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Filling the Stitch Holes and Epoxying the Seats

Posted by Zachary Wiest in Decisions, Epoxy, Sanding, Stitching, Tools

This afternoon I removed the stitches from the bow, stern, and frames. I wasn’t able to remove all of them as they were stuck in the epoxy.  I cut them as close as I could to hull.  They still stuck out a little and I found them very difficult to file but they did sand down a little… until the sand paper ripped.  Knowing this I decided to mound some thickened epoxy around them.  When this cures I should be able to sand them smooth because there will be no sharp edges to tear the sand paper. I don’t know if it will work, but I will know in a future post.

I also decided to fill the holes left in the hull by the wire stitches.  I used thickened epoxy to do this.  This was out of sequence with the manual which has me filling holes after epoxying the entire hull.  I think this makes more sense.

After filling the interior holes, I pulled the boat out of the garage to vacuum the floor and lay down some plastic so that I could start epoxying the seats and the daggerboard trunk.  I used a foam roller and unthickened epoxy to do this.  This also provided an opportunity to take a picture of the boat beside my door so you can get an idea of the size.

After I finished epoxying the seats, I put the boat back in the garage, inverted and on the sawhorses. I then filled the holes in the exterior of the hull and mounded epoxy around the exposed stitches like I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Time Spent: 2.5 Hours

Total Time In Build: 33.5 Hours

Prepping For Glue

Posted by Zachary Wiest in Decisions, Stitching, Tools

This morning I flipped the hull of the boat to prepare to glue the seams.  Before doing that, I made the decision to place painter’s tape over the seams on the interior of the hull.  My hope is that this will stop any epoxy from running too far if it makes it through a seam.

I was able to flip the hull by myself using a couple of tiedowns wrapped around the hull for leverage.  I checked that the saw horses were level and took a good look at the hull.  Thankfully it looked nice and true, so I used my trusty vice grips to tighten up all the stitches.  I will start gluing tomorrow.

Oh and one more thing.  I drew first blood on my left thumb which I punctured on a copper stitch while rolling the hull.  It was very minor, but it had to happen sometime!

Time Spent: 1.5 Hours

Total Time In Build: 24.0 Hours

It Looks Like a Boat! Hull Stitching Complete!

Posted by Zachary Wiest in Mishaps, Sanding, Stitching, Tools, Woodworking

Neighbors are starting to peek in the garage, joggers are stopping as they run by, and I can’t help but go into the garage every hour or so to look at my creation.  Today I finished stitching the hull and it actually looks like I have a boat sitting in the garage!  It is really exciting.

I am going to keep the post short since I am tired.  I will let the pictures do the talking but I want to speak to a little mishap that scared me and a couple things I learned.

  • The first panel I installed today was the port #2.  When I did, it was about 1/2″ shorter than the number #1 at the stern.  I went ahead and installed the starboard panel and saw the same problem.  I recalled a few other blogs where this had happened, so I wasn’t too shocked.  What I elected to do was use my bonsai saw to remove 1/2″ off the #1 panels and generate a fair curve with the #2s using a hand sanding block.  It looks good to me, so I am happy.
  • My thumbs and index fingers are raw!  Feeding and twisting copper wire for hours with bare wire takes its toll!  I tried using gloves but they proved nearly impossible to use.  With them I wasn’t able to pick up new wires nor  initiate a twist with the desired tension.
  • I ran out of the 18 gauge copper wire that was supplied with the kit,  This is due to wasting a ton of it by removing my incorrectly installed #1 panels.  I have also been cutting my pieces to 3.5″ rather than the suggested 3″.  I couldn’t find replacement 18 gauge wire locally, but I did find 20 gauge at Michael’s craft store.  I think I may actually like this gauge better.  It is easier to work with and seams to bare nearly the same load.
  • The vice grips are an essential tool when stitching, especially in the completion of the frame stitching.  Due to the sharp angles and tight working area, the vice grips helped me pull wire through rather than feed it through with my fingers.  They also work great for tightening up hand twisted wire.

Enjoy the pictures!  You will notice that when I finished the stitching I dry fit the daggerboard trunk, breasthooks, and seats.  They are not attached and will be removed before inverting the boat for the next step.

Time Spent: 5.0 Hours

Total Time In Build: 22.5 Hours

Stitching. If At First You Don’t Succeed, Take Everything Apart.

Posted by Zachary Wiest in Mishaps, Stitching, Tools

I spent most of the morning drilling and finishing up some steps I had passed over. Knowing that stitching was next, I just had to keep working.  I cut 3″ pieces of copper wire and got started at the port bow.  I fed stitches from the interior and twisted on the exterior.  About 25% through, I wished I had cut the stitches a little bit longer.  I also wish I knew where my pliers were!  Twisting thin copper wire over and over again with bare fingers was no fun.  I ended up using vice grips when my fingers began to ache.

It was nice to have Kelly helping me today because she was able to hold the #1 panels erect while I stitched them into place.  We got the #1 panels attached to the bottom panel and began working on the frames when something caught my eye… Why are my gains on the INSIDE of the boat?  We were devastated, Kelly especially.  She had been super excited to work on the boat and now we were reversing nearly everything she had helped with.  We had wasted 2 hours and were now spending 30 minutes to remove all our beautiful stitching!

So what went wrong?  I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but one of the following could be contributing factors:

  • When I clamped my #1 panels together and cut the gains, I neglected to look at the labels attached to the panels.  They were labeled right and left, but I cut them opposite.  This isn’t a big deal because the panels are identical.  I didn’t see the labels when cutting the gains because they faced each other between the clamped panels.  Unfortunately, I did see and relied on them when I began stitching.  I should have been looking at the gains!
  • The picture of all the panels and gains in the manual may have led me astray as well.  The diagram has all panels laid out and it appears that the gains are on the interior.  As a builder you know they aren’t, but I may have quickly laid them out as diagrammed without reading the disclaimer on the right.  See the attached scan.

With the stitches removed, I swapped the panels and started over again.  Thank God I had drilled both sides of the bottom panel and the #1s identical!  As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to be a little more precise than “every 4″ or so.”

During this stitching session I used a longer bits of wire.  It was much faster and more comfortable.  I also used ratcheting tie-downs to pull the hull together because Kelly was taking a break.  When it came time to install the frames, I got my helper back.

Today was my first major setback, but at least nothing had been damaged.  I only wasted some time.

Time Spent: 4.0 Hours

Total Time In Build: 15.0 Hours

Drill Holes in the Boat?!?!

Posted by Zachary Wiest in Decisions, Stitching, Tools, Woodworking

Yes that’s right, today I drilled holes in my boat.  Why you ask… well it is because the Skerry is built using the stitch and glue technique.  Essentially, the hull is formed by stitching panels together with copper wire.  When the boat has its proper form, the seams are “tack-welded” with epoxy between the wire stitches.  When this epoxy cures, It is safe to cut out the stitches.  So today, I drilled holes for those copper stitches to pass through.

Before I got to the drilling, I had some cleanup work to do.  I had jumped over a couple steps in the manual (on purpose).  First I had to measure and mark the bottom panel for the positioning of the three hull frames.  Next, I used a chalk line to mark the centerline of the boat along the bottom panel.  Finally, I planed the inside of the side panels at the stems to a 45 degree angle.  This will help the panels meet at the bow and stern.

Ok, back to drilling.  It took much longer than I thought it would to drill all of the holes. Actually, the drilling was pretty quick, it was the measuring and remeasuring that I spent most of my time on.  The manual seems to only emphasize a few hole positions, but for the mass majority, it just says something to the tune of, “every 4 inches or so.”  I didn’t want to work that way and used my carpenters square against my chalkline to match holes on both sides of the bottom panel.  This certainly isn’t necessary, but I am super glad I did.  You will see why in my next post.

When I finished drilling all the edges of the bottom panel, I moved onto both #1 panels. If I had been following the manual in order, I would have already drilled the #1’s top and stem holes when both side panels were clamped together for cutting gains.  I waited because I wanted to drill the holes to match with the bottom panels at the same time as I did all the others.  I thought I would be saving time drilling through both panels simultaneously, rather than drilling holes to match the bottom panel while stitching.  All the holes were drilled without difficulty.  I even had a special helper drill some of them!

Time Spent: 3.0 Hours

Total Time In Build: 11.0 Hours