Post XXII: Preliminary Finish Work

Planking is now complete. Sad to say I don't have a pic of the complete rough hull. No biggie; it was ugly anyway. Next arduous step was removal of every single staple. This is another stage where I wish to hell I'd listened to advice. I was told on several occasions "staple your strips through some nylon webbing or one of those plastic packing strips so you can rip them all out in one go". My brain interpreted that for some reason as "blah blah blah" and I didn't heed the advice. Cue 3 straight hours of me individually and meticulously pulling staples trying to do minimal damage to the stupid cedar strips I'd spent so long stapling down in the first place. I actually found it was easiest to use a pair of side cutters and snip the staples in half. It made for a lot of extra pulling, but did far less damage than trying to pry under the crown of the staple. It sucked and it involved a lot of cursing, and that is all I shall say of it forever more. 

Staple removal complete anyway. Fun times again. I want to start making this thing look nice. 80 grit sandpaper on the RO sander, a couple of spokeshaves with newly sharpened blades and away we go. 

Figure 77: Dewalt random orbit sander with a shopvac attachment. If you buy one of these, make damn sure you can hook it to to a vacuum because sanding a boat generates a truly absurd amount of dust.

Figure 78: Two spokeshaves. Beat to absolute piss in the smoothing process

I started with the RO sander hoping the soft cedar would sand away quickly. After about an hour of veeeery slow progress, I decided it was not going to do the job quickly enough. I remembered some advice from Ron at Canadian Canoes that it's a good idea to use spokeshaves (set to an onion peel's thickness -- his words) to knock off the high points to save yourself work with the sander. It took a bit of trial and error to figure out the best way to go about it. Lengthwise didn't do a very good job and cross-grain made a massive mess that was hard to sand out. 

Wyatt Lawrence and Harry Bryan held a course on boatbuilding methods in Saint George last year,

and one piece of info stuck with me from that lesson. When you're planing a freshly-planked hull to make it round, go on the diagonals with the plane -- forty-five degrees from the keel down to the gunwhales. That advice was for carvel planking, and I was using spokeshaves, but I figured it should hold for a strip hull too.

Right they were. Diagonal spoke-shaving direction worked beautifully and produced a pretty smooth result in the wood. Unfortunately the smoothness didn't carry over to my spokeshave blade edges -- there were a lot of staple legs that I missed when pulling the staples out and they pretty much wrecked both blades. With that rough rounding job done, the sanding quickly finished the job and I could finally gaze upon my future yacht without seeing quite so many flaws. 

Figure 79: Nice and smooth. I sat and gazed for about half an hour once I finished sanding, inspecting every possible angle. Very good for the soul after so much irritating work.

Figure 80: Not the smoothest job ever, but I'll be doing it all again with 220 grit before I wet out the fiberglass. That should fix up any final flaws in the surface. 

Figure 81: Voila. All sanded and ready for the next steps. Very hard to get this whole thing in the frame of a picture. Like I've said before, at 17' this is going to be a lot of boat. 

Glad now to finally have something boatlike in the workshop to show off when friends come over.


Post XXI -- Stripping and Stripping and Stripping and Stripping

Strip planking is a job and a half. I don't know what else to say about it really, except "holy shit". Fun in a lot of ways, but challenging and a massive pissoff in others. Definitely tries the patience. This is one area where buying strips would have saved a lot of time. If I could have just laid full-size strips and had the edges all line up nicely, this would have been a quick job I think. As it was, this took months and months. 

It was massively cheaper, but if one values their spare time highly, the cost of the strips is pretty easily justified. The collection of photos here carries from about November 2014 all the way through January 2015. No specific dates, just a lot of short sessions involving cutting, beveling, gluing, stapling, taping, clamping, AAAARGH.

Glad it's done. Here you go. 

Figure 67: Progress, about halfway up the side of the hull. Fun to look at the curves take shape

Figure 68: Same night, view from the bow. SPAM. 

This is where things started to get a bit difficult and I really wish I had remembered the trick mentioned on the Laughing Loon website (see link in post XX). Heat guns can be used, with care, to soften strips as they twist. I had to do a lot of persuading and use a lot of screws in the stern section especially to get the damn strips to take the twist they needed to take. For me, it ain't a big deal cause the bottom will be painted. For a more discerning wood strip builder looking for a bright finish on the bottom it would have looked like absolute shit.  

At this point, I am definitely thinking that if I do this again I am very, very, very likely going to buy pre bead-coved strips. Early-on, the hand beveling worked fine. For a different type of hull it may have worked fine all the way through. For this hull though, having beads and coves would have been amazing. In the areas of nasty hull twist it was damn near impossible to get the edges to lay atop one another without creating bulges in between station molds. I had to settle in several spots for slight offset in the strip edges. I tried to minimize it because I know it will create thin points in the hull after smoothing, but sacrifices must sometimes be made in the name of progress. Somebody famous said that at one point probably. 

Figure 69: Lapped strip edges. Looks like absolute crap, but it will come out in the wash -- I hope.

Figure 70: A few sessions later. Finally closing in on the keel. "Illegal" strip fastening techniques abound at the stern!

Figure 71: Bow section looking in almost as bad shape as the stern. Many, many staples needed to tame the strips on those curves.

Figure 72: Despite the ugly stripping job near the ends, I am starting to feel pretty proud. 

Had a bit of a snafu in my materials estimation. Got within 6 inches of closing the hull and.....FUCK. Out of strips. My poor quality table saw and rush to get started early-on came back to bite me. I scrapped so many strips from the original batch that I ran out. In the end, not the worst thing possible. It was kind of nice to have a night of not swearing at stupid ugly laps in strips and get back to basics, generating sawdust.

Figure 73: I love having no chip-catcher on my 2nd-hand thickness planer. This rig makes a fantastic mess when it's running. Wood shaving snow everywhere!

Things reached a point where I preeeeety much said "screw it -- I don't care how many damn staples it takes, I am finishing this boat!!!" Got creative with clamps and Christmas wreath wire to hold a twist on the strips as the glue cured. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but this is all below the waterline. Remember: Paint.

Figure 74: Creative clamping and wreath wire tensioners.

Figure 75: Trainwreck? nah. 

Figure 76: Even with the messy fastening job, you can look at it from almost any angle and feel the pride swell. Note in this pic, the stem is actually straight, it just looks wonky because the strips run past it at the moment and it looks weird in perspective.

Finished product in the next post!