Sunday, June 29, 2008

No, I haven't abandoned you!

Some of you who may visit this blog fairly regularly may think that I’ve abandoned you. This is not the case. I’m actually on ‘vacation’ up in Maine. I say this in a sort of tongue-and-cheek manner as I’m doing one of the things that I really love to do which is to teach people how to build cedar-strip canoes.

The facility I am at is particularly wonderful. There is a waterfront with a variety of rowing, paddling and sailing boats up to about 30’ in length that the school owns. Classes in seamanship, coastal voyaging and coastal paddling are all taught down here. The school also has guest moorings and it’s not uncommon to wake up and find that one of the windjammers has arrived the night before. There is also a shop where all kinds of boatbuilding are taught – from modern tack-and-tape construction to very traditional lapstrake and caravel planking. The shop has a staff of three people who keep the place humming along with a stunning efficiency. The materials are very good and the tools and facilities make life easy. In the last week in the shop, there was a 14’ lapstrake boat, 12’ caravel boat, three canoes, one Rangely Lake boat, and 8 surfboards built! Off campus at a local craftsman’s shop a class in blacksmithing and welding were taught. I mistakenly forgot to bring a camera to take pictures of the ironwork that came out of that class – some was really intense. The variety of what is offered is amazing and the instructors that teach are some of the best in the world in what they are teaching.

More posts with more pictures to come!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Price of fuel...

It seems that recently the price of gas has gone from, "No way..." to "OMG, WTH?!?" As a matter of fact, the cartoon above comes from the point in time when it was "No way..." In our area, gas has literally gone up by almost 35% since early February. So, it is only fitting that as a boat builder I try to improve my MPG:

A recent study found the average wooden canoe builder walks 23,000 steps or 6.7 miles in building a wooden cedarstrip canoe. Another study found that the average canoe builder drinks, on average, 7.8 gallons of beer while building a cedarstrip canoe.That means, on average, the average wooden cedarstrip canoe gets about 116 miles per gallon (MPG)*.

Kind of makes you proud, eh?

* Cited MPG is for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage may vary depending on the square-footage and physical layout of your shop, and your distance away from the beer capitol of the world, Milwaukee, WI.

Wordless Wednesday

OOPS! Ok, wordless Thursday, not wordless Wednesday - I'm a busy guy!

Friday, June 13, 2008

With Big, Nasty, Pointy Teeth!

Killer Bunny = Chipmunk?

This evening I went to my father's house with my chainsaw to clean up a fallen limb that was a remnant of the other night's storm. (See below...) When I arrived in the backyard, I noticed a mess of blue jay feathers on the lawn near a water container that sits on the ground and serves as a bird bath. Someone had had a bit of a picnic.

Not far away, was a pile of boards covered with a blue tarp. Sitting on top of the tarp was a very bold chipmunk. He was all of 3 1/2" tall, but sitting on the top of the pile like he owned the place. As I look, I notice...

Nah. Couldn't be.

I moved a bit closer to the chipmunk.

No way.

I'm now within about 10' of the chipmunk. He's stamping his front paws on the board as he sort of rocks from side to side, but he's not running away. He's got a small blue jay feather sticking out of the corner of his mouth and is chewing on the end, the feather sort of moving back and forth as he chews.


Well, I guess Monty Python's Killer Bunny has competition!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It was a dark and stormy night...

I'll quote Madeline L'Engle here from her wonderful book, A Wrinkle in Time:

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way."

Why, you may ask? We had a thunderstorm that came through the other night and I got a few pictures of the storm. Things were not really bad at our house, but north and south of us, the weather was ferocious. Here are a few pictures:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Got Clamps?

You can never be :
too rich
too good looking
have too many clamps.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One of each, Please!

I've got a goal. I guess you could say that it's one of those goals that makes you say you've bitten off more than you can chew.

I'd like to build small craft in all of the various construction methods used for wooden canoes, kayaks and small skiffs. It's a tall order, really.

I've done cedar-strip and fiberglass construction on both small and large canoes. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Have helped build a small fleet (yes, fleet) of Wee Lassie and Wee Lassie II canoes to Mac McCarthy's designs, a Redbird to Ted Moores design, a Wabnaki to Gil Gilpatrick's plans, and a sea kayak who's name I don't recall. I've literally helped cut miles of cedar, redwood and sassafrass strips.

A Wee Lassie (Not mine...)

I've done restorations on a number of cedar and canvas canoes, but have never built one from scratch. I've replaced ribs, planking, stems, seat frames, decks, thwarts and canvas on a variety of this type of canoe. I've worked on what we suspect is a Chestnut, a Grand Laker, an Old Town Otca and two BN Morris canoes. I suspect that the one of the reasons that I'm actually into building canoes the way I am is paying penance to the Canoe Gods - I once participated in the fiberglassing of a classic BN Morris canoe that was in quite excellent shape. It's sort of a sin and I figure all my suffering through other boats is the pay-back. I would like to build one from scratch - forms and all, but I think I'd like to go take a class with a pro before I approach the intricacies of shaping cant ribs, and goring planks.

A restored 1916 Otca

I'd also like to do skin-on-frame canoes and kayaks. Quite frankly, they look like a heck of a lot of fun and not all that demanding. People seem to be gun-shy about the durability of this kind of boat, but they seem to be quite robust, really. The really impressive part about these boats is how incredibly light they are and how incredibly beautiful they can be.

Two Skin on Frame Canoes
From the Berkshire Boat Building School

I built a lapstrake canoe with my father to Tom Hill's Charlotte design. It was an interesting process and once the strongback, forms and ribbands were in place, it was quite quick to build. My father did the beveling of the stems and he seemed to make quite a meal of the process for some reason. I also couldn't seem to convince him to thicken the epoxy we were using for the seams with Cab-O-Sil, which would have made things much easier. I'm going to build my own boat by myself to apply those lessons that I've learned. I think I'll wind up with a nicer boat. I want to try more boats in this style.

Tom Hill's Charlotte
Thomas J. Hill Boat Designs

I'd like to try a tack-and-tape or stitch-and-glue style boat - either a canoe or kayak. Mik Storer's Beth looks particularly interesting to me. It's a sailing canoe and it looks to be quite the hot-rod with a huge amount of sail for a small canoe. I'm also interested in this method because of the relative simplicity and low cost. Newfound Woodworks has a small Wee Lassie style canoe kit to be built by this method. I think some of the people who've been intimidated by my cedar strip class might be interested in trying this and it might be more affordable.

Mik Storer's Beth

Now just to let you know about the "bitten off more than you can chew part", there are more ways than this to build small boats. Plank on frame and cold-molded come immediately to mind, but certainly aren't the only other ways... Anybody think I'm crazy yet? I know I certainly think I am.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Honey, these are NOT the salt and vinegar chips...

Ok, this one just strikes me as weird.

AP Mon Jun 2, 12:19 PM ET

CINCINNATI - The man who designed the Pringles potato crisp packaging system was so proud of his accomplishment that a portion of his ashes has been buried in one of the iconic cans.

Fredric J. Baur, of Cincinnati, died May 4 at Vitas Hospice in Cincinnati, his family said. He was 89.

Baur's children said they honored his request to bury him in one of the cans by placing part of his cremated remains in a Pringles container in his grave in suburban Springfield Township. The rest of his remains were placed in an urn buried along with the can, with some placed in another urn and given to a grandson, said Baur's daughter, Linda Baur of Diamondhead, Miss.

Baur requested the burial arrangement because he was proud of his design of the Pringles container, a son, Lawrence Baur of Stevensville, Mich., said Monday.

Baur was an organic chemist and food storage technician who specialized in research and development and quality control for Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co.

Baur filed for a patent for the tubular Pringles container and for the method of packaging the curved, stacked chips in the container in 1966, and it was granted in 1970, P&G archivist Ed Rider said.

Baur retired from P&G in the early 1980s.