Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tech Tip Tuesday


Sometimes There's No Tool Like an Old Tool

I have a student who is a professional woodworker - a cabinetmaker by trade. He is, ummm, well experienced and I've known him in one way or another for many years. He'd been thinking of building a kayak for many years and had already purchased plans for a Newfound Woodworks Osprey. I knew this and had been talking with him about it for quite some time. After a fair amount of teasing, he finally signed up for my class.

This student is a talented woodworker, but is comfortable using his tools. Most of these tools happen to come with a "tail" that ends like this:

I'm not a Luddite - I use power tools where I think they make sense. For example, I'm not going to rip the 1/4 mile of strips that go into a Wee Lassie by hand. Nor, will I do my final sanding on a whole hull by hand. Still, I will do my initial fairing with a sharp hand plane and my initial sanding with a long-board to achieve a good, fair hull.

A few weeks ago, this student was working on his coaming - it is made up from 3/8" thick cove-and-bead cut Port Orford Cedar. His final strip was in the front of the coaming and was made from a piece of Butternut (also known as White Walnut) to match the feature strip running down the center of his deck. He had measured the gap where this final strip went and made this last piece up in his shop during the week using a router table to shape the coves.

He arrived at class to find it 1/8" too wide.

What to do?

He started looking around for tools - power tools - to solve this fit issue. We suggested the use of a piece of coarse sandpaper wrapped around a dowel of an appropriate diameter. Here is the suggestion being implemented: (note the power tools on the bench...)

Did it work?


Was it quick?

Yup. It took less time than setting up the router would have.

Sometimes the best tool isn't a power tool.

Once the pieces were glued in place, the bottom of the coaming needed to be cut flush to the bottom of the deck. First tool that came out? A sabre saw. It wasn't a bad idea, but we were concerned about breaking loose the edge glued strips until such time as they were reinforced with fiberglass and epoxy. We suggested the use of a Japanese style pull saw for trimming the edge. He looked at it suspiciously and I'm surprised that he didn't ask where it plugged in. After a little practice he got all but the most difficult transitions cut flush. Here he is making quick work of the trimming:

Still, he couldn't resist getting out the power tool to finish up the details:

While he often teases me in class with his suggestion that, "I'll get out the belt sander to do that." I think he's developed a new-found respect for some of the hand tools when they are the right tool for the job.


Bob Easton said...

Hmmmm ... and he's made it all the way to gray hair without using safety glasses? :)

I'd be inclined to pick on the anonymous builder more, but he does have a beautiful kayak going, and he had the good sense to take one of your classes.

Keep handing him the "cordless" tools.

Canoez said...

Actually, he usually does wear glasses. The trick is to convince him that he should wear a dust mask with all the power sanding. Some (bad) habits die hard. ;-)

We'll keep passing him "cordless" tools. He's still learning new tricks, don't ya know...