Thursday, August 28, 2014

Issues with Plank #1 - Wood Butchery and TGFE

I had a comment regarding whether or not I had experienced any issues with attaching the first plank. Since I've done a rather poor job at narrating my progress, I thought I'd go back in time a bit and address what happened.

(steps into a TARDIS)

Now, as you all know, I'm not a professional anything and I don't have enough sense to keep my fingers out of door jambs. If you have a similar problem and fix it the way I've fixed it, and for whatever reason it doesn't work or if it offends your long dead Great Aunt Pearl, well.. sorry. Just do your research, okay?

(For the record, this is MY long dead Great Aunt Pearl and she was a spitfire and a woodworker. I miss her everyday.)

(and if you would have handled this situation differently, let me know. I don't think Rio will be my last boat..)

I don't remember all the specifics of planking up Rio. I do remember that the first (the bottom plank) was a bit rough to attach. For some reason, one side went on easier than the other, but both had a slight gap where the planks met the stem. On the port side, there ended up being a gap of nearly 1" on the bow.

The gap existed during the dry fit. It seemed worse when I went to attach the plank permanently.

Several things could have caused this gap.

1. I lofted the plank wrong. (probably not, the other side fit better)
2. Something wasn't square or plumb. (possible, although I was being extra careful about this)
3. I cut the plank wrong. (quite possible)
4. I didn't put the plank on right. There was an overage on one spot and a gap on the other, which leads me to believe that if I had shifted the plank slightly, it may have been a better fit.
5. All of the above.
6. _______________.

I remember panicking, saying a few rather unsavory words, and once I realized I didn't have enough plywood lying around to scarf and cut out a new plank, I decided to move on with my life and grabbed my epoxy and wood flour.

And I stuffed the gap full of the miraculous mixture, smoothed it out with a popsicle stick, and called it a day. After rooting around my old photos, turns out that I also used some packing tape to get a smooth finish on said 'fix.'

TGFE. Thank God For Epoxy, amirite?

Enough talk. You want to see shameful photos of wood butchery, don't you?

Let's start with the worst photo of the bunch, shall we?

Said overage, what I'm seeing there probably indicates that I should have spent more time properly aligning the plank. Hindsight.

Side profile that shows the magnitude of said gap.

So there you have it. I figured that epoxy and wood flour is stronger than wood itself, so the fix should be decent enough. I'll probably fiberglass it to be sure, though.

I've lured in-laws over tonight under the guise of beef potpie and Belgian beer. I will stuff them full then demand tribute in the form of boat moving. Can you imagine? She might end up in a proper work space for the first time in her life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Give me a break.

19 days ago, I decided to order some mulch for the garden.

It was a hot day. The windows and doors were wide open. My husband was working diligently in the room next door. I removed the door stop and closed the door so he wouldn't be bothered by my intense discussion of the pros and cons of various mulch options.

$97 for 3 yards of mulch delivered the next day! Thrilled by the cost and the ease of ordering, I leaned into Val's office to tell him the good news, with my fingers in the door frame.

Remember that door stop that I had removed, oh, 3 minutes earlier?


The wind picks up something fierce on our property, especially when it's warm out. This time, the wind had caught the door. My fingers were slammed just inches below the hinge.

I screamed. There was blood everywhere. The floor, the door, splattered on the wall. The insides of my middle finger were squished out, my ring finger was starting to swell and the nails were already black.

There's even an indent on the inside of the door and along the frame.

An emergency room visit, some x-rays to confirm a fracture, some good, healthy screaming, crying, generally acting like a stentorian 2 year old ensued. I vaguely remember attempting to sing the 'Peter Dinklage' version of the Game of Thrones theme song to stop from wailing when they decided the busted middle finger needed to be cleaned out BEFORE pain medication.

Peter Dinklage is the answer to almost everything, although he was absolute crap at taking my mind off of what happened next.

I had been bitching profusely about not having much of a summer. It's been a long list of projects/expenditures/contractors and moving. I wanted a break. And I nearly got one. Literally. The tip of my finger was nearly snapped clean- the bone was just barely still attached.

I am grateful it wasn't worse. It wasn't my strong hand, and I still have all my fingers. Not thrilled that it's taking so long to heal, though.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Moving a SCAMP without a Trailer

What happens when you run out of time to buy a trailer and don't want to leave your precious, half-built sailboat alone with crazy suburbanites armed with truckloads of fireworks during the 4th of July festivities?

You rent a 17' U-Haul. 

For the record, a 17' U-Haul is just about perfect for hauling a nearly completed SCAMP.

We tossed two 2x4s (cut to fit- the width of the U-Haul is about 7'6" wide) underneath her, and with four people, lifted her up onto the cardboard-covered deck of the U-Haul, then slid her into position.

We then stuffed that U-Haul full, flanked Rio with our mattress and box spring, and hit the road at 9:30pm. We didn't roll into our new home until 1:30am, but what a reception. We arrived last night to a sky so devoid of light pollution that we could see the Milky Way blazing across the sky (I think we'll adapt).

When I opened up the truck to check on her this morning, all was well, at least as far as I can tell. 

(Missing from photo- two plastic garbage bins and a cold frame greenhouse, that managed to stuff the truck completely full to the edge- No wiggling around for Rio!)

Now we just have to get her out of the damn thing.

So here we are. 150 miles south of Seattle. Fresh air. Clean water. More room. Less traffic. Oh, and a garage.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Another Birthday = New Tools!

I've survived another rotation around the sun.  As a result, I have a few more toys in my possession that will be adorning my new shop soon:

Better than jewelry. Shinier, too: 

It's a Lie Nielsen low angle block plane. I spent about 30 minutes hyperventilating and proclaiming my unworthiness. It's too lovely. It's sitting next to me as I'm typing this, I might end up sleeping with it under my pillow- I'm so afraid to let it out of my sight.

I try to take good care of my planes, but I'm nervous that I don't know what I don't know. I store mine on the side or draw up the blade, and I sharpen them regularly. But this tool is a whole new level of nice and I want to be sure that I'm treating it properly- if you have a link, video, or book that has helped you maintain your tools, please leave the name or link in the comments! I'll add them to this post for others to see.

Another lovely birthday present- the Jawhorse.

Nope, not a torture device. Super nifty clamping sawhorse- it can clamp a whole sheet of plywood! Here's a video if you're curious to see it in action: 

Getting really excited about our move now and my future shop!

In other news, I found out the Center of Wooden Boats is having a fundraiser to help repair one of their Blanchard Junior Knockabouts. The fundraiser campaign is full of sweet prizes and goes to a great cause.

I figure that since my money is currently NOT going to any boat building (...sigh), the least I can do is help others get something done this summer. I'll be the one wearing this shirt at the next Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. See you there! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

House Update! And Rio is (still) on hold.

So that technicolor 70's house? It's ours. All ours. I've been doing what I can to remove the vivid, blood-pressure-rising colors to the best of my ability and start making the new house our home.

I've been ripping off wallpaper like a madwoman. Seriously, I wasn't in it for more than 30 minutes before I started to attempt to peel off the bald eagles that graced our kitchen walls (I'm a little afraid to have any of our new neighbors over, lest they think my patriotic wallpaper removal was an act of treason).

My archenemy is now the bright carpet. I can't tolerate it. It smells horrible (they recently had it cleaned and it smells like formaldehyde), it looks awful, and I cringe to think what is lurking underneath it.

I'm really struggling to keep myself from tearing up more than I can fix.

At any rate, Rio is sitting alone, and probably bored out of her little wooden mind. The only thing I've done for her this year has been purchasing a trailer hitch for the Subaru. We've been experiencing some road wobble (we've had the tires re-aligned, replaced the rotors, and then purchased new tires), and the Subaru is still shaking a bit on the freeway. I'm anxious to move Rio, but I know it's not going to happen until I'm certain I can tow her safely to her new residence.

In the meantime, there's a whole pile of lumber that's anxious to be processed.

Before we can move down to our new home permanently, I've got to turn this beautiful pile of Douglas fir into something habitable for my three French hens. Our Henitentiary 2.0 should look something like this:

Above photo was stolen from The Garden Coop.

Our goal is to be moved down to S.W. Washington by July, chickens and all. At that point, we'll be placing our Seattle suburb home for sale in August, then our condo will be placed on the market sometime in January. It brings me great joy to contemplate that within a year, we'll be free from these extraneous properties and well on our way to simplifying our lives. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


We're buying a house! It's 4 houses down from my father-in-law, so we had him check it out for us. He liked it, so we put in an offer without actually seeing it first.

It was the right choice. While the space needs some modernization and perhaps a little help to drag it into the 21st century, it's been loved and well-maintained, and the structure is sound.

And we're closing in 12 days.


It was build in 1976, and has a lot of the original accoutrements, but it has great bones. And all the colors of the rainbow. Don't believe me? Well, here's the basement: 

And the living room:

Lemon yellow bedroom, anyone?

A green office.

 A spearmint bathroom.

 And if that color offends your tastes, you could always use,the lavender master bath.

We should probably bring up the topic of the kitchen. Americana, anyone?

If you click on the full-sized image, you'll be able to see the bald eagle wall paper. BALD EAGLE WALLPAPER, FOLKS.


And I love it. I don't give a flying crap about what color carpet it has, or that it's basically a portal back into the 70s. Laugh at it all you want.

You know what else it has?


A two car garage. With heating. Winter woodworking, anyone?

And let's not ignore the fact that it comes with 2.5 acres. That's a lot of land.

My head is spinning with the possibilities. A garden with some beehives is an absolute must. But for the rest of the pasture? So many options.

It'll be a busy year for us, I think.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Displacement of Guilt

I've been getting a few emails from folks who read this blog with some concern that I may have ended in a ditch somewhere in Reno in a VW Bus.  Turns out I'm fine, the bus performed admirably.* I did manage to metaphorically drive into a ditch of discontent, however.  Here's what happened.

My father died on November 26, 2007. It's been a while. Long enough for the scar tissue to start fading. Or so I thought. 

Well, on August 9, 2013, my mom remarried.

No big deal, right?  But I had just witnessed my mother marry her sweetheart of 5 years. While it was a wonderful day, it did feel like a horrible betrayal to my father- and I know it wasn't- my mother deserves a life of joy and love. So I felt like I was betraying her, too, for not being 100% invested in her happiness. 

So I drove home, in our bus, feeling like I've betrayed both my parents- the living one, for not being happy enough. The dead one, for being too happy.

Rio brings me joy. Even in her unfinished state she brings me a sense of pride and causes me to puff up like a blowfish when anyone comes over. But building a boat was my father's dream, too. And working on the boat after 'betraying' my father seemed like the most cold-hearted thing I could do to him after attending my mother's wedding.

I'm a highly emotional person. It's not one of my better traits. My nerve endings grow past my body. 

And thus my heart just wasn't in it. I actually got a bit angry at that shabby looking boat, sitting in the yard, staring at me half-finished. It got to the point where I couldn't even stand to look at her. I got so angry that I threw a tarp over her, as some sort of guilt tourniquet. Selfish Julie. Building something her dead father couldn't. Shame, shame, shame.** 

My husband was suitably worried. The 'buildies' are a barometer for my emotional well-being. He started pestering me about it.  

"You're so close to finishing that boat."  
"I'm not touching it."
"I can help you if you'd li.."
"Fuck off."  

I couldn't be persuaded. I was angry. So there she stayed, over the remainder of summer, through autumn, and now through winter. I placed dehumidifiers under the tarp to keep the moisture low (I'm not completely self-sabotaging), and I'm in the process of reminding myself that life is for the living, that moving on is okay.

My father was always pushing me to do the things he couldn't- this boat would have made him puff up, too. And it's really time to finish the damn thing.

So we wait. The weather is currently a glorious 22F (or a balmy -2C, whichever you prefer) so it may be a few months. But I'm here. The scar itches occasionally. But I'm in the right place to finish what I've started. I'm antsy. And there's a pretty little boat in the backyard who is eager to taste saltwater that isn't made of tears. 

*admirably- meaning that the transmission started slipping when we left Reno, and only died completely once we drove it to our mechanic. 

**Bonus points if you've read this in the voice of Gollum.