Ways to Give

Inside IYRS Blog

Learn what it’s like to spend a day in the life of a student.

Mar 11

Written by: Tom
3/11/2011 11:59 AM 

As you can see many of the Beetle cats are planked up. The ones that are still in process are very very close.

Some of the first years have moved on to making their spars.

The Beetle cat masts are tapered, and the task of making a round thing that gets gradually smaller as it goes up can be a bit daunting. However, careful measurement and layout is your friend. Really, this is where all of the hard work happens.

Once your lines are marked, it's all straightforward planing to those marks.

It's like the old joke about the guy who fixes an old steam boiler by rapping it with a hammer. His invoice read:
Rapping with Hammer: $5
Knowing where to Rap: $4995.

Once you get comfortable with making round masts, you can move on to trickier things like making oars.

Not only are these round, but ends where you grab are shaped to be comfortable in the hand. That takes some layout and a lot of feel.

And while we're on the subject, it's the same for the tiller. This student is working on the tiller for the 12 1/2.

The end that fits into the tiller is close to the camera here. You can see that he's already roughed out the knob at the other end. That knob will eventually be a smooth, egg-shape that fits comfortably under your hand.

The folks that have finished planking up their boats are now moving on to the careful process of fairing those hulls.

Sometimes a long plane is best for getting everything smooth and even,

and sometimes a short one feels better.

Once you've done the initial fairing with edge tools, you move on to sanding.

On a big boat like the R boat you may start off using a power sander to work on smoothing out the concave curves at the bottom of the boat.

It's usually not a good idea to use such an aggressive tool on a small boat. It's too easy to take off a lot of material quickly and end up with a divot.

Eventually everyone moves on to longboards for fairing.

A longboard is pretty much what it sounds like: a long, moderately flexible board with handles on the top and sandpaper on the bottom.

It skips over small hollows and only takes off high points over a larger area than a small sander would. The end result is that with some good technique and practice, you move closer and closer to creating a smooth, fair hull.

It helps to have battens on hand to check your work.

A good batten sprung along a curved surface will quickly show you any hollows or high points.

The 12 1/2 crew has begun to mark the waterline on their boat. They start by setting up a pair of horizontal sticks at each end of the boat.

These sticks are coplanar, meaning that they are both horizontal and at the same height. That height, by the way, is the the height of the boat's waterline.

You can see that the students have stretched strings across these horizontal sticks.

Locating the waterline is now a relatively simple process. One student stands away from the boat and sights across two strings.

It helps to block one eye as you do this. Another student stands at the boat with a pencil moving it up and down until it lines up with the strings. The first student calls out to the second when his pencil is just lined up with the strings, and a mark is made.

Repeat all along the length of the boat, both side.

The end result is a line that looks curved because it's running along a curved hull surface, but in fact is a straight line cutting horizontally through the boat.

Once that line is marked in pencil, a thin batten is tacked along the line to check for fairness.

If at all possible, it's good to stand a ways away from the boat and look at the battens after they've been tacked down.

This makes it much easier to check for both fairness and symmetry in your lines. It's not necessary to flood the building with greenish yellow radioactive light at this stage, but we like to go that extra mile.

Once the waterline is set and everyone's happy with it, the line is cut into the boat using a small length of hacksaw blade. This will assure that the waterline is still visible after the boat is sanded and primed.

Over at the lifeboat, the sheer planks are getting installed.

These planks are wider and stronger than the other planks that make up the hull. These planks are often made of white oak, but in this case, they're made of mahogany.

You can also see that these planks have a distinctive cross-sectional shape to them.

This shape is found on many Herreshoff sheer planks. Once you see it a few times you'll start to notice it on many of his boats.

By next week, we should pretty much be planked all around. It's good, because by now most folks are ready for a new project!

Special thanks to Lew Davies for this week's photos.


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