Yesterday South got the flush cut treatment with saws and routers. The deck around the sheer line, the hatch and mast hole all got cut and trimmed, then the deck sanded. It took a while, only because I was cautious. The flush cut router bit actually behaved itself and made it pretty easy. I still remember the fiasco of the router eating my spars, so I didn’t want to take any chances.
With the cockpit now at it’s final dimensions, I sat in the boat and started testing ergonomics – comfort angles for the coaming, length and height of tiller, etc.. Last night I laid inside for quite some time, almost dozing for a while. It was very, very pleasant. I could definitely sleep comfortably in one of these boats, which will come in handy for overnight camping trips.
No time to tarry, though, and got back into it this morning. The last several days have been clear and dry, and the humidity is dropping fast. Where did Summer go? Seemed prudent to strike while the iron was wet, so to speak, and slap the outer transom on South while everything was still the right shape. So, I skipped trim and went straight to transom.
First, let me say I love American Black Walnut. We have several in our yard (one less after the storm last summer), and all Winter they drop big nuts on the tin roof with a startling wallop. When I was little, I remember my grandmother saying if she could do it all over again, she would have kept the piece of farmland her family owned and planted all of it in Walnut trees. By the time she was old and ready to retire, they could sell the trees for lumber and live well. I’ve actually seen Walnut tree farms around old homesteads just like that over in the Valley, so someone else had the same idea.
It is truly a beautiful wood. But perhaps because it was so expensive for so long, it seems to have been neglected in recent years, and the price has dropped considerably. It used to be the ultimate American hardwood, used for fine furniture, expensive gun stocks, coffins, pianos, and things like that. Now Cherry is harder to come by, and seems to have taken top honors as the most expensive native wood. Walnut is a pleasure to work with, too – doesn’t split, carves easily, is light weight, rot resistant and, with just the slightest effort at sanding and smoothing, takes a finish beautifully. I have a couple of highly figured pieces I’ve been saving for prominent spots, and South got one of them today. The grain pattern and highlights change with the angle of the light, which is very cool.
It’s still rough cut, but once it cures I’ll grind and sand it flush to the hull. The top will stay blunt until the rails are on, then it will get a nice corresponding curve.
Meanwhile, North has one more day toasting under the blankets for the deck to reach final cure, then it will get a flush cut and a transom, too. It’s been a good weekend.