Stems, Scraping and Deck Lines

Multiple areas were worked on today, presented here in no specific order. I went ahead and scraped the front half of the boat. While the scraper was working good for the rough stuff, I was not happy with the results in some areas. I certainly could have sanded it out but this would have taken a lot of sanding so I tried using the block plane and for the most part it worked better than I could have hoped. Next time this area will be reading for sanding.

I cut some thin slices of wider cherry and glued them up to the existing rear stem to account for it not being wide enough to meet up with the strips of the sides. Same process as a few months ago except that I was able to use the stem piece itself as the form to glue to this time.

Another new supply I added is peel and stick sand paper in a roll. I got Dura Gold brand again in the 80 grit and 150 grit. A few minutes tracing a couple of curves on a piece of wood I had laying around and a quick cut and sanding and they were ready to accept the stick on sand paper. Instant curved sanding blocks.

These sanding blocks were used to help shape the front stem piece. I lined it up on the bow, traced a line, then decided I didn’t like the placement, adjusted and traced a second line that I was happier with. This line was cut and the stem piece held in place. As expected some adjusting was needed. The Shinto rasp and plane worked well on the kayak and the sanding block worked for adjusting the tight spots on the stem piece. Ultimately it’s a pretty close fit. Just to ensure no problems later I then glued a couple of extra wider strips on this stem piece too. Both are drying for hopeful attachment next work session.

Looking way ahead, I’ve been thinking about eventual bungee hold downs and deck lines. Some research and I think I have figured out what lines I want to run. While in local small lakes I probably wouldn’t need the deck lines, my eventual plans involve solo trips in remote areas and having a deck line to hold onto, in the case of an overturn, while I prepare for re-entry will be an important safety feature.

In preparation for a prototype concept I went ahead a bought a brass rod through McMaster-Carr. I’ll detail the specifics later if I decide to use this as my final line holder. Some left over strip pieces were also glued together. When dried I cut them into approximately 1 1/2″ long pieces. The strip dimensions resulted in the 3/4″ x 3/4″ for the other sides. I made a few passes with the plane to even the sides and remove the glue squeeze out. The shavings reminded me of “wood bacon” or taffy that I used to buy as a kid many decades ago.

A hole was drilled in one and two holes in another one. I’ve got ideas for both kinds in different areas. The rod was cut to fit and then sanded in place to make it completely flush. Finally I went ahead and sanded two of the corners round. I’m somewhat satisfied with the results. I think a jig will need to be made for consistent hole locations and an actual outline drawn for the sanding, again for consistent shape. I’ll think on this a bit more and do some more internet image searching before making a final decision on these.

Misc Tasks, Scraping and Sanding

Put in some time both days and made a bit more progress. Saturday basically involved completing the deck. The remaining three strips took a few hours due to the extensive amount of fitting required and one ended up just a bit too short so I had to remake it. I also added the final outer strip knowing that a substantial part would be cut off. Sunday I trimmed it. You can see in the pictures below the strip and then the planing off of the excess beyond the edge of the hull.

The other task on Saturday was preparing for the coaming. The riser section will be made of a bunch of small pieces of strips so I figured out the size I need, allowed for some extra and settled on a two inch piece. Calculated about 133 that will be needed so to have a few spares I aimed for 140. After marking one strip, I ganged three together to make the cutting go faster. Unfortunately I ended up with just over 125 so I ended up cutting a fourth strip and now I have plenty.

The stem pieces will eventually need to be added and this seemed like a good time to start on them. I first laid the stern outer stem against the side of the kayak and traced the edge. Since the bottom of the kayak is much wider than than the strip I cut and tapered (somewhat) the stem to make a smooth transition into the keel. The first fit was OK but needed work. Using a Shinto rasp I started to shape the edge of the boat until I had a better fit. It isn’t final yet as I also see that the piece is not wide enough. I need to add 2-3 more layers that are wider before I can perform the final fitting and glue it in place.

Next I moved on to the scraping and sanding. I started with a pair of scrapers and an extra blade. The rounded one will be for the concave inside while the flatter ones will be used on the outside. They are available from Silent Paint Remover aka Viking Sales. Models 1200-3 and 1200-70. The video below shows the scraping process. Basically, higher angle to shear/pry off the hot glue, then more of a vertical position for the blade to start scraping wood shavings off. The goal is to remove the glue, level the surface and in the case of a few boards, remove the burn marks from when I cut them.

After scraping, the next step is an aggressive sanding. I used 60 grit on a random orbit sander. The sander is an old 6″ unit I’ve had for close to a few decades now. I tried a new (to me) brand of sand paper from Dura Gold and, so far with just one disc used, I’m pretty happy with it. I got 60 grit, 80 grit, and 120 grit. As the process evolves eventually all the grits will be used. In the following picture you can see the closer part has been scraped and sanded, while the further part (shinier) has only been scraped so far. The last pictures and the movie reflect the entire quarter section that has been scraped and sanded. You can see in the video where I point out a couple of gaps that will eventually need to be filled.

Both Sides Almost Done

Put in about 5 hours today and basically a repeat of the last two work days. Just filling in the detail panel, the surrounding decking and the edge strips. At this point I have a few last deck strips, a partial edge strip on each side and a few edge filler pieces and the deck itself will be done.

In the first and third pictures you can see the cockpit opening more or less taking shape. So I’m getting to the point of deciding which set of steps to do next.

Depending on which book you read or which videos you watch or which blog you find there are varying approaches now. Pretty much all start with a scraping and sanding to get a smooth and fair surface to work from. After this you have the following approaches:

  • Cut cockpit, install riser, install coaming, fiberglass outer deck
  • Fiberglass outer deck, cut cockpit, install riser, install coaming
  • Cut cockpit, fiberglass outer deck, installer riser, install coaming
  • Put deck aside, sand and scrape hull, fiber glass outer hull, sand and scraper inner hull, fiberglass inner hull, work on deck separately using one of the three above options.

I haven’t decided which set of steps but it will probably be one of the first three. At the moment the third one is in the lead as this approach is used by Nick Schade on his Petrel Play build and the coaming on that build is the closest to the method I’m planning to use. However I’m not planning on a cockpit recess, or at least not a full recess, instead perhaps just a small one at the front which would bring it (as shown on my templates) from the 42″ to 39″ for the actual cockpit opening and provide a flatter front vs. the peaked front that the design currently has.

Next steps will be to finish stripping, ensure the line between the hull and deck is consistent and then scrape and sand. At that point I’ll then have to make up my mind on which approach to go with.

One Side Almost Done!

Lots of progress today. I’m literally one strip away from having one entire side complete (except for the cockpit coaming). I also finished the last of the quart too.

The stripping started with running a full length (~8 ft) basswood along the outer edge of the detail strip. This allowed me to continue the front one to the back and tie both the front and back detail pieces together. A bit of trimming at the back and a splice cut to ensure the ends of the two strips met tightly is all that was needed. Well that and a bunch of clamps.

The resulting gap required a few extensively trimmed pieces to fill it in. One wasn’t too bad, the other involved lots of fitting, trimming, fitting, trimming, etc. until it finally fit the space.

The process was same as before. Take the strip, cut well oversize. Check to see how it fits compared to the previous strip and the forms. If beveling is needed, do so. Trace the ends from underneath or mark from above and connect the dots. Trim down to just a little oversize. Plane one end. Check the fit. Adjust the whole edge or just the part that is not fitting right. Sometimes this involves changing the angle. Once it fits tight, make a reference mark (or two). Repeat on the other end until both are a good fit. Glue in place. Tape/clamp as necessary. Dot on hot glue stitches to hold it. Once they are cooled and dried, repeat.

While this process makes sense to me as I’ve installed probably over a hundred strips already, I realized it might not be so obvious for readers. A picture helps, but today I did a sequence of movies to illustrate this process.

Following the above process, over and over and over… I was able to complete almost all of the strips on the rear quarter and connect it to the front quarter. I have a final strip on the outside edge of the deck and of course to eventually cut out the cockpit, but otherwise this part is done. If I get any chances this week I might be able to complete the other side, if not then next weekend is definitely a possibility to have it done.

Of course I had to get some pictures. This far in and I’m still enjoying the build and happy with the way it looks.

Flipping the Kayak, Again.

The strips were cut, and just like before I shaved off 1/4″ pieces, then turned the piece and cut off 2 pieces 3/4″ each. All together I calculated needing about a dozen strips so I cut 20 just to be sure. For a longer discussion on how the boards were cut, see the early August posting.

In order to cut the strips I had to lift the kayak out of the way and get the saw out of the corner. After cutting the strips and cleaning up I decided to put the kayak back but flip it around 180 degrees so the part I’m working on is closest to the door and the natural light. The shop lights work great but daylight and fresh air is even better, so when I can take advantage of it I do. I lowered the kayak and put it in the driveway while I rearranged the saw horse supports. Of course I had to get a few pics. In the last one, you can clearly see one of my layout mistakes, which at this point I’m just going to have to live with. Post a comment if you think you know what it is.

With the new strips I picked one and cut it down to fit the remaining gap on the front and used the other part for the rest of the space. Once again it was a pretty interesting shaping the strip and it was a hair too small so I glued on a small scrap and shaped the resulting combo strip for a tight press fit.

Starting on the back half, I looked over my plans and it called for a larger center strip (4 strips instead of 2 up front) and a different shaped panel. The first two strips were beveled to meet up tightly and put in place. They were glued to each other but only hot glued to the hull and forms as the deck still needs to be removed.

The next two strips were added, all trimmed to just inside the cockpit space and then I moved on to figuring out the detail panel. Unlike the front, this is simply rimmed in 1/4″ walnut and doesn’t have multiple strip layers. I put the first strip along the center boards and then used clamps to form the curve. I got it into what I felt was a flowing curve and was pleased with it when SNAP! and the board broke on the curve. Grumbling, I had plenty of extra so I slid it down, reformed the curve and everything was holding good. I put in the lower strip, aligned edges, cut them and had everything clamped up. A layer of glue was added to the strip by the center as I put it back in place and clamped, SNAP! It broke again.

Undeterred, I grabbed a couple of 1/8″ strips instead and they easily made the bend without the same stresses as the 1/4″ was experiencing. It was a pretty simply glue up then. The walnut was glued to the basswood and to each other and then hot glued to the forms to keep it in place. Lots of clamps to keep everything aligned. After it was well setup I removed the clamps and left it to dry overnight.