Monday, November 17, 2008


Every so often when you are building a boat, you have a problem. It may be a little mistake, it may be a big mistake. At this point, you need to use your judgement to decide what you want to do.

Do you:
  • Ignore the problem?
  • Try to camoflage (HIDE!) the problem?
  • Repair the problem?
  • Start again?
The truly minor problems - generally cosmetic - you could choose to ignore.

The problems that aren't critical, but as the builder, tend to irritate you, you can try to camoflage. In strip construction, this tends to be minor holes or cracks that you'll fill with "Boat Spackle" - AKA "Dookie Shmutz" - a mixture of epoxy, wood flour and fumed silica...

Sometimes it's possible to repair the problem - either by replacing or patching the damaged area, or usually re-setting the strip while the glue is still wet. You can even remove epoxy (with a little heat) if you royally mess it up.

Occasionally, you have a problem where you need to start again. You're building a seat and you crack a rail while putting in a mortise and have concerns about the strength of the stock. You're making a strongback and it is warped beyond repair. You're cutting strips and they are too thin. You're molding stock with cove-and-bead and it just isn't right. These are the things where it's just not salvageable. The finished product will be ugly or will not work right. Sometimes it's not worth continuing to put more effort and money into the boat.

This week one of my student's box-beam for a strongback got wet by sitting on wet lumber. It was warped fairly badly. We have some potential methods to solve the issue, but we're waiting to see how bad the warp is after the beam dries. We're still early enough in the process to make another box-beam - it will take time and money to do so if necesary, but it is better than continuing to throw time and money at a boat that will have a tendency to turn to one side or the other.

The wisdom to know which path to take is called experience.

Just remember - good judgement is the result of experience and experience is the result of bad judgement.

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