Freshwater washdown

I washed down the boat to see any color imperfections and hard lines that I wasn’t seeing before.  Things like wood filler, grain tear out, bumps, knuckles, etc. There were a few spots that I picked out but overall I was pretty happy with the look.  This is about what she’d look like with no stain.  I haven’t been this excited since I put up the moulds – she looks like a real boat.


Freshwater washdown, still wet.  I like how the cherry plugs pop in the ash stem.


Freshwater washdown.  Identifying any major discolorations (wood filler, etc) and distinct lines that need to be faired out.

I especially liked how the cherry plugs in the stem pop.  That’s a nice color difference – will probably incorporate cherry in the guard and spray rails, both are ash.

Life sure has been good to me…building this boat after all those years of thinking about it has been a revelation. It’s a lot of fun! I’m happy to have been able to include family and friends, and to use my Grandfathers tools and my Dad’s advice along the way. You can’t buy stuff like that.

Forward Progress!



Fine sanding

I finished rough sanding the boat last week and have moved on to fine sanding.  There were a number of things I had to do between the two steps, including replacing 8-10 plugs that had wiggled out, epoxy-filling some of the larger gaps between planks, and applying wood filler to some of the divots and other minor imperfections.


Fine sanding round 1 – 220 grit

I burned up my belt sander while rough sanding, so luckily a professional woodworker neighbor let me borrow his and the difference was pretty significant.  I had a Craftsman 18″ with 1100 feet per second speed, he had a Porter Cable 24″ with 1500 fps.  I got more done with his in an afternoon that I had the previous week with mine.

I swept the dust off between sounding rounds and used 220 grit on a half sheet sander.  I sanded in line with the grain and changed sheets every 3 stations to keep the scuffing and material removal consistent. I figured it’s easier to have a system like that than trying to guess.

The filler is stainable and dries and sands well.  I’ll probably need to make pencil marks to simulate grain patterns on some of the larger fills.  Hiding my mistakes.

I’ll give it one final look and then apply wood conditioner for staining.  I’d like to stain it cherry; on the fence about using gel stain or water based.  I can’t use oil based stain because the epoxy and fiberglass won’t stick.

Forward progress!

Plane. Sand. Sand. Sand.

I rough sanded the starboard side and am about half way done with the port.  My process is to get all adjoining surfaces planed to within about 1/64″ with an electric planer, then hit with a hand plane, then sand with 40 grit, and then sand with 80 grit paper glued onto a flexible board.  Finally I finish the rough sand with a sanding block where necessary.  It takes a while but I want everything down to bare wood for a consistent look, and of course no lumps, bulges or inconsistencies.  I’m not building Frankenboat here.

One of my lessons learned on this build is to run the grain in the same direction for all planks.  That prevents wood tear-out when planing.


Electric planer with new blades

I changed the blades in my Dewalt planer and it makes a big difference on the planks.   I tested it with some scrap dfir beforehand and was sure to dial it back all the way to 1/64″ before using on the boat.


Hand planing where necessary


Sanding with 40 grit to knock down any ridges or lumps

I’m using a Craftsman 3″ wide, 21″ belt sander that runs at 1100 fpm.  I change the belt every two stations, after I’ve sanded from the garboard all the way to the sheer, and I alternate the starting points. That keeps the stock removal consistent.


Sanding with a 80 grit glued onto a flexible board

Finally I use 80 grit paper glued onto a flexible board.  The board can then effectively sand where the high spots are and dial the hull into the right shape.  I will be using the board with 120 grit and possibly all the way to 220 depending on how the wood looks.  My goal is for the wood to have a polished look after varnishing.



I got the interior dolly / cart built this past weekend and it works great.   I used all bolted connections, some glued together 2x4x8s and 8″ casters and it’s working great.


Inner dolly design. All bolted connections


As built. The cross bracing is a little off but it works fine.



A come-along and a strap for a safety line. My driveway is on an incline so I don’t want my boat rolling out in the street.



On the driveway


Beginning sanding and planing; finishing the transom; removing moulds and strongbacks; lowering the boat

All plugs have now been leveled off with the planking.  I cut them about 1/16″ proud of the planking with an oscillating tool, then used a belt sander to get them flush.  I also decided to get the transom done and ready for painting on the name.  My favorite graphic design consultant is working up something for me – more to come.  Getting the transom ready meant a lot of time with 220 and 320 grit sandpaper for getting the scuff marks out of the ash.  Lots of time.


All plugs sanded flush with the planking

The transom looks pretty good after wetting down.  This should be how it looks after fiberglassing.  The name will go on one side of the upper transom.


Transom after final sanding and wetting down

I also decided to lower the boat, remove the moulds and strongbacks, and get it prepared for flipping.  There were a number of reasons – I want to get her out in the sunlight and not get so much dust in my garage, I can’t really do good work when I’m reaching and extending to sand and plane the bilge area, and it’s really not safe.  Lowering the boat and putting on bigger wheels will solve these problems.


Sanding the bilge area.  This op needs to be taken to the driveway.

Removing the moulds and strongbacks wasn’t too bad.  I used two car jacks and put multiple stacks of wood in 4-5 places that allowed me to work safely under the boat.  It was stable and I felt comfortable but the car jacks took a while to get into position.


Moulds, strongbacks and wheel assemblies in place under the boat

I was able to unscrew, unbolt, and slide out the various mould and strongback pieces.  I will repurpose them (mostly the strongbacks) for a new cart with 8″ wheels to move the boat in and out of the garage, and will also make a cradle for flipping.


Strongbacks out from under the boat

The strongbacks did very well.  The plywood one (on the right) was used for my canoe build.  Almost a shame to take it apart but it’ll save me some money for a flipping cradle.


Boat interior after removing the strongbacks and moulds

The boat is now much lighter and more mobile.  I will need to beef up the new cart with two extra wheels and trade in some screws for bolts, but I learned something with the first attempt.  FORWARD PROGRESS!

Continued plug installation; bedding compound for the keel shoe; finishing the transom

I’ve been slowly but surely inserting plugs over the last couple of weeks.  It’s a time consuming process as there are about 1700 total.  I’m using the same technique as detailed in an earlier blog post, and still using 7/16″ dfir plugs with a chamfer on the insert end.


Plugs installed throughout

I also finished ash planking the transom and got all of those plugs in.  I dry fit the planks by clamping them level and drilling the screw holes.  After rough cutting the shape to get an approximate fit, I then mixed silica into the epoxy to thicken it up.  Without the thickener, there may have been voids between the ash planks and dfir; can’t have that.  I used about a quart of epoxy, so by luck I had just the right amount of silica.  I attached and let them dry for a few days, then fine tuned the final shape with an oscillating saw and sander.  I then put in the plugs.  It came out pretty good.

I also put bedding compound on the keel shoe.  The keel shoe is meant to be replaceable, as it is the first part of the boat to come into contact with a submerged log or go aground (not that that would ever happen…) so I needed something that would adhere but not be impossible to remove.  After driving home the screws, I got the right amount of squeeze out, so I was happy.


Bedding compound on the keel shoe, ready to drive home the screws

I have a few more odds and ends to do on the hull but am getting closer to final sanding and glassing.



Plug Installation

Since my last update I’ve spent a lot of time marking and installing plugs.  I did some research beforehand and found that a 1/2″ plug diameter is typically used for a #12 countersink (what I’m using).  I tried a few sizes and found that the 7/16″ diameter plug with a chamfer on the install end was a better fit for the particular countersink bore that I’d used. That’s only 1/16″ off but I could tell the difference.


About 3/4 done with plug installation

I reamed out all of the screw holes and then vacuumed out all of the dust and particulates.  This made each hole evenly round and got all of the chunks out of the glue/plug boundary.

I paid particular attention to where I put the glue and how it was applied.  I had some nasty brownish-orange dried glue spots on my canoe and didn’t want that for my boat, so I made sure to spread the glue into the screw hole first, then install the plug.  That way the glue scraped onto the plugs sides and then down into the hole – had I dipped the plug into glue, it would’ve scraped out onto my planking. This way I minimized the squeeze out, clean-up and finally the possibility of discoloration.


Glue spread into the hole, then the plug is installed

I was hoping to re-use some of the plugs after cutting off the excesses, but when you do that there’s no chamfer left, plus the cuts are uneven enough that I wasn’t confident the glue would hold on the next go-round.  And finally I just didn’t think it was worth the effort or scraping my fingers up in order to sand in new chamfers and even out new cuts on such a small surface.


I expect to finish putting the ash planks onto the transom this weekend, and have decided to replace a 5′ length of plank on the port side.  It somehow developed a crack about 4″ long near the rib on station 8, forward of the beam…can’t have that.  But, for now, we are making FORWARD PROGRESS!