Monday, December 1, 2014

This is Really Getting Fun!

Every minute has been enjoyable working on this boat, but since I started working on the topsides the fun factor has increased exponentially.  I have mostly a woodworking background before I built a couple of kayaks and started this boat.  It is nice to be back in my comfort zone of cutting and shaping wood.

This is an old picture framing trick to get the gales to match up perfectly.

The manual calls them cockpit shear strips.  The strip continues past the cockpit all the way to the bow where they bend together and meet.  To get the angle right where they meet I used a picture frame trick.  Get them close and saw where the two strip meet.  The kerf of the saw takes out just the right amount of both pieces to leave a perfect fit.  

The strips need to be installed proud of the plywood sides.  This is especially critical in the cabin portion of the strip.  After the epoxy cures there will be enough wood to create the bevel to match the angle of the cabin roof, otherwise there will be an unsightly gap between the roof and strip.  I continued the bevel all the way to the point of the bow making the angle flatter the farther forward until they met at the bow.  I did this because there are mooring guides that mount on top of these strips and if the strips had too much angle the guides would not work properly.  I also didn't want these strips flat because the angle has a lovely look of elegance.

Checking the bevel to match on both sides.

Every three inches from the bow to the cabin I made a small cut on the inside of the rails.  This made the bending much easier where the bending angle becomes steeper. The cuts will be filled and the wood will be finished with paint.  The consistent spacing of the kerfs made the curve fair.  I could have set up a steam box but I was just too lazy.

The anchor well has become a great tool tray.
Dry fit of the upper breasthook.
View of the shear strip in the cabin area left proud of the plywood sides.   I thought the curly cut looked cool too.
Installed stringers for the seatbacks.  The hole is for a speaker.

The Pocketship manual is great but it really understates the difficulty of the making of the cabin cleats.  What you have is a strip of wood that has two compound angles on the ends and oh yeah, it has to be perfect in length too.  On bulkhead two (the front of the cabin) there is a rolling bevel that needs to be cut on the top of the curved cleat.  This is really not too bad because it can be done after the cleat is epoxied in place.  The underside is square to the bulkhead.  The cleats on the aft cabin wall (bulkhead 3) are not so lucky.  There is another rolling bevel that must be cut on the underside.

In picture below you can see my method of cutting these strips.  I found it fairly easy to make one end fit with one compound angle so I would cut one and then the other without any worry about length.  I then clamped the two pieces in place and screwed a "splint" to hold them together in exactly the orientation and length.  Then I used the result for a pattern.  It was a method I came up with myself and there are probably some trim carpenters who daily install crown molding laughing at me right now, but it worked for me.

Two strips with their compound cuts clamped in place.

Two strips with their "splint" creating a perfect pattern for cutting the real one.
Tight fit!  Bevel work on top will be done after the epoxy cures.

This is the rolling bevel on the underside of the rear cleat.

Closer look at the bevel angle.

This Lie-Neilson spoke shave is the greatest tool ever.  The marks show where I have been on top and where I am going on the end.

After many dry fits it was time to butter up with epoxy and put on the squeeze.


  1. Hi,

    I don't know if you're still monitoring your blog, but here goes....

    I am building a PS also, and am at roughly the stage of this blog entry. Fortunately, I've slowed down to see how others approached the cleats part of the build. My forward deck is on and needs sanding before FG is applied. My seat-back frames are in, topside FG and fillets applied, etc. (Roughly page 128 of the manual.

    Reviewing your excellent pictures and text, it appears you laminated several strips to make the bow cleats. Is that so? How did you decide on the various angles of the cleat tops and how much to leave the cockpit cleats proud of the topside hull?

    So many questions, so much potential to mess up!

    Thanks for any further advice you can send. Living in NH, I'm looking at another four weeks (max) of being able to epoxy anything, and my goal has been to get as much of that done as I can, leaving me the winter to work on spars and indoor projects.

    Thanks very much,
    Mark Nunlist

    1. Thank you Mark. What I did on the strips is first I made saw kerfs every few inches so that the strips could make the tight bend at the bow. I did this all the way down the strips to the cabin. When I expoxied the strip to the top edge it was above the top edge of the plywood so there would be enough material to make a nice angle on the top edge. If the edge were to be epoxied on flush there would be no material for the estheticly pleasing angle. I did my angle just making it fair and looking nice.

      After I was done with the woodwork I was left with a bunch of kerf marks on the inboard side of my strips. I just filled them with thicken epoxy. Be sure to have to kerfs close enough together so that the strips bend nice and round.

      That's the way I did it. I may have just gotten ahold of some really stiff material because no one else seemed to have the same problem.

    2. Let me know if this makes any sense 😀

    3. Hi John,

      Thanks, and it makes perfect sense, especially with the photos and some time thinking about the steps involved before committing to epoxy! (Always good advice....)

      I have another question about a related stage - the seat-back frames.

      My seat back frames are filleted in place. Unfortunately, a couple ended up such that their tops are proud of the upper edges of the topsides panel. When the cleats are fit into their respective notches in the seatback frames, the cleat runs proud of the topsides panel edge by a significant amount in places. (I realize the inner edges of both the inboard and outboard cleats must not be below the level of the topside panel edge, but the whole cleat lies above that edge in places.)

      My solution (striving for fair curves throughout) is to lower the inboard notch on those seatback frames where necessary, and cut 3/8" notches in the outboard cleats such that the cleat will nestle down onto the seatback frame leaving only a small amount of cleat surfaces (both inboard and outboard) to plane flat to provide the surface for the seatback deck. (Lowering the outboard notch in the seatback frames seems much more challenging than cutting a small dado in the cleat where needed.)

      I realize I will have to trim off the tops of the offending seat-back frames where necessary.

      I believe the seat-back deck surfaces are to lie in a horizontal plane across the width of the PS when I'm done. That is, a straight edge placed athwart ships port to starboard and resting on the completed seat-back decks would lie flat on both seat-back deck surfaces.

      I realize the cleat edges tilt inboard or outboard and must be planed flat. But when the assembly is completed, the outboard edge of the seat-back deck should lie atop the edge of the topside panel all along the seat-back (fore and aft), and all the structures supporting the seat-back deck (stringers, cleats, and frame tops) must all be flat and at the level of the topside panel edge in the finished structure.

      So as I lower seat back frame tops or cleats, no part of these pieces should end up lower than the fair curve defined by the top side panel edge.

      Am I understanding the construction correctly?

      Thanks very much for your blog, photos, and replies.

      All the best,

    4. I think you could cut the notches a bit deeper to give yourself a bit more "meat" for the inboard and outboard panels to have to attach to if you feel there is not enough for the panels to attach. It could be that the stringers or cleats may have been cut a little wide. It has been a while since I did those but I think I remember planing off quite a bit of the stringer material and that stringers or cleats got kinda thin. If strength is your concern I would not worry about a thin stringer. Most of the strength of those seat backs is in the plywood panels and the fiberglass.

      Yes, the inboard and outboard panels should define the fair curve and pieces should not be significantly lower. If there are any slight discrepancies the "top panel" will cover things up and a bit of thickened epoxy will fill any gaps. The top panel is nice to use in the dry fit stages to check fairness of the curve too.

  2. And on questions about the cabin deck support or the cleats epoxied to bulkhead #2 and the after cabin wall....

    Why did you make a rolling bevel on the underside of the cleat for the after cabin bulkhead instead of a round-over on the inner lower edge?

    Thanks and your photos are a great help!

    All the best,