Sunday, May 8, 2011

putting the puzzle together

Okay . . . It's been a while since I have updated my blog.  But to be honest it is a lot easier to work on the Kayak then sit at my table on a sunny afternoon and type.

The next step after the pieces have been beveled is to flue all of the puzzle joints together.  Technically it should be done before you bevel but I've already addressed that it the previous post.  joining the puzzle joints is pretty easy, so don't stress. 

Step 1, get your tools together.  You need the pieces you are putting together, the epoxy, thickener, wax paper, brushes, and clamping solutions.

2. Mix up the epoxy and the thickener until you get what CLC calls mustard like consistency.  I would like to say that I measured an exact amount of mixed epoxy and thickener each time I did this and can tell you the exact mixture ratio you need, bu I did not.  Why not? because I do stuff like that at work and get paid for it.  Your not paying me for that information so you get to figure it out on your own like I did.  And it's hard to write while mixing sticky epoxy together.

3. Once the epoxy is mixed we can begin gluing! Put the puzzle joints together and arrange them so that there is plenty of room to get the parts properly laid out.  Put wax paper underneath the joint so that it won't glue to the table.  Take a brush and wet the edge of one of the puzzle joints. Put the puzzle pack together and wipe up and excess glue.  Cover with another piece of wax paper and clamp that SOB so its not gonna budge for a California earthquake.

You can see the first set of weights on the joint locations

4. There are several ways to clamp the joint.  I used a 2x4 and about 75 pounds of weights.  You could use a board and screw it into the table on either side of the joint as well or you could use some of those awesome quick clamps.  However you do it, make sure that it is clamped between two very flat smooth surfaces or you will spend several hours sanding away the mess you made.  I learned this the hard way, you don't have to.

After sanding for about 30 minutes

Other advice:  The epoxy doesn't stain.  so stain the wood before you glue the joints cause otherwise it leave areas that look funny on your boat.  Don't put to much glue on, you will just have to sand it off. Put enough glue on, if you don't the puzzle joint will break apart.

After the joints have solidified (about 24 hours) take some time and do a good job sanding them. If you clamped them correctly this will be a quick process.  If not, well you'll do what I did and spend 2 days getting just the outside surface right.

What a mess



One other hiccup was that one of the joints was cracked in one location which caused a whole world of unexpected delays.  The joint was about 1/8" uneven and I had to sand down through the hard epoxy to get it to look right. This took much longer than I would have liked because the epoxy really gums up the sand paper.

That hair line crack caused me a world of hurt


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beveling! or "How to be straight edge"

Beveling is the "first" step in getting your strip and glue Kayak ready to assemble.  I say first because technically you should glue your puzzle joints together first, but I didn't have enough room to glue then bevel (as you will soon see).  The first thing you must do to bevel anything is to get the correct tools! Which means if you don't have them you get to go buy them!  (Insert Auburn football size yell here)  I like to shop at Woodcraft, it's got everything you could need at one stop, and if you plan right you can everything you need for the whole project in one stop.  Below are the beveling tools I used for my boat, I'll explain what they are too.
The first and most usefull tool will be a low angel planar, I have a Stanley 60-1/2 low angle plane.  Nothing special but invaluable for cutting bevels.  My favorite tool I have is a 9in Shinto saw rasp.  It is great to get into tight turns and makes quick work of even the hardest woods.  It has a coarse ripping side and a fine tooth side which is great for finishing.  You also will need a sanding block, this is just about only good for a final clean up of your bevel, don't try to bevel the whole boat with sand paper, unless you want to look like a one armed Popeye the Sailor man.  Last, you will need at least 2 good size clamps to hold the pieces down while you work your magic.  I like the Irwin quick grips cause they are well quick and grip well.

?It's important to note that this is not an exact science.  You should aim for a good 45 degrees.  But don't fret if you end up with like 25 or 60 instead.  It's all about the feel of the wood under you plane and watching the piles of curly shavings pile up on the floor (good thing I have my hand friend in my garage to sweep up for me).  Beveling is really just a one man job, unless you have an extra plane.  So enjoy this time getting intimate with each piece of wood that goes on your Kayak.  This is also the point that you want to inspect ALL the boards and be sure you select which side you want to e on the external sides of the boat.  Remember to mark the INSIDE edges you are gong to bevel, this makes it a little harder to bevel yourself two left side boat panels.

I would explain how to actually bevel the edges of your Kayak, but I think if your doing it you will know how, and if your not, you probably don't care.  So I'm just not going to.

 Cockpit clamped and ready to be beveled

A spare board makes a great clamp extension!  Look at that beautiful edge, too bad it will be on the inside of the deck and no one will ever see it.?
Long pieces are difficult and have to be done in sections

Everything's all done! yay!

On a completely different note, if you want some good boat building music might I suggest Explosions in the Sky! Or you can listen to whatever you want.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Setting Up a "Work Space"

So, I have been in the construction phase of building my Kayak for about 2 weeks now and made some significant progress.  But I am behind on my step by step updates so I'm back-blogging.

I'd like to describe my work area to you.  Some of you may not care, some of you may, some of you will stop reading right here.  For the rest of you here are some tips on making the most of the space you have available.

First, be sure the kayak will actually fit where you want to build it.  Many Kayaks are well over 15ft long and would take up a considerable amount of space in any one's garage.  This is one reason I choose a 8'6" kayak.  Second, don't work on the ground.  Work on an elevated platform which is adequate for your individual height.  I'm kind of tall so my table would be too high for some people.  Plus working on the floor is a good way to ruin your back and knees and get your kayak dirty.  A piece of 8x4 plywood and two saw horses will be perfect if you want to quickly clear the work area to park a car in your garage.  Finaly, have a good source of light and heavy ventilation.  I don't have electricity in my garage so I am forced to only work while the sun is out or my flashlight battery is charged.  Also, the vapors caused by some epoxies can retard your children if you inhale them.  This is easy enough to avoid with proper ventilation or a respirator mask.

My Garage/Work Space

What else is important for a work space? Well all good "shops" have a music source, a radio, MP3 player, iPod, or any string quartet will do the trick.  A fridge is nice to have as well to stock food and you favorite beverage . . . just remember this could lead to some creative building techniques.  A friend.  I try to keep at least one friend in my garage at all times, they might get cold at night but they can usually be kept happy with the food and beer, uh I mean beverage, in your fridge.  They are also great for pointing out your mistakes after you have done something irreversible.  Like epoxy two left sides of your boat instead of a right and left side.  The final thing you will need is a really cool looking tool that has no purpose at all.  I have a manual drill, why in this day and age would anyone want a manual drill when you have an electric and battery powered drill on the wall next to it? Cause it's cool and people who know stuff will recognize it's cool and you can get more cool points, which do follow you beyond the grave.

That's everything you need to know about setting up your work space, really that's everything.  The rest is up to you to fill it full of old car batteries and cans of motor oil and scrap pieces of fiber glass and lumber which you will never use.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm going to build a Kayak.

It's not easy to find things to do in the Columbus IN.  It's even harder when you are a mid twenty something single male engineer in a town run by, well, engineers. So, in an endeavour to make my life have some meaning and keep my sanity without giving into the TV NATION  searched far and wide for the most challenging and unusual DIY project I could.  Well, maybe that's not completely true.  This past summer I lived at a professor's house whilst they were biking about the New England area on tandem bicycles.  When they returned to find their house still in tact but minus a duck they told me about CLC DIY Kayaks. And the seed was planted that I, was going to build a Kayak.

So six months later sitting outside the door to my apartment and taking up the whole landing was a Matunuck stitch and glue Kayak kit.  The Matunuck is what's referred to as a "Surf Kayak".  It's made for the ocean waves and is used for what could be considered the ocean version of white water Kayaking.  I know, there is no ocean in IN.  Not even remotely close.  And I would agree with you.  But, it was the shortest Kayak that I felt safe strapping to the top of my car to take to a local lake or river.

After beginning this project I have been encouraged to blog about it so all my friends can see my progress! I also think they want to see if I will actually end up completing the project or just having the most expensive pile of kindling in the state of IN. I also started this because a "friend" in the state of "Michigan" said "you will never build one of these".  This is to show him that yes, elephants never forget, and yes I am doing it :-)

I'll probably update sporadically so don't check back daily cause you will just be disappointed.  I plan to post about the Major steps I accomplish and what I have learned about this project, myself, and the political structure of my apartment complex as I am sure it will some how become way more involved than I wish for it to.

Enjoy reading!  AND if you are working on a CLC Kayak or want tips on how to stay single by building a Kayak in your garage feel free to e-mail me!