Time to Flip

First I needed to finish the hull before I could flip the boat. As I left the kayak yesterday, the final strips were glued together and I was leaving them to dry overnight. I started by laying them over the opening and tracing from underneath. This gave me an approximate cut line which I then planed down to. Once the final shape was complete it would press fit into the opening. I would not be able to use tape to hold it so a tight fit was a requirement. And since I couldn’t use take to pull it tight I used hot glue dots instead as a way to anchor the piece in place. They setup quickly and while they are not structural or able to resist much stress, they will help to keep the board in place while the Titebond glue dries.

With these final boards the hull is complete. Well, at least from the stripping perspective. You may also notice in the last image above a few gaps. These were the last of the curved boards and the gaps that kept opening up on me is why I switched to straight boards. I’ll use some of the glue and wood flour (saw dust) that I saved earlier on to fill these when I get to the finish work on the hull. Before removing the kayak from the support, I glued a pencil to a scrap of wood and then used that to trace the outline of the hull to a couple of pieces of cardboard. These were then traced onto plywood and cut out at the band saw. After cutting I test and the are fairly close to matching the curve of the kayak… which for my purposes is more than sufficient.

I removed the kayak (and strong back with forms) from the saw horses and set it aside, of course getting a few pics along the way. With the space cleared I took time for some clean up. The shavings, while being swept up every few work sessions, still accumulated in hard to reach areas. I also added a few long bolts to my ceiling mounts running them through the 2×6 and ceiling and past the rafter and then into another 2×6. This second board, with bolts on each side, was also screwed into the rafter from above. It shouldn’t be necessary but I like the added insurance instead of relying only on the lag bolts. I don’t have shots of the ceiling work.

With the kayak removed from the saw horses, I bolted on the cradle frames that I had cut out earlier to the mounts that held the strong back. Using pipe insulation I covered over the edges and then finally flipped the kayak over and placed it into the cradle. The foam protects it from damage in case it slides back and forth a bit. The saw horses did require a bit of spacing adjustment but nothing major. Now I have it positioned in the correct orientation and am ready to get to work on the deck. The way I cut the boards it’s also sitting about a foot higher. I don’t think this will be an issue, but if it is I’ll cut down the cradle forms at a later date to lower the position.

Remembering back, the stern was never completed as the boards did not want to make the curve so I ran them straight. With it easy to work on now I went ahead and cut a few strips more or less free handing the curve to fill in these pieces. Once the glue is dried I’ll need to plane down the curve to make it smooth and fair.

In order to figure out the decorative elements I need to know the cockpit placement. According to the plans in the Kayak Craft book, the back of the cockpit coaming is about 3 inches or so behind station 10. Since I’m going with a larger cockpit the additional opening will go towards the front of the boat. When I am sitting in there, regardless of the cockpit size, the positioning is designed for balance of the boat with me in it. If I moved the entire cockpit forward or back I would be throwing off that designed balance point. Instead I leave it so that the seat can be installed as designed and put the extra opening where I would then need it to get my legs in.

I decided to use the wider opening that I drew and to cut it at 42″ and then install a recess to bring it back to 39″ in total opening length. By my tests this should work fine for me. The template was cut, for now at the 42″ size and I went just a little over the line. The positioning was on the center line with the rear about three inches behind form 10.

In looking over my design plans, it calls for two strips down the center (front). I beveled these to lay flat against the forms on either side of the center line and meet in the middle. They were glued to each other and hot glued to the forms and to the tip of the bow. Now comes the challenging part. Thankfully all the fitting I just did on the hull was good practice for the next part. First I need to run the 1/4″ and 1/8″ walnut strips to define the front decorative elements. I started by estimating about where I want it to start and end. Then I cut an angle and used the cut off piece to continue around the side of where the cockpit will be. A bunch of clamps are currently holding it in position while the few areas that can be glued were.

The inside one of the outer two 1/8″ strips was then positioned and flexed into the shape I wanted, again held in position with clamps. I tweaked and adjusted until I felt it was what I was looking for. At this time I am only doing one side. When complete I can take measurements off of it to use in positioning the other side in the same, but mirrored, way.

With the 1/8″ strip positioned and glued on both ends, along with a few hot glue tacks to keep it to the forms, I was ready to start filling in the Spanish cedar strips. I was able to install two but only took pictures of the first one. It involved fitting either the angle at the rear or the long taper at the front. Once one is fitting well I measured for the other one, cut oversized and then planed it back for a perfect fit. The biggest thing to be careful of is to not force it into place. If you do, the 1/8″ strip easily flexes to accommodate the cedar strip but this then alters the shape. So, carefully slide in the taper. If it isn’t fitting tightly and the walnut starts to flex, note where, remove, plane and test fit again. Repeat as necessary until it fits properly.

A quick video shows the strips in place just before I started to add the cedar.

With the three day weekend I’m hoping to make a bunch of progress on the cedar strips tomorrow (or given the time I’m typing this I guess it would be later today now!).

Final Few Strips

For the last few strips they’ve narrowed to the point where a single strip will now span from one end to the other. Good and bad. The good side is no seams to fit, the bad side is that both ends have to be just right. Even a little off on the fit means more planing down and then strip will be too short to fit properly. So far I have been careful to fit one side, then fit the other side but doing so with the strip a bit too long. Once the fit is perfect I just take full length (of the angle) shavings, just one or two at a time, and test fit both ends. When the first end fits to the marks I made and the length is perfect the other end will simply drop in with the gentlest of pressure. I can then pop it out, apply glue and fit it back in followed by the usual tape clamps to keep it in place.

Looking to the last gap I can see on one side it’s a bit less than 2 strips and on the other side just over two strips. This tells me that either the center two strips installed earlier either weren’t perfectly in the center or, more likely, that the stripping of the sides and the resulting beveling resulted in a few strips being just a hair thinner than on the other side resulting in the slightly uneven gap. The reality is that this should have zero impact on the kayak operation and since it’s on the bottom the appearance will not be easily visible, especially given the minimal to no grain appearance of the basswood.

The solution to both of these issues is to install the last two strips as one. I’ve cut to size and then glued up a couple of strips. In the case of the slightly more than 2 I’ll install the next strip and the the final will be the full width and the sliver strip installed together. In the slightly less one, just the two strips will be sufficient. Hopefully the shaping will go well tomorrow and I’ll have the hull finished (from a stripping perspective) and be able to start the work required to turn the kayak over.

A Few Nights, A Few Strips

A couple of nights after work this week I was able to add a pair of strips. Nothing different than what I’ve been doing for awhile now.

I checked at the widest point and it looks like just over 4 strips will be necessary to complete the hull. You can see a gap of about an eight of an inch. I have some ideas on how to handle this but I think I’ll probably just glue two strips together and then shave it down to a just a bit larger than one strip resulting in an over sized piece that will just fit the remaining space.

Looking forward to the three day weekend. Hopefully the hull will get finished and I can flip it and start on the deck. We’ll see…

Weekend Wrap Up

I got in a little bit of time one night last week but the majority of the work here is from this weekend. Continuing to strip and started making a transition in how strips are applied.

First off, the strips are twisting and turning quite a bit. The following image shows a straight strip that is attached “properly” at the stern but not yet curved or attached anywhere else. Notice just how much it will have to bend to fit.

To get these strips to make the curve (and twist at the ends) has required lots of “tape” clamps and lots of other clamps along with occasional creative clamping methods.

I’m also finding that the hull doesn’t always want to lay against the forms so I’ve been “spot welding” it back in place using the hot glue. Each time I need to clamp it for a few minutes to setup. These wood C or U blocks that I made are also useful for holding the strip in place on the curves while I glue it up and get it clamped in place. The down side is these sometimes end up glued to the kayak or form and snap when they are removed. Thankfully I made up a bunch so my supply is holding out so far.

One major hurdle was reached this weekend. Well, one big and one little too. The stern and bow have both been covered with strips and the strips have now turned from nearly vertical to almost horizontal. In addition the chine has been fully turned too so the strips from one end to the other are pretty much flat. Passes with the Robo-bevel have become unnecessary on this part as even a single pass takes off a full width shaving. However there is still quite a bend in the strips. Placing a straight strip down the center also reveals just how much of a curve the strips are being forced into.

The problem with the curves is that holding the strips tight to each other is getting harder and harder. Almost every strip ends up opening a gap somewhere which then has to be cut out, cleaned of glue, re-glued and re-clamped. This all takes time at a minimum and ultimately isn’t at the level or quality of work that I’m trying to put into this project. On the plus side, it really doesn’t matter which way the wood goes as it’s there to act as a framework for the eventual fiberglass/epoxy and as a visual element. So if I run the boards straight instead of curving it won’t affect the structural integrity in any way.

Starting at the middle where there is a tiny ridge, I went ahead and beveled two strips so the would lay on either side of the ridge and meet together tightly. The challenge comes in the ends. The series of images that follows will go over how I fit a strip into the angled edges.

To start, I have an angled opening. I lay a strip over it and then reaching under the kayak I trace along the edge of the angled strip.

Next I cut the strip. I don’t actually cut on the line, but rather starting at a corner, parallel to the line. I could just as easily cut to the line but that would be wasting wood. After cutting the line a few passes with the hand plane makes for a straight edge.

I’ll take it back to the kayak and do the first trial fit. In this case, not so good. You can see a big gap. I point at the tight spot with the pencil. This is where I need to make a few passes with the hand plane.

Another trial fit and the back still needs some shaving down. After the next test the middle part of the taper needs a bit of planing. Just a few light passes and now it fits perfectly. The slight gap in front of it will be filled in with sawdust “putty” later one.

At the other end it took just a single adjustment pass until that board also fit pretty much dead on. Once the fit is good I put couple of alignment marks across the joint so later on when I’m gluing it up I can ensure the board is slid back into the exact same position.

Since I’m not using full length strips it actually works to my advantage in this situation. Each end can be fit independently and then a splice joint made somewhere in between. I stagger the joints from board to board both for appearance and to add just a bit of extra strength to the hull. First one board is cut, then it is aligned over the second board and the cut is traced. Now I can’t actually cut the line or the saw blade thickness will result in a gap between the two boards. instead I cut just off the line, about where the pencil tip is. When cut this way the two boards fit together with zero gap. Unfortunately that shot wasn’t as focused as I had expected.

The first two boards followed essentially this same procedure along with beveling the edge so they would fit tightly together at the ridge. Show in the steps above were the second boards to each side of the center. With four boards completed I’m finding these are going in much easier, no heavy turning or twisting to stress the joints and the fitting at each end literally takes just a few minutes each. By my estimate, only about 6 more to go on each side and the bottom should be filled in. Hopefully next weekend (being a 3 day holiday weekend) will see the hull completed and the deck started.

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.