fanciful wood science

So it’s been a while since the last post, unfortunately I had a pretty bad back injury that laid me up for almost a week… It’s all good now though, and we’ve still managed to get a bit done. We have removed the lofting floor, built the cradle, moved the keelson, and have started the final fitting of the keel pieces before we bolt it all together.

We built the cradle out of a big white fir that came down next to our friends house. White fir aka grand fir isn’t all that valuable, and the tree would have probably just been cut up for fire wood. Instead our friends milled it up into big beams for us, and it became our cradle. Then once we finish the boat it will probably become fire wood…

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Once the cradle was built and leveled out we hooked two come alongs from the keelson to the base of a pine tree next to the shed. We worked in unison to slowly inch the keelson from the remains of the lofting floor to the cradle.


It went surprisingly  easy. Which rarely ever happens… after the successful event we drank beer and stared at the fruits of our labor.

Next I started triming and fine tuning the pieces of the keel so everything goes together as it should.

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Probably a day or two more and we’ll be ready to glue and fasten all the pieces of the keel together, and turn the whole assembly on it’s side for the ballast pour!

Taking Shape

We are nearly ready disassemble the floor and move the keel on to the cradle for final assembly! We have all but a couple of the keel timbers shaped up, so I could’t help stacking a few of them up to see what it looks like!

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O yes… That’s a keel…

Because Garrett can’t handle the STICKY

Ruth here:

“So because I’m an awesome person, I took over the rest of the sticky business. This is usually what happens. On one of our last restorations, Ronin, we decided to copper-plate the bottom which involved a whole lot of tar. Guess who had the nickname Tar Queen (hint it’s not Garrett). Since we got a few pieces done and glued up Garrett was able to start planing and shaping while I continued on expoying the rest.

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Garrett gave me a few pointers on how to prepare my set up for epoxying quickly; like presetting all my clamps, getting the wax paper ready, and setting up the pieces in the order they will be layered. But, I found out even if you prep everything that doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly. Your blood, sweat, and angry words are really what glues that wood together. I have just one two-part piece left to join together and then we’re through with epoxy for the moment!

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That’s not a smile that’s a cringe. But I still hate sticky less than Garrett so it’s not that bad. The things you do for the ones you love.”

shaping the keel

There’s nothing quite like the ring of a good chisel melting through good lumber. Although we are using “construction grade” fir we spent hours sorting through, and hand picked all 50  pieces for the keel. Many people don’t know that if you take the time and effort there are some real gems at any lumber yard with a large enough inventory. Sure, we may have gone to three or four different yards to come up with all that we needed but in a way thats part of the fun. Like a hunt for anything elusive, the harder it is to find the sweeter it will be when you do. So I continue on happily with a cup of cold coffee carving away at my prize, while my chisel sings a song of wood and iron.

We have progressed to the next stage of our build where we have begun shaping the individual pieces of the keel so they will all come together into the correct shape. So far we have just been gluing them into large chunks big enough to cut down to size. This is where those keel patterns we made earlier will come into play. We plane down the sides of the timbers first so they are relatively flat. then tack on the pattern to the side and trace out the shape.

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Next we draw 90 degree lines across the top about every 2 or so inches. On the side that we have the shape traced out we measure down from the top of the timber to the outline of the pattern. Then on the other side of the timber along that 90 degree line we measure down that same distance. Now we have a point on each side to run a hand saw down to.


Once we have made a bunch of cuts along the timber down to the depth of the outline we can take a chisel and start hacking away the big chunks. Since there are cuts down to the correct depth all along the timber it easily guides the chisel to take off just the right amount for a rough shape.

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Next we progress to a electric planer to bring it down within a 16th of an inch or less.Then we move on to a hand plane to fine tune the face to exactly the right shape.

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It can be a long monotonous process. So I set up a comfortable area to work, get in the groove, and just except that it’s gonna take a while.

things and stuff

We are still working on the keel getting all the individual pieces glued up. We are making pretty good progress, and already have7 out of 9 done. I expect to have the rest glued up in a couple days if weather cooperates. Then we will begin shaping all the timbers to their finished dimensions. Lots of work with chainsaw, skill saw, and planers to hack them into more or less the right shape.

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We took a trip out to our friends sawmill today to pick up the beams for the cradle that we will build to support the boat.

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Once we’re done gluing the keel beams up we will remove the lofting floor and use these beams to build a very stout cradle that will be able to support the boats weight as it grows.

We were also able to check out some of the western red cedar they are cutting for our planking.

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And here’s a couple shot’s of that sexy black locust we are using for our frames.

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Swab and Daisy always have fun together even though she just bites his face the whole time… He loves the abuse.