Sunday, March 3, 2013

Back to Work Slacker, it's Caprail Time!

Ok, my winter time track record for boat work is pretty dismal, but the cold weather, snow, and dark at 4:30 just do nothing for motivation.  So I deal with it by pretending I don't have a half finished boat in my yard.  The only thing that New Hampshire is suitable for during the winter is skiing, snowshoeing, loading the wood stove to keep warm, and sleep.  Anyway, now that spring is approaching, I figured it was about time to get back at it.

I have been wrestling with the method to build the new caprail for months and finally came to the conclusion that I would take the easy (relatively speaking) way out.  Initially, I had planned on cutting the rail to it's final dimension (~3" wide) scarfing the entire length (~36') and bending the entire piece on.  I had seen it done on a friends boat and didn't think it would be an issue.  Unfortunately, the more I read, the more I realized that there was a good chance that doing it this way would result in very expensive kindling.  I just couldn't afford to do it twice, so I looked into other methods.  The first was to laminate it in place with 2 or 3 strips and wrote about it a while back here.  After much debate on this method I decided against it for several reasons:

  1. I can't do layups at this time of year because of the cold and I need to get this done before I can proceed with other projects (well, not really, but the fun projects at least).
  2. I spoke with a lot of people who thought it wouldn't look good with a seam down the middle, even though I think it looks better to have the grain follow the curve rather that having runout all over from a cut to curve board.
I still think it may be the best way to go (certainly the cheapest), but there was enough fear instilled in me to go with the tried and true method of cutting the board to the shape of the curve.

A few weeks ago, I did the deed and went over to Goosebay Lumber and spent ~$500 on pretty wood.  I went with Sapelle because it is close to half the cost of Honduras Mahogany right now ($6.50 compared to $11.50) and the Mahogany available right now seemed to vary widely in color and grain characteristics.  Sapelle has a similar reddish brown color to Mahogany and has a beautiful ribbon grain that I think will look great under varnish.  

Unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), we've had a lot of snow over the past 3 weeks which makes the skiing good and boat work bad, so I opted for winter play until this weekend.  I finally got around to starting this project yesterday and wasn't exactly sure how I was going to get the boards cut.  My original plan was to use my bandsaw, but wasn't sure if I would have the room in the shop to get the curved cut done.  My backup plan was a jigsaw (not appealing).  Fortunately I was able to wrestle the 14" bandsaw into a position in the middle of my shop and feed the board in through an open door.  I transferred the hull curve onto the board simply by laying it on the caprail, positioning it to minimize wood loss, and scribing a pencil line onto the board.  Then I get to carry the board 600' to my shop.

Can you spot my retarded mistake?
For the cuts, I positioned my son on one end of the board to hold up the end while I fed it through the bandsaw.  I had my wife on the outfeed side to keep the cut end stable.  I left plenty of extra wood on the cut board just in case my measurements were wrong (I will be doing lots of block planing once the boards are in place).  I was able to get 2 cut pieces out of one 12" x 12' board with plenty of leftover for other smaller projects (companionway trim/hatches/etc...).  I only managed to cut out 4 of the 6 pieces required in the time I had and it is snowing heavily today so I probably won't get to the rest until later this week or next, but I'm happy to be back to work (all the skiing and playing in the snow was starting to wear me out).

Beginning to actually look like a boat again!

1 comment:

  1. This is an aspect of the project I've been puzzling over myself - and won't get to for over a year, I expect! Nice job!