June 24, 2005


the boat (and all the material, tools, and infrastructure required to build it) is safely moved to its new garage home!!! Hooray!!!!

We moved it yesterday. Andrew, Sarah, Andy S, Becky, John D and John I came to help. Getting it out of the basement wasn't too bad at all! The difficult parts turned out to be getting it re-oriented to come out into the yard while it was cantilevered out on the next door neighbor's roof. It got scratched up kinda badly on the stern end. :( But, it will be okay. I got wheels to attach to the bottom to help it go out on the roof, but they didn't fit underneath it (the fence's upper cross-support limited our vertical extent). The boys, in particular Andy!, were incredibly strong and managed to lift the whole boat a few times while having access only to the bow end!!

The other tough part was actually getting the fence apart. The wood, untreated, had become brittle and dry over the year, nails were rusty; some slats were really difficult to get out. We only split one board. Managed to get the thing back together (also pretty difficult so that it looks pretty good unless it's inspected carefully (which it won't have need to be, being in the bowels of the back yard and bordering someone's .... roof). Meanwhile Sarah and Becky sawed the strongback in half and took all the hardware out of it so I could roll up the black plastic on the floor, with all the waste material inside, and throw it straight in the trash (although it is too large for that; something more drastic will have to be done to dispose of it. it looks like a body bag. ;-)

The next tricky part was driving across town with it!! It came close to falling off Skate once. It didn't have a bow/stern line (no attachment place in the unfinished boat!), and I was afraid to tie it down really hard. We stopped twice on the way over to ballard, John following behind me, to make adjustments. But we made it ok. :D

Later that night I cleaned up the basement; today I will be turning in the keys to that place.....
End of Chapter!!


Posted by mel at 09:53 AM | Comments (1)

June 18, 2005

finished glassing!!!

the outside of the hull, at least. 1/4of the large glassing jobs are done. whew.

The 2nd and 3rd coats went on, of course, much easier than the 1st wet-out did. The boat looks good. I think that I *will* be able to sand/feather down those stringy glass bits so that none of those transitions will show up after the final sanding. (ugh. more sanding, and this time of epoxy. Did I mention this boat was huuuuge?)

Anyway, this was a pretty neat process. The fiberglass looked like an opaque silvery sheet over the boat. Then you mix up some resin and pour it in the middle, start spreading it around, and then you see a beautiful wet-looking wooden boat ! The glass totally disappears. Guess you could explain that with electromagnetic theory, but I'll spare you. It's pretty awesome.

Anyway, the marathon epoxy session is nearly over. I only found 3 bugs stuck in the 2nd coat when I went in to do the 3rd at 6am this morning. I got them out pretty well (they weren't totally buried). Next, I have to cut off the glass that extended down below the gunwale with a utility knife. Let it sit and cure really well for 3-4 days, and MOVE THE BOAT! ! !

I'm going to make it!

Posted by mel at 03:56 PM | Comments (4)

June 17, 2005

started glassing (!)

Andrew helped me a lot today. Started the adventure of fiberglassing. Sorry, no pics ( :( ).

They would have been neat pics. We wore haz mat suits and respirators, big rubber gloves. The ventilation down there is actually pretty good; had 2 fans going in the window. The glass took forever to roll out and smooth onto the boat. The bow & stern were PARTICULARLY tricky. Ugh. But we finally got it to lie down. Put extra layers of glass along the ends of the keel and on the bottom in a football shaped pattern, for extra abrasion resistance (pulling up on those "sandy" beaches up here in the NW!!).

Finally we were ready to wet out the glass. It took a lot of epoxy and the boat actually heated up while it was curing. There was a lot on there. I spread it around with a brush then squeegied the excess off, and got the air bubbles out. Andrew meanwhile helped me by continually mixing up new batches of fresh resin. Took about 5 hrs total, whewwww.

I am a little worried because some glass fibers got pulled out and stretched down the boat from the squeegying. I have no idea how one would avoid that while laying up multiple layers of glass. Hopefully those will disappear in the subsequent coats, or I'll be able to sand them down. More sanding! EIIIYEE!

...This will be short cuz I've gotta go put on the 2nd coat of epoxy about right now.

3 coats, ~8 hrs apart.... 2pm - 10pm - 6am and then razor off the glass at the gunwales before the 3rd coat is all set up, around 2pm again tomorrow. whew.

Posted by mel at 10:06 PM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2005

dust bowl 2005

oh, my, goodness.

They say kayaks take a lot of sanding but GOOD LORD ! ! ! ! ! !

I sanded with the power sander for a marathon SIXTEEN HOURS! With 60, 100, 150 grits. Then I (as per instructions) went over it with a wet rag and hand-sanded along the grain with 100 grit (to give the epoxy "tooth" to bond to).
My hands and shoulders (yet again) are sore. There was dust EVERYWHERE. I made good use of the respirator. The dust colletor bag on the power sander made some great wood flour for use in future dookie schmutz.

After each grit I thought, wow, THIS is awesomely smooth.
It does look good. And it does feel good. But damn I am tired.

As I expected/feared, sanding did reveal some thin spots and some gaps in the wood where I had fit the strips together imperfectly. I dookie schmutzed those and left it over night to cure. There is a seriously messed up spot on the end of the stern :( .... the wood got so thin that the inner stem was revealed. It looks kinda bad, but kinda neat in that you can tell how the boat was put together there. I tried to spackle stuff over it, but it didn't work so well (aesthetically). Oh well.

Here are some pictures.

first pass at sanding

dorky looking me

Oh yea, and before I started sanding, I had to plane the attached outer stems into the rest of the hull. That was kinda fun, but extremely hard work (both difficult and a serious workout!) (ok, I'm a block plane convert!).

Here are the finished stems.

finished bow

finished stern

and finally a neat photograph steve took.

Posted by mel at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

attached the outer stem laminations

Woodworking being done for the moment, I'm back to epoxy. Last night I attached the outer stems to the bow & stern. It was tricky because, after the filing and smoothing of the inner stems + strip edges, the inner and outer stems weren't a perfect fit anymore.

So I mixed up what the author of one of my books calls 'dookie schmutz': epoxy thickened with 'wood flour' (which I collected during a lot of sawing, rasping, and filing). The rule of thumb is that you use unthickened epoxy as a sealant/coating, thickened (mustard viscosity) as an adhesive, and peanut-butter consistency for spackling on stuff to fill holes and gaps, etc.

To attach each stem, I first coated both bonding surfaces with unthickened epoxy, then mixed up another batch with the wood dust and globbed it on. Then I set the stem carefully & tightly in place, wiped up the squeeze-out, and held it down with duct tape and the bike tubing. Fortunately I'm pretty safe from the epoxy bonding the rubber to the wood, since the rubber will very slowly relax while it cures. I checked this morning and all seemed to be well, so cross your fingers. I was surprised that the clamped-tubing was still in place, since I pulled on it so hard when securing the stems. They were pretty stiff.



Used some leftover dookie schmutz to fill some of the bigger gaps that were left in the hull from imperfect strip fitting.

Next, it will be back to wood: planing and sanding the hull. I'm looking forward to that.

Posted by mel at 11:21 AM | Comments (5)

June 06, 2005

Finished Stripping!!

Hooray, today I finally finished stripping the boat!!
I am apprehensive about the tasks to come, but very happy to be done laying the wood of the hull. And I am starting to bond with Ocean Blue. :-)

almost done...

just 1 strip left--!

How I chose to lay the bottom and keel line, beyond the stems: keel detail

stripping finished!!

And then I removed most of the staples, in preparation for planing and sanding: look, no staples.

Here is the cool-looking pattern on the boat bottom.

A funny thing is that I used water-soluble glue... even though it looks like a boat right now, if I set it in the water (never mind the gaps (this is not London)) it would fall apart into wet kindling.
The epoxy will fix all that ....

Posted by mel at 12:06 AM | Comments (3)

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 03:10 PM | Comments (1)