Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The natural attraction to working in wood

One of the reasons I wanted to build a wooden boat was because I love woodworking. Little did I know that with this method of building I would spend as much time finishing the wood with epoxy resin, paint and hours of sanding. As a shipwright I passed the boat over to the 'finishers' to ...'er, finish!

So when it came time to sand all the inside of the boat again, for weeks, my heart sank. Then it dawned on me that I could mix carpentry and sanding ... do them in parallel.

I thought I would start with the Inwales: which are strips that run inside the top plank (inside the gunwales). Before I could do that, I needed to clean up the mess the fibre glass blanket makes when it laps over the top plank - see picture below.

Rather than rip lots of sanding-disks to pieces on the glass, I decided to take my Japanese rasp 'thing' and file off the lumps of glass.

This was very successful and I got all around the gunwale in just over an hour. I then cramped on the inwale, or rather the first part of the inwale as it has to be made from two pieces of Douglas Fir, which I will have to laminate in place.

You can see, in the picture above, the piece of Douglas Fir clamped on at the top edge isn't quite long enough to reach the bow so I will need do add a smaller piece using a scarf-joint - which we will deal with when I get to that stage. 

The Douglas Fir is 2 x 0.5 inch (45 x 11 mm) - the reason for using this type of timber is it is straight grained, knot free and strong.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

The last piece of fibre glass blanket has been put in place and epoxy resined onto the inside of the transom

The next step is to sandpaper all of the inside of the hull (excuse sideways photo below).

You may recall the monster job sandpapering the outside was, so I have invested in a top of the range sanding system from Mirka. The sander is high performance and very quiet, it is also dust free as it is attached to its own extraction system (Vacuum). 

The extraction systems takes its power from the domestic supply and the sander is plugged directly into extraction unit. The switch (picture below) on the unit is set to Auto, so that each time the sander is used it switches on/off the extraction unit.

My only reservation is whether or not the sanding disks will be strong enough to withstand the harshness of the fibre glass. We will see.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Just as you thought I deserted the project

My wife is disabled at the moment and is awaiting surgery in a month's time, that should solve her problem. Taking care of her  has kept me from boat-building. 

Now, with a bit of time management, I am able to get two or three hours a week on the boat which has changed the way I'm fibre glassing. 

It takes hours to epoxy resin longitudinally, time I don't have, and so I am doing it transversely so that I can get one piece done per session. As the boat is over 15 feet long there are 6 pieces to fit on each side - 12 total.

Below is a picture of the latest; it's piece 9 and I have 3 more pieces to go. As you can see this is a more tricky (they're all tricky) piece than most: it has to fit into the stem and traverse a multi-angled shape.

Fibreglass Blanket hung in place prior to Epoxy Resin application

After mixing up a few small batches of epoxy resin you can see from the picture below, the fibre glass becomes transparent. As the resin goes 'off' in 20 - 30 minutes, I mix small batches at a time.

Same area after Epoxy Resin has been applied.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Fibre Glass

After a number of family crisis, I was able to get back to the boat today.

The problem of which way to lay the fibre glass was my first task to solve. As you can imagine a flat cloth onto a curved surface will always result in lots of folds and creases.

I can either lay it transversely or longitudinally:

Fibreglass cloth laid transversely 
Fibreglass cloth laid transversely
Notice I hold the cloth in place with cloths pegs (clothepins)

I opted for length wise, cutting the cloth in half and applied epoxy 
resin on the front half. Notice the cloth becomes transparent.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Sticking to the Plan

My little old mum was brought-up in an orphanage by a strict regime of nuns. It is of little surprise then to find that when she left them, aged 17, she had little knowledge of the world and its ways.    Undaunted, she memorised every saying, or proverb, she came across and used them as a knowledge base. Typically, "Liars should have good memories", "A leopard can't change its spots", "Proof of the pudding is in the eating," and so on.
   What is a surprise, is to find she also had a repertoire of Music Hall (Vaudeville) songs, some of which were quite risque. 

The reason I tell you all this is because today I found myself singing one of her favourites. I'm not sure what my non-British friends call things, but in the song, papering, is a term meaning sticking wallpaper to the wall with paste (glue). The song was written in 1910. Here is the chorus:

When Father papered the parlour
You couldn't see him for paste
Dabbing it here! dabbing it there!
Paste and paper everywhere
Mother was stuck to the ceiling
The children stuck to the floor
I never knew a blooming family
So stuck up before.

Today I resumed my unhappy relationship with Epoxy Resin and fibreglass cloth!
                          When Father papered the parlour

The coat of epoxy resin I gave the boat a few days ago was to seal the wood, rather than as a finish. Today I began to lay down the fibreglass. I began with a ten inch wide strip to cover the hog.

I then mixed up pots of epoxy resin and spreads them over the cloth as you can see below.

When Father papered the parlour
You couldn't see him for paste

As you can see, the fibreglass becomes transparent, and doesn't conceal the hog . Unfortunately, it wasn't as simple as that: strands of spaghetti like glass came off the fibreglass strip and had to be picked off ... bubbles kept appearing ... epoxy resin dripped where I didn't want it ... rubber gloves were constantly replaced. 

When Father papered the parlour
You couldn't see him for paste
Dabbing it here! dabbing it there!
Paste and paper everywhere

Finally, I finished. It was then that I felt the pain in my knee and found that I had glued my knee to my jeans. Then I found my pocket knife glued to a pencil, and both stuck to the inside of my pocket! All that for a ten inch wide strip..........
                                                               ..... I have the whole of the inside of the boat to fibreglass yet!

When Father papered the parlour
You couldn't see him for paste
Dabbing it here! dabbing it there!
Paste and paper everywhere
Mother was stuck to the ceiling
The children stuck to the floor

Now some might suggest, as my wife did, that I should forget fibreglass and simply paint the inside of the boat. Tempting as that is, life is never that simple. I'll explain:

You may remember that the boat comprises about 150 narrow planks.

These planks get glued together:

This is a modern technique I am using ... for the last time! The wood is Western Red Cedar, which is a wonderful straight grained timber to work with, but, it doesn't do well in water and isn't that strong. However, if you sheath the planking in fibreglass and epoxy resin - inside and out - then the Cedar never gets touched by water and the alloy of Cedar, fibreglass and epoxy are as strong as steel! 

To remind you, here is the outside when I fibreglass/epoxy resin'd it:

Fibreglass Cloth Before Epoxy Resin Was Applied

Fibreglass Cloth After Epoxy Resin Applied

All I can do is ....stick to ... the plan!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Beginning of Internal work.

Today I began 'varnishing' the inside of the boat:

As you can see, I only varnished one side at a time as I have to be inside the boat to do the varnishing, and can't kneel in the wet varnish to do the other side.
Before varnishing I had to go over the planks with Tack Rags/Cloths. For those unfamiliar with these items, let me explain. I buy the articles by the box, and inside the box each rag is independently wrapped in an airtight envelope.

Box of Tack Rags (or Cloths), an airtight envelope, and a Tack Rag 

The cloths are impregnating with mildly sticky 'stuff' to which all dust on the woodwork sticks, without leaving leaving a deposit on the wood and leaving the wood ready for varnish.

Tomorrow I'll do the other side.

Thursday, 7 June 2018


My battle with sticky things continues, namely epoxy-resin. Whilst I have chosen the new techniques of modern wooden boat building in Seagull's build, I still have the traditionalist's fear of using new techniques based on 'glue'. Which is why I have gone to the extent of belt & braces (belt and suspenders in the US: of men's pants?). I have put extra 'glue' on what I thought were areas of potential weakness. 

In the picture below you can see how I have gone around most joints with a (dark brown) fillet of epoxy resin.

Which sounds great but, as with anything sticky, the fillets are the result of a saga.
   I had kept the epoxy components in a warm dry place over the winter, yet, despite this, the hardener was discoloured. Not wanting to risk materials that might be 'off', I spent, too much, money replacing all the components.

From the photograph above you can see I replaced the Epoxy resin (105 on the tin/can), the Hardener (205), the 5:1 dispensers (bagged), the fillet powder (cylinder) and for good measure to rolls of fibre glass material (at the back).

I started by filling the internal gap between the planks and the stem

Although the planks are glued and screwed to the stem I wasn't totally happy with (a) the strength (b) the integrity to keep moisture out of the joint. I decided to fill the gap with a epoxy resin fillet (see below)

To make the fillet I thoroughly mixed the resin and hardener together and then added the fillet powder and continued to mix. I kept adding and mixing powder until the mixture had peanut butter constituency. Next I scooped the mixture into a cake icing (frosting) bag, below:

I cut the tip off the bag and 'piped' the mixture into the joints.

The fillet compound is really strong, bringing great strength to the joint and sealing the joint from any water sloshing around the inside of the boat