Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chirp Chirp, It's a Birdsmouth

I've been itchin to get started on the Apple Campion build ever since I purchased the plans but in addition to getting the shop in order, I have been without a truck since my son decided to ram it into an embankment (fortunately only his pride was hurt).  So getting lumber has been a bit of a challenge and I will need to get something soon if I am to transport the plywood and avoid delivery costs.

With that said, I found two really nice 16' Douglas fir boards for the main mast at the local specialty lumberyard (Goosebay Lumber) yesterday and immediately hatched a plan to get them home.  I won't go into details, but it involved my wife's Mazda, a 14' aluminum ladder, and a lot of rope.  I should have taken a picture because it was pretty comical looking and marginally legal, but I got the boards home without issue (other than being $135 poorer).

Birdsmouth reprinted
from Duckworks Magazine.
The plans call for either a solid or hollow spar; I am opting for a hollow spar using the 'birdsmouth' method.  I've never built one before, but I'm pretty sure it's in my wheelhouse and there is a lot of literature out on the interwebs detailing the procedure. One of the better ones is on the Duckworks Magazine site here.  In a nutshell, making the birdsmouth spar involves cutting a bunch of staves, and then cutting a notch out of the end each one, making the profile look like a birds mouth (hence the name). You can use anywhere from five to sixteen or more staves to make the hollow spar, but I opted for eight because it is the easiest to cut the notch (it uses a 45 degree notch).

To get started I used the birdsmouth calculators on the Duckworks Magazine site to figure out my stave size.  The plans call for a 90mm section tapering to 50mm at the top so I just plugged in the number of staves (8) the outer diameter (90) and an inner diameter.  I chose 60mm based on at least 20% wall thickness.  I know that 20% of 90 is 72mm, but it came down to me being lazy.  To get the 72mm would mean that I would have to plane the boards down from 18mm to about 12mm and since my planer blades are really dull, I decided to say I am overbuilding the spar, and may trim the final outer diameter a little less than 90 (solid spar calls for 84mm).

Anyway once I figured out my H(18mm) and L(35mm) for the staves I ripped the two boards up into eight staves.   Once they were cut, I set the table saw to 45 degrees and ran a few test pieces through to dial in the depth of cut and the fence alignment.  I should say that there are a number of ways to cut staves to get the birdsmouth cut, but I am using the table saw method (it seems faster and less messy than a router).

Once I was satisfied, I had my son come over to the shop and help hold the unwieldy staves as they came off the saw.  Basically, you run the stave through the saw for the first 45 degree cut and then turn the stave around and pass it through again leaving a satisfying little 16' triangular piece of wood leftover waste.  It took about 20 minutes to run each of the eight 16' staves through the saw twice and once completed I plunked all of them into a series of 90mm semicircle forms clamped to the bench and stepped back to see the magic.  Woohoo!  Tomorrow I will work on the taper to reduce the final diameter from 90mm to 50mm over the top 1.5 meters and then wait for my 3 gallon epoxy order to show up in the mail.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Squaring Away

I have a lot of crap.  I am not good at throwing away crap.  There, I've said it, but fortunately I have an opportunity for redemption with the new shop.  My old shop (in my basement) was less than half the size of the new space, but it was filled up with 10 years worth of scrap wood, various nuts and bolts and other assorted debris that I was reluctant to throw away because "it might just come in handy someday".

As it turns out, I really don't need that dishwasher motor, or the bag of 17/32 bi-metal washers, or really any of the odd collection of junk for that matter.  I guess that goes back to the days when I didn't have 2 cents to rub together and spending $3 on some washer was really extravagant.  So a lot of it is getting purged as I move everything over to the new space so I can start collecting a fresh pile o' crap.

As everything gets moved, I have been sorting into piles and either throwing them away or re-organizing to be stored in the new shop.  I've made a lot of progress, but there is still a lot to do.  The biggest win so far was sorting and organizing all the hand tools I hav
e.  There were a bunch of duplicates that are being put in a soft sid
ed tool bag that will stay over at the house for day to day "operations".  

I put up some pegboard along the back wall to store all the frequently used hand tools like saws, mallets, and screwdrivers and have found cubby homes for all the power tools at the miter saw station.  I also set aside a full drawer for drill bits, hole saws, and and bit mounted wire wheels, but I haven't come up with a good arrangement for the myriad of good fasteners I have, but will probably settle for a plastic case with sufficient storage.

I still need to move the compressor and the band saw over, but given the snow and ice we have right now outside the old shop door, it would be pretty treacherous to try and move them and will have to wait until it's not so slippery.

With any luck, I'll be able to start on boaty stuff in the next week or so; The first task I'm going to do on the Campion Apple build is to build the birdsmouth mast, and I hope to get the wood (either Sitka Spruce or Douglas Fir depending on price and quality) over the weekend.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A New Boat

So after a seemingly endless period of searching and general hand wringing about the best possible design for a new build I have settled on the Campion Apple 16.  Originally, I kind of fell in love with the Caledonia Yawl and had planned to build that, and even went so far as to seek out a ride in one in Maine with Jeff Kerr (who builds them for a living).  I'm still in love with the design, but decided to pass on it for now because of a number of factors.  The first being cost; a bigger boat means more lumber and larger everything.  Part of that cost was figuring in that I would do a kit which has a fairly steep upfront cost.  Another reason was that I wanted to build something that wouldn't necessarily take as long if I was committed.  Finally, while I enjoyed sailing the Caledonia Yawl, it is first and foremost a displacement boat, and I am still nimble enough to want to have a boat that can get up on a plane and go when the wind is right.

The Campion Apple satisfied all of those requirements and I think it's a lovely design.  The plumb bow and yawl rig make it very distinctive and it exudes its Northern European heritage.  I will be building the stitch and glue form but it can be built clinker style.  I think it should be a fun build.

I've spoken with the designer Tom Dunderdale on several occasions now and he has been immensely helpful.  I purchased the plans last week and had several sets enlarged.  There will be some additional work that a kit boat would have eliminated; namely laying out and cutting each of the 5 strakes per side and an additional keel strake, but since I will be building it stitch and glue, no strongback is required and the hull should go together relatively quickly.  I hope to be staring in the next few weeks, but I still have some finishing details in the shop and some jigs to build to help the process along.  More details and photos of the design can be found at: Campion Sail and Design

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fitting Out

No boat work to speak of in the last few months but I have been picking away at the shop and getting it buttoned up for winter.  And speaking of winter, here in New Hampshire, it is in full swing and I'm happy to say that the shop is warm (relatively speaking) and ready for a new boat project.

My last post in the shop section detailed some of the stonework my neighbor and I were doing to get the soil stabilized.  Once that was done it was time to start focusing on getting the shop closed up to keep out the cold and any unwelcome visitors.  All the windows and side door were in but I had to build the barn doors before I could move any expensive tools into the area.

Because of our cold winters here I wanted something that was insulated and would give me a tight fit so I didn't freeze to death, so I came up with a 2x6 design sheathed in plywood with a R19 insulated core.  On the outside, the plywood would have cover boards to make them look like they should.

Hanging them was a bit of a trick (especially since I had no help that day), but with the help of a bunch of shims and some temporary fasteners I made out alright and got them hung and swinging without much difficulty.  I used the biggest hinges I could find without ordering something custom and I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out.  I finished up the outside by trimming out the windows and door openings with 3.5" barn board and called it done.

With everything all closed up it was time to get an electrician in to put a new service line in. This ended up taking entirely too long because the power company does everything at a snails pace and I ended up waiting for 3 weeks to get them to hook up power.

I worked out an arrangement with the electrician where he would install the meter socket, panel, and one outlet (1 simple circuit) and I would do the rest.  By the time I finished I added 2-20 amp circuits for south wall power and north wall power as well as 3-15 amp circuits for inside lighting (1st and 2nd floors), outside lighting,  I have an additional circuit ready for 220v should I need it, but right now I'm set.

Next up I bought 22 rolls of R-19 kraft faced insulation rolls and insulated the hell out of the shop space and covered the walls with sheetrock.  I'll probably sheetrock the ceiling at some point but it's good enough for now and I want to add some LED shop lighting to bench areas at some point and don't want to have to snake power behind sheetrock.

I had thought long and hard about bench configuration and while I originally thought 2 benches along each side would be good, I worried that there would be enough side to side room so I opted to shorten the space a little bit (28' -> 26') by putting one of the benches along the back wall.  I had originally planned on a wood stove on the back wall, but found that even on days where it is 10 degrees F out, a tiny electric heater was all I needed to warm up the shop sufficiently to work, so I ended up gaining space, allowing for a back wall bench.

The first bench was to be along the wall and I built out a dedicated miter saw station with storage and a built in fence with accurate measurements for duplicate cutting. On each end of the miter saw station I have a large work area that I can put my drill press and other assorted bench power tools.

On the back of the shop I built out a dedicated woodworkers bench with a large wood vice and holes for bench dogs on half of the length that spans the entire back of the shop.  I still have to build some shelving underneath both benches for storage of wood and other detritus that I tend to collect, but I'm ready to move in and get to work now.