Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bits and pieces

Jessie tackled cleaning all the old sealant off of the window frames. It was a tough job but he stayed with it and got-er-done! Thanks Jessie!
While he was working on the frames I sanded the old wood coamings from the cockpit.
It was quite soiled and I wasn't sure how it would turn out. I used the Fess sander / vac combination and started with 40 grit paper and worked up to 320 grit. It came out looking fantastic!
The Fess sander is a very high quality unit that I inherited from Dennis, a fellow boat-builder and friend who died of cancer last year before he was able to complete his beloved vessel. He was a fine craftsman and was far more skilled than I am at woodworking. His custom built laminated wood hatches, counters, and tables often had beautiful little accents and features built into them that made each one a work of art.
 He kept a good attitude right to the end and encouraged me to finish my boat.....we aren't getting any younger and when our time here is up.....we're done. We miss ya Dennis.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Settee Cushions

Now that we had the bunk foam cut and test fit I started pondering what we would do for the back rests.
On my previous small vessels some had one piece bunk cushions and some had a two piece arrangement making it easier to access the lockers below. I quickly learned that the two piece was uncomfortable too sleep on and I much preferred a single bunk cushion. When lying on my back in the bunk the backrest cushion was in the way narrowing the width of the bunk just enough to be very annoying. I used to toss the backrest cushion into the V-berth at bed-time to give a little extra room on the bunk.
So I decided on this vessel I would keep the bunk cushion as one piece and make the backrest cushion a partial that would leave the lower section open and provide a little more width for sleeping.
The drawback to a long bunk cushion is it flops around when trying to move it or gain access to the lockers below it. A good way to solve the problem is to mount the cushion to a thin sheet of plywood.
It makes it far easier to move around and when the cushion is lifted to gain access below, it acts like a locker lid and "hinges" up nicely and takes little effort to hold it there while digging in the locker.
The bunk cushion was laid on a quarter inch thick sheet of plywood and the outline drawn onto the wood.
The wood was trimmed a half inch on all sides to allow for the wrapping of the upholstery.
The foam was then glued to the plywood with contact cement.  Half inch thick low density foam with a scrim was rolled out onto the work table and the cushion was inverted onto it so the plywood bottom was now on top.The foam was pulled up over the sides and stapled down to the plywood. It was then carried aboard and test for fit. The fit was good so we rolled out the vinyl and repeated the process.
The backrest was done in a similar manner but we used two inch medium density foam to start with. We ran the edges through the band-saw with the table set at a forty-five degree angle to give a nice bevel on all sides. Quarter inch foam was glued onto the face of the cushion keeping it back two inches from the  sides. This helped form the gentle radius shape. Then the half inch thick foam was laid out and the cushion was finished in the same manner as the bunk cushion. The finished back-rest was secured to the settee with strips of Velcro.
Jessie and I started in the afternoon and was later joined by Jared and Kyle. Once we got started we wouldn't stop! We all wanted to see the end results before calling it a night.
As the evening wore on Jared broke away from the production line to whip us up a fantastic meal. Hes an amazing cook and before too long he laid out a feast of tempura yams and zucchini complete with dipping sauce, and chicken katsu served on a bed of rice with a lovely lemongrass, coconut curry sauce over it.
The feat was impressive considering he did it all on a one burner hotplate and a small deep fryer.
After the meal we completed the job and installed the cushions. They fit well and everyone had big smiles as we congratulated one another......it was two am, and a major milestone was behind us!
Thank you guys! Thank you very, very, much! It was a tremendous success and a wonderful evening.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bunk Foam

I had originally designed the settees so that they would fit a standard futon width and the port settee would fit a standard length also. This would have saved considerable time and money by simply buying a futon and dropping it in place.  The major disadvantage would be dealing with one very large "cushion" that would be difficult to gain access behind and below it.
We have been doing several large vessel interior refits at the shop lately and the crew has become proficient at wrapping panels and dealing with headliner, carpet, and foams, so I decided to go ahead and build the cushions in house rather than taking the easier futon route.
We bought some medium flex high density foam and set to templating the settee bunks.
We stacked 2x4's two high to simulate the thickness of the foam. This allowed for the angled seat-back and ensured the top of the foam would not be too narrow due to the angle.
We used the wood strips and hot glue gun method and made a template in the usual way then took it below and laid it on the foam and drew it out with a felt pen. An electric knife was purchased from the local Wal-mart kitchen center and was used to cut the foam.....it goes through the foam like a hot knife through butter!
The 13 degree seat back angle was cut "free style" by holding the knife at an angle and following the line we drew. It worked ok but I might make a jig for the angles on the rest of the cushions to get a more accurate cut.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Lately we have been making trim and installing it in the boat. Its a very rewarding job and I have an ear to ear grin after each piece goes in as we stand back and admire our handy-work.
We made most of the trim out of Jatoba (Brazilian cherry) milling down the twenty foot long by six inch planks we bought over a year ago for this purpose. The wood is very dense and brutal on our tools. It dulls saw blades and smooths out sand paper very quickly compared to teak or mahogany. When using the router table to shape the pieces it would go along just fine and then randomly catch the grain just right and throw a chunk out of the piece on occasion. The Tech would utter a few colorful metaphors and start all over again, saving what he could in the hope it could be used elsewhere. It didn't seem to matter what depth or what shape of bit was used, or if it was new or old, every now and then it would throw a chip out and we got used to the fact.
Sometimes it enabled us to get creative as with the vertical trim going into the head....it threw a chip on the last run through after the piece had been milled and almost completely formed. We didn't want to start over so we cut a forty-five degree bevel along the one side of the face where the chip was. In the end we all liked it better than the original, it made the profile on the face look a little narrower and it balanced visually with the piece on the other side of the door frame.
When we milled the boards down we typically used the table saw to get the rough dimensions and then ran the boards though the thickness planer. After that it was shaped using the table saw and router table and then sanded starting with 80 grit and working up to 600 grit. All the pieces have soft corners with varying degrees of raduis on them. The radius had to be hand sanded and we quickly learned to wear gloves as the wood had fine splinters that were needle sharp that would cause a nasty sliver to the bare hand. Once the finish was applied the grain toughened right up and by the time we got six or seven coats on and the final 600 grit sanding done it was like polishing glass. The look was worth the hard work to get there!