Friday, April 10, 2009

I haz...

Tonight, my flavor is 'cedar'. I went up to a friend and former student's house to help him rip and mold some stock for a new canoe that he is building. He lives about a half-hour away in an area that was incredibly hard-hit by ice storms this past December. I hadn't been up to this area for a while and I was just stunned by the damage that I saw to the trees. It will take years to clean it up. I didn't think to take pictures at the time, I was too busy taking it all in, but areas looked like a bomb had gone off. People were cleaning up in their yards and there were large stacks of cordwood in many yards.

My friend is building a Solo Portage designed by Rob Macks of Laughing Loon. Ideally, he would have liked to build the canoe from Northern White Cedar. He managed to find some great sources for clear stock, but didn't find any that was long enough for his purposes as he didn't want to have to scarf the strips for this build - primarily for cosmetic reasons. Northern White Cedar is about 20% lighter than other Cedars and this boat will be portaged into remote lakes for fishing trips, so light weight is very important.

He finally chose to use a mix of Atlantic White Cedar and Western Red Cedar, but to cut the strips thinner - 3/16" instead of the 1/4" that I usually recommend my students use. This fellow is an above-average woodworker and his first build was a staple-less Wee Lassie Two that came out beautifully. The Atlantic White cedar was rough-cut stock, so we planed it down to thickness and then jointed it. The Western Red Cedar was planed and jointed and could be ripped as is.

The set-up that we used was a pair of Freud Diablo blades. Here's the gang sawing assembly set up on his saw from a previous post. Another view of a similar set up is here. Being able to cut two strips at a time really cuts the time down. Less than half the time of strip at a time. There were eight boards that were 16 feet long and six to eight inches wide. We got about 200 strips out of these boards.

After we got the strips cut, I was covered in sawdust. The zero-clearance insert works very well for its purpose, but prevents the dust collection system on the table saw from doing a very good job. For this reason, a good dust mask and eye protection are required equipment. Hearing protection and gloves are also not to be forgotten. My flavor of the day had arrived.

We then cleaned up the table saw and set up the router table. I've designed a router table that uses two Porter-Cable Model 690 routers to cut both the cove and bead on a strip at once. I taught my friend to set up the table. We did something that I haven't tried before, but looks like it will work fine. We used 1/8" radius cutters (used for 1/4" thick strips...) and centered them on the 3/16" thick strips. This produced strips that didn't have full radii, but that still nested very well. I left him to finish milling the strips on his own as it was nearly dinner time.

The router table with dust collection and feather boards.

A board serving as the router's outfeed table.

It was a pleasant day with good company. As we worked, we discussed tools and methods and I think that we both learned some new new things, which always makes for a great time. I'm looking forward to seeing his progress on this new canoe!

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