Photo Set

Installation of deck fittings.

Photo Set

Lots of progress this weekend (finally). Deck fittings have been given 2 coats of epoxy inside and out and are ready to be installed. The mahogany soaked up the epoxy like a sponge. Initially I only added epoxy to the inside, but after a couple hours it appeared on the outside (both along and across the grain). The holes  in the deck had easing added to the edges to minimize wear on rigging.

The entire hull was sanded and a final coat of epoxy was added. I’d call it a skim coat when doing plaster work, but as is clear in the photos, it’s not nearly as smooth as it needs to be (or as good as I can get with plaster). Most of the sanding was getting rid of drips. I’ll be firing the epoxy guy just as soon as I find a replacement. I’ve given up any hope of achieving a mirror finish, but since I’m well aware of my painting skills, I never really had any illusions about that. There’s a very detailed post over at the Blue Heron forums covering how to do that if you’ve got the patience for that sort of thing.

It’s not clear from the photos, but the sacrificial tape on the keel wanders a lot (honestly, no bourbon was involved in laying it). Personally, I don’t like the glass tape at all, mostly due to the selvedge which requires lots of sanding to get rid of, although I understand the need for it. I’m pretty sure that without it the tape would just fall apart under normal handling. When it comes time to replace it (or the next boat) I’m going to adopt the tape and knife technique used on the deck join and use scraps of leftover cloth. Since it’s only for wear, not strength, there’s no need to overlap and I should just be able to butt them together. I should also be able to cut on the bias for the curved ends, which will also make it much easier to make the bends without puckering. I wish this idea had occurred to me when I was doing it in the first place.

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My neighbor asked me when the boat was going to be ready for the water, and I responded “it was ready until I cut holes in it.”

Slots are cut in the deck. It went pretty smoothly, with only one minor mishap when one of the tape straps let go and I ended up with a very slightly curved slot, which I can probably fudge a bit when I sand the edges.

Discussion at Blue Heron


Mini cedar strips for a MacBook case/sleeve. Don’t have the time or space for a full boat project (plus, you know, the first one isn’t done yet, even if it is seaworthy). It will be a good learning project. The first thing I’ve learned is that cutting strips on my table saw is really difficult. These are only around 24 inches, so I can’t imagine doing a full 8 or 16 foot cut. I can see how a band saw might be easier to control, or a better feed control system than a simple hand pusher.

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Cutting steps to approximate the profile of the pocket. Will be sanded to a smooth finish later. Production was largely automatic once setup was completed thanks to use of registration marks on table saw allowing for quick positioning of individual pieces. Despite that I still managed to position one end-cut incorrectly and expose the pocket (not the cross-section — that one was intentional to prove out the depth and cuts). An additional 2 fittings are less then perfect because one of the diagonal side cuts was made in the wrong direction. If I need those I can just fill the kerf with thickened epoxy.

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Jig for routing deck fittings and fittings with routing completed. Fittings inspired by Wood source was mahogany leftovers from an electric guitar (not mine).

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Carving the Greenland paddle, following Chuck Holst’s excellent instructions (

For my paddle I found a piece of clear 4X4 western redcedar that I had the lumberyard rip into 2 quartersawn 2X4s (technically it’s a wee bit thicker than a true 2X4).

The first attempt at tapering the ends was made with a hand saw (specifically a Japanese style ryoba saw). It worked out fairly well except that I elected to use the less common “measure once, cut twice” method (I inadvertently drew one of the tapers to the center of the loom instead of the end), and it took about 2 hours of sawing to cut through 37” of western redcedar.

Enough with the hand tools. We’re moving to the table saw. I figured I couldn’t possibly be the first person wanting to cut a long taper on a table saw, so after a bit of Googling and I found several examples. Here’s a fancier version of what I used: Not surprisingly, the first cut was wildly out of place so the first piece of lumber was repurposed as a storm paddle. The second piece came out perfectly. Unfortunately I’ve only got a 10” saw, so I was only able to cut through about 70-80% of the 2X4, but finishing the cut by hand was much faster.

The next step was to cut the outline (note for next time: mark the centerline on both faces, before cutting the outline). Now given how easy it is to accidentally split, dent, scratch, etc. this wood, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect an electric jigsaw to whip through this step effortlessly. Ha! 3 blades, several burned fingers and about 30 minutes later I had a very rough outline complete. Only after finishing when I was attempting to mark the centerline on the bottom face (see previous note) did I discover that the outline on the bottom only bore a passing resemblance to the rather decent job  I did following the pencil markings on the top. A bandsaw would make this step so much easier.

Bevel lines were marked, and waste was removed with a combination of a chisel and a plane. I suspect a skilled woodworker could probably manage to do about 90% of the waste removal on a bandsaw. Fortunately, lack of a bandsaw prevented me from unwisely attempting it. Once you’ve got the bevels cut on one face of one blade, you can really see what the final result is going to look like. You can also see that you really didn’t do a very good job of finding the center and you’ve got a slightly unsymmetrical paddle. Also due to the wandering jigsaw blade, the shoulders aren’t nearly as pronounced as illustrated, nor are they symmetrical.

Mr. Holst recommends using your carving tools to continue removing corners until you’ve finally released the shape within. I used a random orbit sander with 60 grit paper. Took about 5 minutes per blade per side, so a total of about 20 minutes. I did find it was best to hold the sander steady in one hand and roll the paddle under the sander with the other. If you try rocking the sander, especially on the thin blade edges, you’re going to be contending with some significant precession forces and you’ll just end up digging the edge of the sanding disc into the paddle. It takes a few seconds to get the hang of rolling the paddle under the disk, but it works really well. A bench mounted disc or belt sander would probably work really well also. I wouldn’t recommend a drum sander.

I then followed up with hand sanding the shoulders (the ROS can’t get in there), and then the entire surface with 150 grit. Now I just need to wet it to raise the grain a bit and do a final sanding with 220 and 320 grit.

Even with all my screw ups and total lack of experience carving anything, the final result looks really good.


Hatch rim installed with weatherstripping in place.

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Left: Scrap mahogany (leftovers from someone else’s electric guitar project) cut in preparation for recessed deck fittings.

Right: scrap 2X4 cut to test out sizing/spacing for recessed deck fittings.

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I’m not going to post a picture of the taping job. It’s ugly, but (mostly) done. Still need to finish the fillets in the extreme ends, and on top of the end “pour” (between the epoxy plug and deck). I think I’m going to need to use a runnier mix, so I’ll need to keep the boat on one side while it cures and do it in 2 applications. At least I can add more wood flour to the excess and get a head start on the hatches.

Image 1: aft side of stern bulkhead before fillets and tape.

Image 2: modified hatch lips with magnets test fit.

Hull ID number is still visible (image 3, before fillet/tape, image 4 after).