Sunday, January 30, 2011

SUDDENLY . . . . A boat!!!

I manged to get a good day's work in on the boat.

It started with lofting the lines for the side panels. Cutting them out and fairing them. It's pretty much exactly like what I did yesterday with the bottom panels. So no photos are needed!

The next step was to lace the bottoms together. They went together quite nicely. Below is a shot of the panels loosely stitched together. The side panels are lying flat to the left.

I'm using 20 gauge copper to stitch the panels although the plans say 18. I'm finding the smaller wire to be quite adequate for holding the panels and a little easier on the hands.  I simply make the short piece of wire loosely into staple shape, slip them through the holes in the panel and give them a few twists to tighten them up.

Once I stitched up the bottom panels, it was time to put on the sides. Kudos to he designer's very accurate lofting numbers as the whole thing went together without a hitch!!

Below, I have the stem stitched and ready to continue on with attaching the side and bottom panels.

Here's close up of the stem. In this picture are the great instructions provided by the designer Duane Strosaker, a kayaker from California,

I continued on with stitching the sides and had them done in a few hours. The hardest part was bending over!!

It's amazing how quickly a stitch and glue boat can take shape. And once the wood has been cut and small holes drilled, you simply need a pair of pliers and some copper wire.

The plans take into account the possibility that the sides and bottom may not mate perfectly. The bottom panels are deliberately made longer so that they can be trimmed as required. Thank gawd for that. I made a slight error when cutting the angle of my stern. I fretted for a few minutes until I realized how easily the bottom panels can be trimmed to size.

Here's the "Before"

And, after 10 minutes of trimming and re-stitching, here's the "After"

I figured that stitching the bottom to the sides and re-fitting the stern was a true milestone and gave up for the night. I'll finish this post with a few shots of the boat as it now looks! The sheer make look a little wavy right not but that's because there are no stations in place. These will be added temporarily to hold the hull in proper shape while glassing. They are then removed. But that will be another day and another blog entry.

Some progress

After site preparation and studying of the plans and various books/websites on stitch and glue kayaks, the marine ply finally arrived from TO. For those who don't know, my driveway is steep and in winter, quite treacherous!  The courier tried to deliver but balked!! I decided to pick the stuff up myself at the depot. No biggie because I have a rack on my car. Lot's of tie downs. Should be a piece of cake. BUT. Winds were whipping around 80-100 km on Friday!! I had a VERY stressful but uneventful trip home. Kudos to Noah's Marine in TO.  Those sheets were packed in cardboard that was thicker than the plywood itself. 388.00 all in for 4 sheets of 4mm Okoume plywood was fine by me!!

Friday night I had all rough panels cuts and the bottom panels joined. Not bad for 2.5 hours work. Pretty dusty though!! I bought a new plywood cuttin' blade for the circular and went mad. Very clean cuts. Not bad for an 8.00 Black and Decker blade from Wally Mart. The image below was taken just after cutting the panels. The air "looked" clear until I took this picture. The flash bounced off the dust in the air and I now have a greater appreciation of the dangers of wood working. Will it change my work habits - cough cough - probably not. Dumb ass!!

Having cut the 8' panels, they must be joined to make longer panels - d'uh!  Like most people, I have useless gym equipment, i.e., that which was bought with great intentions but never realized!!  I have (had) a workout station with all kinds of plastic coated weights just dieing to be used. So I used them . . .

to hold down butt joins and . . .

to hold down a batten.

Which brings me to very important point!!  The Point Bennett, as designed by Duane Strosaker, does not come with full size templates! NO. Duane provides you with a table of offsets from which you must construct the beautiful lines of this craft. I was measuring in units of 1/32s - which I have never done before. Once I plotted the points on your plywood, I used my 20' clear pine batten (see above) to fair in the lines. After finding one point that was out (I measured wrong) - the whole thing fell in place beautifully!!! Thank you Duane!!  Also note the gratuitous use of the weights!!

Many books will suggest that you use a jig saw to cut the panels. I hate using jig saws for close work so I opted for a hand saw  - like this:

 It took about 30 minutes per 16' cut but it was a very controlled cut. Not once did I feel like the saw was getting away from me - which can happen if you let your concentration lapse for just a second with a jig saw!!

Here's a shot of me working away (Notice the ravaged gym equipment behind me)

Here's another great little saw I bought a while back to make paddles.

One book I have says to space the wire stitches at 6" centres and 1/4" from the edge. To speed things up. I made a jig.

In the image below, you can see the bottom panels laid out in full. You can also see the "inside snow", a.k.a. dust, as well as the "outside snow" a.k.a. snow!!

As a side note, pudding cups make great "small shot" containers for epoxy!  

And on that note - I'm tired and off to bed. Hope to do the side panels tomorrow!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

27 dollars and change plus a little bit of history!!

The attic has been cleared. Now it's time to to get things ready for the construction phase. A stitch and glue boat, unlike one built upon patterns, does not require a strongback or immobile frame around which the boat is built. Rather, the boat is literally "stitched" together and does not rely upon forms to hold the shape.  I read of an analogy of stitch and glue being like taking a banana and peeling it, eating the banana and then putting the skin back together.

Still, I wanted a full-length work surface on which join the panels to loft the panels, and upon which to lay the boat during entire building process.

I figured a ladder structure would be best - built of 2x4s - with an OSB top. I dropped by the local Home Depot and 27.00 later I had all the necessary supplies - right down to the 3" nails.

With the exception of how this platform is to be supported.  Therein lies the "history" as alluded to in the title of this entry!!!

Back in the early 1990's I worked at a local Home Hardware. To be honest, it was one of the worst jobs I've ever had. I knew my stuff - working in the power tool section - but the boss was a real tyrant! Not to mention the fact that I already had my BA in English and History!! While there a pair of steel workhorse braces went on sale because they were old stock. They were a great price and I snapped them up.

Not long after this my new wife, while on a trip to Halifax,  bought me a book by Skip Snaithe on how to build a stitch and glue kayak. I started right away and guess what I used to support the strongback on the craft??  - those steel braces I bought!! I began with earnest on this new boat! Then, in a twist of fate, I decided that working in a hardware store for the rest of my life was "not my bag" and I went back to school. "School" meant going to Dalhousie for two years to do my Master's Degree. It also meant abandoning the kayak that I started!! The poor thing was unceremoniously dismantled and, to this day, I keep finding bits and pieces of 1/8  plywood kicking around!!  The braces were packed away somewhere.

In 1997 we started building our house. We/I decided that I could do most of it myself - and I was right. Needless to say, those braces were used quite a bit during the construction of our house. 

In 1999, after working on the house for two years, we moved in. The braces were retired once again UNTIL!

In 2000 I decided that I was going to build a 20' Carolina Dory Skiff as per plans from Glen-L This was a craft that was built around forms. Forms meant the need for a strongback. Strongback meant I would need the braces once again,  I built this boat over two years - outside. We had a record snowfall that winter that collapsed my temporary shelter and completely snowed in the frame of the boat. The weight of the snow bent the frames but I managed to straighten 'er out, sheath'er up, glass'er up and come up with a great boat!! I still have her but since I've been kayaking, she's languishing on the trailer!!

Fast forward to Jan 2011. After a bit of searching I managed to dredge up the braces again. Called upon  once more for small craft, i.e., kayak, duty. I've promised myself that this kayak WILL be completed and that it WILL be the best piece of craftsmanship I've produced to date!! Mark my words!!

Here's the 18'x2' table. Note the black leg braces!

Just another angle!

Let the games begin . . .

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In the beginning . . .

Before I start building a new boat, I have to carve out my work space in the attic. It's a big open space but a few years back I built a 8x12 platform for my slot car race track. The track was the first thing that had to go as it's right where I plan to build my boat.

In the image below you'll see the track platform being used to store drysuits and other such things. Things certainly look cluttered. Can you see where an 18' boat can be built?

You never know what you'll find when you start cleaning up. I finally found all the pieces of my Colecovision console - including a Donkey Kong cartridge. I might try to get 'er going the weekend. My 13 yr old son seems keen on seeing it work. I'm sure he won't be impressed when compared to his Xbox 360!!

After about an hour of shifting sh!t about, things were starting to look up. I disassembled the slot car track and what a difference. Still lots of stuff to get out of the way!!

Another hour later and I'm almost ready to start building a boat in here. I'll build parallel to the left wall. I'll remove the temporary railing and board over the stair well. I'll set up some saw horses to make a building platform. I plan on draping the area from ceiling to floor in plastic sheeting. I don't want to take up the whole attic space as it's used by others in the family. Notice the drum kit to the right. The attic is also my son's jammin' spot when visiting musicians, a.k.a. his cousins, drop by!!

There are small windows in each end of the attic which is great for ventilation. I have a large hatch that isolates the attic from the rest of the house.

Believe it or not, I can swing an 18' boat and slide it down that stairwell and right out the second story front window. Badda boom badda bing!!

And the sage continues . . . 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A somewhat bigger fish to fry!!!

All this time I've been building paddles, pumps and various kayak-related paraphenalia. I've decided it's time to move onto something bigger and a lot more challenging - like a boat!!

While I really like my plastic boat - the Baffin by Borean Design

I think that I'm ready to move onto a glass one.  I've been sitting on the fence about whether to buy or make one. I think I've made my decision. 

And the winner is  . . . .

(clicky clicky on the link above)
As designed by Duane Strosaker. 

I'll be going with the Point Bennett 18 - which is 18' long by 21.5" wide. As with all plywood boats, she's got hard chines. My Baffin has chines as well and I've grown to like them!  I contacted Duane for some idea of the handling of the boat. Here's part of his response:

"I would describe the Point Bennett as feeling a lot like a Nigel Dennis Romany Explorer but a little faster and tippier, with a bit less volume and a stiffer stern, but they edge turn about the same. Without a skeg or rudder, I haven't paddled a better all around handling kayak. It is very well balanced for a variety of conditions, but of course, there are times I'm working harder on one side. I haven't felt a need to install a skeg in my Point Bennetts, but there are times when one would help."

That's good enough for me!!!

Now I have to start collecting materials. Kinda hard to believe that you can't buy marine grade plywood in St. John's. Looks like I'll have to order it in and, believe it or not, the best bet looks to be  from TORONTO!?!?!?  For those not familiar with these two cities - St. John's is a 500 year old seaport on an island that's long been connected to the sea. Toronto, on the other hand, is a huge metropolis and, while it is on Lake Ontario, is still in the middle of the country!!!!   Oh the irony!!!  Materials like glass, resin and such can be acquired locally - thank gawd!

I'm also starting to read up on the building process for stitch and glue boats. I just got back from the public library where I found a most useful book on that very topic!!  While I have pretty much all the tools I need, I'm keeping my out for those ones that may make the job a little easier.

I will be building in my attic - yes, I said "attic".  My attic is a 24x32 wide open room - thanks to a rafters and 12 on 12 peaked roof!! The starirs are situated just right so that an 18 foot boat can fit down them and right out the window on the second story. This will be well worth the sight to see - I'll have to make sure the cameras are rolling for this exercise!!

Not sure when I'll be starting but once I do, I'll make sure to keep up my blog entries.

Let the adventure begin!!!