Sunday, June 28, 2009

Prepping the Inwales

I spent about 2 hours designing and building this jig for cutting the scuppers in the inwales. Once it was complete, cutting the scuppers took only about 30 minutes. The jig is pretty simple. The numbered blocks clamp the inwale into position and guide a 3/4" bearing guided flush trim router bit (bearing on top) and also prevent the grain splitting by supporting the fibers as the bit exits the cut. The scuppers measure 1/4" deep by 3" long with 6" spacing between them.

Once they are cut, I will ease the top and bottom edge with sandpaper before they are installed and also will "paint" on a coat of epoxy as well to prevent water damage. The short sides of the scuppers are end grain, and as such, will be prone to absorbing water much more readily than the long grain, so I feel the epoxy affords more protection and longevity to the inwales.

I have been asked by some folks about the scuppers; what are they for. I will attempt to answer that here. There are some schools of thought that say that scuppers are there to allow water to drain when the hull is overturned. Others say they are for tying gear down in the canoe. Another reason to cut scuppers is to lessen the overall weight of the craft (the gunnels are about 40% of the total weight of the finished canoe). While I don't dispute the facts that the above reasons are the result of the scuppers, I have another theory. The first wooden canoes were either bark canoes, or later, cedar and canvas canoes. Those were built with ribs running the length of the hull and the gunnels were attached over top of them, making the scuppers as a matter of the construction methods. I believe that the scuppers are merely a matter of tradition that has a functional aspect. Beyond that, I believe they look more nautical and really add a lot to the overall look of the canoe.

I don't claim my answer to be the most correct. I have done no real research on the subject. I just look at things and determine what I believe to be true based on my limited knowledge of canoes and their history. I'm sure that someone who has done the work for maritime museums would have much more information than I could provide here.

At any rate, here are the pics from the last few days of work.

Scupper jig

Friday, June 5, 2009

Court of Honor

Last night was the court of honor for Boyscout Troop 597. My oldest celebrated his 17th birthday there and also received the rank of Life Scout. Currently, he is about 5 merit badges and a service project away from Eagle Scout. I am very hopeful he will do the appropriate work to attain this honor.

My middle son received a recruiter patch for getting one of his friends to join, and he and I got our 50 Miler patches for the 50 mile hike we did between Christmas and New Years 2008 aboard Camp Lejeune.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Now back to the project...

Now, where were we?

Ah, yes! We had just flipped the hull over for the first time after glassing the outside. So now we have to fair the inside. This is proving to be no easy task. I can't really use a power sander because of the concavity of the hull; the random orbit sander will actually create more problems for me. So, that means I have to scrape and then sand by hand.

I tried using my cabinet scraper (the round one) but that really doesn't have the body to be able to clean up the epoxy that came through the staple holes. It also requires sharpening more frequently and it really generates a lot of heat! I have burnt my fingers enough on that thing trying to fair this hull. So what to use?

I know, a modified paint scraper! You know the kind. Plastic handle with a square blade with four cutting surfaces on it. You can switch to a new cutter when it gets dull. Not me though. I'll sharpen it myself. Before I could use it in the hull of a canoe, I had to round the cutting edge. The steel it's made from is relatively soft and it shaped easily. It also takes an edge pretty quickly. I just use a file to dress it up every few minutes and I'm back in business.

I learned a valuable lesson using the paint scraper. Initially, I was holding the handle at a very low angle (almost parallel with the surface I was working) and this was knocking down the high spots. However, it wasn't really cutting cleanly. Rather, it was fairly rough after the initial runthrough. This was also very hard work. I changed the angle of attack and actually raised the handle to about 46-60 degrees from the work surface and magic happened! Long, curly shavings came effortlessly off of the blade. Unfortunately I was about 3/4 of the way done with the scraping when I figured this out, but the last 1/4 went incredibly fast and finished better.

Scraping complete!

Now that the scraping is complete, I need to sand and fill and sand again the inside in preparation for fiberglassing.

Stay tuned!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Canoe School with Troop 597

The scouts of Troop 597 had a weekend camping and canoeing trip to train them up in canoe skills in preparation for a canoe camping trip later this year. These are the pictures from that weekend.