Sunday, October 17, 2010

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 8

Preparing the wood with the sander

Clamped together in the kitchen

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” My mother used to have a slightly different version of the proverb which went like this, “A journey of a thousand miles is nothing more than a step at a time.” I much prefer my mother’s version of the wisdom proverb, because when I am on a journey it comforts me; I know full well that if I persist, I shall reach my destination.

Boat building is rather like being on a journey. As soon as the builder takes his first step, he is on his way. A few days ago I made the first item for my ‘Sharpy’ keelboat. Doing it was not difficult, but I had to saw the full length of a long piece of Douglas fir. The first saw stroke was the beginning of an exciting adventure. Each successive stroke brought the journey closer to the end. One-and-a-half hours after making the first cut, the task was done.

The next leg of the journey was to fashion the yard by rounding and tapering the piece of wood. I began by making one sweep of the plane. Hundreds of times I moved it back and forth and I was encouraged by shavings accumulating on the ground. With satisfaction I saw the yard taking shape, and then came the time for smoothing it with sandpaper. Finally, the job was over, apart from the varnishing and two tiny holes for sail lashings.

Today, I took another step along the way by preparing wood for the mast. I had to join two pieces to a thicker one, so that I would have a single length of wood thick enough for shaping the mast. After they had been cut to length I sanded and scored the surfaces that would come into contact with epoxy. The outside temperature was too low for applying epoxy; therefore I assembled the pieces in the kitchen where is was nice and warm. After applying the epoxy I clamped them together. When the epoxy solidifies and hardens, I’ll be able to fashion the laminated wood into a sturdy mast.

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