The First Cut is the Hardest…

No, I’m not misquoting Cheryl Crow’s song. Today I made a big cut, the kind of cut that if you do wrong, well let’s just say you risk turning a big part of the kayak into firewood. But let’s start with the easier stuff.

After drying overnight the stems were ready for shaping. Nearly all of the work was done with the Shinto rasp. Almost two hours of time and I’ve got both of them roughed in about an eight of an inch or so oversize. Final shaping will be completed when I’m working on the hull.

Also yesterday, I made some filler. Today I sanded off that filler, made some walnut sawdust and filled in the walnut spots. Compare the pictures below of the Spanish cedar before and after. The remaining gap was filled in with walnut after the picture was taken.

In order to make the bow easier to work on I removed the kayak, flipped around the supports and put it back in the garage turned 180 degrees. Of course I got a few more pics while it was in the driveway.

And now on to the theme of the day. The cockpit opening was cut out. The process was actually pretty simple. First I cut out the template I’ve been using accurately to the line. Until now it was rough cut a bit oversized. I also pre-cut most of the secondary shape.

It was then taped in place using the alignment nails I’ve been using all along. I took measurements at key locations and verified them on the other side. Good news is that it was centered right from the start. My measurements on both sides were consistent.

Carefully I traced the edge of the paper. As I got to each piece of tape, I would lift them one by one, trace the edge and the push it back down to keep the template in place. Once completed the template was removed and I had a good line to cut along. Actually I cut inside the line planning to sand and/or plane to the line as I clean up the cut and ensure it is a smooth and fair curve. This will probably be my next work session.

The cutting could have been done with a jig saw or perhaps with a few other power tools, but ultimately I settled on hand cutting it. It really did not take that long and I figured with a hand cut I couldn’t slip and end up with a major oops requiring the deck to be rebuilt. I worked in from the middle with the saw and fairly easily made the straight cuts. It was a little harder going over the forms as I had to change to a shallow angle, but it did work. The curves were more of a challenge, but as you can see from the picture below, the saw was more than up to the task of following the curve.

So I now have a cockpit opening. Looking at the next steps, and the weather during fall in the midwest, I have to decide if I want to move on to final prep, sanding and fiber glassing of the outer deck or if I want to save fiber glassing for the spring and flip the kayak over and continue working on the scraping and sanding on the outer hull. Ideally the weather (temperatures) will cooperate long enough to scrape, sand and fiberglass both outer surfaces, at which point I can remove the forms and put the kayak in “storage” for winter when the temperature finally drops and stays cold. With the fiberglass on at least one side, the hull and deck will retain their shapes. Without it I’m inclined to keep them on the forms until I can resume work in spring.

Of course right now this is all just musing as I could have a good couple of months yet, or just a few weeks. Either way I’ll work for as long as I can. Even longer if any of my readers want to donate a garage heater and insulation… Hey, I gotta try!

Scraping, Sanding and Stems

More work in the same areas. Scraping and sanding of the deck and since the large stem pieces were now dried, they were fitted and glued on.

To start with the scraping on the last parts of the deck was completed along with a bit of plane work. I then moved on to sanding. The video below shows the sanding technique which is horizontal, then vertical. If it looks good, move on. If not, repeat. Worst case, move back a step and do a bit more scraping when necessary.

The results, after sanding, are pretty good and definitely inline with my vision for the overall appearance.

Unfortunately, not every strip was always tight against the neighboring strips or in some cases it may have flexed a bit and opened up a gap. Here area a few obvious ones.

Since the first sanding was completed I thought it would be a good time to start filling some of these gaps. To begin with I got the bag of sawdust I had saved, a plastic tray, glue and a putty knife. Squeeze out a puddle of glue and then start mixing in sawdust. Keep adding until it is a bit tacky but not wet like fresh glue. You should have constancy of somewhere around putty. Use the putty knife to force it into the cracks.

When the walnut was cut I didn’t save any sawdust so I’ll need to make a bit next time to fill in the walnut gaps and then sand all the areas and check how well the fill took.

The final item on the list for today was the stems. I fit both stems using the plane. rasp and a bit of sanding and then glued them in place. Tomorrow I hope to start on the shaping of the stems.

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.