Road Along the Ridge

Forest Fog


Spring is taking it’s time getting here, like it lost its way, stumbling about.
Mornings are cold and damp. Not really raining; just steady dripping from eaves and limbs, buds closed up tight. Hills and valleys stay swallowed in fog.



Filling and Fairing

Staple Holes Filled 


(to start of project)

Some people really hate this part, but I love sanding and smoothing. It’s slow work, but the wood goes through a pleasing transformation, both visual and tactile.

Before sanding and fairing, the staple holes, sloppy joints, and other imperfections are filled with a mixture of glue and sawdust. The first trick to filling the staple holes, and making them less prominent, is to make them smaller. You do this by soaking the wood well with a wet sponge. This causes the wood to swell and the holes to close up. In some cases, almost completely. Since the outside of the hulls will probably be painted, this is not so important now, but getting the technique right here will help later on the inside. Continue reading “Filling and Fairing”

Whiskey Planks

Transferring Gap to the Last Planks


(to start of project)

I almost missed one of the more charming traditions of boat building, until Tony in Montana reminded me.

The last plank added to a boat hull is known as the “Whiskey Plank.” This is the plank that finally closes up the hull completely, making it viable as a boat for the first time. It’s called the Whiskey Plank because, traditionally, when this plank was finally put on, everyone in the boat shop got a shot of whiskey to celebrate. In my case, by the time I got these troublesome little pieces of wood in place I was past ready for a snort of something strong.

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Mind the Gap

 North hull down to the last gap.


(to start of project)

With a new sense of purpose, got the next to the last strips all done. That’s a total of 8 strips in two full days of work. One last strip on each boat will close up the hulls.

The split strip should work fine. The narrow width even makes it easier to flex. Otherwise, at this point it takes wedges to hold the strips in place against the previous bead, plus bungies, plus staples.


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Early Flipping


South hull flipped.


(to start of project)

There are only two more strips to go on each side of each boat. Until the boats are christened appropriately, I refer to them as North and South. South has the more difficult finish, since one strip won’t fill the gap. I decided to flip it over and have a look at the inside. If the hull/keel joint looks messy I’ll bail on this tough stuff and run a router down the seam and finish off with a nice accent strip.

Down to the Skinny

 Bungie Chords to the rescue, again.


(to start of project)

Wow. The last two strips on each side are incredibly difficult. If I’d known how difficult, I surely would have taken another tack.

There’s still a lot of curve in this section, in the direction the strips don’t want to bend. But the strips are short so you can’t get any leverage. Pushing them into place takes both hands, and they still spring out of the slot and pop you in the face. Plus, each strip has to be cut exactly to size, with bevels and long tapers on both ends, which means prying them into place multiple times as you shave and refine the shape. I haven’t broken a single strip until this point, and I broke four on Saturday – one for each strip that went on successfully.

Continue reading “Down to the Skinny”

Piece Work



Keels planed to a clean edge


(to start of project)

Began piecing in the last sections of the hulls. Considered a couple of quicker ways to do this part – ways that allow you to fill in the strips first and trim them all at once – but each of those only give you once chance to get it right. Doing each piece individually takes more time, but if you mess up you just toss that piece aside and grab another.

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