Saturday, November 20, 2010

not just because birds don't have mouths

The birdsmouth method of spar construction is quite brilliant in the way it enables thin timbers to create a light spar, and it can also save valuable material, but all that machining will also create waste. What interests me even more is that it might be an unnecessary complication that could prevent some people from attempting to make their own spars, especially if they don't own, or are intimidated by a table saw- and plenty of people are, for very good reason.
I'm really interested in processes that enable people, rather than intimidate them, and I wonder if, in part, our current fascination with the birdsmouth method is part of our tendency to look for technical improvements, even when they aren't necessary.
So, I'm building these spars as per plan- hollow the old-fashioned way, and rounded with a plane. I'll have more fun, less machine work and fewer exposed epoxy joints on the spars to soak up the UV radiation, and there maybe just the odd would-be builder that can see themselves achieving a nice mast this way. Using a plane is after all, one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Very few things come close.


  1. Look at all those clamps!! The weather outside looks fine - too cold and wet here for fabricating masts....
    Out in my boatyard are masts older than I, made just this way. If a stick made in a simple manner can last 60, 80 years and more, why make it more difficult?

  2. "Using a plane is after all, one of the best things you can do for your mental health"

    Well, I did have a run in or two with a power planer that was NOT good for my mental health some time ago. I suspect the manual method would improve one's health!

  3. I concur. Keep it as simple as possible, but not simpler. Hand planning is very relaxing but I always tend to rush. When I made my mast the same way I went for the power planner. The neighbours mental health suffered more than mine!

  4. Michael understands that the pleasure to be had in surrounding ourselves in things even older than we are intensifies as we become more surrounded by people who are younger....and Dale and Pablo take us on the dark side...the secret pleasure/pain of power planing. I must admit to using one for 'roughing out' sometimes too.