May 30, 2005

Started the tough part of stripping.

I've finished the easy part (just lay strips on top of each other), and thankfully, the stem shaping (whoo hoo!).

Now comes the hard part where I have to bevel both ends of each strip to fit with its surrounding material. Did the first two strips that required this tonight. Once I decided how to do it, it wasn't too bad. Some pictures....

back half


front half

look inside

me at the end

rasping the bow end

more smoothing

smooth bow!


view from bow

Realized a while ago that the "hull + deck before moving" goal was way too ambitious. I have scaled back to a probably possible, but still ambitious, goal of: hull finished and outside of hull glassed before move.

The great news is, there's a garage where I'll be moving to! !!! So it should be very convenient to continue working on the boat. yay!

Posted by mel at 03:36 AM | Comments (2)

May 15, 2005

slow but sure...

I've been adding about 2-4 strips every other day.... shape the stem one day, lay 2, or maybe 4, strips the next....

I'm getting toward the hard part where the strips will have to be fit together over the wide part of the bottom of the boat. But, thank god, the stem shaping will soon be over!

I got a big file and a rasp the other day, which will help a lot with smoothing out the ends that terminate at the stems (have to be made smooth, then the outer stem laminations will be bonded over them).

Here are a few more pictures, taken by Steve (thanks Steve!).

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Posted by mel at 09:20 PM | Comments (1)

May 09, 2005

a little more...

Did 6 more strips today, more stem shaping with the chisel (slipped at one point and cut my finger ... cloth glove helped but perhaps I should get heavy duty leather ones ...)

It is really starting to look sexy! You can see the curves of the hull starting to take shape. They look really nice. You can see some of the wood-color patterns I've laid in. I'm excited.
But, it still looks soooooo far from being done.... whew.

I seriously need some better light in my basement. Disappointingly, Fred Meyer didn't have the kind of "work lamp" I am looking for. I got this battery powered standalone thing instead, but then forgot to buy batteries.

I realize now, too late, that I should have covered the WHOLE bow & stern forms with tape to prevent the strips from being glued to the pressboard. I am afraid that, far in the future, when the time comes to take the hull off the forms, .... it will be very, very difficult. Oh well, nothing to be done now!

Posted by mel at 12:23 AM | Comments (6)

May 08, 2005


No, that's not what I meant- you want that other blog.

Today I laid 10 strips on the hull. (another view) Used my block plane to make a square edge for the sheer strips... which will later mate with the deck, after hull and deck are both finished independently.

There was a lot more stem shaping to be done... I think my chisel is getting dull already. I also think that I am not too good at beveling things yet! Here are the bow and stern.

A quick summary of laying a strip: keep shaping the inside bow and stern stems about 3 strips ahead (otherwise you destroy the ends of the strips you just laid ........) Pick out your wood - for both sides, you alternate sides as you're stripping the hull - and temporarily "pin" the strips in place on the stations. (~3" PVC cut into little circles with a cut through in one place make nice little pins/clamps.) Put a bead of glue of the right amount inside the cove of the topmost strip (trickier than it sounds). Start in the middle and fit the new strip's bead into the cove of the glued strip, and staple it to the stations. Wipe up the glue. Cut off the extra at the bow and stern. Make sure the strip lies flush against the stems at the bow and stern. Clamp this area because it's tricky and often refuses to behave. Try not to destroy the cove on the new strip in the process!

Here is a closeup view right after I laid the top strip.

Well, 10 strips for a whole day doesn't sound like much, but I am exhausted. Time to lie down. My hands, wrists, and fingertips are SO SORE!! Lots of holding, pushing, squeezing, and absorbing the kickback of that staple gun. I have to wonder if I will wake up tomorrow unable to hold a glass of water.

We shall see!

Thanks to Adam for the use of his camera so you can see "non underwater" pictures today!


Posted by mel at 01:44 AM | Comments (3)

May 02, 2005

why ?

With a well-honed smartass-edge, Bob asks "what makes you want to work on the kayak again all of a sudden?"

The basic answer is that my motivation to work on various things is a process I don't fully understand (sometimes not at all). I went from being upset that I had acted on this foolish, naive, dumb idea to build a kayak and wishing I hadn't and being depressed at the idea of abandoning the project (and all the money that went with it) to being totally on fire to work on it again.

[This same sort of thing happens with my research and desire to learn to cook well.]

I still think the idea of me building a kayak was naive (foolish and dumb sometimes, naive always), but I am back to having the constructive attitude I began with (*ahem*) and thinking that first and foremost, the project is an excuse for me to become familiar and maybe even a little competent with working with my hands and tools and wood. By far the secondary goal is for me to end up with a boat of my own. It would have been far easier, faster, and - I am beginning to realize - cheaper for me to just buy a shiny new kayak. But that would be too easy, wouldn't it? And I will be extremely proud of this when (if) I am done.

Anyway, I think the sudden move toward wanting to work with physical objects was partially driven by being frustrated on the abstract math / software front I deal with regularly in my (currently stagnated) research.

Also, looks like I will be moving out of the basement house this summer, so it's now or probably never on doing some building.

Finally, the spark that made the fire: Steve and I spent a little time at the WAC trying to fit Spoon into various boats (alas, even the double kayak person-hole is a little bit too uncomfortable for her) the other day. The final verdict was that she was going to be a canoe dog (no kayaking for spoon), so I decided to check out used canoes, hoping to find one for ~$50 (ha ha). I thought, I can store it in my space at the WAC boathouse! Since it doesn't look like I'm going to have a kayak to store there.

I was just searching around online for used boats and.... inexplicably was overcome with enthusiasm to continue working on my own boat.

Posted by mel at 04:22 PM | Comments (2)

May 01, 2005

away from epoxy and back to wood

For now. Well, what did I do saturday... I spent almost all day working on the boat. I got a folding card table at Fred Meyer and covered the top with some cardboard (plywood would be better). Now I have a better working surface.

I attached the finished inner stems (bow & stern) to their corresponding forms, which are now attached to the end risers. I screwed them to the forms. (pilot holes rock!)

I spent a terrible, large amount of unproductive time getting pissed off trying to understand how my block plane works and how it is put together.

I used one of my full-length (19') strips as a fairing batten to check the alignment of all the stations and forms. I found that the horizontal alignment mark on one of the stations had been mis-labeled. I corrected that. Spent a little time befuddled over the following discrepancy: cross-section blueprints show 16 stations. The title on the blueprints, though, says "plans for stations 1-17 and bow and stern forms". My kit came with 15 stations and a bow and a stern form. The (very scant, next to useless) instructions that came with the kit (which I have supplemented with 2 cedar-strip kayak construction books) shows plans for mounting 15 stations, but in pictures later in the instructions, shows 15 stations and then "shaping/guiding fins" attached to the bow and stern forms. I can only shrug my shoulders and assume that the fins are not really needed.

Next, what has to happen is (this won't make ANY sense unless you can see the 3-D object; I read the relevant chapters in my books over and over again to understand what is meant by this) I have to shape the inner stems so that as I strip the hull, the ends of the strips will lay flat over the stem. (ok, maybe that IS intelligible, and I'm just a moron to not understand it at first.) The strips will be glued to each other and stapled along the length of the kayak to each of the stations (shaping forms). they will be cut off just proud of the outer edge of the inner stem. (this nomenclature also befuddled me until I thought about what "just shy of" means.) The inner stems have to have a rolling bevel so that as the hull changes shape, each new strip will lie flat in its place. This is particularly tricky in the rocker area (where the keel curves up toward the deck). The strips meeting these areas will be transitioning from vertical (kayak hull walls) to horizontal (bottom of the boat), so the way they lie against the stems will be changing fast. In some boats these curves are sharp; the Return is pretty mild as far as what I have seen. The stern has a sharper transition than the bow does, which makes sense.

So the idea is to start shaping this stem bevel for a few inches (removing the screws holding on the stems to the forms as you go), lay a few strips, and then keep shaping the stem a couple inches ahead. This helps you visualize and check the bevel you have to create more easily.

So far I have done about 3 inches of shaping on both sides of the bow and stern stems. I can lay a couple strips, then keep shaping ahead. The first strips to be laid will be on the sheer line (interface of deck and hull; sheer side is opposite from keel side). These will not be in the water. A couple strips up from sheer, and they will start hitting the waterline. Then fairness and symmetry will be a lot more important.

I finally got my block plane put together and shaving a decent curly strip off of wood (DON'T try this on WET WOOD!!! the first few times I tried out the plane after I thought I had it put together, I was using a piece of scrap wood I got from steve that he had been "storing" ;-) outside. it was wet. this totally gummed up the throat of the block plane and caused me to have to disassemble it again.) A popular mech. article on block planes that Dad sent helped a lot. Steve came over later and took it apart again and managed to get it back together again. We think we have it assembled correctly. It will be much more useful if (when) I can rig up a vice to mount on my table to hold these long, bendy pieces of wood.

Nevertheless, for all the stem shaping I did so far I used the 1" chisel (and a nice expendable pair of gloves!!) (those gloves have saved me from a billion splinters already). I got pretty good with it by the end, but at first (of course) I was a little.... incompetent. ;-) It is easy to get a "crowned" bevel, where you shave off the edges much more quickly than you do the middle part. In the process of smoothing it out it is easy to go too far. I went a little too deep (maybe a lot? dunno, the bow end might not be completely fair when I'm done. Fortunately this shouldn't impact the in-water performace of the boat, it'll just look a little weird.) on the sheer end of one side of the bow stem.

I will be using the block plane a lot more later, when the hull is finished and I am planing and sanding down steps and rough edges before the glassing process begins.

It helps a lot to have a good roadmap of the total process in my head; knowing what I'll have to do later helps me make intelligent decisions about how to do stuff in the earlier stages. Those books helped a lot. (Schade,Moores)

stay tuned,

Posted by mel at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)