Monday, February 27, 2017

Samson Posts

Go Samson!   Who said hippies aren't tough???

As long as I am doing bulkheads, I figured I might as well do the bow and stern transoms. At the corner of each, I wanted to do Samson posts. I expect they will be handy and look shippy.

I cut some pieces off a black walnut 6X6 that has been sitting on an old disker (farm machinery) in Dad's field for several years.

They look really rough, but cut off that outside 1/2" and it is as purty as the day it was sawed.

 Wasn't sure about the design, so I made a practice piece with white pine...

And tested it.

Then I shaped the posts and sanded them down with some handy-dandy long strips of sandpaper a friend gave me. Note the back-lit flying sanding dust.

Here is the port side one attached to the 1 3/4" pine board I'm using for the bow transom.

The greenish wood on top of the transom is s strip of black locust I put on to protect the edge of that pine board. Locust will take a beatin'. 

Hmmm...  This picture looks strangely familiar when you crop it like this. 

  I wish I had a bronze rod to use as a pin. I hear old keel bolts proliferate in boatyards, but we don't have boatyards in the mountains.  I'm using copper pipe with plugs in the end that my friend, Jeff, made me out of black locust on the lathe. There will be 1/2" steel rod epoxied inside for strength. Just potting it up with resin would probably give all the strength they need.   I'm not sure these need to be strong at all and, being on the corner like this, I may well wish that little protrusion had been hollow when I run it into a piling and it rips the whole aft face off of the post. Not to worry. If that happens, I'll just cut it off with a chainsaw and screw in a cleat like regular people use.  

Camila hiding between the boat side and the wall.
(It's well supported, don't worry)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cutting out Frames

Now that the sides are pretty much done except for cutting out window holes, which will happen later, time to turn my attention ninety degrees and focus on things transverse.

The three bulkheads you see along the bottom of these unphotographable (thanks for the word, Sinatra) plans are the next step.  I haven't got a good picture yet of the finished product, but here you see them being cut out.

I check a piece of plywood for squareness, cut it down to 83" (7 feet minus 1" for the sides) and carefully mark it up, measuring and remeasuring all dimensions.  After its cut out, I attach the framing timber that bonds it to sides and decks and strengthens the big openings down low.

Between the work I've been doing on this building, building it as I am with rough lumber, and the work I'm doing on the boat, I have been doing a lot of joining of lumber with a hand plane.  Now, I am no hand plane expert, but I am slowly getting better at this after straightening a thousand boards.  

Notable is one change in technique for checking for straightness of a board.  I used to always lay my aluminum flat bar on top of a board

then get my head down even with it and check for places where the board is not touching the bar.

Side View

I call this the "checking for daylight" method.  It works OK, but it is subject to back lighting and I have trouble seeing it well.

 Lately, I've been relying more on what I call the "wiggle-waggle" method, where you stand and look down on the bar resting on the edge of the board and wiggle it.   

Top View
At the spots where it is touching the board, it will stay fixed and the parts that are not in contact with the wood will be free to wiggle.   An added bonus is that you don't lose the spot you needed to take down when you go from squatting to standing.  

Another fun trick is this plywood-whispering I just learned about that I mentioned earlier.   Here is a piece that had a troublesome bend in it and I put the hump side against the stove and wetted the valley side.

Hey you, wipe that silly grin off your face!

Ten minutes later...

That's better! 

Friday, February 17, 2017


  Having cut out the shape of the sides, we then attached timber such as chine logs and deck supports. I had some indecision as to what wood to use for chine logs, considering factors such as gluability, fastener holding, surface area, and what I happen to have on hand.  I ended up going with 2" hemlock, but by no means am I sure that was the best choice.

I had read that a circular saw could cut a large radius curve more nicely than a jig saw and it sure did with the sawn curves for chine logs on the bow and stern curves.

 Both sides are ready for assembly now. Here is starboard side, all screwed and glued up with PL Premium.

I gave Camila the all-important job of chiseling off squeezed out glue and then pretending that the long bits of glue are worms.

Here she is, channeling Rosie the Riveter

Meantimes, I hired Lucia as a personal organizer for my work bench.

Both sides knocked out! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Getting Ahead of the Curve

Now that we are looking at two long, square pieces of plywood linguine, It's time to mark out the curves and decks to be cut out.

This is my weapon of choice.  I found this stick in the slab pile behind my dad's sawmill. I was looking for bracing material for setting posts back in August.  After it was tacked up, holding treated posts upright, I noticed that it was a beautiful, knot-free, quarter-sawn oak batten, straight as a pin- not something to be cut up for firewood.

  Here we are, encouraging the batten to take the curve we are looking for.  My lovely assistant, here, is Andrew, my grown up stepdaughter's boyfriend.  He is on leave from his little "job" in the USMC.  I call him my "pet marine."

  Letting the last bit of the batten run free, as per the advice of a prominent internet boat wiseguy.  This is supposed to make the plywood bending go better. 

Andrew looks on in awe (this is actually a yawn) 

The process is very simple, you simply hold the batten with both hands, then trace along it with your third hand.  Andrew helped with this. 

Celebrating a job well done. 

I forgot to take a picture before I started attaching timber to it, but here is the shape cut out.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

More Plywood Issues

  Yet another gripe about the quality of the plywood I'm getting:  I flipped over one of these long ribbons of plywood I have joined I found this.

 An area of delamination a little bigger than my hand, right at where the warped plywood sort of came down and kissed the moist concrete floor.  As you see here, it is discolored and rising up in little swollen ridges.

  I became immediately concerned that the plywood was not what it claims to be and I have just spent several days inadvertently starting a boat project with interior plywood.

  Luckily, the piece was on the end where the corners will be cut away anyway, so I cut off a sample and threw it in a pot on the stove with a piece of interior plywood as a control to make sure I was being aggressive enough in my test.  

  The test piece held together, which was very reassuring.  Here you see it next to the bits of the control piece.

  The most surprising thing was how long it took the interior plywood to delaminate.  I boiled the stuff for over an hour and still I had to pull the interior stuff apart with my fingers.  This was several days ago and the interior piece from another pair of samples I put in cold water is still looking really good.  I have to pull pretty hard on it before it will come apart.  I see now why people do the boil test!

  My conclusion is that there are imperfections in the gluing process as just like every other part of plywood production and that these areas of delamination just have to be dealt with as they arise. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

And those Pay-sons go rolling along

   The Payson butt joint.  I had heard about it, but never done it until now.  Two little strips of fiberglass holding a butt joint of plywood together.  Hardly seems it should be as strong as it is reported to be, but things are not always as they seem.

  In this way, we have been joining three sheets of plywood end to end, to make each of the two sides of the hull. The technique of laying out wetted fiberglass on the floor, then pushing the plywood down into it is totally counter intuitive and I was a little bit unsure of myself, but it seems to work out well enough.

Here you see me wetting out three strips of fiberglass, two, four, and six inches wide, I drew a line down the center of my plastic and centered my glass strips on that line, hoping to use that to align the whole unit properly when I am operating blind under the plywood.

   I decided to screw the plywood together temporarily with blocks (on the back side in this picture) so that I wouldn't have to fool with the relationship of the plywood sheets to each other, just that of the wetted glass to the plywood.   I stood them up like you see here, then buttered the edges with slightly thickened epoxy.  Next, I set some of that thin foam that you use for padding under a laminate floor to sort of cushion the wetted glass and maybe provide a more even pressure than being mashed down into the flat, hard concrete.  Then I positioned the glass between sticks and flipped the plywood down on it.  This allowed me to fiddle with the alignment of the glass before finally slipping the sticks out and bringing on the weight.  

  Luckily, I had this fine person to lift up with a crow bar while I slipped the sticks out from under the plywood.  She is only in kindergarten, but she is a crack shop hand already!

  After the weight is holding everything down, I  unscrewed the blocks and applied the top layers of glass like normal. 

  We had a cold snap while we were doing the second side.  I heated some bricks on the stove.

Hey, it's freezing...let's get out our shorts and  bathing suits!!!

  Then I set them on the joints on cardboard insulators.  The glass was not wet here.  Just, slightly tacky (like me). 

  Finally, I blanketed the whole thing and hoped for the best.  

 None of this may have been necessary, I don't know.  I was using the fast epoxy, so I don't know if I saved myself a day here or not.  

Can't we just make a tricycle ramp instead of a boat?

I now reach out to my readers (both of you) to ask: 

Is this how YOU do this type of joint?  

 Please comment with any constructive criticism of my techniques here. Growing up in rural Southwestern Virginia rather than coastal Maine, I have had to be an autodidact in these matters, so I would like to use this blog to improve my game, here. 



Monday, February 6, 2017

Square Boat, Un-square Plywood

  When I started laying out sheets of plywood on the floor to join together, I noticed something:  the ends weren't square!  

  Now, I have always assumed that they have these really awesome cutting machines in the plywood factory, calibrated with some kind of ultra high-tech, atomic, quantum-flux process so that every sheet comes out to a perfect 90 degrees.

  Indeed, I have built many a wall with OSB and never doubted its squareness. In retrospect, maybe I should have done.

  This Georgia-Pacific B-C pine plywood (PS1-09, I think they call it) that I got at Lowes was rife with dimensional inconsistencies.

 Of the six sheets I brought home to make the sides of the boat with, five needed some kind of correction with a hand plane.

This end, 1/8" heavy.  (except for the top veneer)

This end 1/4" heavy.

That 1/8" in 4 feet becomes 3/4" projected out over a 24 foot boat. No small error!

Even squared, they were different lengths. This one, 1/8" heavy, this one 3/16".   I mixed and matched the sheets for the two sides and they came out the same, thankfully. 

Then there is the bow in them.  I found the curviest sheets impossible to weigh down enough.  

Here they are, all glassed and waiting to set up.

  Even the amount of weight you see here was not enough to get them to lie flat.

  This caused one of my joints to come out all wonky

Luckily, it was alright on one end of the joint and didn't start to get bad until the end you see above. I had to cut that  joint apart half way and fix it

  Then, someone told me that by wetting one side and drying the other, you can induce the plywood to flatten out.   This made the second side go much smoother. 


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Extremism in the Defense of Frugality is no Vise!

 My apologies to Mr. Goldwater...

 In setting up this new shop, I wanted a real wooden bench vise.  That is something I have always dreamed of.  They sell mighty nice hardware sets like this at a very reasonable price:

However, I can't stand to spend money on something so blatantly easy to make for free, so I decided to take a hack saw to an old jack I had lying around.

The work from here on out is basically the same, since you are building the vice itself in either case.  An oak block I had set aside for just such a purpose made the moving jaw.  

Here you see the board that will be the face piece of the work bench lying on the edge of the bench with the vise jaw hanging from the jack hardware. The inch dowels are the only bits that came from the store.  

The bar with a little ball on the end is a piece of an old metal chair that I saw bits off of for this and that.  A few threads cut into the end hold a retaining nut and the whole thing is captive.

The Boatshed

  Not having a place to build such a boat, it has been necessary to build a shelter.  Rather than go the standard route of throwing up something temporary, I decided to go ahead and build a proper boat-shed/workshop.  It is something I have wanted for a long time anyway and will serve us long after.  I started clearing land and doing some hand grading right about a year ago.

That sucker was hard to pull over.   The summer was busy, we took  the boat up to Georgian Bay, various projects.  I didn't move forward much on it until August.  Here I am with a buddy after we set the posts.

After all fall and winter working on it, here is what we've got.

That plastic was faster than building big permanent doors and it lets in light and possibly some heat,

The view inside. 

I finally have the 12 foot workbench of my dreams, with all my hand tools in reach and nothing permanently stored on the bench top.

Time to get crackin!