(to start of project)

Wallpaper paste doesn’t stick. At all. Neither does tape. Staples do. So does Liquid Nails.

I was planning to build some nice proper sawhorses, as my old slap-together set won’t hold screws anymore. I came across these plastic ones in the building supply store, and at $15 each I figured I wouldn’t lose much if they were junk, and there are times when you just need an extra one quick. Well, they’re totally awesome. There are notches in the top sized perfectly to hold 2×4 rails, and they have a shelf on the bottom to hold tools, and hooks on the side for T-squares and such, strong as heck, weigh nothing, and fold up to about 2” thick when you put them away. Totally awesome. It’s nice when something so simple can make you really happy.

Continue reading “Molds”



(to start of project)

The particle board I brought home either got wet in shipping or the glue and moisture from manufacturing hadn’t dried. Either way it was damp, and as it began to dry in a stack it started to curl and warp. Not good. Had to prop them up flat with spacers and blow air through so the sheets would dry at the same rate on both sides. That’s my roll of patterns on top.

Continue reading “Lofting”

Strong Backs

Chapelle and Barto Plans

(to start of project)

 I’ll be working from a combination of printed plans along with measurements taken from boats of other builders, in addition to a few modifications of my own. Besides the one page Chapelle plans, I have the more complete set of plans from Wooden Boat Magazine by Marc Barto. I’ve also talked to Roger Crawford and taken measurements from his boats, as well as several other amateur and professional builders, all of whom you’ll hear more about later.

Continue reading “Strong Backs”

Allegory of the Cave

wire frame boat model plan

Wireframe Boat


(to start of project)

In the complicated calculus of my conscience, there are many things I have to do to earn the right to do something I really want. I know, I know. But that’s just the way it works.

Therefore, before spending a year or more of time and money building two boats for me (okay, and the family), there were certain things I was going to have to do first. One was wait until my daughters were in college, because high school is not the best time for a father to disappear on his two teenage girls. The other was to make a viable studio workspace for the lovely T, my artist wife, who has been forced to use the dining room table and various closets as a work space for years. Patient, she is. That meant finishing the basement, referred to hereafter as “The Cave.” On the plus side, I would get to use The Cave first for the boat project, before turning it over as art studio.

Continue reading “Allegory of the Cave”

A Little History

Howard Chapelle melonseed skiff melon seed plans smithsonian
Chapelle Plans from the Smithsonian

Funny how things circle back.

It was the mid-1930’s, at the business end of the last Great Depression, that a young, not quite gainfully employed naval architect named Howard Chapelle signed up for a job with the WPA. Everyone needed work, and the government was creating jobs and funding them as fast as anybody could think of them. Someone in FDR’s administration came up with an idea to put the nations destitute naval architects to work. It was to be called the “Historic American Merchant Marine Survey/” Along with a lot of other projects that came out of the WPA, it would turn out to be an incredibly valuable storehouse of historic documents; though, with humble beginnings and a short life, it’s eventual cultural value would not be evident for quite some time. Of the two largest work programs created by FDR – the CCC and the WPA – it was this one, the WPA, that received harsh criticism as wasteful and unnecessary, particularly from the conservative opposition.

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8th Lake Adirondacks

8th Lake, Adirondacks

The word has some appropriate origins:


|emˈbärk| begin (a course of action, esp. one that is important or demanding)
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from French embarquer, from em- ‘in’ + barque ‘bark, ship.’


I’ve been planning this project for quite some time. Years, in fact. Life intervenes between many a fine notion and it’s fruition. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Big projects begin innocently enough, with an idea or impulse, and before you know it it’s taken root. If you don’t pull some weeds up quickly they drop seed and it’s all over but the mowing, or in this case, rowing.

Continue reading “Embarking”