Monday, January 31, 2011

in praise of the knife

Making a few cleats began with me using the tools that I've been working with on site, but it felt all clumsy and wrong-handed. Nasty, gritty, vibrating things didn't feel good in making such a humble and simple device, so I resorted much more comfortably to my little planes and then my violin making knives. What a difference! Silence and comfort at the bench.
The knife shown has a long taper and so it could be considered similar to a skew chisel, but with two bevels. The beauty of it is that it slices across a contour, so that instead of cutting down as with a chisel, you cut across, and as the blade gets wider, the cut progresses deeper into the work. Slicing slivers from hardwood is much easier than pairing it or cutting it across the grain. With this simple tool, cutting small radii is a pleasure.
The knife is simply a piece of German tool steel set into a pair of facing grooves in the handle stock before they were glued together. The blade can be removed for honing.

Incidentally, the navigator book is now available on Kindle from Amazon. I'll put a link on the book's blog page sometime...

Monday, January 24, 2011

learning to walk slow

Billy, above, is mainly Julia's dog, but he has become part of the business when it's just him and me at the workshop. I've given him a role in Customer Relations, but he is sometimes a bit too enthusiastic in his work.
Being rescued from some sort of urban situation, his country walks are fairly straight-forward affairs; mainly concerned with avoiding any sort of wildlife and staying as close to our legs as possible. But it is a different story when we're at work in town. Walking is a mission. An artform. He is the first male dog we've had. Our female dogs attended to bladder issues simply and directly, much preferring to sniff actual dogs than their sign-posts.
But Billy has taught me to walk very slowly, not exactly smelling the roses, but something in that vein. His first desire in the morning is to check his p-mails, but he does so in a tedious series of log-ins that stretches the perimeter of his claimed territory. Before I've even logged-in, he is at me for a second round, because things of the second priority cannot be done while re-establishing dominance after a night's rest.
Slow Walking. It has a nice ring to it. Perhaps there are benefits for those of us who are habitually goal-oriented, simply to saunter, and pause at every post.

When sailing on our Waller 540, Billy chooses to occupy the locker under Julia, carefully finding the opposite one as we all change sides on a tack. But I made those lockers a bit low when his girth is increased by his PFD, so it is a bit of a squeeze. The up-side of that is that it is harder to fall out of the locker in a sudden lifting gust.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

a quick sand and a lick of paint....

It really annoys me on 'lifestyle' type TV shows, when they show you how to make something, and all it needs is 'a quick sand' (scrape, scratch...done) and a 'lick of paint' (30 seconds max).
I'm not really sure what that 'sand' is supposed to achieve. They never talk about surface shape or contour and they never mention texture as an element of that. It doesn't seem to occur to these folk that 'smooth' is such a relative term...
Anyway, those things are sort of what I've given the interior of the boat. But it took a bit more effort than it would to make good TV viewing.

The colours I'm using are an attempt to capture a certain mood on the one hand, and to relate the colour of my sails to that. The sails are from Duckworks and are 'Egyptian cotton' colour- which can range from quite yellow tones right through to red-ish mushroomy colours. Mine arrived definitely leaning to the red end of the spectrum, and for me that meant that any 'cream' or light colours would need to be warmish, and definitely not leaning toward yellow. The hull is a blue-grey, which has the capacity to look quite drab or quite blue, dependng on its surroundings. Next to wood colours it leans towards blue. So I needed to find a light colour that would suit me with the grey and also with the sail colour.
I like to use Norglass paint, but the colour range is limited, so I made a tint from a yellowish cream plus a bit of red. This related well to the sails but was too powerful for the cockpit and deck, so I added it to a given quantity of white for the interior, and the mix for the decks will have twice the proportion of white. I hope it works....who knows?
Incidentally, the pics above are of the first rolled coat. Now I have to figure out the alignment of the boomkin before I glue the coaming on.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

for everything, turn, turn, turn..

I have to say that while upside-down, Annie appears to have gained weight. When she's on-edge she seems as wide as she is long, but I daren't say anything, it is a sensitive subject, girth. Boats don't like to have their great beam pointed out to them. So how can we tell them that we like it without causing offense? We wouldn't want our boats to look like magazine models, would we?

Annie turned over without incident or assistance. I used the blocks that will become her mainsheet tackle to lift her onto her side, then switched tackle over to the other side to lower her gently and with great dignity onto her bottom. She is currently re-gaining her composure on a few bales of grass hay. I had a celebratory drink on her behalf. It was the least I could do.

waller - great lake sails late december

Great family day on and off the water.

Monday, January 3, 2011

sometimes you just call it..

I'm often plagued by the edges of the parameters I chose to work within. Life is a series of envelopes, and while you are wriggling within one, the next one beckons.
Yesterday I 'called it' on the outside hull paint. All I can see is surface imperfections, irregularities and flaws, and I know that given another four or five days of rubbing and re-surfacing I could achieve a really good surface, but I value my time and the rest of my life too much. So it isn't perfect, but it was never going to be. I loath perfection as a concept, and I have always struggled to explain that to people. It probably has something to do with a bigger picture- that no individual job deserves to be fully nailed because there are always things to consider beyond you pick your line and you draw it.
I know from the last boat that this paint will hold up well, and that nature will take part in making the boat look comfortable and used, and I want to be relaxed in using it. It's almost like any extra time would be gratuitous and self-indulgent, once the line is identified.
The paint is Norglas marine enamel, made in Australia. It becomes tough as boots as it hardens. It was applied with a foam roller, the only worries being the bubbles that form- they need to be re-rolled very quickly without any pressure at all to remove them- and where possible, only working from one wet edge, to feather each new application of paint into the last.
It takes concentration and focus, but that is all. I like to rub each coat back, first looking for surface bumps with 180 grit and a long sanding block, then later with 220 grit on a foam block, looking for surface texture. So, I guess there were six or seven coats, but only the top three cover everything.