that I can create reasonably sharp woodworking tools from my sorry collection of chisels and planes. Talking of planes I had no idea there was so much involved with setting them up correctly or how good they could be a when set up correctly. Armed with the knowledge of what distinguished a good plane from the not so good (aka my useless one!)  I jumped on Trade me on the Saturday night and grabbed three old planes at a good price, including a wee block plane, much coveted by my class mates!
A discussion on preservatives, sealers, paints, glue and the old enemy dry rot got the whole class up to speed on this technical topic and gave us insights that will lead to all of us doing a better finishing job on our boats.  A constant theme through the weekend was the good the bad and the ugly among power tools of all kinds as we looked at different tools and how they can be used. A revelation was Johns explanation as to why my (cheap nasty old) jigsaw wanders all over the place. Band saws and how to set them up and what makes a good one took a little time but several of us are now likely to acquire one as a result of what we learnt.
And then of course we got on to sand papers of all kinds and the best ways to use each. There is even a ty[e of sand paper you can see through while at the other extreme John’s sheets of 40 grit would make good roofing iron !

Scarfing solid timber, using a wooden guide  tool you can make to simplify the process, had us fascinated. That demonstration was  followed by a simple but clever process to make accurate scarfs with plywood which rounded out the day on Sunday.
Lunch times both days (with excellent but basic man food) were also learning and discussion times covering a wide range of topics from trailers to tabernacles through to stress doublers.  To sustain all this learning we had plenty of tea and coffee with excellent baking courtesy of the nearby supermarket and Johns food assembly talents!
In addition to all kinds of skills we learnt  from John he also told us about such  diverse things as how to set up lazy jacks to how to easily remove blobs of hardened epoxy from your workshop floor. Apart from staggering up the steep learning curve in John’s small riverside workshop all weekend, a few of us got to row John’s latest sailing/rowing dinghy, called SEI after the Japanese whale. Anything less like a whale would be hard to find and it was a certainly a joy rowing the dinghy on the evening river. ..Thanks John !

In summary last weekend  with John and the other guys was one of the most instructive and enjoyable two days I have spent in years.
Each of us attending the tutorial weekend were at very different places in the wooden boat spectrum. Some, like me, had never built a boat while others were already on a first or subsequent build project which meant we peppered John all weekend questions from all over the compass. And we all came away brimming with new knowledge and enthusiasm to put what we have learnt into practice.
If anything to do with wooden boats excites you I recommend you join in with one of John’s fantastic essential skills weekends.

Cheers.  Brian Hogg

A few minutes ago I opened my emails, and found that Callum had sent a nice summary of his weekend, thanks Callum for the compliments, I'm looking forward to following your build.

Hi team.  
I attended the Introductory Boat-builders Course run by John last weekend and found it to be very beneficial.
The course covered the basic tools required for boat-building; how to sharpen planes and chisels; epoxy resins; joints; and how to make a stitch and ply boat water tight.
The small number of participants meant that there was plenty of one-on-one tuition and that the course was very personable.    I found John to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject and he passed this knowledge on in a way that students of all levels could understand.  The students themselves were an interesting bunch and their varied backgrounds meant that they also contributed constructively to the lessons.  For me, the course demystified the process of boat-building and has given me confidence to begin building my first boat, the Pelegrin.  I would like to thank John for running a fantastic course.

Callum Wicks

Back to “Me”.  I”ll be running the course again on the weekend of June 4th and 5th.
Same curriculum, same time and same place.  9 30 am  to 4 30 pm on Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm on Sunday.
There will be time to go over any specific points of interest, plenty of time for questions and answers, and as Brian said, the course has something for  raw beginners through to those who want to refine their existing skills.
I’ve three spaces not  yet booked, and yes can pickup from the airport shuttle.
Email me for the details if you’re interested.

John Welsford.

1 comment:

  1. It sure was an interesting and informative course that I would recommend to anyone interested or engaged in boatbuilding.....I kept wishing I'd been to it before I started my current boat build so I could have avoided all those 'trial and errors'! John has a huge amount of knowledge about boats and boat building (and a heap of other related stuff) and he shares it freely and in a relaxed and entertaining way. It was a great weekend in good company and a lovely setting....even got a row in John's Sei design ( which of course handled beautifully!). Many thanks for a great weekend, John. Tim Harker.