Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

For Newtown, Connecticut

There are no words for a tragedy like this one.  So many innocent lives lost from such a senseless act by an individual who obviously needed more help than he was getting.  It is horrific.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Puzzler

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax  si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?

I think that I'd want that as the motto on any crest for Doghouse Boatworks...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

There's Nothing More Expensive...

...than a free boat.

Let me explain.

On Thanksgiving weekend I got a call from a friend of mine who is a professional woodworker.  He told me that a friend of his had too many boat projects and an old wood and canvas canoe that he was getting rid of and would I be interested.  What it was, exactly, and it's condition was a bit nebulous.  Would I be interested?  Is the Pope...?  Well - you get the idea.  Of course I was interested.   With that commitment, he picked up the boat and brought it to his house.  I made arrangements to pick it up last weekend after class.

So, last Saturday, I put the extended rack on my car that I use to deal with longer boats and headed down to my friend's house.

He'd kindly made some brackets to help the canoe keep it's shape when strapped down to the roof rack.  A cursory examination in the rapidly dropping temperature and fading light showed an old canoe with no canvas, some broken ribs, no seats and a single thwart.  We mounted the brackets with numb fingers and noses and strapped the boat to the roof of my car, retreating to the house to split a "restorative beverage" and some snacks before I had to head out for one other nearby errand before heading home.   

For the first few miles that I drove, the music on the radio was periodically interrupted by a loud "CLICK" as loose tacks fell from the canoe and dropped on the car.  It fortunately ended quickly - hopefully nobody with thin tires was behind me!

The next morning, I took a decent look at the boat on the car in daylight:

Amazingly, the boat has held it's shape fairly well, even with the broken ribs and other issues.  

Now, to figure out what it is and what it should look like.  I started with some pictures of the ends of the canoe.  Deck shapes and the area near the stems can be dead giveaways for the brand of canoe, if not the model.  I took the pictures and went to the folks at the WCHA website.  The decks look like this:

This particular design of heart-shaped decks seems to be a dead giveaway for a canoe by J.H. Ruston of Canton, NY.    Because Rushton didn't start making and selling canvas covered canoes until after about 1903, it's likely that this canoe dates from somewhere between 1903 and 1917 or so.  There still seems to be a little debate about whether this is a Navahoe or an Indian Girl canoe, but it was one of the lower trim levels when made.    More research will be required to nail things down, but it should be possible to find out what model and trim level this is.

So, now that you've seen this I'm sure you're looking and thinking, "Wow.  That's a wreck - it's going to need lots of work."  Well, yeah, it's going to need some research and elbow grease.  Oh, yeah - it will also need some cedar, some appropriate hardwood, canvas, filler paint, varnish, cane and hardware, but it will be worth it to bring such a rare classic back.

So, now you know - there's nothing more expensive than a free boat.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday

"With a little help from my friends"  -  an important Tech Tip Tuesday piece of advice to repeat.  As I've noted here previously, my students are building skin-on-frame canoes and a kayak this year.  These boats consist of stringers that get attached to marine plywood frames.  For the canoe design that we're building, there are 11 stringers - that's a lot of juggling.  While it is possible to do this assembly yourself, extra hands are a real treat in making this work a bit easier.  The use of clamps and bungee cord like Tom Yost (Yostwerks) uses helps as well.

Because of the limited amount of space in the workshop and the fact that I've got two more boats being built this year, we're doing our part fabrication down in the wood shop and our assembly work up on the first floor of the building.


Even still, we occupy the whole space - and it's a big, well-lit space.

 The one kayak that's being built in class to Dave Gentry's design (Gentry Custom Boats) has some fairly husky stringers and takes a bit of force to flex them into place while the boat is being assembled.  Many hands is very helpful here.

One of my students was a bit discouraged this past week and I hope that he'll take the opportunity to read the blog and understand just how important having a little help can be.  He's got an opportunity that he just shouldn't turn down that will interfere with his ability to finish his boat.  However, where there is a will, there is a way.  Friends to help you help you work on your boat here if you wish, friends to help you load the boat parts to take with you to finish elsewhere, and friends to help with those last bits of cutting and information that you might need to finish your boat.

Besides - it's the time of year to be building and maintaining boats around here - not paddling them.  How can I tell?  Well, Mother Nature brought winter to us on December 1st - right on schedule!

On Thursday, I hope to have another post that shows what happens with a little help from your friends!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo By Ian Hollis
From the BBC

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Really? REALLY?

I managed to go until November 19th before I heard my first Christmas music on the radio.   Still, it was a bit too early for me.

I enjoy Christmastime.  Really I do.  I'm not really a misanthrope or a curmudgeon.  However, I do have my limits.  I really, really prefer to celebrate one holiday at a time. 

Even more egregious than the music - I went in to a local big-box home improvement store to get something at the end of September - there were both Halloween and Christmas decorations on display.  About a week later, I went in to a local pharmacy - they had displays of Halloween, Thanksgiving AND Christmas decorations on display.  At the same time.  It hadn't even been Columbus Day weekend yet.


I know that economic times are tough and that retailers make a significant amount of their profits on holiday shopping at the end of the year, but it would really be nice if we could just celebrate one holiday at a time.  I usually wait until at least the first week in December before I decorate for Christmas or will even think of putting Christmas music on.  I might do a bit of holiday shopping before the 1st of December, but only if I find something special or unique - and I certainly don't go out on "Black Friday" or "Grey Thursday" as they're now calling Thanksgiving Day shopping.  The commercialization of the holidays - and particularly Christmas -  is getting out of hand.

Let's remember the true meaning of the season and all of the holidays that everyone celebrates at this time of year.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday

Making the skin-on-frame kayak with my friend earlier, we had no issues with our build.  The thing you need to keep in mind is that we're both experienced woodworkers.  Many of my students in my class or new to woodworking or are coming back to it after a long time.

Sometimes, there are difficulties.

The major one that we've had so far?


What you're looking at is a hole that's been drilled through the sheer stringer on the right and into the frame at an angle.   This hole will be fore a screw that will be used to help hold the stringer to the frame while the thickened epoxy adhesive in the joint cures.  Drilling at an angle has resulted in a break-out in the frame.  This isn't a disaster and can be easily repaired.  The bigger issue is drilling edge-on into a piece of 1/2" plywood with a small drill bit and keeping centered in the plywood.  Not everyone's eye or hand is quite as steady as it needs to be - practice helps, but we can avoid this issue.

The small jig below is the solution.  It's a drilling guide made from some scrap oak.  The portion that is in my hand would get clamped to the frame.  The other section has a series of holes (Some steel drill bushings from McMaster-Carr or the like would have been a bit better to put where the holes were, but this is adequate.)  and goes in front of the stringer.  These holes are placed so that they will locate drilled holes centrally in the plywood.  Note the notch in the piece that gets clamped to the plywood frame to clear the stringers.  Once installed, you drill through the appropriate hole. 


Easy and quick to re-position and use.

We're starting to tick along now and frames are going together quickly!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Now that's just cool. Not wood, but cool.

From The Economist:

3D printing

A third-world dimension

A new manufacturing technique could help poor countries as well as rich ones

“Milk float” gets a whole, new meaning

EVERY summer, Seattle holds a raft race in Green Lake, a park that is the eponymous home of the water the rafts must cross. Entries for the Milk Carton Derby have to be made from old plastic milk bottles. The result is a wonderfully Heath-Robinson collection of improvised craft. But this year one stood out: the entry from the University of Washington’s engineering department actually looked like a boat. The students who built it, Matthew Rogge, Bethany Weeks and Brandon Bowman, had shredded and melted their bottles, and then used a 3D printer to print themselves a plastic vessel.
No doubt the Milk-Carton-Derby rules will be tightened next year—though in the end, the team came only second. But they did come first in a competition that mattered more. On October 19th they won $100,000 in the 3D4D Challenge, organised by a charity called techfortrade.

3D printing is all the rage at the moment. Several varieties of the technique exist, using a wide range of materials as the “ink”. One of the most popular methods, though—and the one used by the team—works by extruding a filament of molten plastic. In the case of the team’s printer, this plastic was high-density polyethylene from milk bottles. The print head makes repeated passes over the thing being printed, leaving a plastic trail as it does so. It thus builds up a three-dimensional structure.
3D printing is now taken seriously by manufacturers as an alternative to cutting, bending, pressing and moulding things. It is also a popular hobby among those of a geeky disposition. What it has not been used for so far is to help people in poor countries improve their everyday lives.

Mr Rogge, Ms Weeks and Mr Bowman intend to employ their prize money to do precisely that. They plan to form a firm that will, in partnership with a charity called Water for Humans, custom-build composting toilets and rainwater collectors. The partnership will look for suitable local entrepreneurs in poor countries and will train them how to build, use and maintain the printers.

Once the technology is established for toilets and water collectors, other products will be introduced. The local partners will know what products are needed and how much people are prepared to pay for them—and therefore what is worth making. The operation will thus run on a commercial basis. But the software that controls the printers will be open-source and available to all, as will many of the designs for things the printers can make. That way, the technology can spread. A trial will begin soon in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The crucial point about the team’s printer is that it combines size and cheapness. Printers used by hobbyists are not expensive, but they are small. Many would find it hard to make anything larger than a coffee cup. Those used by engineering companies cost serious money—and even they might balk at printing an object the size of the Milk Carton Derby boat.

The team’s printer is built around a second-hand computer-controlled plasma cutter (a device used for carving up sheets of metal). This directs the movement of an extruder that melts flakes of plastic into a thin stream which can be squirted out as required. It is able to create things with dimensions of up to 2.5 metres by 1.2 metres by 1 metre. Appropriately, many of its parts were themselves manufactured on a desktop 3D printer.

The ink is cheap, too. High-density polyethylene is as common as muck—literally, for a lot of it ends up on refuse tips. Chop it up, though, and it is grist to the mill. Mr Rogge estimates that if he and his colleagues had printed their boat from commercial plastic filament it would have cost them $800. Instead, 250 clean, empty milk bottles set them back just $3.20.

Some technical questions remain. High-density polyethylene shrinks when it cools. That stresses the object being printed and can sometimes tear it apart. The students are therefore working on a second prototype that prints things faster, allowing the layers of plastic to cool almost simultaneously. They are also experimenting with making things from other types of waste plastic that suffer less from shrinkage. And until a production version of the printer is ready and priced, it remains to be seen how competitive its output really will be with mass-produced items. Mr Rogge doubts, for example, that a 3D-printed bucket—even one made from milk bottles—will ever be cheaper than one made in a factory.

Boats, though, could be a hit. One of the judges at the 3D4D Challenge noted that many small vessels in West Africa are made from trees, such as teak, that are becoming scarce. Making them from waste plastic instead would be an environmental twofer: rare species would be conserved and less rubbish thrown away.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's just not possible... leave  yesterday's post "wordless".  There's just too much to tell about it.  One of my students took a trip to South America recently and went to Rapa Nui and Chile all the way down to Patagonia and Tiera del Fuego.  While there, she took the picture from yesterday's Wordless Wednesday post.  I believe it was built by the Yaghan people of Tiera del Fuego. 

The outer part of the hull of the boat is made from bark that has some stringers inside the boat and lashed at the gunwales with sinew.  There were also some thin pieces of wood sprung in the middle of the boat like ribs.

As I understand it, the whole family would go out in the boat.  The wife would be paddling in the back of the boat (Note the two paddles in the picture, laid across the thwarts on either side.)  while the husband was at the front with either a spear (Several are between the paddles...) or a bow and arrows looking for food in the water or on the land.  In the middle of the boat would be the kids - and a fire.  The fire would be made on dirt that was piled on the floor of the boat for cooking. 

Neat, no?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Elizabeth Adams

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Slow, but steady progress.

Preparation is half of boat building.   The students in my class have been working diligently preparing materials to assemble into skin-on-frame boats.  We started with a half sheet of marine grade plywood and some western red cedar and pine lumber. Using a set of master patterns  (the light colored parts on the table), they traced the outlines of the shapes onto the ply.

Then,  they rough cut the outlines using jigsaws and bandsaws and cut the notches for the stringers.  

Once the outlines were rough cut, we used carpet tape to bond the master patterns to the rough cut frame.  We then used a pattern bit in the router table to make the pieces that the students were making exactly the same as the patterns.

After the frames have been cut, a finish fit is made for the stringers with a fine rasp.

Once the notches have been fitted, a test piece should fit smoothly into the notches.

The stringers were cut on the table saw.  We used full length pieces, but shorter pieces could have been scarfed together to make stringers of the appropriate length.  Once the stringers were cut, we used a router to round over the corners where appropriate.  This is for two reasons - to put a better finish on the stringers (finish thins out on sharp corners) and to put a rounded edge to protect the fabric that will be stretched over the frame.

Finally, we've assembled the strongbacks to build the boats on.  (Note the sawhorses from the previous posts.)  We've built a few new strongbacks, will try to re-use some old ones and 2x4's that are recommended for this build method.

Frames go together quickly once the material is prepped.  I expect to be able to show some mostly finished frames after next week's class.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sad, Indeed.

The picture above is of the replica of the Bounty built in Lunenburg , Nova Scotia in 1960 for the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty. The ship had been used as a traveling tourist attraction and had worked as a film ship in other movies including Pirates of the Caribbean.  This past weekend, the captain made the decision to try to take the ship out of port in New London, Connecticut and head out to sea to avoid the effects of Hurricane Sandy as they made their way to an event that was scheduled to be in Florida.

On their way, there were updates posted on their Facebook page about the conditions and the ship itself.  Progressive failures of equipment and leaks gave an ominous hint of the ship's fate.  At the last contact the ship's owner had with the captain at about 4:00 AM, he reported that they were taking on water and were preparing to abandon ship.  The crew got into survival gear and started boarding the life rafts.  As the captain and two crew members were about to board the life rafts, they were washed overboard by a wave.  One of the crew members managed to make it to a raft.

The US Coast Guard sent an aircraft to locate the ship by it's EPIRB.  Helicopters were then dispatched to that location and 14 of the crew of 16 were rescued.  Helicopters then proceeded to search for the remaining two crew members - the captain and a mate.

The mate, Claudene Christian - a descendant of Fletcher Christian; the original Bounty's mate - was found unresponsive in the water and later declared dead at the hospital.  The picture below is of her and the ship

Captain Robin Walbridge is still missing and presumed dead, although the Coast Guard continued their search for him on Tuesday.

This was a truly tragic day out on the water.  Investigations will take place to find out the cause of the loss, but I'll not second-guess the decisions made by captain and crew of the Bounty. I'm sure more facts and details will come out as time goes on and the crew talks to the media.

This last picture was taken by a Coast Guard crewman on the rescue helicopter as the Bounty was sinking.  Sad ending.

 A friend who is a sailor posted the following today in memory of those lost.  It seemed like an appropriate ending to this post.

Flaunt out O Sea, your separate flags of nations!
Flaunt out, visible as ever, the various ship-signals!
But do you reserve especially for yourself, and for the soul of man, one flag above all the rest,
A spiritual woven Signal, for all nations, emblem of man elate above death,
Token of all brave captains, and all intrepid sailors and mates,
And all that went down doing their duty;
Reminiscent of them’twined from all intrepid captains, young or old;
A pennant universal, subtly waving, all time, o’er all brave sailors,
All seas, all ships.

Walt Whitman

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012


On Tuesday, I mentioned that I would post the design and a material list for the folding sawhorses.  Here it is.

Material List:

Qty 2 - 2x4 8 foot long
Qty 4 - 2-1/2" Hex head 1/4" Bolt, 1/4-20 thread
Qty 4 - 1/4-20 Nylock Hex nut
Qty 12 - 1/4" ID, 1" OD fender washers
Qty 32 - #8x1-1/2" Deck Screws (Do NOT use drywall screws - they are brittle and will snap!)
Wood Glue
6' of 1/8" Nylon Line

And here are the drawings (Click to enlarge - you should be able to save and print these JPEG format files) :

 To start, I ripped one of the 2x4's into three 1" wide by 1-1/2" tall strips - reserve the scrap for later as it will have a use.  Cut the pieces to length and add the 20° cuts to the ends.  I found a miter saw to be very handy for this.  I then cut a 24" long piece of the second 2x4 and ripped it to get the top pieces.    I then cut the pieces I didn't get out of the first 2x4 out of the remainder of the second one.  There should be enough left to cut a piece that is cut down the middle of the 2x4 at a 20° angle to use as French cleats to be able to hang the sawhorses on the wall if you so desire.

To drill the holes, I used a drill press to assure myself that the holes would be square.  I also made sure that I measured all of the pieces from the bottom to be sure that the hinges would be properly located.

To assemble the inner leg assembly, I took the piece of leftover scrap from ripping the first 2x4 and cut two sections 18" long.  These were put on the bench and the 20" stretchers were put on top of them.  The scrap acts as a spacer to roughly center the short stretchers on the inner legs.  I pre-drilled the holes for the screws in the inner legs and then put glue between the stretchers and the side rails.  Clamping the pieces in place, I then screwed the parts in place using the deck screws. (two per joint)

 The outer leg assembly is a bit trickier.  The long stretcher is put on the outer legs, pre-drilled, then glued and screwed in place.  Be sure the legs are square to the stretchers and that the legs are parallel.  Similarly, pre-drill, glue and screw the top to the ends of the outer legs.

Now that the two leg assemblies are complete, insert the bolts through the appropriate holes from the outside.  There shoudl be a washer underneath the bolt's head, between the inner and outer leg, and on the inside of the inner leg before the nut is installed.  It will be difficult to get the washer between the inner and outer legs, but this is necessary.  Tighten to get an appropriate amount of friction. 

Cut the nylon line into two pieces and seal the ends with a flame.   Tie a loop around each of the bottom stretchers to keep the legs from spreading too far.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday

One of the more useful tools in a boat shop are sawhorses - they're handy for so many things.  They can be cheap to build and relatively lightweight.  However, when they're not in use traditional sawhorses take up a lot of space.

I've looked at commercial folding sawhorses - and actually own one metal one.  It's nice, but at about $35 a pop, they're not cheap and they're not light at about 20 pounds each.  In addition, depending on the height that they're set to, you can't fold the legs up beneath the cross-rail.  They do, however, support a HUGE amount of weight - 1200 pounds!  Most of "sheet metal" sawhorse designs I don't much care for and they just seem a bit wimpy, actually.

I don't much care for the plastic sawhorses that are available - they're on the heavy side, they flex a bit and they're also not inexpensive.  I also have a bit of a problem with the idea of making more plastic things.

A gentleman by the name of Greg Nolan who is active in the WCHA and at the WoodenBoat Forum suggested some plywood knock-down designs that look very nice, really.  The sad part is that plywood has gotten fairly expensive.

I decided that I'd give a try at designing some of my own.  I wanted them to be inexpensive, quick to make, stable, light-weight and easy to store.  Because we're not holding up a large amount of weight with the boats we're building, that wasn't a huge concern.  We also don't need particularly tall sawhorses.  Here's what I came up with:

These are 28" tall, 24" wide and while I haven't weighed them yet, they're very light.

They fold down flat - as you can see in the image below.

As for materials?  To make 2 sawhorses, you're looking at two 2x4's worth of material (with leftover material!), 32 deck screws, four bolts, 12 washers, 4 nuts, four feet of nylon line and a bit of glue.  They are actually strong enough for me to sit on, so I'm pretty pleased with the strength.  When folded, the top is at an angle which allows them to be hung on a wall with a French cleat - clearing floor space.

I'll post a how-to later this week with a drawings, a material list and cost breakdown.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ok, I changed my mind. Shocking.

I was going to post a wise as... er...  smart a...  *AHEM!*  snide comment about yesterday's Wordless Wednesday post.  Basically, the comment was something along the lines of, "That sculpture was the best use for those boats".

What do I mean?

Well, I'm talking about plastic-fantastic, poly, tupper-yaks, f@#!g!@$$, beer-can boats and all of the other derogatory comments made about plastic, fiberglass and aluminum boats.  The truth of the matter is that not everyone can afford to build or buy a nice wooden boat.  The important part is whatever boat that you enjoy, gets you out on the water safely, and brings you back home again is a good boat.  Period. 

Just so you know that I'm not a wooden boat snob, here's a little history of my boating.  The first paddle-powered boat I ever went in (as a very small passenger) was a green cedar and canvas canoe - probably an Old Town.  I learned to paddle by myself in a plastic Coleman canoe.  As a Scout, most of my canoe trips were made in a borrowed aluminum canoe.  The first boat I owned was a bright red fiberglass Allagash Nomad (with beautiful ash trim, I might add...).  The next boat was a Kevlar Wilderness Designs Boston Cruiser - a flatwater racing kayak.  The Boston Cruiser was rapidly followed up by a fiberglass Seda Swift sea kayak which I still own almost 20 years later.  In our stables we now have a tupper-yak of our own - a Crayola yellow 12' long Old Town Vapor purchased for my DW's birthday this year.  It's not my cup of tea, but it gets her out on the water and feeling comfortable - which is an accomplishment in itself.

So, while my personal preference is for a light-weight, pretty wood boat, I still wouldn't turn down a ride in almost any boat.

Get out and paddle!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Russell Reinke

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday

Cleanliness is next to...  Impossible?

A friend has a tag-line on his profile at an online forum that reads, "Never trust a man with a clean workshop."  I guess that I have to say that I am eminently trustworthy.  My shop is never neat as a pin but I'm trying to do better.  There are a bunch of reasons that I think that a clean, well-organized shop is such a good idea.

First and foremost is safety.  You want the floor clean and clutter-free.  If you've got lots of things lying around on the floor, they're a tripping hazard.   This can include off-cuts and other scrap as you're working.  Also, if you've got lots of shavings and dust around, they are a fire/explosion hazard.  Dust, and in particular, dust that can get airborne is a respiratory hazard.

The second great reason for cleanliness is if you're going to be applying finishes in the shop.  Most of us don't have the luxury of having a separate finishing room or booth that we can keep scrupulously clean. We've got to make do in the shop.  If you've got a reasonably clean shop, you don't have to worry about dust or grease contaminating your finish.

The third great reason for a clean and well organized shop is your ability to simply find things and work efficiently.  While I'm not a great fan of the, "He who dies with the most tools, wins" point of view, I am a great proponent of the "It's not the clothes that makes the man, it's the tools" perspective.  Being that this is true, I've got quite a few tools.  First, as a homeowner, you need quite a few tools to maintain the house.  Then you need to be able to maintain the equipment you use to maintain the house (chainsaw, snowblower, lawnmower, etc...). Then you've got the hobby tools and then hardware, paints, varnishes and...  Well, I think you get my drift.  Lots of tools and hardware. 

They all need a well organized and well labelled place just to keep you sane.  If you don't, you'll be going to the hardware store for things you've already got and can't find or spending all your time looking for the things you think you've got but actually don't and finally heading out to the hardware store to get them.  Don't ask me how I know this.

How can you accomplish this?  Well, first, a good dust collection system with a chip separator for your tools is a great first step.  Most, if not all stationary power tools have some sort of dust port on them and many hand tools do as well.  Another good addition is an overhead air filter to remove any airborne dust to get what the dust collection system may have missed.  Use a downdraft table for sanding.  Have bins/boxes/totes/shelves/toolboxes for your tools and hardware that are neat and well labelled.   (Pay attention to moisture issues with tool storage!) Put tools away when you're done with them.  Keep a scrap barrel for dust and off-cuts that you don't intend to save.  (I have yet to see a good system for keeping off-cuts that you DO intend to save - they're always different sizes and shapes that don't lend themselves to good storage.)  Have a good dust pan and bench broom for cleaning up.  Periodically clear out the cobwebs and the corners with the shop vacuum.

Once you get the good habits going, it makes it much easier to keep the shop tidy and helps to make it a much more pleasant place to work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Good Buddy Murphy and I...

The classes that I teach take place on a Saturday morning.  This can lead to some difficulties for those students of mine who work during the week and might not be able to get to the lumberyard - except on a Saturday morning.  Note the conundrum?   My solution is to do one of two things:

  1. Give the students a hand-out with instructions for selecting materials for the boat they're building and then give them a "free weekend" to go get their lumber.
  2. Have a first class with some instruction about the materials and then send them out the next weekend to get their lumber.
I opted for a combination of #1 and #2 this year giving students a handout and some basic instruction about material selections.  Because everyone is using a 1/2 sheet of plywood for their boats - which isn't readily available in our area -  I said  that I would go get the plywood for everyone as the cost to have it shipped to us is pretty high.

Through the infinite kindness of others, I was able to borrow a van to go get the material so that weather wouldn't be an issue.   My good buddy Murphy (of Murphy's Law fame...) was riding shotgun on this trip.  I seemed to have issues filling the tank, with weather, with traffic, directions.  You name it. 

To cut a long story short here, what should have taken my 5 hours took me almost 9 hours.  The wood is now safely in the barn awaiting the student's touch.    Some may ask why we go to such efforts got get a piece of plywood?  It's not any plywood - it's marine grade Okoume plywood that's qualified to BS 1088.  What's BS 1088, you say?

From Wikipedia :

BS 1088

In materials, the BS 1088 specification is a marine plywood specification that applies to plywood produced with untreated tropical hardwood veneers that have a set level of resistance to fungal attack. The plies are bonded with WBP glue. Although the initials BS are for "British Standard", the finished product does not have to be "British made". The standard is associated with Lloyd's of London since it performs testing of products to this standard.Does not follow that it is a structural plywood.
WBP Glue Line -- BS 1088 plywood must use an adhesive, which has been proven to be highly resistant to weather, micro-organisms, cold and boiling water, steam and dry heat. The product's bonding must pass a series of British Standard tests.
Face Veneers -- These must present a solid surface that is free from open defects. Face veneers must be free of knots other than "sound pin" knots, of which there shall be no more than six(6) in any area of one(1) square foot, and there can be no more than an average of two(2) such knots per square foot area over the entire surface of the plywood sheet. The veneers must be reasonably free from irregular grain. The use of edge joints is limited, and end joints are not allowed.
Core Veneers -- Core veneers have the same basic requirements as face veneers, except that small splits are allowed, and there is no limit on the number of pin knots or edge joints. However, end joints are not permitted.
Limits of Manufacturing Defects -- Defective bonds, pleats and overlaps, and gaps in faces are not permitted. Occasional gaps may be repaired using veneer inserts bonded with the proper adhesive.
Moisture Content -- BS 1088 plywood must have a moisture content between 6% and 14% when it leaves the factory.
Finishing -- Boards will be sanded on both sides equally.
Length & Width -- The length or width of a board produced as a standard size shall not be less than the specified size nor more than 6.3 mm (0.25") greater than the specified size.
Squareness -- The lengths of the diagonals of a board shall not differ by more than 0.25% of the length of the diagonal.
Thickness Tolerances -- Tolerances vary as follows.
  • 4 mm +.02/-0.6 ; 6 mm +.04/-0.65 ; 9 mm +.06/-0.75 ; 12 mm +.09/-0.82
  • 15 mm +.1/-0.9 ; 18 mm +.12/-0.98 ; 22 mm +.16/-1.08 ; 25 mm +1.8/-1.16
From the above we can assume that 6 mm material will arrive at thickness' between 6.04 mm and 5.35 mm.
Face Veneer thickness -- For any three-ply construction, which applies to 3 and 4 mm material, each face veneer shall be not thinner than 1/8 of the total thickness of veneers assembled dry. Since the dry thicknesses of the boards are 3.6 and 4.6 respectively, we can assume that for these thicknesses only the face veneers will be as follows:
  • 3.6 mm dry x 12.5% (1/8) = 0.45 mm 4.6 mm dry x 12.5% (1/8) = 0.575 mm
Multi-Ply Construction-- This applies to boards thicker than 4.8 mm (3/16")
  • Each face veneer shall be a minimum of 1.3 mm and not thicker than 3.8 mm.
  • Each core veneer shall be no thicker than 4.8 mm

And that is the reason we go to the trouble of getting marine grade plywood - guaranteed quality!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"We're not going anywhere, Daddy."

My father, AKA - The Silver Fox - had mentioned on Friday that he'd like to take DS paddling this weekend.   Today was a gorgeous day - a bit cool and breezy, but really sunny and otherwise a great day for a paddle.   So, earlier this afternoon following up on his earlier thought, The Silver Fox called and asked if DS would like to go for a paddle.  DS thought that would be great. 

I've been feeling a little under the weather but figured that it would be fun to tag along, too.   My dad came over, we packed up boats, lifejackets and paddles and a large bag of water. (more on this later...) The Silver Fox looked at me a sideways as I loaded up the water and asked, "Thirsty?"  We then headed off to a favorite paddling spot.

The plan was that my dad would paddle the Wabnaki with my son in the bow and that I would paddle my kayak.  We got the boats off the car and put on life jackets and grabbed paddles.  Once the boats were floating, I grabbed the bag of water and put it in the bow of the Wabnaki.  What I'd learned the last time that I had DS in the front of this particular canoe with me is that he doesn't weigh enough yet to keep the bow down in the water. (...and I'm not that big a guy, myself.)    I'd brought the bag of water as ballast to help keep the bow down!   As we launched, the Silver Fox reiterated one of his favorite paddling mantras for DS's benefit - "The bottom of a canoe should only touch two things.  One is air and the other is water."

We pushed off and paddled out and turned into one arm of this lake with the wind at our backs, making easy way down the edge of the lake.  As we got to the end of this section of the lake,  the canoe stopped abruptly, while I kept going in the kayak.  After I got myself turned around, I noticed that they were stuck on a large rock about two inches below the surface that was basically invisible in the shadowed water near the edge.  I went around to the bow of the boat and pulled downwards to help float the rear section that was grounded.   After a little finagling, the boat was free again.  We got turned around into the wind and started to paddle.  I hadn't paddled very long, but soon got the sense that I was paddling alone.  The kayak is fast, but...

I paddled back over to the canoe and both my father and DS were paddling furiously into the wind, but making little headway.  My father is looking very confused at this point and wondering why they aren't making more progress upwind.  I head over and push the canoe and it moves a bit, and they proceed to paddle furiously, making what appears to be little progress.   I pulled over to the boat figuring that I could help tow the canoe a bit with a strap that I have.   DS grabbed it out of my gear hatch and hooked it between the kayak and a thwart. 

I paddled. 


For quite a bit of time.

I feel the strap take up, but we're going nowhere.  At this time, I figure this isn't going anywhere.  At this point in time, we figure that the wind is getting the better of us.  I know the Wabnaki isn't the fastest boat, but, dang.  Finally the wind pushes the bow of the Wabnaki over to one side and my father starts thinking of heading to a different boat-ramp that is downwind from where we are so I can pick them up with the car.  I paddle up alongside and watch some trees on the shore.  I realize that the canoe isn't moving.  At all.   Even downwind.

Huh.  Now I'm suspicious.

I paddle close to the canoe and take my Greenland paddle and sweep it under the keel of the canoe. 


Ah.  They're on another rock.  Oh wait, that can't be a rock.  Must be hard water - the bottom of a canoe only touches air and water.  With a little re-distribution of paddler weight and ballast I can then pull down on the bow again and off the rock they come with some scraping and grinding, but off they come. 

The Silver Fox appeared to be a little bit shaken by the experience, but DS appears not to have realized how serious the issue could have been and it rolled off his back like water off a duck.  We had a very quiet and distinctly curtailed trip back to the put-in where we relaxed on the shore for a bit before heading home.

Darned rocks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012