“No man is entirely useless – he can always serve as a horrible example.” That pretty well sums up what I am feeling this afternoon after a morning in the shop.
First I discovered that not all plastic is created equal. I was feeling pretty smug that I had remembered to put plastic under the planks being glued up so they wouldn’t get epoxied to the concrete floor. All well and good but the recycled supermarket bags didn’t have the non-stick qualities of some of the heavier (and I suspect non-recycled) bags. At any rate underneath that horrible green ooze is a pretty sound joint and after a session with chisel plane and sandpaper and fingernails I managed to get to the bare wood again. Luckily this was the worst of the six joins and a couple that had been backed with heavy-duty bags came through the exercise with little or no sticking. There was worse to come.
After nicely squaring up the matched pairs of planks and planing off the worst of the tracks of the wandering jigsaw I began lacing up the planks. The Selway Fisher instructions suggest beginning at the stern and working forward. I prefer to start at the spot about midships where the centre thwart location has been drawn on the planks and working for and aft alternatively. I find that give me better control of the increasing awkward planks. The Medway Skill has a quite a turn of the bow and the wood must be tortured to make it bend in a way that is not altogether natural. While in most of the join I can use cable ties at about 20 – 30 mm intervals where the wood must be really pulled together they get increasing closer together so there isn’t too much pressure on any one cable tie. The boat ends up looking like a hedgehog sporting a mohawk. I made liberal use of very hot water misted onto the plywood which seems to have helped ease the bending. After the desired bend has been introduced I can usually remove about half the ties, even before tabbing in the interior epoxy. The second plank went on just as easily and by mid-morning it was starting to look like a boat. This is always a nice time and I was reflecting how easily things had gone to date. I started on the top plank and that’s when the day went to hell in a handcart. Starting in the middle things were going along fine. The stern squared up nicely with the lower plank but as I looked forward my heart sank. The bloody thing was about four inches too short! Yep, I had managed to mis-measure yet again. Two useless planks! One useless builder. After a hard think I looked around the shop and had enough scrap plywood to cut an additional bow portion of the plank and then splice it into the plank from which I cut the offending mis-measured section. Instead of one butt joint I would simply have two. It wouldn’t be pretty but it could work.
It could- but it didn’t. I managed the mis-measure the replacement section and had that to do all over again. If that didn’t work then I would have to buy an entire new sheet of 4X8 plywood. As I write this the epoxy is setting and tomorrow could see the completion of the planking and the pulling together of the bow.
I am sure the stern will have its own stories.