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!