Sunday 27 April 2014

So is this boatbuilding step zero?

My workshop gear has become a little specialised of late (which means in the last decade) around metalwork. Not that that's such a bad thing. I've got some lovely metalwork tools that work quite well, chiefly being my 125mm English Record vise. All this metalwork has an effect on one's workbench though. It makes it, well, grotty. It's all the metal filings etc. Here's a loving closeup that I took a couple of years ago, with some pretty lugs on it.

When I built my bench, I was on a very strict budget, so for a top I simply bought a couple of bits of 16mm MDF, and bolted them to a pine frame, braced with ply across the back and down the sides. I've "refreshed" the top sheet of MDF once already, after the old one got just too grotty. Given that I'll be shifting modes a little for the next while, I thought a new refresh was in order. This time I didn't want a crappy bit of MDF though, I wanted something more permanent.

After umming and ahhing quite a bit, I decided the only really permanent benchtop material is Jarrah. This stuff is like the stainless steel of timber. Dense, close grained, very hard on tools, and really incredibly durable. Unlike MDF. I bought five 125mm wide, 30mm thick, 2400mm long planks and laminated them together, then trimmed the ends to give me a 2200 x 625 x 30 benchtop surface. I spent the best part of a day planing the top as flat as I could get it (whoa, upper body work!), then finished it with lots of carnauba wax.

Here it is, set up with my metalworking vise.

I'm thinking that I'll be working quite a bit with large sheets of ply. These are 2400 x 1200. To support the inevitable stuff that overhangs the bench, I built a matching sawhorse. A simple 1200 x 80 x 30 jarrah top, with legs made from pine, and some Jarrah offcuts as reinforcing at the top. It's made the same height as the bench. Note also that the metalwork vise stows underneath when not in use.

When the sawhorse isn't being used, the legs spin around so it stores flat. There's a gap down the back of the bench where I can stow it to provide a home for spiders.

Of course I've been doing more design work too. The boat plans are in a good state. Latest agonising is about oars. I'm toying with the idea of building bendy ones, so they stow better. I've also been making good use of Sketchup's follow me tool to draw rigging:

Next step is to buy timber. Alas here in Geraldton the only source of "marine ply" is Bunnings, and it's of somewhat questionable quality. I'm pretty-much resigned to ordering all my timber from Perth, so in order not to go broke with freight costs, I'm saving my pennies to buy pretty-much all of it at once.

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