Getting wood – or not….

Blog time : It’s late June 2021 , warm but humid this morning and the long grass behind the house is really kicking off with a bloom of pollen – i could just start and finish this post with a huge sneeze and be done with it as i won’t be getting much done outside today.  Of course, as gardeners know, now is also the time for explosive weed growth because of which i did my usual quick trot around the veg patch and finger weeded but even 15 minutes of that and i’m streaming and itching all over…..weirdly one of the worst itches i get with hayfever seems to be inside my ears – not just the usual irritated eyes, runny nose and so on.  Antihistamines aren’t a great help either ; a few days of them and i feel completely wiped out as well as still itchy ……and yes we’ve just been camping in an area that was heavy with long grass so we didn’t just have rain and wind but i had hayfever as well, how good is that ?

Project blog : i’m at a slight hiatus now because iv’e all-but finished the flat-pack phase of construction so now the bottom panel is nicely stored on edge under the shelter , and yes – well covered up, and all of the frames, bow assembly, transom etc are all ready to use except that i haven’t cut the stringer notches yet.  The reason that i haven’t done that job is because i didn’t know exactly what stock i would be using for the stringers and i didn’t know that until a couple of days ago.   Just before we packed up and took a break i contacted my usual ‘dealer’ with a cutting list and then on the recommendation of local boatbuilders i also contacted a more local timber merchant who supplies wood for projects like mine.   With both of them i simply forwarded them a copy of designer John Welsford’s materials list with what iv’e already got marked off and waited to see what they came up with and at what kind of cost.


I have to say that i was pretty shocked when i saw the prices for the softwood that i would need for the boat’s stringers ; i don’t know why but it seemed strange to me that something like Douglas Fir, Yellow Pine or Spruce would be a lot more expensive that a dense hardwood like Sapele for example….but from my usual supplier it is.  I asked about timber selection on John’s FB group page because one possible wood for the stringers might have been long lengths of Meranti – a lot cheaper than similar Douglas Fir and as the man said himself as long as it would bend around the frames then it would be ‘good to go’.  John even came up with a spec to allow me to laminate the wide bilge stringer from 3 pieces because it has to bend in 2 planes so i requested that at which time the dealer told me that they couldn’t source Meranti at the moment : a bit of a back to the drawing board moment !.  

While we were away the local timber merchant came back to me with, yes – he could supply what i needed and in long lengths of springy timber and a reasonable quote too.  Even better is that he can supply the Douglas Fir for the stringers in lengths long enough that i shouldn’t have to scarf the long stringers together rather i can use just one long length per stringer.  That might even mean that i can think about making the spars as well and once again without having to scarf-joint the staves – at this stage i’m still thinking in terms of an English/Breton style standing lug rig which will need a long but light mainmast right up front, a quite long yard for that and then the smaller mizzen and boomkin aft.    Ultimately i’d like a Carbon fibre pole mast but i just can’t find any information on building one of those in the backyard set-up that i have.

Meanwhile – on the bench.

Both boards are now mostly shaped and mostly fair – i’m going to do one last session with the longboard on both and then start on the detail work for each one : the rudder blade now needs it’s marking out and cutting of it’s upper part which will be supported and rotate in the rudder cheeks…and the centerboard now needs it’s ballast weights casting ……oh and the cut-out for the lifting tackle to be done too.   Iv’e found a useful mold for casting the board’s ballast weights in – a pork pie mold of all things (i’m going to make 2 smaller weights rather than the one big one in the plans).   

This morning i was also looking at what timber i have laying around in the workshop and specifically if iv’e got anything that i could make a nice tiller from ; as it happens iv’e got one good piece of Sapele long enough to cut some lammels from and a nice stick of Ash originally destined to be a canoe paddle that i could also slice for thin stock…..making a curved laminated tiller would be a nice creative project as designer John doesn’t specify exactly what it should look like so i’ll have to draw a nice shape and then make a bending frame….might even need a steaming rig.

Moving forward/plans.

Next week i need to go up to the local sawmill – we have one in the valley, and order simple constructional timber to make the build frame from ; that’s really the last thing to do before i actually start the main construction phase and once that’s up it completely changes the space under the shelter.  It’s also a potentially tricky job because i know that the best wood i can locally is still likely to be a bit warped so i think i’m going to have to make some kind of box-beam for each side of the frame and then iv’e got to level and square the frame itself on a surface which slopes in every direction at once.

Plenty to be going on with.


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