Thursday, September 21, 2017

Deck Seams, Coamings and Getting Close

Most of the upper decking is installed. The foredeck panels will be installed after the gunnels, so I have that to look forward to…

So the four seams between upper deck panels were 'pretty tight' but not quite what I wanted in terms of filling and fairing them. I used my trim router with a CNC bit to widen those seams to make it easier to fill them with thickened epoxy. The CNC bit worked like a charm.

While I am really not quite ready for the coamings, yesterday I was inspired to tackle the (dreaded) task of making a pattern for the coamings. I say "dreaded" because the coamings have been on my "How in the heck do I do that?" list for a long time. I cut up some luan door-skin, clamped it in place, stood back and pondered, asked Jan for her thoughts, looked at many (many) photos on-line and began marking off the shape for the coaming.

There is a bit of tweaking to do - and the "hard" part (fitting to the rise over BH-2) is not quite done - but after much hemming and hawing I realized that how one shapes the coaming is a personal decision. There is no right or wrong way to the shape.

On Tuesday, I went to the Secretary of State's local office to find out what documentation I need to title and register Gardens (Michigan doesn't call it DMV but that is one of the functions of the Secretary of State's office). I need materials receipts to show I've paid sales tax on the materials and a statement that I built the boat. No inspection required. As a lawyer friend of mine recently told me, "Michigan isn't concerned with the boat design, the quality of the build or whether the vessel is seaworthy… what the state wants is tax dollars so you'll have no trouble getting your title/registration - just write a check for the amount they tell you!"

I am pleased with the progress over the last two weeks or so, and I know I am getting close to completing Gardens. However, a FB post and comments this morning reminded me I still have a ways to go… "When the boat is 75% done you still have 75% to go." I'm probably a bit beyond the 75% mark, so maybe I have less than 75% to go.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Decking, CB Rigging and Mizzen Partner Parts

It has been a great week! All interior decking (platform decking and seat tops) has been installed - well, glued in place. Seams between pieces and deck/hull joints need filling/filleting/fairing. But, hey, getting those six pieces installed is huge to me.

The installation of the top decking began yesterday. A shortage of clamps (loaned most of mine out last week!) kept me from installing all but the fore-deck pieces today.

Last Saturday we installed the centerboard in its case. Figuring out how to cap the case and operate the centerboard has taken a great deal of time and consideration - but I have a solution. Borrowed from others, the idea is to build a box to cap the case. Inside the box will be a lifting mechanism: a double block with becket, a double block and an upright/through deck block. The "proof-of-concept" mock-up worked well.

Experimenting with 6mm and 9mm ply, I figured out two pieces (one at a time) of 6mm ply are easier to bend into place on the underside of the stern deck than one piece of 9mm ply. So, 6mm it is. I also experimented (using cedar and TB-III) with making a mast collar for the top of the partner. That went better than I expected, so I will figure out how to shim/fit the collar to the deck's curve and use what I've learned to make a collar out of some sort of hardwood.

Next up: finish the side decking, install the gunnels, build the CB case cap, and begin work on the coamings.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


The platform decking is installed.

The cockpit seat-tops have been trimmed and fitted (to accommodate the modifications to the centerboard case).

Those seat-tops will be installed tomorrow. Installation of the upper decks will soon follow.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Pivotal Moment

Saturday's installation of the centerboard was a pivotal moment for Gardens. After we spent a great deal of time sorting out the "how" of the installation, the actual "doing" was straight forward and done in short order.

Gardens sat patiently waiting. The centerboard, the case, the tools and the gadgets were prepped for the installation. Jan's help in moving the centerboard into the boat was invaluable. Elmer did the heavy lifting and lowering.

Decking is next...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Changes/Additions to the Mast Slot

The mast slot, in its present form, is cut into to king plank and is only one inch 'deep.'

(It will remain cut in the king plank but) I am making it 'deeper' (intending to improve lateral support when raising the mast) by adding 1" x 1½" x [the correct length] doublers on top and bottom on both sides of the slot, increasing the depth to 4". An added benefit is the bottom doublers will add some rigidity between BH1 and BH2

Also under consideration is a mast gate (no not in the plans) as a bit of "belt & suspenders" along with the mast slot plug. The mast gate will be fabricated from CVG DF. A question I have is, how should the grain be oriented?

End grain facing aft (the block shown in the photos is a 'place-holder,' not the real thing):

Edge grain facing aft:

or, Face grain facing aft? No photo but the block could be laminated face grain to face grain.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Centerboard Case Rebuild

Today I stopped thinking about the centerboard case remediation and began the project by cutting off the top of the case. I used a 4½" circular saw for the lengthwise cuts (it worked well).

The next step is to fit and install plywood doublers to the sides to take the case back to original dimensions. I will add packers fore and aft as needed. Additional seat-top support material will be installed as needed to make up for the support lost to the plywood doublers. A new cap will be added after the centerboard itself is installed.

It is difficult to cut a chunk out of your boat - even when you know it has to be done. (Had to be done because I went off plan for the centerboard lifting arrangement and the case design.)

As for the interior paint - at least as far as the bilges and inside of the hull are concerned - I like the three coats of paint. I need to do some brush work in some nooks and crannies to tidy things up a bit, but I am also thinking another coat or two wouldn't hurt anything...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Paint, Centerboard Case and Mast-Slot

Bilge and Interior paint are, for all practical purposes, done. Some touch-up work with a brush is left to be done in corners, crevices, and spots the sprayer couldn't reach.

So, now there is a pause before beginning the center-board case project, installing the center-board, and installing the seat tops. I'm giving myself the chance to see what I'm missing… (I can install the cockpit seat tops without interfering with the work on the center-board case, but I want to make sure I'm not forgetting something.)

On the drawing board is how to secure the plug in the mast-slot. Several possibilities exist but the longer I think about it simpler solutions come to mind. I'm close to a deciding on a 'final' design.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sanding, Paint and Varnish

Working on the centerboard: prepping (sanding) for epoxy and fiberglass.

More painting of the bilges and interior. (With sanding between coats of paint)

More varnish on the tiller.

Thinking about the process/sequence of cutting off the top of the center board case (to install centerboard) and rebuilding the case.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


The interior painting began yesterday.

This is the first time I've used a sprayer - and, so far, I am pleased with the results (even though paint certainly accentuates flaws and mistakes). The paint adds a new dimension and a new look to the boat. Curiously, yesterday felt like we (Gardens and I) turned a corner in our boat building journey.

Gardens will proudly sport a decent work-boat finish.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Step Back to Move Forward...

Gardens is back on the floor of the barn, upright on her keel/skeg and supported (very solidly) by two bunks. This is the result of my struggles and frustrations with (my unsuccessful) fitting the trailer to the boat.

Gardens is very stable and at a very convenient working height, more specifically a much more convenient height for climbing in and out of the boat as I work on the interior.

Seeing the boat on the floor and the relationship of the bunks to the floor, I had an "Aha" realization of how to line the bunks up with the rollers on the trailer. I'll set that up after the interior is finished.

Note, the band saw tires were replaced and the saw is up and running again. ROS repairs this weekend.

So, the trailer is stored in another part of the barn and I am all set to get to work!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

An Omen?

A month ago my table saw quit working. Still working on a fix…

Thursday, a tire on my bandsaw failed as I was about to cut some lumber for a friend. Ordered new tires…

Friday, the switch on my DeWalt ROS failed. Ordered parts…

I'm starting to wonder if all these breakdowns may be an omen of some sort. Like, use hand tools more often.

Fortunately, most of what I'm doing on and for Gardens now doesn't call for the table saw or the band saw. The ROS is another matter altogether.

New rollers for the trailer are expected this week so I plan to get the trailer set up properly and continue work on the interior.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Trailer Work and Tiller Progress

Getting the trailer to fit Gardens has been more of a struggle than it needs to be. After a few days of adjustments - that got the fit closer - I sought help on John Welsford's FB page. It didn't take long for several helpful responses to post. I'll continue with some of those ideas over the next few days.

In the meantime, I cut out a blank for the tiller. The short back-story is that three years ago my brother in law and I used his chainsaw (w/attachments) to mill an fallen ash tree into 4/4, 6/4 and 8/4 planks. Those planks have been drying in the barn since we milled them. I thought it would be great to use lumber off our property for something - might as well be the tiller - for Gardens. Sorting through the stack, I found a couple of likely candidates: 6/4 x 9" x 60". However, to avoid a check in one board and a troublesome knot, I could only get a 44" length for the tiller.

To make a template, I drew an outline on a piece of door-skin using a pattern of the rudder-head slot and a fairing batten. The pattern was 1/4" wider than the (intended) finished size.

After tracing the outline on the ash board, I cut it on the bandsaw to the oversized lines. The template was then cut to the intended size and used to mark the ash blank to the intended size. Another go around with the bandsaw and I have a decent looking blank for the tiller.

6/4 stock is too thick for the rudder-head slot, so the blank was milled to thickness with the planer. A few cycles of planing/fitting and the blank fits just fine. The 44" length is on the shorter end of what's on the drawing, so I may want a longer tiller than this. If that is the case, I know how to make another one.

Getting to this stage with the tiller turned out to be easier than I expected. Sanding, shaping and finishing will complete the tiller.

The trailer work continues...

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Where Was I...?

Looking back at the blog, I realized I haven't made any real progress on Gardens in nearly a year! Oh, a few bits have been added and a couple of necessary items (the gantry, for instance) have been built, tested and used, but no significant progress (ok, the mizzen mast step was installed early this week) on the boat has been made since maybe March of last year. So, this week I returned to working on the boat!

All the deck pieces were fit, cut out, the undersides coated with epoxy and painted over a year ago and, then, set aside. Yesterday I pulled out the cockpit seats/decking pieces and dry fit them and worked to get them seated properly. I also dry fit the stern deck and

Once I finish up a few details (like cleaning and painting) with the bilge early next week, those seat/deck pieces can be installed. And that will feel like significant progress. That could have happened this weekend but I am in East Tawas, Michigan, for the Mackinaw Boat Symposium. I'll get back to Gardens on Sunday.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

June 2017

Finally, time to get back to work on Gardens!

First things first… the accumulated clutter in the Boat Bay had to be addressed.

Next was to stabilize Gardens so I can work on her. I tried adjusting the boat stands I made last fall but I wasn't happy about them. Gardens' brand new trailer has been parked in another part of the barn that we now need for other things. I decided to put Gardens on her trailer.

I used Elmer to lift Gardens high enough to get the trailer under her.

When I lowered Gardens, it was obvious I needed to adjust the bunks.

Lift the boat, pull the trailer out, adjust the bunk supports (down in front/up in back), back the trailer in, lower the boat - and repeat… until there was no more adjusting to be done. Except that, more adjusting is required. Taller brackets for the aft end of the bunks are needed. Once all the adjusting is done, Gardens will be very stable on her trailer.

The rest of this afternoon was spent making lists of what tasks need to be done to finish Gardens (it's a pretty long list) and prioritizing those tasks.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February Pretending to be Spring

This is great! Unseasonably warm weather - mid 50s - over the weekend is encouraging. My 2017 building season began with a good cleaning of the Boat Cave and getting things ready to resume boat work.

In the meantime, work on the Morris chair has progressed to the point of discussing cushions with a local upholsterer, picking out fabric and sanding prior to the glue up.
The arms of the Morris chair have thru-tenons. Learning how to cut those (and the associated mortises) inspired me to learn more about chisels and sharpening shop tools. This time I am taking it seriously...

I've also been experimenting with end-grain cutting boards. So far, so good (this is the glue-up of the blank to be sliced into end-grain)..
While the warmer weather won't hold (this is Michigan after all), I will do what I can and look forward to getting back to boat work full-time. A late spring launch is still on the calendar.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Too Cold for Boat Work

Single-digit temperatures have kept me out of the Boat Cave this week.

Instead, I began a woodworking project I've had on the list for a long time: a pair of Morris Chairs for our reading room.

We decided we wanted Stickley bow-arm style chairs. There are several ways to create a bow-arm. Cut the bow out of thick stock; laminate the bow using 1/4" stock; steam-bending the bow; and gluing up a bow shaped-blank using smaller blocks cut at angles and then sanding the final bow. Based on the success I had bending various pieces for Gardens, I decided to steam bend the bow shape into the arms.

When I bent the carlins and gunwales for Gardens, I used 4" poly-tubing as the steaming chamber and that worked well. I went shopping for 8" poly-tubing (the arm blanks are 1" x 6" x 42") and found rolls of it ranging in length from 725' to 2100' and ranging in price from $70 to $230. Since I only need about 20' of tubing these choices seemed a bit over the top.

I considered PVC pipe… except the materials (4' of 8" PVC pipe and two end caps) priced out at $105, and that seemed too steep, too. (Plus, schedule 40 PVC pipe is not recommended for temperatures above 140F - not good for steaming.)

When I priced plywood to build a small steam box the total came to about $24. I should have started with the plywood box… The box is built and the arms will be bent this week.

Warmer temperatures are in the forecast so I'll get back to Gardens soon.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Day 2017

Yes, New Year's Day… a traditional time for thinking ahead and making wishful lists of 'things-to-do" in the new year. I've made my share of resolutions over the years - some very specific and some overly broad. I've had some success but more often than not, those good intentions are forgotten by February.

So, this year, I'm not declaring any resolutions. I plan to get on with the task at hand: Completing, launching and sailing Gardens!

Happy New Year!