Monday, 27 July 2015

More bench making

I've been off work on holidays for a week, and thought I'd be able to get the bench knocked over in that time. Turns out it's a project in itself. So far I've got all the timber cut and dressed, and now I'm starting to assemble the bits to create the frame:

That's half the frame. The end pieces are solid timber, and I'll put a 4mm odd ply back on the whole thing to brace it. I'll make the fixed shelves from 9mm ply, sitting on the 90mm wide Tassie Oak cross pieces. I'll add some holes in the legs for adjustable shelves as well.

There's quite an amazing amount of timber in this. So far the only metal bits are the adjustable feet, which are already coming in handy as my garage floor is a long way from flat. I've used about 150 little dowels so far.

The other thing visible in the photo is the complete shambles aboard Elena. I'm hoping that once I have more storage places in the garage there'll be rather less crap left on horizontal surfaces.

Monday, 20 July 2015

A diversion for bench-making

I've been gnashing my teeth lately wondering how best to support my mast and boom while gluing up the staves. I tossed around a bunch of ideas; buying a bloody big plank to clamp everything to, buying some steel or aluminium RHS... Each of these options is moderately expensive and I'm left with a bloody big lump of wood or metal that I have no idea what to do with, and that will be difficult to store.

Rather than a quick jury-rigged solution, I thought instead I could build a nice spar bench, on which I can build the mast and boom, and which would be a useful piece of furniture in it's own right, giving me a place to store a whole pile of stuff that rattles around my main bench and floor, and giving me a really nice work surface in addition to my main bench.

So the spot that's good for this is across the back of the garage. It's about 6.5m, and will allow me to house a bench a little over 4m long, most of the length I need for my 6.1m mast. If I build it the same height as my existing bench (930mm) then there's always the possibility of butting the two up and doing some levelling to get a 6.3m long flat surface, at least temporarily, and with the aid of a forklift or small group of weightlifters...

Alas I can't build a really deep bench in the spot chosen, as it subtracts from the length of the garage, and I've only got about 900mm between Elena's transom and the wall when her bow is just inside the door. So I figured 450mm deep would be adequate, and knocked something up in sketchup:

A nice solid Jarrah top, Tassie Oak framing, and sides, back and shelves in ply. The gaps across the top will accept 450mm wide by 400mm deep drawers, and there's some useful cupboard space underneath. For now I'll build it open as in the drawing. I'll add cupboard doors and drawers as finances allow.

Here's a start on my legs:

They're made from 90x19 and 42x19 Tassie Oak, joined with a mortise for lots of strength. I'm adding adjustable feet so the whole assembly can be really accurately levelled.

The timber for the bench top is gorgeous. 150x19 Jarrah planks. Mogget thinks they're a great idea. I'll laminate them onto a couple of bits of 19mm thick ply, for added strength, then add a lip on the front for face clamping. I confess I did ponder building a 40mm thick solid Jarrah bench top, but couldn't justify the added expense.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


The bowsprit John recommends for the Navigator is a 100 x 40 plank, tapering to 40 x 20 at the front.

I think that's boring, and not nearly pirate enough for Elena. So I figured I'd do a more traditional round bowsprit instead. This will go nicely with a neat Davey 2 eye cranse iron at the front for the bobstay and jibstay attachment. I'll bend up some bronze plate and fashion my own gammon iron and heel.

In any case, I bought some Jarrah and Tassie Oak, tapered the Jarrah from 22 thick at the back of the sprit to about 10 thick at the front, then laminated the three together. Once it set up I went at it with the power plane to make a 60 x 60 square tapering to 40 x 40 at the front.

Then I marked it up and turned it into an octagon with the power plane and my Stanley no. 7, then used the no. 7 to make it 16 sided. Finally I used an 80 grit belt to round it out by hand.

Here's what it looks like temporarily on the boat. There's no way I'm closing the door with that attached.

Oh, the top plank is painted with one coat of Toplac "Donegal Green". I'm quite happy with the look.