November 7, 2014 Hours spent building to date: 326
Nothing big to report — just a lot of the small jobs that lead to a big boat. And a few tidbits for the followers that are coming in from the WoodenBoat Forum.
Finished up all the bottom stringers. Now that I know how to do them, they look great — but I will probably never have to do another set of bottom stringers again. I have spent a lot of time over the last few days fairing the stem to a V to accept the planking. This is a big deal — I have focused on it even more than the keel/frame fairing because you need a big, flat piece of wood for fastening the ultra-curvy-twisty front planks and because it really defines the shape of the boat. This is much more pleasant than planeing plywood, however, because nice curls of wood come off as you work, and they smell like the fir forests where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I am leaving a little more wood than Mark’s plans show so I can get full wood-to-wood contact with the two-inch outer stem, which I want to leave as beefy as possible given my tendency to ram things while docking.
(English teacher needed: Is there anyone out there who can tell me the gerund (had to reach back to fifth grade for that) of “to plane.” Planing doesn’t look right, nor does planeing.)
Also took a big step by laminating the motor mount. It dawned on me yesterday that this and the motor well sides would have to go in now, or installation would be blocked by the topside stringers and sheer clamp. The mount is four laminations of 1/2-inch ply, epoxied and screwed together from both sides. I countersunk the 316-stainless screws so I can leave them in. I could hang a small building or a tank from this thing, so I think it will take a 300-lb outboard.
The plans say you can cut the stringer notches while making the frames or after setup. DON’T WAIT UNTIL SETUP. You will be standing on a ladder trying to cut awkward angles for days. You can be perfectly accurate by waiting, but Mark’s plans are fine even with me doing the measuring and cuts. My stringers hit 90% of the slots right on, 5% needed a little work with the rasp, and the rest needed a slight saw trim.
The plywood and epoxy are murder on plane blades. After roughing out with the power planer and belt sander, I tried my Stanley #4 jack plane, but it was just too heavy. So I went down to my Stanley block plane that has been souped up with a replacement blade from Lee Valley Tools. WoodCraft also has an incredible blade from Germany for these planes. I highly recommend this — the plane bodies from Stanley are fine, the blades are so-so. I used to lust after fancy Leigh-Nielsen or imported planes, but I think taking a decent plane and throwing out the blade it came with produces the same result for about $100 less. There is a lot of advertising for the “low-angle” versions of these planes. Boats are long and skinny, so you don’t do much end grain. A regular angle is less money and fine for general-purpose work.
I sharpen every 20 minutes or so when working with plywood. My wife used to sell advertising to Norton Industries, and when they found out I built boats, they gave her a pair of really nice waterstones. I hollow-grind the blades on a slow grinder, set the angle with a Veritas gauge, then for the next two years or so, I just finish them on the waterstones. I keep the waterstones soaking in a sealed plastic box with a drop of bleach to prevent growth.
Look at the shops of Harry Bryan or John Brooks or Doug Hylan. They don’t have $500 Rockler sharpening systems. They have a couple stones and know how to use them.