Milling, Installing, and Varnishing the Mahogany Staving. Installing Walnut Trim.
I am still undecided as to what kind of wood I want to use for the vertical staving inside the Far Reach. To the left is a picture of a couple of different pieces of wood each with at least one coat of varnish. At the top is Douglass Fir, in the middle is Bald Cypress, and the bottom is African Mahogany. All are good choices. I think a darker interior is easier in your eyes in the tropics while the DF and cypress will make the interior a little brighter or dark and cloudy days. There are other woods I'll look at but these pretty much represent the range of color. The nice thing about the AF Mahogany is it's quartersawn and fairly inexpensive. Something to think about. I'll have to decide soon.
I spent most of the day working in the wood shop. It's not very big but I feel lucky to have it. It's just a small space separated from the garage by a wall. It's cramped and awkwardly shaped. On one end there are double doors leading to the garage and across the shop, on the opposite side, there is another set of double doors leading outside. When I mill real long lumber, like the 16' boards I used to make the boat shed, I open all the doors and push the planks across the table saw from the garage to outside. It works. The real redeeming feature is it air conditioned via some ducting that support the room over the garage. It's too small for a dedicated vacuum system so I use a small cyclone connected to my shop-vac and sweep a lot. If I am doing much cutting I wear a respirator. The reality is it's big enough. I took this picture tonight so it's still pretty messy from the days work. During assembly of some bigger furniture I have made, I usually move one of the cars out of the garage and set up a 4X8 plywood table across a couple of saw horses. Then, I can mill in the shop and glue up and assemble on the big table in the garage. It works fine.
The job today was to perform some tests to see how to mill and work the v-groove African Mahogany panels and too see if my idea for milling to 3/8" thick is practicable. I have never done this before so I got a lot of advice from Kaj Jakobsen who, like Tim Lackey, has been a great mentor.
Here is how it worked. I had a 28" long X 1" thick X 8" wide sample of finished Mahogany I got from my neighbor that owns World Timber. I ripped two 3" wide pieces off, then stood them on edge and resawed them to 3/8" thick. Now, I had four boards, 28" long, 3" wide, and 3/8" thick. I'd wanted to get two boards from each unmilled plank. (If 3/8" proves to be two thin to work with then I'll go thicker but it will double the cost of the wood since I won't be able to resaw the 5/4 planks to get two boards. I might, with careful milling, get 7/16" thick planks, which would be nice.) You can see in the photo below the original 1" thick piece next to the 3/8" thick piece. You can see the half laps I cut in the 3/8" thick plank. I did that by running the opposite edges over a 1/4" dado set for 3/16" depth of cut.
Next, I used a bearingless V-groove router bit, my bench top router, and the fence with a feather board to cut a very slight v-groove on each side of the board. This is a fairly delicate operation and in fact I mangled two pieces of mahogany trying to get the bit set just right. I should have milled some poplar at the same time and used it to test cut each step. When It comes time to do this with full length boards I will set the router table up with an in-feed and out-feed table and a couple more feather boards, which I will have to makes since I don't have enough. This will keep the boards flat and produce a more consistent cut. It is also much safer to use feather boards which I always try to use.
After cutting the V-groove I test fit the panels. After test fitting them I cut each one in half, doubling the number of panels I could fit side-by-side. You can see from the edge view photo how they all fit together. You can also see the panels are not all the same width. I had to trim down and recut the two planks I mangled. So, I just fit them in and kept going. Random widths can sometimes look nice though that was not the intention for this project. Then in a effort to duplicate how this will work on the boat, I glued the panels to a piece of scrap 1/2" plywood. I lightly sanded the boards with 220 grit and applied the first coat of varnish cut 50 percent with mineral spirits. I think the color looks great. Not too dark and not to light. "Just right" as Goldilocks said. I'll add some more varnish over the next couple of days.
Plain sawn Honduran Mahogany runs about $15 BF. Quartersawn costs more. Quarter sawn African Mahogany can be got for about a third of that. Satisfied that I had what I was looking for, I took the trailer over to World Timber and bought 124 board feet of 5/4 African Mahogany. It's great looking wood. Matt went through the stack with me helping me pick a consistent color and the straightest of the vertical grain. This should be enough to do the staving. I'll need to buy some more later for the overhead beams and the cockpit coamings.
All in all, a very good day.
After working on other projects it was time to start milling the African Mahogany I'll use for the staving. So, I started with about 120 BF. It's all quarter sawn but in about half the planks the grain is wavy with a fair amount of interlocked grain. The wavy stuff is difficult to plane and not get some tear-out. The rest, however, is very nice and pretty straight grained. I'll use the straight grained in the most visible spots and the less straight grained in places that will be covered by book shelves or other furniture.
Today I planed both sides down to just under 1" thick . . . maybe 15/16. I did not joint the wide side first because it's too big for my jointer, it was pretty flat to start with, and because it will end up resawn to about 3/8" thick x 3" wide and I'll be able to glue it flat. Wednesday, I'll joint one edge then rip to 3" wide, resaw it to get the two 3/8" thick planks, then cut half-laps, slots, and a "V" groove in the same manner as the test panel I put together in early Sept. Once the milling is complete I'll start installing it on the bulkheads.
Below are a few pictures from today's work that includes the small Oneida mini cyclone I use to capture wood chips and dust before they get to the shop vac. In this picture I am using the shop vac/cyclone system to collect the wood from my portable Delta 22-580 two speed planer. The advantage of the mini-cyclone is that it vastly reduces the amount of wood chips/dust that make it to the actual shop vac. Though I would sure love to have a big permanently mounted 1200CFM system it's just not happening. So, I bought the cyclone to make use of the shop vac that I already had. It's limited in what it can do by the power of the shopvac that can only move about 300 CFM. But I am satisfied with it. It's a pretty good system for what it is designed to do. The cyclone is a lot faster and easier to empty into a garbage bag than the shop vac, which is heavy and awkward to flip over into the bag, and I seldom have to clean out the filter so the suction on the shop vac stays strong. If you rely on a shop vac the cyclone is a very useful accessory.
Just planed straight grained quarter sawn African Mahogany.
Today I started working on the mahogany staving in earnest. First, I needed to make some more featherboards. I used a scrap piece of 3/8" thick mahogany. I cut 30 degree angles and then drew lines three inches deep 1/4" apart. I then ran my jig saw down the lines to create the feathers. This is a whole lot cheaper than buying them and they work just as good or better than store bought featherboards as you are not limited to locating them in miter slots.
Next, I resawed the A. Mahogany that I cut more or less to length yesterday. Resawing 15/16" thick planks yielded two boards 3/8" thick. By using plenty of featherboards I got nice even cuts. I did not have much trouble with burning which is a common problem with mahogany, especially when you are cutting it on end and running the blade through 2 3/4" of wood--I have the saw set up properly, I kept the wood moving over the blade, and I am using a new 24 tooth thin kerf Freud Diablo blade. This is the second Diablo thin kerf blade I have owned. I am pleased with how well they cut.
After the resawing I switched to a stack 1/4" dado blade to cut the half laps. I set the height for a hair over 3/16". Next I clamped on the auxiliary dado fence that I used to keep the blade from chewing up my good fence. With feather boards to keep the wood firmly pressed against the fence and down on the table I got nice cuts. I eased my way into the first few cuts checking the fit of two board to make very minor adjustments in depth.
After completing the half-laps I set up my bench top router with a V-groove bit (no bearing) and set the fence to give me the cut I needed. I examined each piece of wood carefully so that I could choose the side I wanted to have facing out when they are installed. I took my time running the boards over the bit. Earlier in the summer I practiced this to learn how to make this kind of staving and to make sure I would be happy with the mahogany. During that practice session I boogered up a couple of boards when I was cutting the V-groove. But, this time, with lots of featherboards and working carefully I had no problem. I am pleased with the way the staving looks. Yes, this stuff is a little wavy for narrow staving but that's OK. I am saving the straight grained for the more visible areas of the boat.
After milling the staving I was curious how much it weighed . . . 14lbs. That's not very much. I'll be adding a little more on the starboard side of the fwd cabin but not enough to even mention. I am not covering the entire bulkhead either--from the overhead to just below the bottom of the berth. I figure the head will require about 40 lbs of staving total (two sides) and the two main bulkheads a total of about 35 lbs. For all of the boat I am estimating about 115-130 lbs of staving. Not much weight at all.
Tomorrow I will install the staving I cut today. It should be an interesting day.
Milling the V-groove.
Finally, the staving is going up. I started off this morning by gathering all the materials I would need to start installing it. I set up the drill press and drilled oversize holes in the 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" MDF backing blocks that I cut yesterday. Then I applied packing tape to one side. The backing blocks, with a fender washer and a #6 1 1/4" pan head screw are the clamps. The packing tape will keep the blocks from becoming attached to the staving if there is any glue squeeze out through the screw hole.
Next, I laid the staving over some saw-horses. Then, I sorted them by color and grain to get a reasonably consistent pattern. Because I did not plane down the bulkhead to get a flush fit before I added epoxy tape along the top (over a year ago) I had to run the tips of all the staving over the jointer and remove a little wood. Otherwise the staving would bulge at the top of the bulkhead. When that was completed, I moved all the supplies up to the boat.
Next, I drew lines on the bulkhead where the screw-clamps would go . . . about four inches from the top under the overhead and under the side deck. I carried that down 14 inches for two rows to where the cleat will be located to support the top of the berth (for the long staving I carried the hole pattern down to the floor beam). The row above the cleat will not be visible due to the thickness of the mattress so the spacing will looking even. When I was ready, I began by test fitting the two long pieces of staving closest to the centerline. They need to be full length because the double berth will butt up to the staving and there needs to be a good surface for the backing cleat to be attached to. I also need some staving on the front side of the berth for the trim to fit over. I elected not to run staving across the whole bulkhead. The double berth will cover much of the space and it will save some wood, of which I have a limited supply. The bulkheads in the head and main cabin will get full coverage because the area covered with the settees is pretty small and I won't save that much wood. I will limit coverage in a similar manner in the galley and nav station area since most of that area will be covered with cabinetry.
Once I stated it went pretty smooth. Measure and cut to fit 4 pieces at a time. Apply glue, lay staving against bulkhead, drill hole, fasten screw block, drill the rest of the holes and then secure the remaining blocks . . . so on and so forth. The last two pieces that cross over the vertical part of the tabbing next to the cabin top side I applied with thickend epoxy since wood glue will not stick to the epoxy tape. I wanted to make a neat job of it so I scribed the top of the staving so it would follow the overhead along the top edge of the bulkhead. It required a few trips up and down the ladder and back and forth to the shop. It wasn't too bad though as I would mark and cut several pieces at a time. Since I only had enough staving milled to do this one bulkhead it was not worth the effort to set up a work table in the cockpit and relocate the chopsaw and jig saw there. I will probably do that for the rest of the bulkheads. I ran out of time to finish it off today. Everything is ready to go tomorrow so I should have the rest of the bulkhead finished before noon then afterwards I will go back to milling more mahogany .
After much thought I decided to go with Titebond III glue. This is not the best glue but I think it is the right glue for the conditions I am working under. I would prefer resorcinol, then Weldwood, and then Titebond III in that order. The first two glues require 70 degrees for 24 hours. I can't get there from here--we are headed into a week or more of lows around 30 degrees F. That meant I needed a cool weather glue. Titebond III can be applied down to 45 degrees F. There should not be any stress on the staving so it should be fine. Thirty minutes of clamp time is all that is required. But, I'll leave them on till I am ready to plug or until I need the backing blocks to apply more staving. When I am ready I'll countersink the holes, install #8 flathead screws, then plug the holes with matching bungs.
I think it looks good now but it will look even better with multiple coats of varnish. As much as I wanted to get the staving up on the main bulkhead where I could see it I think installing it in the fwd cabin first was the right call. Tomorrow I will pick up where I left off and finish off the bulkhead. Then, I will start milling more staving.
Sorting and grouping.
Drilling oversize holes in the MDF backing blocks.
Who would think it would take most of the day to finish up such a small amount of staving? The first five or six pieces went on without a hitch. But, the last few were more complicated. The staving had to be trimmed to fit the curved side of the hull. Many trips up and down the ladder. The bulkhead was uneven so there were trips to the jointer and power hand planner. I had to use epoxy on a few pieces. As silly as it sounds I couldn't find a secure purchase for my feet while leaning against the sloping hull. I got it worked out but there were some pretty humorous moments. I also took a little time in the middle of the project to shift gears and sink a few SS #14 1" flat head screws through the tabbing and into the bulkhead. This was just to add a little something extra to keep the bulkhead securely connected to the tabbing in the years ahead.
I also continue to have reservations about the Tightbond III as an adhesive between the teak bulkhead and the mahogany staving. It might be fine, but based on a suggestion from someone I trust, I ordered some System Three T88 epoxy adhesive. This epoxy is formulated for gluing wood together. It's thicker than their general purpose epoxy which is similar to West System. It is supposed to bond down to 35 Deg F while West Epoxy is good only to about 50 Deg F. It mixes 1:1 and does not require any pumps. You don't mix in fillers. I talked to the tech department today and they said just make two puddles about the same size and mix them together or use little cups. Sounds simple. It is also structural and formulated for oily wood. I ordered a gallon from Jamestown Distributors. By the time I finishing milling more wood, which I never got to today, it will arrive and I'll be ready to go.
Though I am moving like pond water when it comes to the amount of progress I would like to be making vice what progress I am making, I feel pretty good about the milling and installing of the mahogany. I went through the whole process without any problems. I took the wonkiest of the wood and had no trouble milling it to a standard I was happy with. I got a very good fit with the staving. The screw clamps seem to work fine. I experienced no issues other than it takes time. For the next two weeks or so I should be working on nothing but staving. Once it is applied to the bulkheads I can add some key cleats and then get a couple of coats of varnish down on the staving and the cabin sides. That will be nice.
Today, I started milling the remaining mahogany. I had already ripped it to about 2 5/8" wide. First, I had to reconfirm my cutting plan so I spent part of the morning going over the math for how I would precut the wood to length to reduce loss when I recut it to straighten it out. I did not want to be too precise or it would get too complicated and reduce flexibly during installation. Once I was satisfied with the plan, I cut to length all but about eight pieces on the chop saw. Then I stacked the wood in the garage and set my jointer up out there so I would have more room to work. The garage and the wood shop have a common wall so it's only a few feet from one to the other. I have double doors between the garage and the woodshop so access is easy. Then, I started running the mahogany across the jointer. As soon as I had one side straight I took that piece to the table saw in the wood shop and ripped the opposite side. It took maybe five hours. I wore a respirator as there was no way my little dust collection system could keep up with the debris I was producing. Once the wood was cut, I stacked it and began a the cleanup. About twenty percent of the wood is kind of ropey/wavy and may not lend itself to being resawn. I'll know more when I try it. About twenty percent of the wood is gorgeous, even colored, and very straight grained. The rest is kind of in the middle.
The next task is to resaw each piece on the table saw--to make two planks from one-- and then to cut all the half-laps and the V-grooves. Once that is complete it will be more or less ready to install.
We are forecasted for temps in the high teens in the next couple of days. I need about 40 degrees in the boat to epoxy the staving in place and the temps needs to stay above 35 degrees in the boat for a week. I can heat the inside of the boat but I am not sure I can keep it warm enough for that long. So, I may let this very cold (for here) weather pass and then begin installing the staving. I have some other projects I can work on in the shop if necessary. Nonetheless, it is good to be getting close to the final phase of milling the staving.
I ran about 1000 linear feet of mahogany through the table saw today . . . a ton of saw dust. I estimate I had about 500 linear feet of nearly one inch thick mahogany that I resawed to 3/8" thick. After resawing the first piece, I had to run the sightly thicker second piece (the one to the left of the blade) through to make it the same thickness as the first piece . . . thus about 1000 total feet. I filled a full 42 gallon trash bag with saw dust. During the cleanup I sifted some of the sawdust with a flour sifter and filled a 5 quart pale with mahogany wood "flour" dust. It may come in useful later when mixed with epoxy. Needless to say, I was in a full respirator the entire time I was in the shop to include the clean up.
Tomorrow I'd like to get started on cutting the half laps and maybe even the V grooves. It would be great to get it all taken care of, though I may be a little short of the entire amount of staving I will need. If I run short I can always get some more mahogany from my supplier though since he has another 500 BF of QS A Mahogany arriving next week.
I have been thinking about how I can keep the boat warm enough to do some epoxy work inside with the lower winter temperatures coming on fast. I bought one of those oil filled electric radiators from Lowe's today. They are pretty inexpensive and I think more economical to run than an electric ceramic heater with a fan. It's also a lot safer. Anyway, I placed it in the boat and turned it on this afternoon. I went back about two hours later. The temperature in the SRF was about 40 deg F but the temp in the boat was a balmy 62 degrees. The outside temps are dropping to the mid twenties tonight so it will be interesting to see what the new heater can do.
I finished the half laps yesterday. I made a couple of hundred more MDF blocks to use as clamps. Spent a good part of the day just running staving through the router to cut the V-groove. I should finish it up tomorrow. The T88 epoxy arrived a few days ago. It was 26 Deg F in the SRF this morning. They are calling for warmer temps by Friday. I should be able to install more staving in the next few days though I have a couple of house projects that are competing with my time . . . it will all work out. I'll post some pictures as soon I have some of something other than sawdust.
In the last few days I finished up the milling the staving. I sorted it by grain and color as best I could. Then, I moved back into the wood shop where it is sitting on wood racks. I figure this is a good place for it to further stabilize after the milling. It's ready to go. The T-88 is ready. Wooden backing blocks with screws and washers are ready.
Today, I took more measurements in the boat. I have to cut down one of the partial bulkheads to widen up the passage between the galley and nav station and into the main saloon. Not a big deal, but I want to get it right. I'll probably make the cuts tomorrow. After measuring, I started work on making up the mahogany plugs I'll need to plug the holes I drilled, and will continue to drill, to install the temporary screw clamps in the staving. This was a pretty simple undertaking. I set up my drill press with a tapered plug cutter. I used some scrap mahogany off-cutts from the staving as the source. I cut a double row of plugs on one side, then ran the wood through the table saw. The plugs just fell out on the tablesaw. Then I took the half that was left and cut more plugs. Then, I ran it through the table saw "releasing" those plugs and so on and so forth. I filled up a quart jar pretty quick.
This may be a pretty good time to start work on the pattern I'll need to make to have the gammon iron cast in bronze.
Freshly milled mahogany V-groove staving.
Cutting mahogany wood plugs.
I finally got started on the staving in the saloon. It took a while to everything ready. I set up the various stations in the wood shop--epoxy mixing station, jointer station, sanding station, etc. I set up a small portable work bench in the cockpit with the Bosch jig saw for trimming the ends of the staving. Then, I donned my respirator and soaked a clean rag with acetone and wiped down the bulkhead thoroughly to get remove the surface oil in the teak. I repeated this step until the there was no wood dust on the rag.
Once the air was clear I marked horizontal lines on the bulkhead where the screws will go. Then, I took all four pieces of staving up to the boat at the same time. I measured for length and used the jig saw to cut them to the proper length with a slight angle cut on top end to match the slope of the cabin overhead. Then I tested for fit. I did all four and positioned them on the bulkhead. They looked good. Next, I took them to the wood shop. I planed 2 1/4" back from the top end to a depth of about 3/16". This allows the top of the staving to lie flush over the slightly proud tabbing at the top of the bulkhead. Next, I flipped the staving over and sanded the back with 60 grit on a finish sander with the vacuum hooked up. Then I vacuumed any wood dust off and wiped the backs with acetone.
Staving finally going up in the saloon.
I mixed up a batch of 4 oz of T-88 System Three epoxy. It is very thick. Mix ratio is 1:1. I used 8 oz graduated mixing cups to get the amount right. I pour/scraped the resin and hardener into a 16oz plastic bowl and stirred till it was thoroughly mixed. It was creamy thick and had a strong epoxy smell . . . like 5 min epoxy. It has a pot life of several hours at the 60 degree temps currently in the boat. I took the mixed epoxy up to the boat and sort of slathered it on a premarked section of the bulkhead and on a piece of staving. I used a notched plastic spreader to spread it out evenly. Then, I positioned the staving and marked for the top hole to be even with the horizontal line I drew previously on the bulkhead to make sure the wood plugs would be on an even line. Then I screwed in one of my screw block clamps. Once the first one was in place, I marked the rest, drilled, and screwed in the remaining five screw blocks. Then, I repeated for each piece of staving. It took an additional batch of epoxy for the last two staving pieces. I used 4 oz of resin and hardener each, for a total of 8 oz of epoxy for the four pieces of staving. That is more than I thought I would use. Much more than the tightbond I used in the forward cabin. I will probably need at least another gallon for all the staving. I don't have an opinion on the System Three compared to the West Epoxy yet. Using Tightbond III was a lot simpler but the advantage of the T-88 System Three is I know it will hold and it works down to 35 Deg F which is really the key consideration. As I have said before, if I could maintain 65 Deg F in the boat for 24 hours I would use Weldwood UF glue no question. I have the electric oil heater going in the boat with a couple of heat lamps. The temps are supposed to drop to 28 Deg F tonight and my heater set up should keep me above 40 Deg F (at the cabin sole level) in the boat so the plan is working for now.
Getting the system down for this first batch of staving with the new epoxy was time consuming. I had just the right amount of epoxy squeeze-out. I did have a very small amount of squeeze-out up through the V-groove in a couple of places but I was able to clean it up with acetone and a rag. It will take a little more time to figure out exactly how much epoxy to apply to the staving but I am pretty close now. When I finished installing the first four pieces I went ahead and trimmed, planed, and sanded the next four pieces but I ran out of time to install them, so they will have to wait till the morning. I'll get a lot more done each day now that I have the stations set up and I have a feel for what needs to be done. I am not sure how long it will take to install the staving in the saloon and the head. Maybe a week or 10 days if I don't get distracted and if I put in an honest days work every day. Then, I should be able to get a couple of coats of varnish on and start installing the furniture.
I made good progress today installing more V-groove staving. I am getting more efficient. I was also able to make the T-88 epoxy go about 30 percent further than I did yesterday. The largest amount of time is spent trimming the planks to length, cutting the angles to match the slope of the hull, and planing some wood off on the back side, near the top of the plank so it would lay flat over the tabbing. Nonetheless, even that went much quicker today. I installed about 9 pieces of staving in three to four hours. I used the wonkiest grained staving behind where the sideboard/book case will be since they will mostly be hidden. Click here to see a drawing of the location of the sideboard/bookcase.
The sun was out today so the SRF warmed up quite a bit. It was pleasant enjoyable work. I'll take the next two days off to spend with the family. They are calling for snow in the next few days. Merry Christmas.
The temperature continues to remain quite cold here. The same low pressure front that is barreling up the east coast slamming New England today and tomorrow passed through here yesterday. We got a bunch of rain that eventually turned to snow--only about 2"-- but it is mostly melted now.
This afternoon I got back to working on the boat. It was good to get back in there. Since I got a late start I decided to begin work by removing the screw block clamps from the staving in the forward cabin, countersinking the holes, and installing wood-plugs. I installed the staving around the first of December. It is a good thing I did not wait any longer. You can see in the photo a little discoloration where the block clamps were. I have to wonder if it isn't from UV light darkening the mahogany. If so, it would be a very small amount of UV light since the boat was mostly closed up. I think it will sort it self out over time. I will lightly sand anyway before I apply the first coats of thinned varnish. I will not let the clamps remain on any more staving longer than is necessary.
After removing the clamps I countersunk wood-plug holes in the staving and then screwed in SS flat head #6X3/4" screws. Then, I dipped the wood-plugs that I made two weeks ago in some Tightbond III--I could just as easily use TB II--and tapped them in with a plastic mallet. Tomorrow, I will trim them with a chisel. I may go ahead and start varnishing while I simultaneously install staving in the main cabin.
The temp in the boat today was 59 degrees so the heater is doing the job. The temp drops at night in the boat but has not gotten much colder than about 41 degrees on the very cold nights. Good enough for what I am doing.
We are forecast for high 50 degree temperatures later in the week. That would be nice.
Fwd Cabin Wood Plugs
I started off today by trimming the wood plugs I installed yesterday in the forward cabin. I boogered up a couple so I drilled them out with a 3/8" forstner bit and replaced them. Not a big deal and not really very time consuming. I have not trimmed enough wood plugs that I have it down pat . . . I am pretty slow and methodical at this point. But, something tells me I should have it figured out by the time I finish installing the interior. Nonetheless it went pretty well and it was rewarding to see the forward cabin staving coming along. After trimming, I hit them lightly with a sanding block to see how they would react. A finish sander with 150 or 180 grit should smooth the surface especially when followed by six to eight coats of varnish. But for now, I don't want to get pulled off target. Keep focused on the staving man.
After trimming the wood plugs I removed the screw bock clamps from the staving on the port side bulkhead in the saloon. I laid out 11 pieces of staving, planned the ends and cut them to length. I dry fit five of the eleven before I ran out of time. Tomorrow I should finish up the staving on the port side bulkhead. Then I'll start working my way around the saloon. Soon I'll get a couple coats of varnish on the staving and the cabin sides. At that point, I should be able to start installing the berths in the forward cabin and the berths, settees and sideboard in the saloon.
Forward cabin staving.
Next, I started by finishing the installation of the mahogany staving on the portside main bulkhead. It took several hours. When I finished it I countersunk the holes on the previous section of the staving I installed last week, then screwed into the holes SS FH #6x3/4" screws. Then I installed mahogany wood plugs over the screw heads. In the photo to the left you can see the screw block clamps securing the staving I installed today (on the left side) and the wood plugs in the staving I installed last week on the right side.
The rows of screws are actually much more level than the photo indicates . . . I worked hard to get these as level as I could. There is a little play in the washers and the bocks are not perfectly square. There is only one screw hole that is off significantly (about 3/8") and that in the top of the first row I installed today--the first piece under the cabin side. Somehow the staving slipped down and I did not notice it till I was installing the next one. It will be behind the book case so no need to get excited about it.
You can also see how the new staving is a little lighter color than the previous staving. It's all from the same tree and the colors were much closer before installation began. Yesterday I thought maybe it was the UV light darkening the wood but I am not so sure. It may be just the air getting to the wood now that it's not stacked. I am willing to bet the wood I installed today will be darker in a few days. I have also read that besides mahogany getting a little darker over time, the color differences in the banding will also even out as well.
This was a pleasant day of work. I am getting a little faster and smoother at cutting, trimming, and installing the staving. I have a good system for mixing the T-88 now and it moves along quickly. The pot-life is excellent. I mix up enough to do 6-8 pieces of staving at a time. I have much less squeeze-out as well which makes the whole thing a lot less messy. Installing the wood plugs is time consuming but not difficult.
1 Jan 11 I started off the New Year with more staving work. Good progress on the portside galley/saloon bulkhead. It took a while to cull through all the staving and figure out the best plan for allocating the remaining wood. I pulled the staving with the most wonky and wavy grain and set it aside. Then, I laid the remaining staving out across some tables and looked it over grouping it by color and grain pattern. I measured what I have to do in the boat and kind of matched it up with the different lengths I have to see if I could develop a logical plan. The wavier stuff I'll use where it's mostly covered by furniture. The nice straight grain I will use where it is plainly visible. It's a little frustrating to not have perfect wood. But, like everything, you have to make choices. And, all the wood is good. Some of the staving is prettier, to my eyes, than others. The twisted and deformed and the stuff that is too striped I won't use. It can be tough sometimes fighting the urge to make everything perfect. I have to remind myself that I have a budget. I violate it occasionally but have pretty much stayed on target. Besides, the goal was not to create the perfect boat . . . but one that would be a strong, practical, elegant, and simple sea-boat that sails like a witch. This is not an apology but a reminder to myself to not get too bogged down trying to pursue a level of perfection I neither have the time, nor money, nor skill to pursue.
Portside galley-saloon bulkhead.
I chose to run the staving from top to bottom on the saloon bulkheads even though a good portion will be covered by the settees and pilot berths. Why? Well, because I wanted to. Seriously, these are the lockers we will be getting into all the time and I decided I would enjoy it more seeing the staving run down into the lockers when I opened them up instead of something that is only skin deep. The other more practical reason is I am not exactly sure how the settees and pilot berths will be built. I mean, I have a plan and some drawings I have worked on but I am not confident enough to cut the staving short and cover the ends with cleats, etc. This gives me more flexibility but I will probably need some more quartersawn mahogany before I can finish up . . . though not much.
Today was pretty simple. Select the stavings ( I usual do about 8-10 at a time). Test fit. Cut to length. Fit again. Wipe the bulkhead thoroughly with acetone. While the air is clearing in the boat, sand the back of the stavings with 60 grit. Vacuum and wipe with acetone. Mix the epoxy. Apply the epoxy to the staving and bulkhead and spread with glue spreader. Fit saving. Mark for screw block clamps, drill, and install screw block clamp. Then, do it over again for the next piece.
Though I sometimes fell like I am moving like pond water, it is definitely getting easier and it's kind of fun doing some work without a lot of stress and drama or sweating three gallons of water in a paper suit while wearing a respirator and wielding a high-speed grinder. I am very happy to have that behind me.
The next day I finished off the saloon side of the partial bulkhead that separates the galley from the saloon. It moved along fine. It took about six hours. I was able to get it finished today because I spent about two hours yesterday selecting and preparing the staving. I ordered another gallon of T-88 System 3 cold weather epoxy today. This should be more than enough. I also ordered another 400 #8x3/4" SS screws to further secure the staving after I remove the clamps. It's probably not necessary to install the screws but they are pretty inexpensive and besides, since I have to countersink and install the wood plugs anyway I might as well stick a screw in there . . . can't hurt . . . or as we say when building demolition charges " P for plenty."
I will go to work on the starboard bulkhead next and when that is finished I'll probably install staving in the head. Once that is complete I'll apply the first three coats of thinned varnish. Then, I should be able to start installing furniture in the saloon, fwd cabin, and head.
Portside bulkhead staving
The next day I got a late start but managed to get about half the staving up for the bulkhead that separates the saloon from the navigation station. I have been cutting the top edge of the staving about 3/16" long. I plan to go back, after I remove the clamps and install woodplugs, and trim it with a flush-cut router bit. Standing in the boat and looking at the staving makes me feel like I am making progress. It is slowly starting to look a little like a boat. OK, so I have a big imagination . . . .
Starboard saloon-nav station bulkhead staving.
I was able to finish installing the staving in the saloon today, though it was not without some fanfare. I took the time to fit all 10 pieces. I trimmed them to length, cut the angles, etc. Got everything set up in the boat, sanded the staving, vacuumed wood, wiped down all surfaces with acetone, etc . . . I was preparing like a well oiled machine . . . or so I thought. I laid out the first staving, mixed up the epoxy, put it on the bulkhead. I went schmeered it on the staving and spread it out with the notched squeegee. Then, I suddenly realized that I did not recess a bevel at the top of the staving to fit over the tabbing. Good grief! I quickly wiped down the top 4 inches of the staving with acetone, carried it down to the bench top disk/belt sander, the rest was still covered with epoxy, and ground the bevel. I kept the staving up current of the grinder so as not to contaminate the rest of the epoxy loaded staving. Then I returned to the boat and was able to get it installed without making a mess. Then, I had to remove the excess epoxy from the bulkhead and take all the remaining staving pieces down the ladder to the shop and recess the bevel before I could restart. It was like a left my brain somewhere else . . . .
Tomorrow I'll only be able to get a few hours in on the boat. I'd like to go through the remaining staving to see how much more I need. If the weather holds, I'll go to World Timber Friday and pick up some more mahogany. I'd like to get enough set aside to finish up. Then I'll tackle the head and forward bulkhead so I can start on the furniture.
Starboard side saloon staving installed.
11 Jan 11 For the last few days I have been working on finishing up installing wood plugs. I have learned a lot about installing plugs, especially trimming them. I have developed a good system for keeping the chisels sharp which is essential to trimming the plugs. I am pleased with how they came out.
The saloon staving is now installed, minus the trim. I have some personal business to attend to tomorrow but I hope to get started on sanding. I'll sand the forward cabin staving, the staving in the saloon, and the cabin sides. Then, I'll apply three coats of thinned varnish. In between the work on the varnish I'll start milling more mahogany for additional staving. I'll also start work on building the pattern for casting the gammon iron for the bowsprit.
27 Jan 11 The day before I left for Virginia, last week, I applied the first coat of varnish. I prepared the surfaces by sanding them with 120, 150, and finally, 180 grit abrasive paper. I was pretty aggressive with the hardwoods but I only used 180 grit on the mahogany plywood as I did not want to abrade through the veneer. After sanding, I vacuumed using a soft hair vacuum brush attachment and then performed a wipe down with denatured alcohol. The next day, I thinned the Epifanes high gloss varnish 50 percent with pure mineral spirits (I checked with the Epifanes tech rep about using mineral spirits and he said it would work fine). After stirring it thoroughly, I laid it on quick and easy with a 15 year old 2" wide badger hair brush. The next day I left for Virginia.
This past Monday, the day after I returned, I just relaxed and recuperated. On Tuesday, 25 Jan it rained all day. I spent the day sanding the first coat of varnish I previously applied. I sanded the mahogany surfaces with a rubber sanding block and 220 grit paper. I was careful to sand with the grain. For the bevels, I used a six inch long 1"x1" rectangular wooden block cut with 90 degree sq corners. I wrapped the sanding paper around it and ran it up and down the bevels gently. It took about three hours of light sanding to properly sand the staving and plywood cabin top sides. I vacuumed and then did a through wipe-down with denatured alcohol and lent free rags.
On Wednesday, 26 Jan it rained again but it did not matter since we took the day off for some family time.
Today, the sun was out and the SRF warmed up. I removed the covers from the port holes to improve ventilation. I was able to work in a T-shirt. I started off by doing another wipe down with denatured alcohol and then applied the second coat of varnish. This time, I cut the varnish 25 percent with mineral spirits. It went on easily. No need to be fussy since there are many more coats to go before the final coat is applied. It looks very nice though the third coat will make it start to look much more glossy. It was great to get the second coat of varnish applied. The wood grain really pops. I went back up into the boat tonight and was very please with the colors of the wood and the warm glow of the work light reflecting off the varnish. If the varnish is dry enough I will sand it tomorrow in preparation for the third coat. My plan is to get three good coats on now to protect the wood then go back to work installing the interior. The final additional 3-4 coats (6-7 total) will be applied later. I also applied the first coat of varnish to the laminated oak tiller today.
The second coat of varnish.
29 Jan 11 The interior varnish in the Far Reach was not ready sand yesterday due to the cold night time temperatures so no varnish was applied. But, because I am working on the tiller in the spare room over the garage it was ready for sanding and a second coat of vanish which I undertook and completed yesterday. Afterwards, I spent several hours writing out all the steps necessary to build the core master, core box, and pattern for casting the bronze gammon iron and making some rough drawings of the different phases for that project. I also ordered the Repro 83 Blue plastic resin used to pour the mold for the core box. I'll post a separate entry for gammon iron project when I get further along.
Today, I sanded the staving and the cabin sides in preparation for the third coat of varnish. I started off with a rubber sanding block, same as I used last time, on the cabin sides. But, when I started sanding the staving I decided to switch to a narrower wood block that seemed to do a better job as the rubber block is wider than any single piece of staving and I seem to get more even coverage with the narrower block. I used 220 grit abrasive as before. It took nearly four hours to sand, vacuum, and do a thorough wipe down with denatured alcohol. If the weather is good tomorrow, I'll apply the third coat of varnish.
Below are a few more pictures after the second coat of varnish was applied. I think it looks great. As I mentioned before, the wavier grained staving, installed on the outboard side of the bulkheads, will mostly be concealed behind book shelves and other furniture. All the rest of the mahogany set aside for the remaining staving is straight quarter sawn A. Mahogany, the same as I installed on the inboard edges of the bulkheads. I am pleased with the color and finish. I have enjoyed this phase of the rebuild and I continue to learn a lot. My next boat will be much easier . . . ha! Not. I'll be too busy sailing!!
30 Jan 11 Today I applied the third coat of Epifanes High Gloss Varnish. I started off by performing a final wipe down with denatured alcohol to eliminate any dust that found it's way back on to the wood since last night. It was 62 degrees on the cabin sole and probably about 70-75 at head level. Overall, it went pretty smoothly. I probably used about 20 oz of varnish. I thinned it about 5-10 percent but to be honest I probably did not need to thin the third coat. I used only a 2" badger hair brush to apply the varnish. I applied the varnish across the grain, vertical strokes, to the cabin sides then tipped horizontally. I applied it vertically to the staving. I focused on getting good coverage, working quickly, and keeping a wet edge. When I finished I applied a third coat to the tiller.
I would like to try some of the Jenn-Mar foam brushes just to gain some experience so I can decide for myself which works best for me, though it occurred to be while I was brushing on the varnish today that I will likely require a bristle brush to apply varnish to the "V" groove.
I am pleased with how it looks as of this evening. I did not see any obvious sags or holidays. It is much more glossy looking than after the second coat. Tomorrow I will sort out whether I will apply a fourth coat now or start working on the interior and apply the rest of the coats later on.
After working on other projects it was time to get back to the staving. I picked up about 60 BF of very nice looking quarter-sawn African Mahogay. This should give us all the staving we need to complete that part of the interior rebuild. Today, I ripped the planks to 2 3/4" wide and then resawed them to 3/8" thick. Tomorrow, I'll continue milling by cutting the half-laps and "V" grooves so the staving will be ready to install.
About 60 BF of ripped and resawn quarter-sawn African Mahogany. Next, I'll cut half-laps and V grooves.
I spent the last few days leisurely finishing up the staving. I cut 1/4" wide half laps on each staving using a dado blade on the table saw (see pictures below). The key to getting a good tight fit is to make sure the wood pieces are held firmly against the table saw surface and the fence. Any movement here and the half-lap will get fouled up. The depth of dado has to be accurately dialed in. I always dedicate a practice strip of wood that I and run test cuts on. The staving is exactly 3/8" thick. I set the dado for 3/16" inch cut. I make one dado cut 1/4" wide and the other about 1/32" narrower. That leaves the inside edge between two staving pieces very tight, but on the back side there is 1/32' gap. This small gap leaves a little space for excess epoxy to flow into instead of being forced up between the staving pieces when they are clamped to the bulkhead.
After all the pieces have been half-lapped then I run them across the router with a standard V-groove bit (no bearing). I use the fence to set the offset and feather board to hold the staving piece down flat. I don't use a feather board to push the staving against the fence because it gets in the way of controlling the wood moving across the bit. This is one step that requires patience--feed the wood too fast and it will cause tear out.
I am very pleased with how straight these staving pieces turned out. Every piece has vertical grain and all the wood is straight and without bows or hooks. After finishing up I staked all the pieces on a rack in the wood shop.
Staving, nice and straight, and ready to be installed.
Finally it was time to get back to installing staving. I started back up on the head compartment. Personal business prevented me from working on the boat till mid-afternoon. Once I started work on it I still had a fair amount of setting up to do before I could start installing the staving. I decided to use the remainder of the staving I milled last fall before I start using the mostly recently milled mahogany. The original staving is a little darker due to its exposure to air and UV light. The new wood will also age and in due time they will eventually look the same.
I only had time to install five pieces of staving due to the late start, but also takes a little extra time to get back into the swing of things. I have a good system in place and I hope to compete the installation of the staving on the this particular bulkhead by tomorrow afternoon. The one thing that really complicates it are the angles that have to be cut on the staving as well as some rabbet cuts on the top edge, near the overhead, to accommodate the biaxial tape that stands proud of the surface of the bulkhead. If you have been following along as I have worked on the Far Reach you know that I normally make a rabbet cut on the plywood where the tape will lay to keep it flush with the surface of the plywood. That makes it much easier and faster to install staving over the wood. I believe the work in the saloon will go quickly because there are few odd angles. I usually find its best to do the hardest part first and then you don't have to struggle towards the end of the project when you want to finish it up.
It took four days but I finished installing the staving in the head. With an earlier start each day I should have been able to complete the job in two days. However, it would have required 12 hour days which would have been long day in the heat we are experiencing now. Even with the SFR doors and transom hatches open it was 91 degrees in the saloon. I had two fans going to keep cool. It was difficult but certainly not unbearable.
I normally use West System Epoxy but the System Three T88 is thicker and works great for this kind of project. It does not need to have any thickeners mixed in so it save some time and is a little less messy. I originally bought it last winter when I first started installing the staving. The T88 can be installed in temps down to 40 degrees and even in high temps like I am experiencing now the pot life is about 45 minutes. You can buy it in pre loaded cartridges that load into a caulking gun. It would certainly make the process easier but it cost about twice as much. I may try a few cartridges and see if it is worth it.
Staving installation complete for both bulkheads in the head.
Next, I installed the staving on the outboard vertical panel where the heater will go (I refer to it as the heater box) as well as the back of the starboard side settee. As you can see in the picture, the forward side of the divider between the heater box and settee does not have staving. That will be the next project. After I finished installing the staving on the back of the settee I precut the staving for the portside settee back, sideboard, and forward face of the starboard side heater box/settee divider. I let the staving run wild over all edges and then trim them level and square with a flush cut router bit. It feels good to be making progress.
Next, I installed the staving it to the forward side of the heater box, the fore-and-aft vertical panel at the foot of the portside pilot berth, and on the aft face of the side-board. Tomorrow, I install the staving along the back of the settee on the portside. That will mostly complete the staving in the saloon, with the exception of the forward face of the settees. I will probably not install it till after I have installed the rest of the staving and the sitz tub as I need the floor space to lay out the staving pieces to apply the epoxy.
Today I installed the staving port side settee back. That mostly completes the saloon. I will hold off on installing the settee fronts till more interior construction is completed as I need the space. I will probably move forward and tackle the closet, sink cabinet opposite the head, and finish off the forward cabin.
There will need to be some staving here and there and around the galley and nav staving but I will work on that later after the forward cabin staving is complete.
Port side settee back staving complete.
After finishing off the saloon area I installed more staving in the forward cabin, the sink cabinet area, the galley and nav stating area. I have finished installing all the staving I can without varnishing . . . and I only have enough staving left to build the lower half (the front) of the settees. I'll have to mill a little more to finish off the nav station/quarter-berth, the ex engine compartment, the inboard fore-and-aft bulkhead that supports one side of the stove, and a little trim here and there.
This latest batch of staving installed pretty smoothly. My technique is smoother and more refined. I decided not to install staving in areas that I not only know will be covered with cabinetry but that I know how will be covered with cabinetry . . . areas that are completely hidden and for which I have already made a good design. This will staving some expense, some weight, and a lot of time. For example, under the head sink basin area and behind the upper cabinet over the head sink, behind the forward face and under the top lid of the icebox/chart table, behind the galley sink, etc. I also can't install the lower settee panel until I varnish the staving that is already in place. I will glue the cleats on the back side (inside) of the ply panel (the staving will go on the outside face). But, I will not glue the cleats to the bulkheads that support the panel. I want to be able to remove the settee if needed without destroying the furniture. I have tried to do this wherever possible. So, once I get a couple of coats of varnish on the settees backs and sides, I'll install the front parts.
The current plan is to trim all the edges of the staving that I let run wild, countersink the holes, install wood plugs, sand, and get a couple of coats of varnish on to protect the wood. I also need to think about cutting some mahogany to cover some of the exposed hull near the cabin sole that won't be covered by cabinetry or other furniture. I have the mahogany on hand for that so it should not be too difficult.
I need to order a little more System Three T-88 epoxy for the remaining staving.
Next, I picked up a new longer flush cut router bit from Lowes. The one I had was not long enough to span over the 3/8" staving, across 3/4" ply and have the bearing ride on the staving on the other side of the ply that I previously cut level. I intended to use the staving I installed earlier, and already trimmed leve, as the guide bar for trimming level the new staving. With the 1/2" X 1 1/2" bit, and Gayle holding the vacuum hose from the shop vac, we made pretty quick work of trimming back the staving that I let run wild when I installed it. What a difference it makes just cleaning up the edges.
The staving has a much "crisper" look after the initial trimming with a flush cut router bit.
I think the double berth came out pretty nice.
I had been a little concerned about trimming the center divider between the two drawers in the face of the forward double berth but it went fine. I think it looks pretty good. The edges will need a little more finese work to make them suitible for installing the walnut trim but I'll take care of that soon enough. The slightly rounded inside corners to the drawer boxes as well as the other inside corners on the staving will need to get a square cut using chisels, etc.
There are a few places on the staving that the router could not reach due to the base being blocked by furniture or other obstructions. I have wanted to buy a good bull-nose or shoulder plane for the last year but kept putting it off due to budget considerations. I looked for used ones without any luck and reviewed a wide variety of new ones. But, in the end I settled for a Veritas Bull-nose plane with a O-1 steel blade. Not as hard as the A-2 but eaiser to sharpern. I have a Veritas spoke-shave and love it. So, I new I would be happy though it was a little more money than I had hoped to spend.
Anyway, I ordered it last week and it arrived today. So, I put it straight into use this afternoon while cleaning up some of staving that the router could not reach. Though it will work better when I tune it up on my water stones -- lapping the iron and putting a micro bevel on the blade -- it was pretty nice right out of the box. The nice thing is the nose can be removed and it works like a chisel plane. Very useful. I am no professional but I was pleased with my efforts to clean up the edges. There are some pictures below.
Today was "counter-sink" day. I drilled over 800. About 400 were through the staving and into 3/4" ply and the other half were threough the staving and into 1/2" ply. I installed 3/4" #8 SS screws into the countersink holes into the staving backed by 3/4" ply, just . . . . because. I couldn't really install screws into the staving backed by the 1/2" ply because the screws are too long and anything smaller would be a waste. None of the staving requires it since they are laminated to the bulkhead with T88 epoxy. But that is how I did it for the staving I installed last winter so I wanted to keep the same system in place. I have learned a couple of things about countersinks now that I have drilled over 2000. First, do not drill the holes on high speed. The slower the better . . . maybe 100-150 RPM. Don't push, let the cutting edge of the countersink do the work. It will cut a much cleaner hole. Second, the counter sink can be sharpened with a small triangular file. I stopped a couple of times to sharpen and it made a big difference.
Finally, it was time to go to work on cutting wood plugs for the staving. I needed at least 800. I didn't count, but I filled up a quart container so that ought to get me close. I used a 3/8" tapered plug cutter in the Delta bench top drill press. I set the drill for about 1000 RPM which is the second to the last slowest speed. Drilling the plugs is pretty simple work though boringly repetitive. I don't do very good with boring repetitive work but sometime you have to do what you have to do if you want the prize. I tied the end of the four inch intake line for the dust collector to the bench top drill to suck up the saw-dust and went to work. After drilling the plugs I ran the stock over the table saw with the fence set just enough off the blade to cut the very ends of the plugs from the wood stock. The plugs just fall out in a big pile. Easy peasy. I am now set to start plugging the counter sinks tomorrow.
I had to mill a bunch of wood plugs . . . a very slow laborious process. I finished installing about 800 two days ago. I spend all day yesterday trimming them with a chisel. Tomorrow, I will start sanding the staving. With luck, I will finish the sanding tomorrow. Then, I will perform a thorough vacuuming job and apply the first coat of varnish on Thursday or Friday.
I'll add some photos tomorrow of the trimmed plugs and sanded staving. I'll add them to the below photo album.
It's been killer hot here. Mid July so it's to be expected. 100.8 degrees inside the boat and about 90 percent humidity. I spent most of the day soaked. Even my shorts were wet. It was a lot fun. Anyway, as we used to say in the grunts, "nothing but a thing." I spent a total of about 6 hours sanding. First, I went over the staving with a finish sander and 120 grit making sure I was sanding with the grain. Then, I sanded the V grooves with 120 wrapped around a 1"x1" block of wood about 4 1/2" long. Next I power sanded with 220 and sanded the V grooves with 220 as well using the wood block. Then, I used a little custom rubber sanding block I made out of hard rubber about 1 7/8" wide and 4 1/2" long with 220 grit sanding each piece of staving by hand . . . just up and down a few times real quick to make sure the entire piece of staving was sanded. I finished up with a quick vacuum. It was too late and too hot to do any more. Tomorrow I will move any remaining tools off the boat, vacuum the interior, and finish by wiping the staving down with denatured alcohol. I'll varnish Friday.
100.8 degrees inside the boat.
The staving after sanding with 120 and 220 grit abravsives.
The next day I applied the first coat of varnish to the most recently installed (second round) of African Mahogany vertical staving. As you can see in the photos it is a little lighter colored then the older staving. This is for several reasons. First, it's a heavily thinned coat and as it dries it it turns flat with little gloss. Second, recent sanding removed the darker surfaces of the just installed staving, and third, the older wood has darkened due to air and UV exposure. In time, the new staving will match the older staving.
Regarding thinning--I had an interesting conversation with Epifanes today. I had poured 8oz of varnish into a cup . . . and thinned it with mineral spirits 50 percent. To me, that means add 4oz of mineral spirits. But, it did not seem as thin as I recalled from previous first coats I have applied. I shrugged it off and happily applied it to the staving over the nav station. But, it was definitely thicker than I thought it should be. So, I called the Epifanes tech line. Sure enough, they said 50 percent means 1:1. Call me silly but in my world that would seem to be 100 percent . . . but no matter. They told me no harm. So, I thinned the remainder down and finished up the first coat. I doubt I will get to the second coat for a few days due to some personal business I have to take care of. Nonetheless, it is nice to see it applied and some visible progress.
First coat of varnish applied for 2nd round of staving.
Work on the Far Reach stopped for about a week while I was in Kentucky. After returning, I picked back up where I left off--varnishing the new interior. Monday, I sanded the first coat of varnish with 220. Tuesday, I applied the second coat of varnish thinned about 25 percent with mineral spirits . . . which in Epifanes speak is 2:1 ratio. I still haven't figured that out, but no matter. It looked nice . . . a little more gloss as the grain gets filled. Today, I sanded the second coat and vacuumed. It took about three hours. I was ready to apply the third coat when the kids made it known they wanted to go swimming at the local pool. Well, there was no denying them especially in this heat. Varnishing will have to wait till tomorrow. So off we go in about 15 minutes. To the right is a picture of the second coat of varnish lightly sanded with 220 grit paper. After the third coat, I will go back to installing more furniture and the final round of staving. The next two to three coats of varnish will go on when all the interior is installed.
Second coat sanded and ready for the third coat of varnish.
Finally, I pulled the tape off the staving as well as the paper drop cloths. I think the staving looks pretty good (see pictures below). Afterwards, I spent some time sketching out some options for how the cleating will work for the settee front panels. It's not just a simple box with dividers. Well, maybe it is and I am just making it harder. The seat top will be divided into three independent sections for each settee. The cushion will be "rolled" style and attached to the seat bottom. The seat bottom will have wood cleats fastened to the underside and then slide fore-and-aft-on cleats attached to the inside of the top of the front and back of the settee. There needs to be some dividers. There are some clearance issues to be worked out as well. After making some drawings I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the wood shop which was in desperate need of some attention.
I started off on installing the settees by painting the exposed epoxy and biaxial tape in the locker bottom with two coats of grey Interlux Bilge-Kote paint. Next, I installed the cleats that will secure the forward and aft ends of the settee panels. The cleats are ash. I then clamped 2x4s to the cleats, which I had run over my jointer to create a perfect straight edge, to serve as a strong back for the dividers. With the 2x4s clamped in place I made doorskin templates for the dividers. I chose to go with only one 1/2 BS 1088 plywood divider per settee since the settee panels will be further stiffened once the staving is epoxied in place. I drilled a series of 1 1/2" holes in the dividers to promote airflow. I glued the cleats to the divider, except the inside vertical one, and screwed them into place with #10 1 1/2" SS screws.
Next, I cut the plywood panels and then trimmed them to fit. I glued the end cleats to the panel, but not to the bulkheads so the panels can more easily be removed. Once the panel was secured in place I cut and installed the ash cleats that secure the bottom edge of the panel to the locker bottom. I also glued the cleats to the panel but again only screwed them to the locker bottom.
I pre cut the staving pieces and test fit them to the panels. The staving will extend below the cabin sole (the picture below show them sitting on the cabin sole). Once installed, the sole will butt up to the staving. This is necessary so the entire sole can quickly and easily be removed. Also, any water that drips on the sole and runs to the edges of the settee will drain into the bilge through the V-grooves. By keeping the V-grooves open air flow is also promoted.
The next task was to epoxy the staving in place. As has become my SOP, I used System Three T88 epoxy as the adhesive for the staving. I used the same screw blocks to clamp them in place as I have for all the rest of the staving.
The next day, removed the screw clamps, counter sink the holes, and installed wood plugs.
The next step was to trim the wood plugs in the settees lower panels and added the first coat of varnish mixed 1:1 with mineral spirits. I am amazed by what I learn each day. I have been having some trouble with trimming the wood plugs. I occasionally get "tear out" in the plug below the surface of the wood that is being plugged. So, I spent some time sitting cross-legged on the cabin sole examining the plugs. I noticed little waves in the grain of some of the plugs. I have been cutting plugs out of scrap mahogany. Some of the scrap was "wonky" wood that I couldn't use for anything else. Big mistake I think. The lesson here is the wood for the plugs needs to be just as good as the rest of the wood being used. Also, I think the plugs need to be cut with the primary grain of the wood in the plug running parallel to the surface of the wood being plugged so that the chisel cuts it cleanly. This is problematic when plugging quarter-sawn wood where the primary grain in the wood is not parallel to the surface.
First coat of varnish mixed cut 1:1 with mineral spirits. There are a couple of misaligned wood plugs.
In some of the plugs the grain on the end of the plug is hard to see. I have tried to be very conscientious about the orientation of this end grain so it will match the grain of the wood being plugged. Sometimes it is easy to see . . . sometimes not. In the photo to the right you can see a few plugs misaligned. Rats! But I am not going back to fix it.
I spent the majority the day milling about 25 board feet of what I hope is the last batch of staving. It took about five hours to joint one edge, plane, rip, resaw, cut half-laps, and router the V-grooves. The weather was warm and filled with sunshine. It was pleasant to have the doors open and feel the soft breeze blowing through the shop. We are slowly winding down for Christmas though I will get a little more work done in the next day or so.
This is the set up I use to cut the half laps.
14 Jan 12 Today, I epoxied staving to the quarter-berth side of the aft bulkhead. Straight forward job. No issues. Took about two hours to make the template, layout and cut the staving, and test fit. Took three hours to install the staving. Tomorrow I'll trim and router the staving in the galley as well as the quarter-berth staving. I'll also install the wood plugs for galley and quarter-berth staving.
Painting and varnishing is not my favorite thing to do. But, with a spell of unseasonably warm weather on hand it seemed like a good time to apply some more varnish. All the mahogany has at least three coats of varnish as does the interior surfaces of the lockers. I'd like to have five coats on the vertical staving. Yesterday, I removed all the tools and whatnot from the interior of the boat. I vacuumed inside and the deck last night so I would start sanding with a clean surface. This morning I spent a little time lowering the shelf for the 23 1/2" tall spray bottle that is part of the shower system. Then, I started sanding. I have some simple home made sanding blocks I use. Basically, I sanded all the V-grooves first then sanded the flat faces of the staving. All I used today was 220 grit abrasives. It is not hard work but it is boring boring boring. It took about 5 1/2 hours to sand and then about an hour to vacuum. I finished off tonight with some initial taping. I'll need to do some more before I can start laying down the varnish. Before I varnish I'll wipe the all the interior surfaces with denatured alcohol to remove any dust. Previously, I varnished the interior in sections as I built the interior. This is the first time I will varnish the entire interior at one time--excluding the interior of the lockers. I am interested to see if it's a one day job.
I spent the day sanding the vertical staving with 220 grit abrasives in preparation for more varnish.
The sanding was extensive as I had to completely sand all the wood on the inside of the boat twice--one before each coat of varnish. However, the varnishing went well. I alternated using a 2" and 3" badger hair brush each performing about the same. I continued to use Epifanes High Gloss Varnish. Each of the coats were unthinned.
The varnish now has that "deep" look I was trying to achieve.
This is a picture of the front of the icebox with only natural light. That is the reflection of the companionway in the varnish.
After the fifth coat the wood grain really filled in pretty well and began to get the "deep" look, though I can see why the experts say the interior requires about 6-7 coats. Having said that, I intend to stop at five . . . at least at this point. I'll complete the installation of the interior and then add a couple of additional coats if required.
I sanded by hand with my home made sanding blocks before the fourth coat but decided to machine sand with a finish sander before the fifth coat to better remove any ridges that were slowly building up. As before, I continued to use 220 grit abrasives. I vacuumed the entire interior of the boat after sanding then I wiped down all the wood and the cabin sole with clean lint free cloths dampened out with denatured alcohol to remove any sanding residue missed during the vacuuming. After applying the 4th coat of varnish, I allowed two days for it to dry. Then, I spent another whole day sanding. It took about 5-6 hours to apply each coat of varnish. I was very pleased that there are almost no runs, sags, or holidays. I think I am finally learning how to varnish though I think the vertical staving is pretty forgiving. The hours spent sanding were monotonous and just plain old tiring. The actual varnish work was enjoyable.
Today, I pulled the tape and then spent the day with the family. Tomorrow I will go back to work on the drain system for the propane locker then start work on the ash counter tops.
Installing Walut Trim
Below are some photos of the walnut trim. I milled about 15BF of a little more than 150BF of black walnut I have on hand. After jointing one side and one edge I ran it through the planer and took it down to 3/4" thick. I used a card scrapper to removing machine marks and any burn marks which sometimes occur when pushing wood as hard as walnut through the table saw. The card scrapers have proven to be a very useful tool once I learned how to create a burr on the edges. Then, I ripped the planks to width as required. Some of the bulkheads, e.g. around the icebox are about 1.5" thick due to the original 3/4" thick plywood bulkhead with 3/8" staving on each side of the ply. Some of the furniture, the edges of the pilot berths for example are only 7/8" thick. I ripped it 1/8" wider than the edge I was fitting it to then I routered the top edges with a 1/4" round over bit leaving the ends of the trim square for a more elegant look. After trimming to length, I used a 1/2" round-over bit on the 90 degree outside angles. I used a block plane to cut a very small round over on the bottom edge that stands proud of the staving about 1/16". The slight reveal will make it easier to varnish the staving when required. I counter sink each hole using two bits to ensure the fastener is pulling the trim down tight. I should complete installing the walnut trim tomorrow and then another day for wood plugs. Adding the trim transforms the boat from "construction phase" to a more finished phase. I'll add more photos to the gallery over the next couple of days.
In order to complete the installation of the walnut trim in needed to install the wood plugs. I cut walnut plugs and installed them except for a few of the vertical pieces that run up to the panels under the side deck. I want to make sure I can remove those panels with the trim in place. Then, I will plug them.
At some point, I will wipe down the walnut with some tung oil which will give it a rich, smooth, dark chocolate color. I am pleased with the walnut trim. I think it will prove to be very durable and easy to maintain. Next job is to add the cleats to the inside of the settees to support the seats. I also need to install the dinghy chalks so I can begin trimming in the overhead panels.
I installed the walnut trim above the toe kick and trimmed the woodplugs.
The quarter berth area.
12 Nov 13
For the last few days I have been installing some small pieces of trim. I had to mill a little more mahogany staving but it only took a few hours. However, the fitting of the plywood and the gluing up of the staving is more time consuming. I installed trim under the heater. I also glued up a solid mahogany platform for the heater to sit on, throwing out the temporary plywood one that it sat on for over a year. I installed a staving panel behind the bilge plump which allows me to install a hidden shelf behind it. I am also working on another diagonal panel that will hide the cockpit scupper line that drains the cockpit seat into the foot well. It is an akward hose to hide but I think it will work out and blend in with the overall look of the interior--in otherwords I dont think it will even be noticed.
There are other small trim pieces to add here and there. I am waiting on a set of planer blades (on back order for two months) since mine are worn out and I have already sharpened them by hand several times. I want a sharp set of blades before I start milling the walnut for the cain sole.
I added a panel with staving under the heater shelf.
I installed the vertical panel behind the bilge pump. It allows me to build a hidden shelf behind the panel. I will add a diagonal panel to hide the scupper hose fro the cockpit seat to the foot well. The hose is no intalledin this photo but you can see the hose barp in the upper left corner.
I spent a few hours finishing up the trim to hide the scupper hose that drains the starboard side cockpit seat to the cockpit footwell. It's an awkward hose to deal with as it is difficult to hide without interfering with the limited room associated with the quarter berth while also leaving enough room for the bilge pump handle. The angular shape draws some attention but by incorporating mahogany staving, consistent with the rest of the interior trim, it mostly blends in with its surrounding.