June 03, 2005

morale rollercoaster

The boat progresses... slowly... getting the beveling/end-shaping to work well has been a struggle. I worry about the "fidelity" of the boat, and know that I will have to do a lot of filling of gaps/holes with thickened epoxy. On the other hand, when things work well it is a real boost, and it is Really starting to look like a boat now. :)

I keep running into unforseen problems: half incompetence, half 'oops, I didn't expect that to be a problem'. For example, I created the inner and outer stems on top of each other just so that they would fit together perfectly. However, I filed the inner stem (+ strip ends) down a little too much, and now the outer stems don't nestle properly on top like they should. :( So that's going to be a big gap to fill, and will make the outer stems difficult to attach.

I was smoothing the transition between one strip and the next with my block plane, and got caught up in making the transition smooth, which I succeeded at, but then realized that that area wasn't supposed to be totally flat, but was supposed to have a little rocker on it. so that complicates the fairing of the bow I will have to do after I take all the staples out and sand/plane before the glassing.

I get frustrated a lot with "grain issues"; try to take off a LITTLE bit, but the grain runs deeper into the wood and it splits much deeper than I intended to go. Things take much longer than I anticipate. So it can be very demoralizing, and I worry about the quality and usability of the finished product, but also very exciting at times, and I am getting much better with shaping the ends to fit with each other.

here are some recent pictures.

This is the bow stem with the outer stem laid on top. I will have to make them fit snugly, epoxy them together, let that cure, and then plane the outer stem down until it is flush (in all 3 dimensions) with the rest of the boat.

Here is a front-on view of the bow. You can see how the inner bow stem became an "endpoint" for each strip as it was laid lengthwise along the kayak. Then I filed down the rough strip ends so that they were flush with the inner stem. bow stem with strip ends flush

Sometimes strips are darn hard to keep in place while the glue dries. securing a recalcitrant strip at the stern

Other times they just need a little extra pressure. The black ties, by the way, are cut-up old bicycle inner tubes. securing another strip

Getting out a new, full-length strip. new strip

Here is the bulk of the work these days. I cut off the strip to roughly the right length, mark lines and edges on it to get the right fit, rough out the shape with my chisel, refine that shape with the block plane, all the while checking the fit with the other strips. It is an iterative process. Since I have been stripping cove-side up, I end up needing to whittle a bead on the other side of the strip to be fitted (because it enters a region where two coves are converging). shaping the end to fit

Here's a relative success (I didn't have to cut the end off and start all over again; the fit is looking good). in it goes!

Now comes the REALLY tricky part. One end has been shaped exactly; the other end must be as well. So the strip must be an exact length. Also it lies on a curve along the sheer line, so if you shape the other end without flexing it in the proper way, it will end up too short. But if you staple it down along the boat, you'll have no free play to work on the strip with. I usually staple a couple stations down from the 1st fitted end, then leave the rest free. I hold it in place and mark the end exactly, and, hopefully, it will not end up shaped too short on the other end. now the other end

Since both sides of the region to be fitted are coved - as I said earlier - you can't just drop the strip into place to check its fit. You have to slide it in, which means putting a decent bend on the strip that already has one end held in place. good thing they're so bendy!

You end up with a lot of staples (if you're an amateur like me.) staples galore In theory, it is possible - and I "know how" - to build these boats without using staples. But in practice, I cannot imagine doing this without staples.

Here are some fit strips.

And a look at the boat as it is now. The hole's getting smaller!

What's left? More than you might think.
After all the strips are laid, I've got to pull all the stapes, plane and sand the hull, which will reveal some gaps which I'll need to fill with thickened epoxy; then I'll need to sand those areas down again. I'll be using a power random-orbit sander.

Then there are the outer stems to attach and shape;

THEN the boat (well, outside of the hull) can be glassed. Then it can be removed from the strongback, and moved.


Posted by mel at June 3, 2005 03:10 PM

It really does look good, and the color
of the wood is wonderful.

Posted by: Bob and Michiko at June 5, 2005 11:44 AM
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