Wee Rob Diary August 2015

Saturday 1.8.15

Today has been problematic! Actually the problem began to emerge yesterday afternoon when I tried to fit the next planks, and particularly when I tried to fit the plank cut for the port side to it’s matching location on the starboard side. Its imply wouldn’t sit on the moulds at all – something had to be wrong!

So I measured and remeasured everything I could think of to measure and remeasure. Some small discrepancies emerged between the two sides, but nothing really convincing. So this morning I decided that drastic action was needed. I’ve had mixed feeling from the beginning about the use of stringers between the moulds. I can see how potentially useful they are in offering a clamping surface and a clear line to take off on to the templates / planks. I’ve been a little unhappy though about the fact that we are then dealing with three different materials setting themselves around the curves of the jig in slightly different ways – the stringers, the templates and then the plank itself. I’ve also been finding increasing that they (the stringers) are an obstruction – they get in the way! So I decided to take retrospectively the advice of Iain Oughtred, and dispense with them.

That was relatively easy – interesting to lift what I’ve built so far off the mould, invert it (actually strictly put it the right way up) and see there is already something boat shaped there! I’ve then gone back to the plans, measured and transcribed on to the moulds themselves the positions of the plank lands, and quite frankly have been ashamed to find out how inaccurately I have made the moulds! Sloppy!

The only good thing here is that I resisted the temptation to force the planks onto the moulds, which would only have compounded the error. I can now remake the bevels on the garboard strakes and I hope that then the plank that I’ve cut will fit rather better – we’ll see.

I’ve also had to re-think my method for clamping up the new strakes for gluing, and have decided to make and use IOs favoured plywood clamps and wedges, to which end I’ve bought a lump of 12mm ply which should be sufficient to give me enough clamps (25 or so at least) to do the job.

This has been an interesting weekend and, I hope, a turning point of sorts in the building process. Having disposed of the stringers, I found that I could see the problem much more clearly, and I shall this afternoon set to and make a new pattern for the second strake and see where we go with that. It feels really important to get this bit right if the eventual boat is to look (and function!) as it should.

I spent yesterday afternoon on a kind of production line job, producing 33 of IOs suggested plywood clamps and wedges. Not the most interesting of work, but satisfying, particularly as I discovered how easy it is to work with these apparent;y crude and low tech tools. I don’t know whether the idea actually originates with IO himself, but my congratulations to whomever had the idea!

…….. and a bit later on ……

Corner duly turned I think. I’ve now remade the 2nd plank for each side, using new patterns (still cardboard) and being much more careful about getting the marks right on the moulds. I’ve faired up the top (of course actually the bottom, the boat being built upside down) much more carefully and the planks both look right and are sitting down nicely on the moulds themselves. It’s all much easier without the stringers in the way, and the Oughtred clamps seem to work very well. So I’m leaving the boat with the 2nd planks clamped in place, next job will be to cut the scarph joints and glue them up, after which I shall carefully fair up the line of the bottom (actually of course the top …..) of the plank, ready for the next one. It should get easier and quicker ….. not that there’s a hurry of course!

I’ve had the “what are you going to do with it” conversation several times now. Actually paddling this somewhere does have an appeal – assuming of course that I can fold my frame into it – but I don’t anticipate that as a regular or frequent event. I’m more and more content to build it and sell it and then build something else (maybe a 12’ Acorn skiff). It’s that process of taking the wood and reshaping it, reassembling it into a functional object which is at least easy on the eye where the real attraction lies.


Second strake glued on to starboard side, clamped up with no less than 36 clamps! Seems to be OK …… hoping for chance tomorrow to get the clamps off and see, then maybe fix the port side before fairing begins again.


Productive few days leave the 2nd strake dully fitted on each side, faired off reasonably satisfactorily and then today with gains cut and lands bevelled. I’ve made up the front half of the next template and that’s come out quite accurately so with a following wind this coming week should see the 3rd strake fitted – she’s beginning to look like a boat!

Incidentally – I’ve rethought the plan to laminate the stems – far too much epoxy involved – I’ll get hold of some 50mm sawn Douglas Fir and work my way around that.


Good progress continues. 3rd strake is now on, both port and starboard, and they’ve gone on very easily. Basically I’ve made myself take a lot more care fashioning these planks off the boat, beginning with better templates, cutting fairly closely, and then finishing with a plane with the plank in the bench vice. There’s been lots of trial fittings on the boat, and if that sounds like a longer process, in truth I’m not sure that it is because pretty much all that’s been needed once the glues set and the clamps are off is a little fine tuning and taking off any “squeeze” of glue. There is one “issue” and that is that both planks are sitting somewhat shy of their marks on the moulds. The discrepancy is somewhere between 5 & 10mm and it is at least pretty much symmetrical between the two sides, so I’m not too anxious. The next plank (no 4) makes the turn of the bilge from a fairly flat bottom to the sides, and if I use this plank to “catch up” I don’t think it will be too conspicuous. The line that really matters (as IO points out) is the sheer line, and as long as I arrive at a sheer that’s fair and nicely curved, I reckon it’s not really a problem if it varies a touch from the drawings.

I wheeled the whole shebang out of the garage today which gave me chance to have a better look at the emerging shape, and also the opportunity to have a good clear out, sweep up and reorganise of the scrap boxes …… and a good sharpen of various crucial edges. On the whole
….. good stuff!


Strake 4 is duly cut for both sides, and now glued on the port side. I cut the bevels on 3 as accurately as possible with the intention of getting everything back on track (see above); that seems to have worked pretty well, although I became increasingly aware that the faying surface thus revealed (ie the width of the bevel itself on which the glue would be spread) was going to be somewhat on the narrow side. I glued on 4, and, having taken the clamps off with the glue set, I have to say that it really doesn’t look right. I think it’s redeemable, but it’s going to need considerable work with planes, chisels, scrapers etc to make it so. I suspect that a discreet fillet of West on the inside, once the boat has been turned over, will be useful to reinforce the joint. In the early hours of this morning I was pondering on how difficult it would be to take the plank off and remake the bevels somehow – I’m glad to say that after breakfast the prospect doesn’t seem to be quite as impossible, although it promises an interesting challenge. Somebody defined boatbuilding as a series of problem solving exercises ….. indeed!

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