Detail Pieces Epoxied

Just a few detail shots to show how things are coming.  After sanding all the surrounding areas, I rolled a thin layer of epoxy over all the parts.


I used a 3/8″ oak dowel to plug all the screw holes.  You can buy an oak dowel at Home Depot for $1.44.  That’s a lot of look for under 2 bucks.  I use a large nail to daub epoxy into the screw holes and then drive the dowel plugs into position.  I then use a Japanese hand saw to cut the dowels flush and follow up with a Shinto rasp to flush them with the gunwales.  This is really a simple process but offers an old world look to your boat.  I have 38 oak plugs in the gunwales.  Lots of fun folks.


Cockpit Coaming and Bow Work

DSC00473First a word about tools.

I have not always been a tool guy.  When I was younger, my father would buy me tools using words like “son, these will last you a lifetime if you take care of them”.  I would stare blankly at the tool, then gaze off across the room and begin dreaming about backpacking gear.  In fact, I sold several of the tools my father bought me in exchange for backpacking equipment.  Then, in my late 30’s the latent tool gene kicked in.  All of a sudden I found myself in sales for a living while doing nothing with my hands.  I felt little value in my profession; it seemed like nothing I did was of lasting value.  This left me feeling empty and hollow inside.

Then, it happened.  I decided to build something.  I saw a maple tool chest in a Tool Smith magazine.  It looked smart, efficient, clean with sharp lines.  I showed my dad the plans.  They gave him great pause…remember, I hadn’t built much in my life.  To him it didn’t look like a beginner project.  But to me it looked heavenly.  We went out to Home Depot and I purchased several shop tools.  A table saw, jointer, band saw and drill press.  With these core tools, I built the maple tool chest.

DSC00470It has proven to be very helpful in organizing my tools and served me very well.  After that came a tool bench and multiple other wood working projects.

My interest now is more centered in good quality hand tools.  I find them very enjoyable to use and very effective at accomplishing different tasks.  So, when you see the hand saws above, don’t think I’ve always been a tool snob.  No, instead I’ve grown to love hand tools after many hours of using cheaper tools.  Christopher Schwarz offers the best advise I’ve found regarding the reasoning and effective use of quality hand tools in his profound book entitled, “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest”.  Worth the money if you are serious about investing in quality tools as opposed to quantity of tools.  He describes and presents 50 hand tools worth every penny you spend on them for general wood working.  I bought every one of them and have never looked back.  The total cost of all these quality hand tools was far less than the cost of a single four wheeler.

Now, on to boat building.

DSC00485I trimmed the bow panel down flush with the bow cap rail using a block plane and shinto rasp.  It was extremely fun to watch the panel come into compliance and take shape.  This is one of those moments I had been waiting for…to see the defined bow of this boat.  It is stunningly beautiful and reminds me of a battleship.

DSC00470The bow cap rail and gunwale needed to be shaped at their forward end.

DSC00474The first cut was with a fine toothed panel saw.

DSC00475I then used a fine toothed rasp and hand sanding to blend the lines.


DSC00484DSC00482DSC00480You might notice I created a little different shape with the cockpit coaming.  I planed stick #5 down to 5/8″ as opposed to the 3/4″.  This created a bit of a reveal between stick #4 and stick #5.  I liked the handrail look this dimension created.  I also ran #4 & #5 a bit forward of the designated stop point.  I’ll shape this forward end once the epoxy is fully cured.


The great thing about wooden boat building is the chance you have to make little changes to the boat which make it uniquely yours.  This is indeed half the fun of the building a wooden boat.  Take you time, get it the way you like it and have fun.  If your not having fun, something’s wrong.  

Gunwales & Cap Rails

I’m currently working on the gunwales and cap rails.  Here are a few photos to show the progress.

DSC00476DSC00477DSC00479I planed the oak gunwale down to 9/16″.  This was mostly for cosmetic reasons (I felt the 1,1/2″ thickness looked a little clunky), but it also allowed me to bend it extremely easy.  I plan to plug the screw holes with an oak dowel.  I then created a rather large chamfer on both the top and bottom edges.  My thinking here was to create a gunwale that would easily slip past a dock skirt without catching on the gunwale.

DSC00474DSC00470DSC00472I then moved to the cap rails.  I decided to add a decorative design to the thin end of each cap rail.  I used my hand planers to create the taper on the sticks.  I ended up with 1, 1/4″ height at the tapered end (the plans call for 1″ height), but bending them into position was not a problem.

Now for the bow.

DSC00484DSC00485I ran the cap rail to the end of the gunwales.  Also, my stem is somewhat simplified from the plans.  I’m sure Kilburn is pulling his hair out at this point in the blog.  No offense intended, I just felt a simple white oak 3/4″ stem (on top of the inner stem) was sufficient.  I’ll round these corner so the glass will lay across it better and do some shaping to the gunwales & cap rails once the epoxy cures.


No magic here, just step by step, moving forward.  


Boat Building is a Democracy

First some theory:

Wood has an opinion and it should have the right to vote.  It wants to flop this way or that way.  It naturally curves up or down.  When laying out gunwales, it’s very important we consider the woods natural tendency to flop.  If we fail to recognize this point, the wood will have the last say.

Now for the photos:

DSC00490After planing the wood to 3/4″, I ripped it to 1 & 5/8″ strips.

DSC00493The wood is casting it’s vote here.

DSC00494Vote duly noted.  I then laid out the gunwales noting Starboard and Port sides and marked the scarfs cuts to be removed.

DSC00497I then cut the scarf joints on the table saw.

DSC00499The scarfing jig in the plans worked very well.

DSC00500Clamps with handles work best here.  Traditional clamps tend to get hung up on the top of the table saw.

DSC00501After wetting the joints, I smeared thickened epoxy on the mating surfaces and used a 24″ stick to stabilize the clamping process.


Scarf joints are always touchy.  The become very slippery and difficult to clamp correctly.  Take your time and try not to swear too many times when applying the clamps or your wife will wonder if this boat building thing is a good idea.