Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Building jig: Part 1

No I didn't do a dance. Though when done I felt like doing one.
This morning bright and early, I started cutting the lumber for the building jig. By the way, the lumber I used is a mere excuse for whats called lumber. It's easier to find a honest politician than to Find a straight 2x4 in this province. Pitiful. But I made do what I did find.
I ran a chalk line on the floor and lined the two boxes that would make the main frame of the jig. the two running rails were aligned and screwed together before clamping to the jig.

Leveling the first side wasn't any problem, but the opposite side was a little trickier. To get it level across and down the length took a little work with the clamps, a nudge here, a thump there.But in the end it came together pretty good. To make sure none of my clumsiness moved the jig out of place, I epoxied the legs to the floor with some wooden blocks.
The lifts that the hull floor will be screwed to, will be placed on Friday, Apparently It's NEWYEARS DAY tomorrow... How did that sneak up on me.

p.s. To my brother Stephen, yes it's an ugly jig, nothing like the jigs Dad used for making his speed boats. It looks more like i'm about to start a warf or deck in my basement.

I moved the canoe out of the workshop and now the workshop has spread to the main part of the basement. I need the room obviously.

Time: 4 hrs

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hull bottom cutting

Once the glue had kicked off, It was time for cutting the shape that is to be the bottom of the boat. I had taken the time to print off a template once again, and laid it on the plywood.
A centerline was marked with a chaulk line, this is to be the centerline of the boat.
I cut and taped the templates into place.
Reference lines were placed on the paper so both sheets of the template would be easier to align.
One side was traced at a time. The centerboard cut out was also marked.

Once all the lines were drawn on the plywood, all measurements were checked against the plans to make sure all was where it should be. Including the centerboard cut out. The centerboard case I made is ever so slightly larger than the hole in plan, so the hole was enlarged to match, but hardly worth mentioning. One could laugh at the difference... 3 mm in width. See I told you.

The whole thing is then cut out with the jig saw.

The newly cut bottom was sanded all over with 80 grit so the epoxy would stick better and to remove any splinters that have a knack for finding their way into my fingers. The profile was sanded with the belt sander to remove any high spots and unevenness.

All in all A productive morning. The rest of the day was spent cleaning up and getting the shop ready for the building jig. That will be tomorrows task.

Time: 4 hrs

Hull bottom scarfing

Scarfing wood is new to me, and when I did it for the mast it went pretty smoothly. But that was small strips only 2 inches wide. Now the hull floor has to have 2 full size sheets of plywood scarfed together perfectly and strong.
I took the idea of scarfing technique from John Welsford's "Backyard Boatbuilder" by staggering the two runs of plywood at the correct scarf slope then planing the ends to the slope needed. confusing? It might sound confusing but it's not. The picture shows the two scarfed pieces of plywood ready for assembly. The layers of plywood are a good guide for maintaining a straight line and an even slope.
You basically taper to a point the ends to be glued together. Then turn over and glue together on a flat surface so both sheets are "flat"
Once that's done I placed wax paper on a thin sheet of panel board on the floor and dry fitted the plywood. The whole thing is glued and wax paper laid on top. I used some weight to press the whole thing flat and true. The extra glue was sanded off some.
I had a hard time spotting the scarf line in the profile. It slopes down to the left in this picture.

Time: 3 hrs

Boom glue up

The boom is made the same fashion as the mast. Hollow birds mouth method. I cut the pieces over length so I could trim later during shaping.

At the points where hardware is mounted through the boom, I have inserted plugs for strength, and to prevent water from entering the hollow section of the boom.
The whole assembly was dry fitted to make sure there's enough room for the pieces and room to spare for glue.The gluing process didn't take too long and I mixed 2 batches of glue for this boom. An 9oz and a 5oz.

The whole thing was clamped with tie-wraps and cotton rope the full length. The next day it was removed from the jig and put aside for later shaping.

Time: 3 hrs

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mast glue up

With the Christmas festivities in full gear, there's been no time for work on the boat until today.
I managed to steal a couple of hours and made the mast plugs. these are the inserts that will go inside the mast at points where reinforcement is needed (in my mind). At the base of the mast, the gaff jaws area and where the standing rigging mount near the top. As before the whole assembly was dry fitted before I started mixing epoxy. All the pieces were numbered in order of assembly so the scarfs would be staggared. The whole assembly was then glued in place. Wax paper used to keep it from sticking to the jig. plastic tie-wraps were used to tighten the assembled parts together.

Tomorrow, the boom.

Time: 3 hrs

Friday, December 19, 2008


Merry Christmas to me!
My Sails order arrived toady. No waiting for Christmas morning, they had to be checked to see if they were made to spec of course. I never handled new sails before. Being new and made from 5.5 oz sailcloth they are very stiff and firm. The grommets are tight and reinforcements are well made. I'll spread them out when the spring comes and I have space to do it. Sails tend to appear much larger when unfolded in your lifing room.

These sails were ordered through the fine folk at "Duckworks" in Texas. Chuck and Sandra have been very helpful and curtious in my dealings with them. I ordered these on the 15th of October if my memory serves me correctly. At the time of order the wait time was 90 days.
(As a side note, if I don't finish this boat now, my wife will surely murder me in my sleep for ordering useless $1200 sails)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Centerboard pivot idea (borrowed)

While i'm working on the mast, boom and gaff, i'm also thinking about when I mount the centerboard case onto the bottom keel section. The pivot pin arrangement given in the plans is ok, but for some reason I can't bring myself to trust it enough to use. All the banging about my boat will do in the North Atlantic ocean, plus the installation of a stainless pipe sleeve through an epoxy hole in the centerboard might lead to a crack in my epoxy, or excessive play in my centerboard, (a banging noise or vibration at higher speeds) Not to mention leaking. Leaks are a major source of aggravation for me. I know anyone would say "who really does like a leaky boat"
But some boats leak by their construction method or through hull fittings, like stuffing boxes for shafts on motor boats etc. But for me it goes beyond normal reaction. It's like a nervous tick with me. It's probably humorous to some what parts of this boat i'm fussing over.
Anyhow, I noticed on Rick Coreless's website A novel idea on mounting his pivot pin. At first I passed it off has hokey. But now that i'm getting closer to making up my mind on what to do, it's gained some attention. I made a basic sketch of how it works based on a couple of pictures I've seen. Basically it's A bronze ore-lock socket mounted to the centerboard on both sides (epoxy sealed prior to installing ore-lock sockets) With bronze ore-lock sockets mounted to the centercase. These bronze sockets accept 1/2" diameter pins, so the pivot pin will be 1/2" diameter with a minus tolerance so that the pin goes in easier and to allow for some marine grease. What will seal this pin area is a brass/bronze "plug" that screws into the socket (the mount end will be tapped to match) Thread tape or other non permanent sealant used to make it water tight. I'll make up a test piece before I start chopping out any of my centerboard and case.
I don't think their will be any structural problem with it. A 1/2" pin is certainly strong enough, and it doesn't rotate much in the span of a season. And the limited play in the centerboard will minimize vibration. It seems like a simple set up, and made from off the shelf items. If any
Pathfinder builders see this, tell me what you think.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gaff set up

I spent the past couple of evenings figuring out how to easily build an jig for assembling the mast, boom, and gaff. Since I have a pile of scrap 1" thick MDF, I figured that would make some nice jigs. Instead of making 3 separate jigs I made all 3 slots about one piece. So that way once one was set up straight all of them would be. Save some time possibly? or am I delusional.
Once the 3 jigs were aligned I dry fit the gaff. It's the smallest piece and the most manageable in the jig. Plus if things go wrong the loss won't be as great. I ran a line tightly down the length to make sure there was no sag or lift.

Next was the inserts. Since it's hollow and there is to be fittings bolted/screwed to it. I need reinforcement in these areas, and ends. I made one long shape in my table saw to fit the inside hexagon hole. It was then cut to lengths for the areas to be reinforced. The pieces were cut under size to allow space for glue and allow for the whole assembly to be clamped tight.
All the gear was taken out and laid aside for the gluing and clamping. Wax paper was used in the jig to keep the gaff separated from it.
I mixed 2 pots of glue and laid glue on the notch section of each plank. one by one all placed. Half way through the inserts were bathed in glue and placed. Then the final 3 pieces making the final shape were placed. I used tie-wraps to tighten the assembly and clamp it in place.
Time total: 3 hrs

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mast, boom, & gaff

Scarfing the mast lengths was fairly easy. I set up a simple jig in the chop saw and cut the scarfs. The only thing I had to be careful about was the direction of the scarf and at what end of the length of wood. The scarfs must alternate so none line up with each other. If I could find full length I certainly would have used it. But this will do. Gluing was a bit trickier. I glued and wrapped the pieces in wax paper to keep it from sticking to the table. The table was setup level with the saw horses. This kept the pieces perfectly straight. The clamping was where the tricky came in. The force of the clamp pressure on the wax paper (less grip) made the two epoxy slick pieces slip out of alignment. Luckily I thought about this possibility near the last clamping and checked the others, sure enough several had slipped a little. So I clamped them to the table and each other. (The leftover glue was applied to the screw holes in the rudder case to be later sanded flush. And the other side of the Centerboard around the lead casting). Only one piece had an issue. Once I removed the paper the next day. It had set up with an offset (not a straight line) So I just cut the section out and redone the process from scratch. No big deal, the last is made over length by several feet anyhow. The amount of glue needed for this was quite small a 4 ounce batch was a waste. However I had a pile of one ounce cups from Duckworks. And gradients in "drams" what ever that is. Anyhow it had the right ratio So I mixed a micro batch of 5 Drams... A shot glass full.

The boom and gaff lumber was picked up and I cut the notches for birdsmouth in all the pieces. In total I cut over 120 linear feet of birdsmouth notch one afternoon for just these two items. And slowly at that. You can't rush a router, especially with how much meat had to be removed.
I filled the shop-vac twice.

Time: 5 hrs

Friday, December 5, 2008

Progress to date

So far I have completed the following items as far as I dare before the building Jig is set up;
Frames 1 thru 6a, (100% constructed and jig ready)
Transom (99% and jig ready)
Stem girder (95% and jig ready)
Centerboard (90% needs fiberglass cloth and pivot hole)
Centerboard case (90%, needs fiberglass cloth/paint inside and pivot mount)
Rudder case (95%, needs coat of epoxy and paint)
Rudder Blade (99%, needs coat of epoxy and varnish)

Items under construction or yet to be done;
Mast parts cut and scarfed to length. A jig is to be set up for mast assembly.
Boom section.
Gaff section

(I have a little problem with my picture loading, I'll get that fixed in next day or so)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wooden mast

The plans call for a mast made from aluminum tube reinforced with wood in areas for the sake of cost savings and weight. From my chair I see a wooden boat, I want a wooden mast on it. Sure it will cost more, take a lot of valuable time and frustration, but in the end I should have a quality looking, sturdy mast. I mentioned the birds mouth router bits some time ago. Well I put them to work last evening. All my clear wood was collected, cut to exact widths on the table saw. By the way, make sure you have the room. I was cutting 12ft lengths of wood therefore needed 24ft of shop space. The shop not being long enough I moved operations out into the main basement area and left my shop door open so I could run the cut lumber in through. My wife Nadine got a hint that this sort of thing might be happening more regularly as the boat grows and eats my shop space.
Once all the pieces were cut I moved the saw out of the way and set up the router table and shop-vac to take away some of the debris. The router table I borrowed though not an expensive model, worked great. the holding cams held my pieces of wood right in place and prevented any chatter. It took a while but all done in one evening, so I was able to put everything away and clean up so the rest of my family could access the basement. Another productive evening.

Time: 3 hrs

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I glued the centercase packers to the starboard side and screwed the port side in place to make sure it all matched properly. Once the epoxy had set I used the skill saw to cut the back corner edge off and finished rounding with the electric planer and belt sander. The front edge of the case was also rounded to a more finished piece. The lower mounts for the floor were cut and shaped to match the boat bottoms profile (to plan).
(pictures to follow)
Time: 1 hr