Thursday, January 27, 2011

Steam Powered Woodworking

Dan came by this morning and we cut out the chines—which for any of you non-boatbuilders are the long sticks that form the joint between the side and bottom of the boat. In this case, it lives up to its nautical name of chine log. The beast is 2" by 2" of white oak, beveled down to 1" on one side. Dan and I did a test bend to see if we could bend it around the curve of the boat floor. Hah! We took turns prying each other away from the boat, the chine log staying pretty much straight as an arrow.

We had anticipated this problem, however, and set up Dan's magic steam box, which he built a while back for some curved ash trim he was making for his house. Not being certain this was going to work, we chickened out on trying more than one at a time. In went our first chine log for a prescribed 2-hour steaming.




But at 1-1/2 hours we ran out of water in the steam box. Although we really weren't quite ready to do the hot stick dance, we decided to give her a try. A bit of panicked running for clamps, gloves, towels and tools and then, to our amazement, it bent right on as if it were made of rubber. Well, hard, stiff rubber. A few judiciously placed clamps and we were good to go.




The transom is almost done and tomorrow we'll try and bend the other three chine logs and let them cool in place. (Since White Oak is hard to find and expensive to ship, especially in great lengths, I ended up with no boards long enough to make the chines in one piece, so we're doing forward and rear sections, each bent separately. They overlap now, but we will make each pair into one with a scarf joint once all the bends are set.)

Once the chines, bowpost and transom are done, we'll need to drop in the floor ribs. Then comes the fun part: planking.

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