Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The First Cut is the Deepest ( apologies to Sheryl Crow)

Day 1 of actual boat construction, also known as, "Oh, I love the smell of fresh sawdust in the morning".

Transfer some patterns to a sheet of plywood, cut them out with a circular saw, hand plane and sand the edges, and after six hours you have cockpit decking, footwell sides, and seatback tops. I followed the tip of cutting two sheets of plywood at the same time to get exact matching parts (they may be be the wrong size but at least they are identical).
Today was a bit of experimentation with transferring the patterns and drawing curves so I am hopeful the procedure will become a little faster. I don't think I have ever been so careful in measuring and cutting wood before, and plan on accuracy being foremost and not speed for the duration of this project.

I am hoping that if I leave the clamps sitting out maybe they will reproduce and make baby clamps. I am already starting to see that you can never have too many  clamps.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Kingdom for a Horse... (Sawhorse that is)

I managed to buy a few more supplies today and cleaned up and reorganized the basement work area in preparation for doing a bit of construction before I leave for Australia on January 8th. Constructed  four sawhorses as I don't always want to be kneeling on the cool concrete floor while working.  I should now have enough storage space for all cutout parts except the large panels that need to be scarfed together.

The pool table (shown in the previous post) should be a good place to put the sheets of plywood on while I transfer the patterns. My goal for when I move out to the garage in the spring (hopefully April) is to have completed all the following in the basement: smaller parts cut out and milled; parts of the keel and companionway, the rudder, the tiller, mast, spars, boom, and gallows constructed.

I found what I think should turn out to be very nice floorboards for the cabin. The local lumber yard had Teak 100% Heartwood flooring available for a very reasonable price. The flooring is solid Costa Rican (sourced sustainably) Teak 3 1/4 " wide by 5/8" thick with a very durable finished surface. The plans call for 3" wide but when I rip off the tongue and groove with my Christmas gift table saw it will be exactly 3".  Teak Heartwood is very dense and has a high tensile strength so 5/8" should be fine even though the plans call for 3/4". 

I came across some really good tips for stitch and glue construction on the CLC Boat Builders Forum that I will probably use. The tips come courtesy of username tuatara in Australia. 

1/ I copied the patterns on to the timber using giant carbon paper (2' x 16'), available from www.boatdesigns.com . Much quicker than punching holes and playing join the dots. (I have no affiliation with boatdesigns.com - thats just where I found the paper)

2/ I joined entire plywood panels, using scarf joints, before marking out and cutting. Its awkward to manouvre such large panels, but it does mean the parts are cut out as single pieces, so theres no risk of misalignment from joining two cut parts ( I can't cut accurate puzzle joints with a jigsaw!)

3/ In making the scarf, I used doublesided tape to hold the edges of the panels - much better result.

4/ I did all my cutting using a jigsaw (sabersaw in US English :-), with the plywood supported on blocks of 2" styrofoam.  The jigsaw blade goes through styrofoam like it wasn't there, yet the foam provides a really solid support to work on.

5/ to save time marking and cutting, where duplicate parts were required I stacked two pieces of ply, pinned them together with small nails (important!) and cut both parts at once.  This also helps ensure symmetry. I left the parts pinned together for finishing with plane and sander.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The New Boat Plans are Here! The New Boat Plans are Here!

After patiently waiting for 2 months (well maybe not completely patiently) the Pocketship plans surprised me and arrived on an evening postal delivery. Delivery took 11 days. I have had parcels sent to my son in Australia take about the same amount of time, but of course it is the holiday season.

It appears that good things come to those who wait as I cannot imagine there being a more comprehensive set of boat building plans being available in the marketplace. Eleven pages of 2' by 3' scaled drawings, seven sheets of 3' by 16' full sized patterns, and a 288 page instruction manual with more than 800 photos and diagrams.

I have skimmed the manual and every step appears to have been carefully photographed and explained in language easily understood by a first time boat builder.  Every detail from pouring the lead ballast to building spars to attaching all the rigging and hardware is outlined concisely, knowledgeably, and with lots of expert boat building hints.

The whole package is most impressive and plans such as for the Bolger Micro are pathetically inferior in comparison (not even a  list of materials and only  7 or 8 pages of building instructions).

The photos show the manual and  scaled drawings, the full size patterns beside an 8 foot pool table for scale, and a sample page from the manual.

A quick read through the manual has given me a better idea of how big of a project this is actually going to be. Thankfully, not too overwhelming but I am still glad to have such excellent instructions. It looks like there is lots of stuff I can do in my basement workshop starting in February while the garage is too cold. I wish I could start sooner but will be away in January for my son's wedding in Australia.