Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Cutting Some Real Planks At Last!

My last post was 5 months ago - this boat building is very TTT (things take time). If I calculated what proportion of time I have spent (a) Planning building space, (b) acquiring tools (c) learning from others and reading boat building books (d) making models (e) building boatyard deck (d) building a real boat, my estimate is about 10% a, 10% b, 20% c, 20% d, 35% e, 5% d. and this spread over about 4 years.  Whilst the journey has been interesting, my advice to others is go do a boat building course in Tasmania, get the hull built there and ferry it back home to fit out.

Now back to my "progress" report.  Winter was wet and cold and did not provide many clear days for outside building and gluing, Meanwhile we had a bit of travel of which I might post separately, while waiting for spring.

I got going again in August with deck development to make life easier. I added some lattice to give a bit more protection and privacy (reduce neighbours curiosity if and when the cabin on the big boat takes shape). This lattice also helps support my temporary western tarp wall to give sun protection.
In the above shot is also a plank storing box, long enough to hold 12ft long plank patterns and cut planks. This is able to keep these on deck protected from weather awaiting gluing on the jig.  This minimises potential damage to thin floppy cut planks and avoids stressing the scarf joints until fully cured.  See close up of box below. It has free rolling castors underneath so easy to move anywhere around the deck. I have it right next to the bench while cutting planks and when not in use I can slide it under the tressels holding the canoe and jig.
 Here's a close up of the cutting of the first real 4 planks in Bryunzeel Gabon 4mm using patterns made from hoop pine ply.  This demonstrates the use of my planking bench "rudders" to support curved cutting. I'm cutting two planks at a time. Scarf joints in the 2 sheets are alternated.
Here's offcuts saved from the plank cutting for making clamp pads.  I also kept offcuts of scarf joint to check strength before proceeding planks on the jig.  I.m pretty happy with the scarf joints. I used Technique 2/1 glue.
The canoe requires 6 planks. I will wait to make the final 2 plank patterns until after I have glued the first 4 planks on the jig to avoid cumulative errors of fit.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Variable Width Planking Bench

I have added an innovation to my plank cutting bench out on the "boatyard" deck.  The bench itself is just over 2 feet wide. To be able to cut a 4 ft wide ply sheet down the middle and also provide support for cutting curved planks, I have added a set of 5 "rudders plus T swivel" to the bench. The T swivels are wider on one end to allow the full 4ft sheet support and shorter on the other end to allow space for cutting in the middle of the sheet. The swivel allows elongated support for the off cut curved plank being cut off the sheet. Clamping the sheet to the bench at one end and along the length to the edge of the T sections gives a stable platform for jig sawing planks and reduces stress on the scarf joint in planking sheets.

The hinges on the rudders are open ended so I can remove them from the bench when not doing planking work.

So I am finally getting around to cutting planks for the Charlotte canoe.  I will make patterns for the 6 planks required first.  Here I am marking up the riband edge for the garboard plank pattern.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Stems shaped - Roughly!

Whilst it was forecast for 35 degrees today, it was the first free day for a while so I got going early finishing beveling the second side of the keelson. That went OK so why not have a go at shaping the stems.  Tom Hill had suggested using a range of tools due to the grain changes around keelson/stem join - draw knife, spoke shave and some planing. Maybe it was the heat , but I don't have a drawknife and my spoke shave has not been a happy experience for me so far so I got out the electric plane, installed new blades and took a deep breath.   Managed to get through it OK without demolishing my beautiful ash stems. It's a rough shaping so far and I will do fine tuning with a hand plane and a short piece of planking stock to get flat lands for the glue joints.

I first used some spraky feeding battens to give me a line on the plank edge lands on the stem and punched a mark on the centre line of the stem so I don't lose sight of this through the stem shaping process.

 And here;s the stems from front and side after teh rough shaping with the electric plane.....

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Jack Holt's Rambler cruising dinghy

Although I really like the Fulmar design of Iain Oughtred (see previous posts and my experiments with a cruising model of this design) I have become interested in a 1954 design of Jack Holt called the Rambler.  It's 17ft - ideal for my building space and double chime plank on frame (much easier building for me on my own than lapstrake).  I now have plans for Rambler and here's a pic of the sailplan.

A UK small boat designer , Keith Callaghan, has owned one for some years having modified the standard design quite a bit with a modern cabin and cockpit. See more info at


Long Winding Bevels

A full day on the canoe today to start beveling keelson and stems. About half the day was spent making the screw in batten to go into my low angle plane.  I needed to make a jig to hold a sliding chuck device which gave me exact perpendicular drilling capability.

I cut a square piece of thick ply and left a projected square bit in the middle to match the base on the sliding chuck stand. Then I clamped a piece of silver ash vertical against my work bench front beam.  This will be the batten for screwing to the plane.  I need to drill a 3/16th  hole exactly vertical into this and exactly away from the edge to match where the screw hole is in the side of the plane.  So I slide the ply base over the top of the ash batten until the drill bit in the chuck is exactly over the marked spot for the hole, then clamp the ply base to the bench and drill.  The set up is shown below.

 Here's the plane with batten screwed in as it will ride the keelson and riband. In this pic it screws flush to the plane but I ended up putting a nylock nut on the end of the screw to control the thread end length to stay constant at what's required to screw into the plane - it had started to reduce and the screw began to disappear into the batten.

So by the end of the day I have one side beveled pretty close to the required winding bevel - being careful to not cut into the centreline.  Still lots more to do on the stems.

....and a nice satisfying pile of long spiral spruce shavings at the end of the day........

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Keelson on - Stems Glued - Tent up

There has been some fits and starts with the Charlotte build. Some friends from the Wooden Boat Association also starting builds have applied peer pressure with a mutual guideline - "do at least one thing on the boat project every day".  I got off to a good start but then a few other priorities got bumped up and that "one thing" became just thinking about what I would like to do next on the boat project,  Well I am now on top of these other things and , weather permitting, it's game on with the boat.  I'll try to post more regularly as bits get done. This post covers quite a few things done over the last couple of weeks.

The keelson was cut some weeks ago but before fitting it I champhered the internal edge with a small brass spokeshave (I'll post a pic of this later). Then I sanded the three internal faces.  This is all much easier to do now before the hull is built. Here's a pic of clamping the keelson on the jig and checking for straight.

Then I got to work sanding the faces of the Stems for similar reasons and planing the glue faces  
flat.  I then clamped the stems to the keelson, I cut wedges which matched the curved profile of the stems so that I could clamp perpendicular on both edges. I used some strips of that non-slip mesh used in kitchen cupbords so that when it comes to be glued, the stem won't slide off the mark.  You can see all this in the following pic.

Next step was to mark the shape for a filler piece that goes between the end of the jig and the stem.  This will be glued to the jig but left free at the stem edge and clamped while all the shaping work is going on with the stems.  I made my stems a bit longer than the plans so that I can firmly clamp them to the end projection on the filler piece.  I am also giving myself the option to have higher stem projection on the canoe above sheer for holding it and maybe securing an anchor line.

 Then finally as the sun set today I got the stems glued to the keelson so the actual boat itself is finally on it's way!

And now with the next five days with rain around it's time to erect the canoe tent. I built 5 arch supports from 50mm PVC plumbing tubing and two of these are secured to the tressles holding the jig. You can see the wooden attaching pieces I made with circular cut out to fit the PVC tube. Yes there is a chance of a grey flying canoe house crossing the Tasman (with canoe inserted) if we get a big blow!  But it is easy to dismantle on building days and re-erect and leaves me with room to move around the building jig. The arch supports fit inside one another at the end of the deck and don't take up much space. Here's a couple of shots inside and outside the tent.  I have ridge poles for the sides but didn't get time to fit them today when I took the pic.


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Building Tom Hill's Charlotte Canoe

Just started my first real boat build after spending lots of time on design modifications on the model of Skye Maid.  Tom Hill's canoe design Charlotte is a great first boat to build for lapstrake design. It has six planks a side, beveled stems and inner and outer gunnels. All the basic elements of small wooden boats. Tom's book "Ultra light Boat Building" and DVD on Charlotte building are a great substitute for boat building school. The plans are a simple one sheet.  I have had the ply for the planks all ready for this for some time.  It's 4mm Bruynzeel Gaboon imported by Andrew Denman in Tasmania.  Target weight for the canoe is 27lb so let's see how close I can get to this.

I copied the mould shapes from the plans onto monofilm.....

 .....I've cut out the moulds from 9mm marine ply and will keep the female parts for help in shaping ring frames which I might add to support foot supports and maybe bouyancy tanks (both of which are not part of standard design). 
   The building jig is a bow of two 6 inch by 1 inch planks. I've used finger jointed pine for this which seems a lot harder to spread than what Tom uses in his video. Here I am using reversed clamps to spread my bow - I couldn't make it to Tom's specified breadth but I think it will work OK.

  ...........and after a couple of days I have the jig settled with moulds and stronback attached.

   I'm trying to follow everything pretty close to Tom Hill's methods in his DVD.  I've made trestles like he has and found them very unobtrusive and very useful for stacking clamps and boat pices out of the way.