Hello! Another glorious week of sunshine and storms at the BBA. The only storms being the ones outside as it is always glorious in the workshop!
This week we started making a mini clinker section, it is the first truly boaty thing we have done and it has been so much fun! We only had 4 days and then most of Friday was spent learning about Epoxy from the man from West Systems (West stands for Wood Epoxy Saturation Treatment - I HAVE LEARNED!) which was actually incredibly interesting and really cool. I still find it hard to get my head around the idea that with modern glues the joint that you glue together ends up being stronger than the wood it is actually glueing together. I think it must be my prehistoric mammalian brain being like, "but wood is so strong... how can this thing that was liquidy now be stronger than the wood which has always been a solid?" Seriously Epoxy is pretty awesome and has a really interesting history going back to *ICE SAILING* in Ohio. Yes, until today I also did not know that racing boats on iced over lakes was a thing. Now I really want to give it a go! They get up to 80 miles an hour and more! There is so much to discover in the world!
The 12 week furniture course also finished today, it will be sad to see the guys go and really brings home how quick this course is going to go! There are constantly prospective students coming to look around which is so weird and I still can't quite believe that we will actually be downstairs in the big workshop building our own boats in a few months time... wow!
OK, back to boats! So we have been working on our clinker sections and we used the hooked scarf joint that we made a few weeks ago as our keel and then we sized up a piece of wood for the hog and then we started working on the floors. The floors are the bit that join the planks of the boat to the hog and keel. We made them using two techniques: laminating for one and using a template and nesting it in a block of wood for the other.
Laminating was the most fun! Basically you take a whole load of veneers, which are thin pieces of wood, cover them in glue and stack them up and then clamp them to a mould over night. Then you have a lovely bent piece of wood (that is made of lots of thin pieces of wood) to work with, and it has this rainbow like effect, although all the colours of the rainbow are wood. I am not complaining! The nesting basically involves taking a block of wood and making a template of half of the floor and then fitting this onto the block of wood twice with the template essentially "nesting" in the piece of wood. Then you cut these out and make a halving joint and join the two sides together. It is precise and exacting work, I was so close to getting it all done at one point and then took a bit too much off in one place and had to redraw my template and have another go. The second time was good enough so it is a little bit gappy but it will do.
This course is brilliant because we are expected to be able to do things like build a mini clinker section after 4 weeks of learning. I find that the instructors are so chilled out about this stuff and have such confidence in us that I look at this impressive piece of work and I think to myself "well, if they think I can do this then I must be able to do it!" Then they break it down into tiny little bits of the process and suddenly instead of making this whole thing all we are doing is squaring one piece of wood, then we are making a template, sawing something, chiselling and so on and so forth. Suddenly you look at your bench and there is something sitting there that you would swear that you wouldn't be able to make but there is the proof staring back at you, almost smiling and saying "see, I knew you could do it!"
Also this week I have been really keeping up with everyone in the class. Me and my bench buddy put in a lot of extra time to get our wood working up to the speed and accuracy of the rest of our cohort and it is really paying off. This is a huge achievement and I am feeling really pleased. Over this past month I have learned so much about the nature of wood work (at least as far as I have experienced it) and I have found that it is all about these moments where you are working towards your lines and chiselling gently, gently and getting excited about how it will all look and sometimes you stop just at the right moment and at others you over cook it just a little bit. But, each time you go a bit too far you learn a little bit more about how you chisel works with you and with the wood and you learn to listen a little bit more to what your tools and your materials are trying to tell you. It's all about being in tune with your environment and living in the moment and experiencing everything you are doing with focus and determination. I don't think I have ever felt as truly present as I do when it is just me, my chisel and a block of wood. It is wonderful.
It makes me think that sometimes it is good to just stop, look around and realise that all we have is now and this one moment and the only thing that we need to do is decide what we are going to do with it.