Thursday, November 25, 2010

Snowflakes and Sawdust Flies

To people in the nor'east and mid-west, this won't look like a lot of snow.  But it is.

We have had a bit of a cold snap around here of late.  Snow fell on Monday and it hasn't really gotten above freezing since.  This has had an unfortunate impact on my Pygmy kayak project, which is but two coats of varnish away from being done.  And it'll stay two coats of varnish away from being done until it warms up a little.

 So, instead of finishing that boat, I've been using my free time to keep making progress on PocketShip.  I'm still steadily transferring parts from patterns to plywood.  But, Tuesday night I could stand it no longer.  So, girded in long underwear, jigsaw in hand, I plunged out to the shop on the coldest night of the year to make some sawdust. 

This actually read 29F until I picked it up.

As you can see in the above photo, it was a little cold in the shop  (pay no attention to the date on the clock, the battery falls out constantly).  Brrr...  I started by laying out a beautifully marked sheet of 3/8 in plywood and set to work cutting out the bulkhead for the for'ard end of the cabin, Bulkhead #2.  Step 1 was to drill a hole big enough to get a jigsaw started in to cut out the smaller of the for'ard storage hatch openings.   I then cut this hatch opening, whilst experimenting with a couple of different jig saw blades/speeds. 

The first cut.  Or hole.  Whatever.

Lesson #1: The first part you cut you should not be one of the the most visible parts of the boat! A couple bad things could happen. You could, for example, drill a hole and find out that the drill bit you used hopelessly splintered the back side of the hole.  Or, you could find out that the jigsaw blade you first chose really likes splintering plywood too.  I'm just saying these things could happen, not that the happened to me, or anything.  Fortunately, after building a few boat, you learn trick to cover up mistakes.  Sanding, thickened epoxy, sanding, strategic trim pieces, sanding...pretty soon, no more mars!

By the way, another lesson, if it is below freezing in you shop, expect your jigsaw skills to be diminished.  You need blood in your fingers to use a jigsaw effectively.  Who knew?

Although I started cutting out Bulkhead #2, the first full piece to emerge from the plywood was the flange for one of the cockpit storage compartments.

My first PocketShip part! 

Bulkhead #2 followed  And, since I was on a roll, I also cut the floors for station 5 and the station 8 seatback frames.

One hour and twenty frozen extremities later...

By this point, I was feeling the cold in my finger and toes and decided it was time to quit.  I was so excited to abandon the shop for a nice, heated house.  Until I found out that in the time I was outside, my furnace conked out.  Don't worry, I got the furnace fixed the next day. But it was a little chilly that night.  Bugger.

Happy Thankgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Transfer Function

I've spent a couple of hours over the past few days transferring patterns to the plywood.  I still have quite a few parts to mark up, but am happy with the progress I'm making.  It seems like fast work, but oddly enough, takes longer than it seems.  I estimate that I've spent around 10 hours on it so far, and have only laid out the pieces on 3 sheets of the requisite 16 sheets of plywood.  This accounts for 26 of the 71 or so plywood parts in the boat.  Admittedly, those sheets of plywood have a large number of parts each, and some of the most complex parts in the boat (like the dreaded Bulkhead 7), so I am farther along than the numbers suggest. 
My biggest, and perhaps only, gripe about the full size patterns is that most of the symmetric parts (like the bulkheads) only contain one half of the part.  So, you have the mark half the part and the centerline, flip the pattern over, line up the centerlines and then mark the second half.  This creates chaos in two ways.  First, it makes it a little hard to make sure you've got the part laid out in the right spot on the plywood so that it doesn't overlap where other parts should be.  Second, you really have to be careful aligning the centerlines or else you'll end up with a funny shaped part.  So far, this hasn't introduced any errors that I'm aware of, but has forced me to spend a little extra time making sure everything is just right.  Don't get me wrong, using these full sized templates is quite simple.  But I'd have gladly paid the extra cost for the paper and ink required to print out full templates for the symmetric parts.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Adventure Begins!!!!!!

Today, I commenced work on my Pocketship!!!  With the varnish flowing on the Pygmy kayak, I decided that I could do some cleanup in the shop, buy some plywood, and get started on the sailboat. 

I bought a bunch of plywood in the morning.  I didn't buy it all yet, just enough to get started.  I haven't bought the six sheets of 1/4" for the bottoms and sides yet, or the 3/4" for the transom.  However, the transom situation will soon be resolved as a have a nice piece of teak plywood on order.  Sapele was available, but, strangely enough, the teak was less expensive.  I think it'll look pretty nice!

Cleaning up the shop took most of the day. But by the early evening, I wrapped it up, moved a couple of pieces of plywood inside the house (figured I could mark 'em there as well as anywhere), threw another coat of varnish on the 'yak, and got to work.


Step 1, put on appropriate music.  Wanting to get started out on the right foot, I dug out all the sailing songs I could find, lead off by "Full Sail" by the Beach extraordinarily pretty song.  Two more Beach Boys songs on the list, the bluesy "Sail On, Sailor", and the classic "Sloop John B." 

I followed the method described in the manual to mark the parts: lay out the pattern, prick the lines with an awl, pull the pattern up, and play connect the dots on the plywood.

I managed to get the first piece of plywood marked up tonight.  My plan is to mark all the wood I have now before letting the sawdust fly.  I have to admit though, having one board marked, I feel a strong urge to change those plans and start cutting right away!  We'll see what happens.

One more note.  I did some shopping for material for spars today whilst I was at the hardware store.  I can get exactly was I need in either spruce or fir.  The fir is about 1/5 the cost of the spruce.  As far as I am concerned, spruce is absolutely the best material for spars out there.  But, given the price differential, I'll probably go with fir.  The manual strongly implies that it is impossible to get wood suitable for a mast in 16' lengths.  Poor Easterners.  Here in the NW,  the biggest problem is deciding which species you want your clear, straight, air-dried, vertical grained sixteen footers in.