Friday, December 28, 2007

So little progress

I blame the Dark,

Since I'm working outside, and it's dark before I get home from work.

But Partly it's the Rain, and the Cold.

There's also Real Life Commitments to deal with.

In the last while, I inherited a small bench top three wheel bandsaw. Which if you coax it just right, and go slowly will cut 1" oak just fine. It'll never cut 1/16" veneers from 5" Walnut Planks, but there you go. It was free.

I am about to cut the side logs for the centre board case. I have planed them down to size, and I just need to cut the curve. I am thinking of cutting the first one on the bandsaw almost to the mark, then sanding it down with a long flexible sanding board.

Then I will cut the other close, and use a Router with bearing guided flush bit to trim it to be an exact match.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I tried a little carving...

Since it's dark in the evenings, there's not much work done on the boat these days.

Instead, I tried my hand at a little letter carving, since the boat will need a name.

The boat will be called Lady Caroline.

This is a first try, and a little rough around the edges, but I think it turned out pretty good for a first try.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A mock centerboard case

Next up it the centerboard case. But it will involve using epoxy glue, making epoxy fillets, and glassing around a curves.

All new skills.

The case itself uses a lot of spendy marine ply, a lot of Oak that I have spent time and effort to prepare.

Sounds like a recipe for a test piece.

I've glued up the two halves, and added the fillets.

I need to round over the edges a little more and sand things down before I start glassing. Then I'll trim it, and cut a slot for it in another peice of scrap.

If it all goes well, I'll try it or real.

Incidentally, the fillets today were brought to you by 2 parts glass bubbles to one part cabosil and a plastic spoon.

Monday, October 29, 2007

And then there were Five

It's been a while since I posted. Life got in the way, Exams*, holidays in warmer places, Family Stuff.

I have cut and assembled the last and final frame.

As always I have learned a little, and the frame could be better, but most of the improvements are trivial.

Bronze REALLY is soft. I had been laying out the parts on a marked out plywood board, drilling holes, applying glue and screwing things together. This meant that I could not clamp all the parts together as I could not reach all parts of the frames with clamps. So I just trusted the screws to align everything nicely.

Maybe with a Pine and Steel screws, but not with Oak and Bronze. If things get out of alignment, the screws don't pull it all back into shape, they just shear off when you try to tighten them.

What I should have done was to cut holes in the ply to put clamps through. Hold everything in place while the glue sets and add the bronze screws later. I tried this with the cross piece of the frame and it worked perfectly.

Luckily, the frame is out by about 1/8th of an inch, so it will either be faired, or shimmed. And also, the sheared screws, along with the additional ones that I added later, are conveniently hidden from sight.

My next job is the center board case. I think that since I have not done any real epoxy work, and this needs to be epoxy glassed on the inside, I will make a small mockup first. See how it all hangs together.

* Some people think that I am a little crazy trying to do a Maths Degree in the evenings, and Build a boat while coping with the changes in life that a one year old child brings. Some people use another word instead of "little"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cut away anything that does not look like a boat.

Only one frame to go, it's cut, the stem is cut and laminated, the centerboard is cut, the CB case is cut, even the rudder is cut.

I've an exam coming up, so this is on hold for a bit, but it's starting to look like something that might eventually be a boat.

I'll glass the inside of the CB case, glue it up and then I start building the scaffold that I put this all together on.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A better stick.

I took a peice of oak about 1" x 1" about 3 feet long. This time I cut a scarf in it using using a jig and a circular saw. And cut a second matching scarf on the same jig.

I dampened the surface of the scarf, glued it and clamped it.

I left it for 48 hours and then set it up across two bricks. It happily took my weight. Then I started bouncing up and down on it.

After a fair bit of bouncing, It finally snapped. Though as you can see from the photo, the break was not along the glue line.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Broken Sticks

Since I am in a sense running a grand experiment in that I am using PU instead of epoxy for any joints where I have smooth flat surfaces to join, I thought a break test would be in order.

I found two oak offcuts about 12" long, 1" thick, and sloped to a point and glues them up as a scarf joint. Albeit a short scarf joint at about 6" long. PU was applied and they were heavily clamped and left for 24 hours.

Where I have laminated peices with PU, any cuts that have crossed the join have shown a what could be a single peice of wood except for the grain. So I was expecting great things.

The scarfed oak stick took my 200+ lbs quite happily, until I started to bounce up and down.

Then it broke approximately along the line of the scarf, The glue did not fail, rather the wood broke apart. If you look at the two peices of wood, each has hills and hollows where it either tore wood from the other side or wood was torn from it.

In one or two tiny patches the break was along the glue line, but mostly the wood actually failed.

I appreciate that the scarf was short at nearer 5 to 1 than 8 to one, so my next test peice will be 8 to 1 and will be better prepared - this was really two bits of scrap thrown together.

But I was sort of hoping for the wood to break like a single peice or wood. I'll try to post a picture later.

And I'll post the results of a proper 1:8 scarf subject to the bounce test.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I can bounce up and down on it...

I took down the laminated plank that I will use for the deck beam.

I happily bounced up and down on it, not a worry.

It will take some planing, but apart from that it seems fine.

And the cling film / plastic wrap did indeed just peel right off.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Laminated Deck Beams....

I went to my wood pile, to find a peice of oak for the last deck beam.

1" x 4" x 6'.

The longest "piece" I had was about 5' 4". Or I could cut into the lovely 16' plank that I had intended for the sheer clamps.

Maybe I could laminate up a plank. After all, this is going to be supported by a post in the middle. And glue is stronger than wood. And.. And..

I have cut a whole set of 1" x 1" strips, and most of them 5' 4" long, and staggered the joints so that when I cut it to shape, and cut the notches I should not have any weak points.

The whole lot is glues up with Balcotan PU - which does not stick to Cling Film / Plastic Wrap - and clamped with about 30 F-clamps.

It's sitting in my garden shed, awaiting a bounce test.

I reckon that if I can put a block under each end and it will support my 200lbs bouncing up and down on it, then it should be good.

It is for a 14' sail boat, not an ocean going clipper....

Any thoughts or comments.

Short cuts seldom are....

They said draw out the full frame on a board, and use that for gluing up the frames. No worries, I'll just size up each half against the plans and glue up each half. How can it go wrong....

When I look at the two half, one is just about perfect, the other is off by about 5/16" at the top.

The three other frames where I did as I was told, and drew them out on a board, and then glued them up are just fine.

Now I am faced with - re cut and re glue or shim and trim.

I suspect I will shim and trim.

Since the side beam of the fram is 1" thick oak, and three inches from outside to inside, trimming 5/16" off the inside, and adding a 5/16" strip to the outside should be fine. The added strip will be under compression, and I suspect much of if may get faired away anyhow.

More haste less speed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

This looks like it may become part of a boat.

Now that the bits are starting to come together, it's starting to look like one day these could become part of a boat. Yes, that is the kitchen table, and yes - I have a very tolerant wife.

Sharp Things

No surgeon could have cut a thinner slice from my thumb.

The rule is simple, don't put anything on the sharp side of a tool that you are not happy to cut.

Using a chisel like a paint scraper to remove glue while holding the workpiece with your hand across from, but in front of the chisel is just not very smart.

It didn't even hurt, the I keep my chisels sharp, real sharp, so after the chisels arc intersected with flesh and blood the tiny nick on my thumb just bled quietly.

Just enough to let me know that if I had been less fortunate, I'd be wandering down to A&E asking the nice doctors if they would kindly stitch me back together.

Skin, tenons, ligaments, and even bones will offer little resistance to a sharp chisel moving at the speed of stupidity.

It's cold comfort that nothing more than good fortune stood between me and an afternoon in A&E.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Never enough clamps

I've started putting the frames together...

This is a big step. I am going from a pile of funny shaped bits of wood to things that are starting to look like they may belong to a boat.

Part of this is the drawing out of the frames on the layout board (the crappy 6mm "marine" ply that I bought before I knew better - came in useful after all)

Given he half plans, you draw a center line, then draw the plans out on both sides, and measure a few times to make sure that you are symmetric.

A word to the wise, Do this before you cut your frames. Cut the side frame parts from the patterns, and then cut the bottom frame parts to fit. Otherwise, you can end up with your bottom members too short. (I cut mine long on purpose, so I just have to trim to fit)

Since I am using Balcotan PU glue for the frames, I need LOTS of clamping pressure, the nails are fine for holding things in place, but I use about 10 F clamps per joint. Since I only have 10 f clamps - this means one joint at a time. I see more F clamps in my future.

The Balcotan is great for flat surfaces, but it had no strength in gaps.

Horses for courses - it has no fumes to speak of - so I can happily glue up on the kitchen table, if I were using Epoxy, I would need to set up outside, in the garden, and given our biblical summer (raining for 40 days and 40 nights), setting up in the garden is not always easy.

Once I have a few of them glued up, I'll post pictures.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fixing Frames

Along the way I had about four frame parts that needed recutting, so this weekend, since the weather cooperated, I recut them.

I have a batten of plywood that I cut with the jigsaw, this is exactly the width of the distance between the side of the jigsaw base and the blade. By lining this up with my cut line, and clamping a guide beside it...

I can then run the jigsaw along this guide and get a perfect cut every time. This has the benefit that the entire base of the jigsaw is supported for the cut. Using the Jig I use to use... Old JigSaw Guide only one side was supported, and cuts were not always square.

One thing to bear in mind while you are congratulating yourself on a perfect cut, is that a Bosch Jigsaw is powerful enough to cut through the bench as well as the oak, and you won't notice it slowing down, or working any harder. If it can slash through 1" White Oak, then an extra half inch of Black and Decker workbench is nothing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Some Snaps

Just a quick snap of the foremost frame, and some of the concertina shavings that suggest that its getting to be time to touch up the edge.

The layout board is the 3 ply plywood that I had bought in the local builders providers. I had to find some use for it.

Once you have the lines drawn out on a board, it becomes a lot easier to make sure things line up just so.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rain, Interspersed with Heavy Showers and Occasional Drizzle.

I had great plans for this weekend. I long list of things that I was planning on doing. The weather had other plans. This summer has really not been suited to outdoor boatbuilding. It's been best suited to getting on a plane and going somewhere else.

I did get some work done, I had to plane a simple Oak batten to fit between two plywood gussets, The slats for the seats will screw into these battens. Given that I had gone to the trouble of buying some decent blades for my planes and some waterstones and then going to the trouble of reading all about sharpening, I thought I'd leave the Bosch in its box and break out the Stanley.

The blade was sharp, bald patch on my arm sharp. Gillete eat your heart out. I set the plane to take very thin shavings and started. I had to take about 3/16 of an inch off the batten to make it fit, and I had to square it up a little.

Damn, It's hard work. Oak is hard stuff, and I had the "benefit" of trying to do this on a fold up work bench, so I had to use my weight to hold the bench steady and my arms to plane. I gather that with a proper bench you get to use your body weight to do the planing.

I found that Oak will blunt a blade quite quickly, you can feel it getting harder and harder to push the plane, and you find the shavings concertina. This is a good indication that 30 seconds on the waterstone is required, sacrifice some more hair from my arm to the Sharp Gods, and off we go again.

It was a great experience to square and thickness the wood the old fashioned way, but I will admit to dragging out the Bosch in order do the second batten, in about 1/10th of the time.

When you look at pictures of old wooden sailing ships, and think that they didn't have Bosch, Makita, or even Black and Decker, you start to look at them in a different light.

Oh yes, and never try a crushing handshake on someone who actaully uses a hand tools for a living.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A centerboard case.

Having a lifting keel or centerboard in a small sail boat seems like a wonderful idea. A nice deep fin for beating upwind, and a nice shallow draft for coming in to shore. And it makes trailering easier.

Of course there's the whole problem of the big hole that you make in the bottom of the boat to allow you to lower and raise the keel.

The design calls for a centerboard case which passes through a slot in the oak keel, and there are two oak bedlogs (planks) either side of the box which sit on the keel.

That would be fine if the keel were flat, but the 5/4th thick oak keel is actually curved. The bedlogs have to match perfectly, or the centerboard case will leak like a Government Department. And they have to be aligned so that the trunk case sits vertically upright.

To make matters more interesting, the ends of the centerboard case need to butt up perfectly to the frames - So I need to build the centerboard case before I bend the oak keel over the frames, but I need to bend the oak keel to find the shape for the bed logs.....

- Here's the plan.

I'll build the CenterBoard case with the logs just tacked in place with a screw or two. I'll shift the logs away from the keel so that they only touch the keel at the frames. I'll also just screw the Case to the frames that it buts against.

Then when I've bent the keel into place, I can trace the curve of the keel, cut them, take the case out and complete the assembly and replace it. Glue and screw the whole lot togehter and I'm sorted.

What do you think ?


There's plywood, and there's marine plywood and there's Marine Plywood.

The local builders providers sells marine ply. Excellent. Less than half the price of the stuff sold by Waller Wickham. What's not to like.

Well - specifically, there's only 3 plys on the 6mm boards. And the veneer ply is as thin as paint, leaving a big fat ply in the middle with all it's strength along one axis. Not likely to hold up to much of anything.

So I bit the bullet and wandered down to Waller Wickham and got a sheet of 5 ply 6mm to make up the gussets and the centerboard case. I believe the ply they stock is Robbins Elite.

Who was it that said "Light, strong, cheap, pick any two". This stuff is light, strong, well made, but not cheap.

I didn't feel as though I even had a decision to make though, the builders yard marine ply was totally inadequate, even though it was stamped with BS1088.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fun with Epoxy

In the end I went with GRS for my epoxy. They were very prompt about delivery.

I mixed up a small batch and epoxied some glass cloth across two peices of ply. I let it set for 24 hours and then tested to destruction.

With a lot of abuse, the cloth delaminated where boards were joined together the. Not easily - I was jumping on the boards where they were set up against a step. The plys actually separated.

In addition I glued two scrap prices together with thickened epoxy and a very quick and dirty fillet. After much jumping up and down, I managed to break them apart - the wood broke, not the glue.

I am quite certain I could do a much better job, both of glassing and gluing, so I have every confidence in this Epoxy stuff. 8-)

Next tests,
* Gluing Oak to Ply.
* Gluing Oak to Oak.
* Glassing a trailing edge.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ruining Wood

I'm getting to the stage where I will start assembling the various odd shaped bits of wood onto a frame to make the skeleton for my boat.

In order to do this I need to build the Center Board Case, as two of the frames but up against this.

The Center Board case needs to be glassed. Since I'm making up the Case, it seemed appropriate to make up the Centerboard at the same time.

This means I need to Shape and Glass the Center Board, and Glass the Case.

I have never used Epoxy before for much beyond fixing the pendulum of a clock - please don't ask. So I reasoned that I would make up a test rudder from cheap ply instead of the good marine stuff, and glass it. This would be a learning experience, and I would not ruin anything expensive.

Along the way I figured out the following

* Prime the epoxy pumps by pumping out a little into a scrap cup and bin it. It means wasting a little epoxy, but not nearly as much as if you pump out too little hardener and work everything up only to find it doe not set.

* Epoxy goes a lot further than you'd expect. I made up what I thought was about half what I needed for my test piece only to have twice what I needed.

* How to glass the trailing edge is not obvious - try this link, go to the foils section - mothboat

* You can use the glue lines in the plywood to keep you rudder or center board symetrical.

I made a lot of mistakes, which was good, it meant I learned at least what not to do.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Beale Park Boat Show

I went along to beale park boat show, Wonderful place. I got to sail around in a deben lugger which is a lug yawl, using carbon fiber spars. A nice mix of the old and new. I saw the Bay Raider and a build in progress of a Secret. There was a Thames Punt with a nice rack at the back to hold one Champagne bottle and Two glasses. Just two mind, three would be a crowd.

The real highlight was meeting the builder of this, a retired pilot's first build. If he had told me he'd been doing this for a living for most of his life, this boat would have made me believe it.

And along the way I came across an interesting car...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Getting Epoxy in Dublin

Prices in EUROs, as converted June 07.

Note: DiscountMarines info is from their OLD web site.

As far as I know this information is correct as of today 6th June 2007. This is not a comprehensive list. If this infomation is incorrect, or you have another supplier that I could add to the list, drop in a comment and I will try to update the list as and when I have time. Free information is worth what you pay for it. If you are buying large quantities, go do some further research 8-).

Epoxy and boat shows.

Currently trying to source epoxy now in Ireland. I will post a table here soon with prices, delivery, and landed cost per liter.

I'm also off to the Beale Park Boat Show on the thames this weekend. Expect Pictures.

I've cut most of the plywood peices that I traced out on the 18mm ply. You really gotta love a decent JigSaw.

Friday, May 18, 2007

From Ply to Sheaves and Bronze Strips.

I've marked out a 4x8 18mm Marine ply for the transom, centerboard and floors and laminations for the stem and breasthooks. Now all have to do is to cut it out.
Marking it out was made far easier by
* a little spiked wheel with a handle, bought in a fabric shop. Put down the carbon paper and roll the wheel along the lines.
* a T Square made from two offcuts of PLY screwed together at right angles. Or you can buy one for €20 - really if you are building a boat, a T Square should be trivial to make :-)

The only down side is that the forecast for the weekend is rain, so I doubt that I'll get much cutting done.

In the mean time I've been trying to find a good source for for the cute little bronze bits and for fibre glass and epoxy (ouch that's expensive stuff, and it's considered hazardous for shipping which means I can't just buy it in from the US.).

I plan to make the cleets from wood - just for fun. But for things like the strap that holds the sheave for the centerboard, all I need is about 8 inches of 1" x 1/8th" bronze strip. Fine. Only nobody wants to sell less than an 10 foot strip. And shipping a 10 foot strip of anything is expensive.

It's the little things. It's always the little things. The Devil is indeed in the details.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A weekend off

Life is full of deadlines, work, college and full of things that need to be done, like putting up a security light, or wiring a light in a cupboard, or handing up another stats project. I need another deadline like I need an itchy rash.

Building a small boat, should not be like that. And this weekend I did nothing on the boat. We visited my parents in law. Went out in the evenings, looked at a house for sale that we couldn't afford anyway - didn't like it much. But there was no progress on the boat.

In my actually free time, a scarce commodity when you have a rug rat, I read - admittedly I read books about boat building, scarfing short lengths of wood to make up a mast, and books about woodwork jigs.

So there's not much to report about the boat, other than when I am working on it, I really do enjoy it. I don't work on it just because I feel I have to.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A little off topic

We have a general election coming up.

The immediate impact of this is that
  • A tribunal set up to investigate corruption is going to defer questioning our glorious leader until after the election.
  • There's speculation that the winning government may reform stamp duty on houses. So no-one is buying houses in advance of the election.
  • Everything that stands still for more than 35 seconds has a poster on if of some politician grinning smugly, usually in a suit that costs more than most peoples monthly pay cheque.
  • The Canvasers are coming. You get home from a hard days work and have dinner, then sit down to read a good book and the door bell rings. Some twit with a badge whom you have never seen before in your life feels he's perfectly entitled knock on your door and ask if he can count on your vote -
    I'm trying do decide on a new sign - "No dogs or Politicicans*" or "No peddlers of politicial ideology or other useless tat"
  • And finally the graffetti artists are stepping up to the mark. "If voting really changed anything it would be illegal"
So please make the effort, go out and vote 1,2 and 3 in order of your choice
  • The Corrupt
  • The Inept
  • The Idealogically Bankrupt
* Actually dogs are ok if they are house trained

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Keel

This weekend I cut the Keel. It's basically a 12'x4"x5/4" board. 5/4" being the thickness that when planned will end up 1" net thickness.

One thing that I did along the way was to put a fresh set of blades in the planer/thicknesser. Big difference, huge. Oak really is hard on steel power tool blades.

Now I need to put a 7 degree bevel either side of the center, and to cut out the slot for the centerboard. The slot will be interesting. I see some test cuts first in a peice of scrap. Actually I see a lot of test cuts in a lot of peices of scrap.

It seems like a milestone. I still have one frame peice to cut, then I start trying to assemble things. I can imagine having to recut some of the frame peices, but it should be easier now that I have learned a few things along the way.

I can see me recutting the transom frames. It was a bad plan to start cutting them first. What was I thinking. Cut the bevelled frames first. I also cut them with a jigsaw. Fine for the curves, but the long straight edges to be cut at a bevel really do cry out for a tablesaw.

People keep asking when it will be done. Work has deadline, my maths degree has deadlines. I need another deadline like I need and itchy rash. It'll be done when it's done or shortly thereafter.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lisnavagh Timber Project

I went down to Lisnavagh yesterday to get some Oak boards, and picked out a few boards with the help of William Burnbury. They have a system to track every board, so they can show you where it came from. They even print you off a photo of the tree. They are very much into sustainable use of the resources. William was kind enough to email me the picture of the tree for my blog. From the history that William provided this fell itself so I don't even need to feel guilty about it being chopped down.

Now all I need is some good weather to turn this old tree into a boat.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

More general progress

Yesterday I made a cross cut sled for the table saw. This rocks. Table saws should all come with with a cross cut sled. Only then saws would cost more and you can make them yourself. There's so many pages showing how to make one, this is just off the top of google. It makes cross cutting and angles soooo much easier.

I also started cutting the peices for the frame that I will use to build the boat on. That feels like a big step. I know I have a bit more to do before I start setting it up, but it's all progress in the right direction.

Since I had no good oak, I made use of some bad oak. I took some long thin strips that I had ripped for test peices and made up a test bed by simply screwing some scraps into a scrap plywood board. Then I bent and glued two strips around a bend that one one single strip twice as thick would not have bent around. The glue up went fine.

This is how I intend to deal with curves. Forget steaming, rip and laminate. Now that I've tried it, I will feel more confident about doing it for real on the boat. A test scarf on a batten and on a scrap plywood board are next.

Oh yes, any more toys, a bosch power planer. Much and all as I love hand planes, beveling a 12' oak keel will be difficult on my PT85, so a power hand planer it is. And as a bonus, the guide for my bosch belt sander, which makes bench sander out of it will fit the planer and acts as a parallel guide so that I can plane rebates. (for all the rebates I make 8-)

Monday, April 09, 2007

General Update

I put a decent blade in my table saw, a Freud LP30M. Cuts straighter, and quieter.

I also got one of these Digital Angle Gauges. Put it on the saw table, zero it, put it on the blade, it's magnetic, and you can set the angle of the blade to 0.1 degrees

I started cutting the last frame peice only to discover that I had board made up entirely of sapwood. See my earlier post on sapwood.

This put an end to the boat work for the day, so I planed a peice of scrap to the thickess of the mitre slots and ripped 8 battens for use as runners when making various table saw jigs.

One thing that I found very useful was a cheap grout float. The sort that you use for grouting tiles. It's basically a handle on a small metal board with a rubber surface. It give you great control as you feed the wood, with the advantage that if anything slips and makes contact with the saw blade you stand a really good chance of ruining a €10 float rather than your hand.
(It's since been pointed out that the metal in the grout float would catch in the blade rather than simply being cut by it - this could be a really bad thing)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Wet stones and good blades

I had thought that shaving the back of your arm with a plane blade was an urban myth, perpetuated by the Old Woodworkers to make us new guys feel perpetually inadequate.

However, in search of sharpness, I bought some high carbon plane blades from Hock Tools and a set of Ice Bear Waterstones from Axminster. (Nice fast delivery on both counts)

So I spent the time flattening the back of the blade, then honing the front till I found the burr, then removing the burr.

And there you go. It lifted a few hairs from the back of my arm, not quite up to Gillette's standard, but sharper than anything I've managed previously.

I am converted. My old wet and dry paper collection will now be reserved for flattening the wetstones. I've already ordered a course 220 grit wetstone to do the back of the cheaper blades, which have far move visible machine marks.


They say that to mark a curve, use a batten. They don't say you need 15 hands.

With a batten held in a curve by a peice of twine, you must shorten the twine until it curves the batten to the correct length. This proves difficult. How do you shorten the twine and tie it off at exactly the right length.

I used course twine and twisted a pen into it. Now I can set the curve by simply pulling the twine further up the pen. I can slide the loop of twine up the pen away from the batten, and this curves the batten a little more.

It gives me very fine control over the curve in the batten.

If the pen is in the middle of the batten, then the curve will be symmetric. If I need the curve to be asymmetric, then I move the pen nearer one end than the other. The curve will be more pronounced at the end where the pen is.

Then I just clamp it in place and draw the line.

All with just two hands.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I know the photo looks like the logo for kids space toy, but to me it's progress.

This weekend I managed to cut all of the 4th Frame. Now I have the transom, Frames 1, 2 and 4. I'm mising frame 3 as I did not have a clean peice of Oak large enough for the cross beam. Frame 3 is next.

(The cross beam on Frame 4 is left long for fitting.)

Once that is complete, I have to get some marine ply for the gussets and for the stem.

And for the Centerboard.

Then there's the keel. That is a 5/4" * 4" * 12' Oak board, and Brookes only sell 9' boards. I think there's a little bit of work with the phone book in my near future.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More Planes

I've inherited these from my Grandfather. They look like they've been left on a shelf for quite a while... I guess some clean up is in order...


Monday, March 12, 2007

Why the slow down

In the last while,

* I've build a small tool shed (for the boat parts and heavy tools)
* Wired up some new light fittings
* Built a built in wardrobe
* Gone on holidays

So now I'm back building, hopefully there will be more to report..... And a few more pictures.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Planing Oak

I actually got some work don on the boat today. I took some of my rough Oak boards and planed planed and thicknessed them ready to mark and cut Frame and Frame 4.

It takes a lot of passes to get the cup out of the boards, but at least I can record the exact setting of the thicknessor so that each piece is the same thickness.

When running 7 inch wide oak through the thicknessor (A Woodster pt85) I can turn the handle about 1/8 of a turn each pass, and take off about 1/4 mm. Any more and the machine grinds to a halt. (Previous Posts)

I guess it is a little unfair asking a hobby machine to deal with 7" wide oak boards. But if I go slowly it copes. The finish would drive a cabinet maker to drink, but then I'm making a boat to sail, not to stare at.

I've sort of decided to redo the transom frame. Now that I have a table saw I reckon I can do a better job of the bevels. But that's another day.

I set up the table saw fully last night. The Easiest way of getting the side extension tables level with the main table is to take off the guard, lower the blade right inside the saw, flip it upside down on a large table and attach the side extensions there. They cannot but be level with the saw table. Worked a treat.

The forecast is poor for tomorrow, so I will probably settle for simply marking out the frames and then try to cut them after work during the week.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

More Toys - A drill driver

I have lived from some time with a cheap and cheerless 18v portable drill. Pretty good when the battery was charged, but the battery didn't last very long, and I drained a battery just doing the floor of my "boat shed".

Then I came across this Makita cordless impact driver set . It's a world apart from my old toy cordless. The quality is obvious in just handling it. The impact driver easily belts screws into solid oak without any of the usual ruining of the screw heads. And I got it up in the US for less than half the price of buying it in Europe. Add a €20 transformer and off you go.

By the way - why are power tools so much cheaper in the US? Who's making a small fortune on the ones sold here in Ireland?

A boat shed

Not so much for putting the boat in, but rather somewhere to put some of the accumulation of tools and parts for the boat, to free up the kitchen.

I couldn't find anything the size I want so I built one myself.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Meet Vic

The internet is kind of like a big Club, where you can go and find other people who are interested in the same sort of things that you are. Chances are someone's done what you are trying to do, or something similar, and wrote about it.

Or you can post a question on a forum, and (in among the wise cracks) someone will have the gem of knowledge that you need.

Only, you don't need to go there every Wednesday night at 7:45 pm. You can wander in when you like.

Recently Vic cam acros my little page, left a comment, and a link to his page. He's a little more ambitious that me, and his pages make great reading, so have a wander over here and leave a comment to say hi.

Comments are always appreciated on blogs. Means we're not talking to ourselves.

Trend Grabit

As sure as black cats have black kittens, sooner or later you will strip the head of a screw. hopefully you will have a Trend Grabit around. It's got a reverse cutting drill bit to drill out a hole in the screw, and a reverse threaded cone to dig into the hole and unscrew the screw.

One thing to bear in mind. You do have to drill out a hole in the top of the screw, even thought the screw may appear nicely drilled by your previous attempts to screw it in, the hole that the grabit makes is the correct shape for the threaded cone to grab.

There's a series of pictures here

Friday, February 09, 2007

On Power Tools

How woodwork has changed since the time of my grandfather. He would have cut lap joints with a saw and pared them to an exact fit with a small rabbet plane. The process would have taken less time for him, with his years of experience, but would still take more than a few moments.

Finding my collection of power tools expanding beyond the space to store them in my back yard shed, I was faced with obtaining a half height tool shed to place in some space under the kitchen window. Unable to find one to suit, I thought – I’ll build one.

In making the frames I needed to cut some lap joints. Since I was working in rough treated timber, a rough lap joint was more than adequate, so out came the Black and Becker Router.

I set up a batten to guide the router on a scrap price, and this gave me a marker for how far from the batten the cut would be.

I set the router depth to approximately half the thickness of the wood, and a few moments later I had half the lap joints cut.

In order to get the thickness right for the other sides, you must remove exactly the thickness of wood that remains on the first pieces. Place the router on a piece of board. Sink the router until the bit just rests on the board and lock it in place. Place the tongue you have just cut on top of the depth stop, and slide the depth pin down to rest on it. Lock the pin in place. You can now unlock the plunge on the router and reset it to the pin.

Routers may be noisy, dusty, dangerous things that can ruin a piece of wood in an instant, and ruin whatever flesh gets to near the whirring bit in less time still, but they do make life quick and easy.

Wear a dust mask and eye protection. Really Do.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A table saw

I started out trying to mount my circular saw upside down to a piece of plywood. That has a few problems.
  • No mitre slot
  • No parallel guide - you can clamp a piece of wood in place, but that's fiddly
  • No blade guard - That's a biggy. I'm fond of each and every one of my fingers..
Either you mount the blade through the plywood, so the guard is always open, or you mount the base plate of the saw through the ply wood, but then the spring loaded guide tries to lift your work piece. No fun.

Given that you can buy a cheap circular saw for about €150 it makes little sense to try to save money this way. Sure it will have limitations, it's not a precision high end machine, but neither is your circular saw mounted through plywood.

I eventually settled on the SIP 01321 for €150 form McQullians in Dublin (no web site). The one I bought comes without a stand.

So far I have simply assembled it, but there is one or two things to be aware of.

Adjusting the blade to make it parallel to the mitre slot
The saw is held in place by 4 bolts. You loosen these, with a socket wrench, it's inaccessible for spanners, and then you move the blade, and then you tighten them. It's very hit and miss. I was expecting some manner of screws or micro adjuster. But then this is a €150 saw.

The mitre guide is a little sloppy
You can move it about 1/2 a degree either way. I see a few grub screws in it's future. Tap holes into the side of the mitre bar, place grub screws in, and adjust them to get a perfect fit for the mitre bar.

The Fence is not rigid.
The fence locks parallel to the mitre slots. This is GOOD. But a small amount of force can move the end of it up to 3/4 cm (1/3 of an inch). I imagine the simplest solution to this is to place a piece of wood perpendicular to the fence, and clamp it at the edge of the table.

The table is not flat.
If you place a straight edge across the table, there is light visible in the middle. Not a lot, but light none the less. I'm not sure how much trouble this will cause. I'll update this as I start using the saw.

The angle guide is a gross approximation
But I kind of expected that. It just means that I always need to check the actual angle of the blade, even for vertical. The stops for vertical and 45 degrees are too coarse to be useful.

Once I start cutting things, I'll post a little more about how many of these short comings are problems in real life and how many are just niggles.


Monday, January 22, 2007

It scrubs up well...

Ok, it's not shiny and polished, but then I don't really need to start a tool restoration hobby. I wanted a usable tool.

I took it apart, brused of the dirt with an old toothbrush, and soaked it in vinegar overnight.

A little more work with a toothbrush, some 320 grit carbide paper, and some machine oil, and voila:

I bought a new blade, as even after spending a half hour with 120 grit paper, I was making little impression on the back of the old blade. I could sharpen it enough to plane pine, but it was looking like a career to flatten the back properly so that I could get it scary sharp.

I priced a new one at about €85 + postage, so I guess this is a bargain.

The base is flat. Or at least, sufficiently flat that I cannot tell the difference.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Some Old Planes.

I have been given a few old, once loved planes, that have spent a few uncared for years. They once belonged to my grandfather, a Carpenter of significant skill. Now they are badly rusted.

Believe it or not, the blades are still sharp enough to cut your hand on. Of the three planes, there is a stanley bailey ~5, #4 1/2 and a Record #4.
Since I have a Stanley Bailey #4, I am planning on restoring the #5.

It appears to have been welded together, I have no idea of it's history, but one have cleaned it up a little I will have some idea of how salvagable it is.

Fitting Joints.

Some people, through years of practice can cut a perfectly fitting joint with a back saw. I can't.

In order to fit a joint, a simple method is to mark out the joint on a flat sheet of plywood, and to set up the joint against the lines. This makes it easy to see if the joint fits, and if the joint angles are correct.

So as you can see here, the cut is neither square not a straight line.

This can of course be fixed quite easily with a small block plane. One thing to point out is that the more time that you spend sharpening a tool, the less time you spend cursing it later.

You should check the angle of the joint and check that it's square every few strokes of the plane. The light visible here shows that I still have a little work to go.

As you can see the joint fits a lot better after a little cleaning up.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Maybe I'm learning..

Yesterday I cut Frame #2.

The bottom members are relatively easy as they are pretty much just 3" boards. Of course I managed to mess up the end of one of them. It's just not square. However this time I made the cut about 1/8" away from line so that I could tidy it up with a block plane afterwards. So now instead of moaning about ruining another board, I'm off to sharpen my planes.

Maybe, just maybe I'm learning.