Wee Rob – the first instalment!

This is a new strand on the blog, devoted to a small boatbuilding project that I’ve recently begun. This isn’t my first attempt at building boats, indeed I calculate that this is my 7th, but it’s been a few years and so some skills are being re-learned and/or dredged back out of the back of my mind!

The boat concerned is an Iain Oughtred design called “Wee Rob” and is a canoe, built in his characteristic glued clinker fashion which should turn out to be a sweet natured and sweet looking craft of a little less than 14 feet in length. Size is to a large extent determined by facilities, and this is the biggest I can manage in my garage, and even then it needs a fair measure of order and tidiness (no doubt a good thing) to avoid tripping over stuff and doing damage (undoubtedly a bad thing!).

As the photographs bear out, I’ve now completed the building frame on which it all happens, and virtually completed the mould on which the boat will be formed. Iain Oughted doesn’t favour the use of stringers between the moulds, and indeed when I built his Acorn 15, with some success I thought, I didn’t use them either. But in preparation for this I looked at a number of blogs and found that most people seem to – so I thought I would. It seems to me that the resulting framework should make it easier to shape and fix the strakes, and to do so without using any metal fixings.

I had a lot of internal debate about the size of the stringers, and eventually settled on a square section of 18mm, using fairly ordinary timber bought from Wickes. I hadn’t reckoned with just how fragile this would be, especially at the knots in the wood, but it made for good scarfing practice, and it’s pretty much done, with just one stringer that doesn’t quite “flow” right, which I’m gong to replace. I think I’ve decided to screw the stringers into the moulds – I want if possible to be able to dis-assemble the framework once the boat is built, store it and then re-assemble to build another one ….. and yes, I know, that a royalty will be due to IO should I do so, and I shall pay it gladly!

I discovered a couple of days back that my intended source of timber for the canoe itself (apart from the ply) has closed up and gone away! That was “John Boddy’s of Boroughbridge – so I’ve put in an order with Robbins Timber for some planed Douglas Fir, and indeed for the plywood. That should arrive in a week or so, by which time I hope to have the jig complete, faired up and ready to go.

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