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Shop cats and epoxy

Pete the Cat under boatTransom on, bottom braced, I attached the frames and the stem.  With the frames in place, it's easy to see where the bottom bevel needs to end up, and I could see that I'd been pretty generous when I cut the bottom out.  I left plenty of stock to trim away, and it looked like I'd be planing forever, but it turned out to be less of a job than I feared.  I stropped my plane, put some music on, and planed happily away; got a little carried away, evidently, because when I checked the bevel at the fourth frame, I found I had gone too far.  The first stumble is painful, but plywood garboards will bend enough to compensate for the dip in the bottom bevel, and I'll just have to hope that people are too polite to stare at my bottom and snigger.

Moving Outside

transomWith the floor planed and its bevel roughed out, I'm ready to move the boat parts to the carport and begin setting up to hang the planks.  I made a pair of sturdy sawhorses out of two by fours, and when I had the bottom laying across them, I saw right away that they were too short for the stem.  How did I possibly fail to account for the length of the stem when I was making sawhorses for this very specific purpose?  I've found that when I build and fabricate, the most frequent challenge is correcting after the fact for one important point or other that I missed in the planning stage.

Time and Tools

With the frames, stem, and transom completed, I started working on the bottom of the boat, and found several jobs that my showood shavingsp is just too small for.  


I needed three twelve foot cypress one by tens.  The lumber yard was out of twelve footers, so they gave me fourteens.  I got them into the shop without sacrificing any light bulbs or windows, and laid them out side by side on saw horses.


After I cleared some space and moved the table saw, I had room to fit them over the jointer, but I made several passes and realized there was no way I could handle boards that long by myself.  Even with my girlfriend Sally helping, I couldn't keep the boards flat against the fence for the whole fourteen feet. 


Lines and Patterns

plottingThis is the half breadths of the body plan; the vertical line in the center is the stem of the boat, and each of the lines next to it are the profiles of the frames, or ribs of the boat, which double as the molds that the planks will be bent around.  I laid these out on half a sheet of masonite with a colored pencil, plotting points from the table of offsets.  These are the lines that I'll use to make the patterns for the frames and transom, and it looks to me like I won't know whether I hosed the job up or not until I'm putting the planks on the boat, which will be much too late. 

Once the lines were down, I laid the masonite on the floor and for each station, put nails on their sides at each plotted point, and then laid a piece of pattern stock on top of it and stepped on it, transferring the points to the pattern stock. 

What got me started

About a year ago, my girlfriend gave me a book entitled Wooden Boats by Michael Ruhlman (Penguin Books, 2001).  It was written about a boat yard on Martha's Vineyard that builds plank on frame wooden boats using traditional methods and materials.  That book completely captured my imagination.  It's not a how-to, but is mainly about the romance and beauty of wooden boats and the builders' reasons for choosing to build a type of boat that has long been almost completely replaced by fiberglass, aluminum, and modern manufacturing. 

Best Marine Epoxy

My favorite epoxy? Progressive Basic No-Blush Epoxy

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