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!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ok, make the second choice

Sometimes you can really get in your own way with too much planning. I picked up another book to start off, Building a Strip Canoe by Gil Gilpatrick. This was a thoroughly engaging read, really enjoyed it.

I think after I finish the Piragua, I think I'll work up a canoe next. It's a classic woodworking project, and this book includes plans for 9 different canoes. The value of the book comes in explaining the technique to build them.

Start by building a strongback, then attach the stations, then form the hull over the stations. Glass and finish the outside, then flip it and remove the stations. Glass and finish the inside, add the woodwork, seats, yoke, gunwales, and finish it. Pretty straightforward, right? You need to read the book for more details. It's really fantastic.

I think I'm actually going to start with the strongback. It's going to be an easy, long way to create a work space for the plywood & forms for the Piragua. Last weekend we ended up shortening our family vacation by a day, so I took the opportunity to rent a truck from lowe's and pick up all of the plywood & lumber I'd need to build the strongback, piragua, and stations for a canoe.

Time to start making sawdust!