Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Finish up!

Time to put the finishing touches on My Busted Foot. This Pirogue is shaping up to be seaworthy - or at least swampworthy. Here's how I wrapped up this project:

Back of the boat got an industrial carry handle and mooring rope tucked into the hatch


My youngest was ready to go full pirate

Front of the boat also got a carry handle and mooring rope into the hatch

Happy boatbuilder!
Taped up and blue paint is on!

It did take 3 coats of that blue paint to cover all of the white paint

Gave the bottom another coat of white anyway

From the rear

It is finished!
So the finishing touches, as it was, included paint, rope, and carry handles. The finished weight is around 70 lbs. It wrapped up nice and clean, and all that's left now is a water test!

This has turned out to be one of the most fun and interesting woodworking projects I've ever done! I am hooked now. Already planning the next one.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Flip

Well now on the Piragua we've got the bottom finished with a few layers of epoxy and fiberglass. So it's time to flip the boat right side up and work on the inside a bit. I needed to thicken the epoxy with sawdust and attack the inside of the bottom joints & seams. Then finish off the woodworking for the top and get it ready to paint.

The top front and back, with hatch holes and covers cut out

Tops cut out with a glued up bottom

The lovely wife admiring my handywork

The garden with the boat/strongback on the left

Right side up, notice the gunwale on the right separated from the top side

Happy boatbuilder
After I got a few coats of thickened epoxy on the inside I flipped it back over to start painting. Finishing was going to be an interesting part of the process.

I'm also painting the strongback

2 coats of white all around

it looks good painted!
Then after the bottom and sides got initially painted (2 coats), I flipped it right side up again to finish off the top & inside.

Attached the tops & hatch covers

Looks like the woodworking is done

Closeup of the front


Closeup of the back

Got a coat of white

Finished painting the strongback too

looking sharp!
It took almost an entire gallon of white paint to get it this far. I wanted to paint the strongback too so I can store it outside. Just using a regular white exterior housepaint here.

Really ready to see this guy wrap up and get in the water. Think it will float?

Monday, June 5, 2017

A sticky situation

My first attempt at using epoxy and fiberglass tape wasn't exactly smooth. It's really sticky stuff! My local woodworking store only had the large size left in stock for the type of glue I was looking for, so I dropped the $70. I should have just ordered something else online.

I didn't want to drop the cash on fiberglass cloth for such a small, strange boat, so I decided just to tape the seams Epoxy + tape on the seams is supposed to waterproof the joints for the bottom so that should be all it takes. I ordered the tape online, plus some supplies like mixing cups and before I know it I was getting sticky.

The technique was to apply epoxy with a brush, then force the tape into the wet parts. Then add more epoxy until the product had turned the tape clear. This LiquidWood stuff is supposed to fill and seal, and I didn't know how it was going to act. Maybe the joints weren't tight enough? Maybe it did work after all.

cut and glue




All the tape & epoxy is on the bottom seams! First coat is done.

Closeup of the stern, lots of overlapping

Closeup of the transom
Turns out I had a cure problem. The first set of those pictures were taken on 5/5/2017, and the last two closeups were taken on 5/13. This product is supposed to take 12 hours to cure hard, but after a week it was still sticky in places. I went ahead and put on the second coat of epoxy anyway. I have no idea what to do about those bubbles you can see in the bottom pic. I thought they would fill in with epoxy but it just didn't. strange.

Eventually I did figure out the solution. Sawdust. I thickened the epoxy with sawdust when I filled the inside of the same joints. It cured fine, and got pretty hard. Also filled the joints really well too. I went back and rubbed sawdust into the sticky parts that were taking a long time to cure on the outside too, and it worked great. The next day everything was smooth and ready to paint!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bottoms up!

I recently got the bottom cut and fit on the Pirogue. It was quite a fun process to see the woodworking wrap up on this project. I traced the sides down to the bottom and cut it wide. Then after getting it attached I sanded everything tight and got ready for epoxy and fiberglass.

First I added the gunwales along the top

rear view with gunwales

Then added outside chines along the bottom. Those didn't glue up quite as well but did eventually sand smooth

The bottom cutout required a butt joint

My wife fell asleep back there

Initial dry fit

Bottom is attached!

All glued up and ready to sand
In my last post, the sides went up, but they didn't really attach to the stern very cleanly, so I'll have to sand that down later. I took a 1x8 white pine board and cut it up into 3/4" wide strips with angles to make the chines and gunwales next. They had to be attached first so I could get a final size for the bottom.

Tracing the bottom ended up being a two person job, I had to get one of the kids to trace it while I held down the curved bottom of the boat to the plywood. Hey, finally getting the kids involved! I traced the line a bit wide, then cut it even wider than that. Centered a 1x4 strap along the butt joint, glued and nailed it tight.

Attaching the bottom was straightforward. Glue and screws into the chine boards. I had to rack the frame a bit to make it fit the bottom exactly, hoping that won't cause any trouble in the finished product. After the final sanding on the bottom, it's time to finally bust out the epoxy! I'm only going to use fiberglass tape on the seams.

Epoxy & fiberglass marks the first part of the process that I'm really not familiar with. Curious to see how this sticky mess is going to turn out!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Let there be sides!

Now that I've got the strongback built, it becomes the work surface for all of the plywood. Having a plan that only requires two sheets of 1/4" plywood means I can lay out the entire boat in one shot. This design is the easiest boat in the book to build, so easy that a father/son team could build it in a weekend. Well, let's see how far I can get.

ok this already has the sides cutout. I got a bit excited.
So both pieces of plywood lay out on the strongback, and I marked each foot then drew out the sides according to the plans. The sides had to be exact mirror images of each other, so I measured and cut one side, then flipped it over and cut the other side. I marked the bulkheads on the first side, but forgot on the other.

All 4 pieces of the sides leaning against the shed
Then I cut out the plywood for the bulkheads and backed them with the 1x3 pine. Also cutout the transom and backed it by pine, and made the center temporary form out of 1x4 pine. Then it's time to butt joint the sides and attach them to the bulkheads.

butt joints coming together for the sides

This glueup took a while

Attached the sides to the bulkheads and transom
 So the front is not attached there. I still have to build the stern piece and attach it. After the sides were joined I attached them to the bulkheads. You can also see in the bottom pic how I framed out the back of the bulkheads with the 1x3 pine. Again the plans had all of the dimensions for these pieces. The rise on the sides went from about 8 3/8" up to about 11" so it's not exactly a complex arc. But this? This looks like a boat now. An actual boat. I'm getting excited now.

Next I have to cut the 1x8 pine board up into 3/4" angle pieces to make the chine boards and gunwales, then I can cut the bottom out of the plywood. The deck plates also get scribed as well as the hatches from the scrap plywood. After that it's all sanding and finishing. Progress!!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Don't call it a comeback!

Actually I wanted to call this one "don't call it a strongback", but it is called a strongback! A strongback is a stabilizing component for boatbuilding. It looks like a ladder but serves as a platform for the plywood or a form to attach the stations to.

First, I had to get supplies. After some careful planning, I decided to rent the truck at Lowe's and get all of the supplies that I could for the known projects. At $21 to rent the truck, I can get that as often as I want to without exceeding the cost of buying a truck, but I still wanted to be efficient with my rental dollars. Here's the haul:

in my shop, plywood and lumber
I ended up being short by two 2x4's. I got the following list of supplies:

  • 1 3/4" plywood for the strongback
  • 1 5/8" plywood for the strongback
  • 2 5/8" plywood for the canoe forms
  • 2 1/4" plywood for the pirogue
  • 5 (should have been 7) 2x4's for the strongback
  • 1 1x8 pine
  • 1 1x3 pine
  • 2 1x4 pine all for the pirogue
Building a strongback

To put together a strongback, start by cutting the 2x4's into 18" sections. The most solid designs start out with laminating plywood strips. Pick the overall length of your strongback, and cut the plywood 5 1/2" wide. I wanted 2 layers, a 5/8" thick and 3/4" thick setup screwed together to get to 20' long. This meant I needed 5 strips of each thickness (with one cut in half) and 14 of the 18" 2x4 pieces. Making the strips 5 1/2" long leaves enough height to add stabilizers on top. Place the 2x4's spaced exactly 18" apart, then flip the whole thing over and put more 2x4's spaced 20" apart. 18" and 20" are the most common spacings for the canoe stations.

Cutup plywood and 2x4's

First side of the strongback, 18" apart


I nailed through the thinner piece of plywood with framing nails, then used 1 1/4" exterior screws to attach the outside plywood strips. I cut one strip of each thickness in half, so each side had two 8' sections and one 4' section. By the time everything overlapped it became extremely stable, even with only one side of the 2x4's in place. Now flip it upside down.

added the stabilizers


added more 2x4's spaced 20" apart on the top side

I wear a bunch of red shirts. these pics are about a week apart.
This thing is a real workhorse. A good solid strongback provides a platform for all of the other boat building activities. Most people are not going to build a canoe longer than 20', so I figured that would be long enough for me. I can layout a couple of sheets of plywood on there for the pirogue, and it will hold the stations for the canoe. It's a reusable component that will serve me well for many boats to come.

Up next, it's time to start making the Piragua!