Week 6 - We literally built 2 boats. Not even kidding. AMAZING WEEK!

This week we built two boats! Yes, I am totally serious. We built, fro scratch, two whole boats. That is crazy!

Basically we built two little stitch and glue dinghies. They aren’t painted or anything but their construction is complete. Isn’t that amazing? It was so much fun and we learned so much! We went from having a some templates to actual boats in 5 days. Wow.

So how did we do it? Well, I have a lot of photos so lets get started...

First we had some templates and some marine plywood for the hull and Sapele for the transom and gunwales. We started by squaring the wood for the transoms and getting it so that all three panels of wood would fit nice and snug together. Then we used a biscuit router and made some grooves/holes in each side of the bits of transoms so that a little biscuits (a small, rugby ball shaped piece of wood) could fit in to hold the bits of wood together end on end in the right place whilst they were being glued. Then we used a hand held jigsaw cutter to cut out the templates from the marine plywood and used a hand held router to get the final shape. So that was followed by drilling holes all the way around the marine plywood and then using small lengths of wire to “stitch” the plywood together so it folded out and started to look like a hull. We then spot glued it together so it held its basic shape. Those were the basic steps. After that there was a lot of fitting out to be done, things like making all the knees, the gunwales, the thwarts, the thwart ledgers (the thwart rests on those and I made one of them myself!). It was surprising how many bits and pieces there were to be done. We had to make buoyancy tanks that are a bit like boxes on either end of the boat. We also had to use a lot of epoxy and glass tape to make the seams of the boats water tight and then sand down all the excess epoxy when it had cured. Lots of stages...

Me and my bench buddy each made a thwart knee and to make the knees you need to make a halving joint, this means that the grain of the wood will go in the right direction on both halves of the joint. So, it took us a while and they turned out fine. Later that week we each had a one-to-one meeting with one of our instructors to go through how we are doing on the course. I was a bit nervous about it but it went really well and it was such a positive and confidence boosting experience. Basically I’m doing well and my wood work is good, better than I think it is, and all I need to do is be more confident about my skills and try upping my pace as sometimes working a bit quicker helps with the precision. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

So, the next day me and my bench buddy noticed that there were two aft knees still needed to be made... so we set ourselves a little time trial... We had just under 2 hours until lunch and that was our deadline. We both work in such different ways so it was particularly interesting. My bench buddy loves saws. Any saws. All saws! She went to work and literally did all the marking and then (like a total badass) she just uses the bandsaw on the whole thing. Wow. Me, well, don’t get me wrong, I like the saws but I am more a fan of really sharp tools, basically I am a chisel girl. So I did some sawing but I then went to work with my chisels. In the end we had both glued our joints in time for lunch and it was exhilarating! Both of these joints turned out much better than our previous efforts and through totally different, equally valid techniques. Man I love this work! Can you really call it work when you enjoy it this much? After that there was a lot of shaping to get them to fit just so in the boat and we both did a great job, you can’t even see the join between boat and knee. So proud. Here is a gallery of the process with that knee!

We have learned so much this week, it is even hard to remember everything! Some of the things I haven’t yet mentioned are that we learned how to get the shape of the inside of the boat so this can be transferred to wood so that panels that need to fit in to the hull can be made accurately, we learned how to use epoxy to fill holes, wet out glass fibre and sheathed the hull of one of the boats in glass fibre. That doesn’t even start to sum up how much we learned this week. What a rush!

In the end, what I liked most about this week was the feeling of working with everyone as a team. I have talked to a few people in the group on the course ahead of us and it seems that usually the group will split into two teams and compete to be the fastest to complete their own boat, but it just wasn’t like that for us. Instead of splitting into two teams and being in competition with each other on these boats we all worked together on both of them, equally and at the same time. It was lovely. We all shared in the experience and it was like a community coming together to create something as a group rather than a contest. I hope this is what it will be like when we move down to the big workshop and start building our own boats! It really was a lovely week.

On Saturday I drove a small band of intrepid wood workers through hale and rain to Yandles in Martock. There was a big wood working show and the BBA had a stand there so we went to show our support, we all wore our BBA hoodies and wandered around looking at all the shiny, shiny tools. There are so many things that I want to learn to do! Amazing!

Here is the video for this week! It is over 15 minutes long... oops!


Next week we start lofting our boats! Squeeeee! The only thing is... I don’t think any of us have our plans yet... I know that mine are in the country but they are in customs and have been for a few days now... I hope they will be here soon! So, we’ll see how that goes...