Just One Tonight

Had a bit of time from getting home from work until it got too dark out. The lighting in the garage is poor at best so for now I need decent daylight to work in there. So I prepped a strip to meet at the stern with the other strip and then glued the strip on. Pretty straight forward. I also stopped on the way home and got a bunch more clamps (still on sale for 99 cents) and 4 more rolls of tape as I’ve already gone through two.

There really is no template or easy way to fit the strip, rather just hold it in place, look for what has to be removed and plane some away. Put back in place, judge your progress, adjust angles if necessary and continue to plane. It only took about 5 minutes to get this planed down and fitting tightly to the previous strip and to the neighboring strip across from it. Of course gluing the strip down took a lot longer.

More Weekend Stripping

In one sense it’s a bit repetitive, almost boring now with the strip work, but just when you start to think that way the kayak responds with “hold my beer”. As the strips start to round the chine (the part where it transitions from side to bottom) it gets a bit more challenging. A soft chine is a nice easy gentle curve. A hard chine is a sharp angle curve. In this case the Resolute seems to be more or less in the middle.

You can see as I’m running the Robo-bevel just how much the angle changes as to move down the boat.

Selection and orientation of strips is still something I look at from strip to strip. While the basswood is pretty plain with minimal grain, occasionally I do find a pattern that either works or will be an issue. In this case, one side of the strip ended up with an abrupt pattern that didn’t flow nicely from one strip to the next and the opposite side of the strip result in a similar abrupt change. So, I just slid the strips down to the point that I could cut off the abrupt grain. The resulting match seems to flow nicely now.

The twists on the strips are starting to be a real challenge. Lots of anchoring tape and even some clamps to try to get them to stay in place while the glue dries. The joints want to split apart so every joint needs pretty good clamping too. Even so I’m getting an occasional strip that doesn’t tighten all the way up. A few were so bad I split them off before the glue was dried, cleaned up the joint and re-glued. The rest of these have a very small gap, in the area of a mm or two. This will not affect the boat as the fiberglass and epoxy will easily fill/bridge the gap. But I won’t rely on that and once I get to the sanding stage I’ll make up a filler from that saved sawdust and some glue and ensure that any gaps are filled.

After beveling the strip shown above (when it dried), I held a scrap against the beveled edge to illustrate the amount of twist I’m dealing with. Keep in mind that you’re going from almost horizontal to nearly vertical in about 6 feet where it stays vertical for about 3 before starting the twist back to almost horizontal.

Early on I posted the clamps I purchased. At first they were fine for holding the strips but as I get into the twisting strips the forces are simply too much and easily overwhelm the clamping power of them. So a run to Menards today and I got some 2″ clamps. By the picture you can see the size difference. These clamp down with much more force. Normally $2.99, on sale for $.99! I got 10 to try out and they worked really well. I think I’ll stop for some more tomorrow. In hind sight I’d recommend just go with these and skip the smaller ones I had purchased.

After each strip before and after beveling I check and if the kayak is coming loose from the forms I hit it with the hot glue again. In once sense it’s a little frustrating that it keeps coming loose, but it’s good to know when I’m ready to remove it I should come out with little trouble. The new clamps are working well (with the wood “U” blocks) for holding it in place while the hot glue sets up. If you let it creep away from the forms then the bevel angles aren’t right. You want the strips making good contact with the previous strips and against the forms to help keep the shape consistent, smooth and fair.

The next challenge that just came up is the stern stem. I’ve reached the top and now need to curve the strips over and start to attach them to each other. The first strip required a lot of planing and fitting and planing and fitting and… until I was able to get about what I was looking for. It was hand beveled to fit against the form and the strip already glued in place and then the end was worked extensively to bring it to a shape that should fit up against the strip that will go on the other side. A little hard to describe but hopefully obvious in the pictures. The stem itself was also worked with the hand plane and a chisel for each strip to ensure good contact. For now the strips are just cut off rough. Later this will all be cleaned up with the outer stems are installed.

Finally, here are a few overall progress shots. The curve of the hull is starting to become very apparent as I cross the chine and transition to the bottom.

Stripping, Stripping and More Stripping

Not really anything new, just adding strips. At first these were pretty easy but now I’m getting to the curved parts of the forms and the Robo-bevel is getting used quite heavily. A pair of strips (one each side) is easily 60-90 minutes now between beveling, cutting, test fitting, gluing and taping. On the plus side each strip is one more closer to a finished kayak and the shape is really starting to be revealed now.

I think I was also a bit optimistic last time when I estimated 5 pairs per day. Only three pairs were installed today. On a week night if I’m home early enough I think a single pair will be reasonable.

A Big Oops

I ran into what I believe is my first big mistake but thankfully caught it early enough and was able to fix it.

To start with I (Robo-)beveled that walnut strip, then added a basswood strip. Since I already have strips on the kayak, I no longer need to assemble long strips on the bench but instead can assemble them right in place cutting the scarf joint and gluing everything up.

The next strip is a 1/4″ x 1/4″ piece of Spanish cedar. Before I can place it I need to ensure the previous strip is smooth and beveled to the correct angle. While working on it I noticed a substantial bump. It seemed surprisingly large so I got down to eye level with it to further investigate. To my dismay, the strip at the joint hand risen up about an eight of an inch. I could clearly see light through the gap.

How to fix it?

  • Leave it as is, fill it in later with wood flour filler – but this would show as a discolored line.
  • Leave it as is and just let the epoxy fill it in – should work but to me this is very sloppy work then.
  • Clear the gap and plane down a very thin wedge piece of wood to fit in there – should work but seems like a lot of effort.
  • Clear out the beveled surface, re-cut the joint and see if I can push it back in place – if this works it’ll be like the mistake never happened
  • Cut out the bad area and splice in a new piece – again a lot of work and high chance of grain and/or color mis-match making the patch ultimately visible

I went with the attempt to re-cut the joint and thankfully that worked well. Although to be sure I used a much stronger clamp to hold it until the glue dried.

After the mistake was fixed I added in a cedar accent strip, then let that dry and then added another basswood strip. From here on the rest of the hull will be all basswood. I find it’s taking about 30-45 minutes to attach one strip to each side and then a good 2 hours for the glue to setup. With a bit of clock watching there is potential to do at least 5 strips per day. I don’t want to rush and make mistakes but I certainly hope to get more than the few per day that I’ve been doing so far. Then again this is still early on and I’m still learning this as I do it.

First Detail Strips

Had a bit of time tonight so I prepped and added a couple of detail strips. I’m following Nick Schade’s methods for beveled strips and more or less his “clamping” method too. To start with I needed a few new tools. One of these is pretty much a dedicated kayak building tool, the other is designed to fit within the tool but could also be used on its own.

Robo-Bevel from Nick is a great way to bevel the strips that are already on the boat. I’ll briefly describe it, but his video and animation at the link above is probably the best way to see what it does. The Robo-Bevel is designed to use the Veritas Mini Shoulder Plane to achieve the beveling. It can fit in the Robo-Bevel two different ways allowing to to cut in either direction which is helpful to be sure you are planing with the grain.

The way the tool works is that you set the plane for a light cut, insert it into the tool, position the tool on the strip and lean it against the forms and then slide it down the boat being sure to keep it tight to the forms. As a result it cuts the strip at a right angle to the current form angle. This results in the next strip fitting tightly. Failure to get the bevel angle cut means a gap between strips or a gap between the strip and the form, neither of which is desirable.

A minor frustration is that the area for shavings to accumulate is very small and quickly clogs. Use a pencil to clear it out.

In the following video you can see an example of it in use. Around the mid point I draw a couple of lines in pencil across the strip. If you aren’t sure that the cut is going across the entire strip, this is a good way to check. A full cut would eliminate the lines. Normally when beveling it starts with just a corner and as you make repeated passes more and more of the strip is being cut until finally you get a full width cut at which point the strip is beveled properly (assuming the tool was held against the forms) and ready for the next strip.

After beveling each strip, which at this point required pretty much just a single pass, I was ready to add the next strip. As more strips get added the forms start to curve (especially in the middle) more sharply and the tool will really start to come into its own. The next strip is a 1/8″ walnut strip meant to act as one of two accent lines. A thin bead of glue was added and the walnut was glued down. To old the strips together and in alignment, Nick uses pieces of tape. I tried it and found this to work quite well. It acts as a clamp and also, if pulled tightly, an alignment tool that keeps faces in line.

At this point it’s going to be a lot of repetition as I continue to add strips.

  • Check strip fit against bow and stern, plane as necessary
  • Bevel previous strip to proper angle to accept this strip
  • Glue strip in place, scarfing joints as necessary
  • Tape/clamp in place
  • Hot glue to forms if needed – I’m aiming for every 5th or so strip but it’ll be done as necessary
  • Repeat.

So I will continue to do postings but the next handful may not cover much new information for awhile.