Communications on building a strip kayak - Part 1

These pages are a log of the communications between Karl Coplan and myself (Nick Schade) as Karl built a Guillemot Coastal. Karl kept a copy of all the email and sent it to me when he finished. I had kept most of the attached photos, but there are a few missing. Karl's wife Robin gave the kit as a Christmas present. Newfound Woodworks supplied the kit.

Let this be an example as to how far wrong a project can go and still come out right.

(To Part 2)

From:               Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: Coastal Kit from Newfound Woodworks
Date sent:        Sun, 4 Jan 1998 20:28:30 EST5EDT
Thanks for putting the kit together for my wife.  It is the best
Christmas present ever.  I am excited about building it.  I am
attaching a photo of the forms as set up in my basement.

By the way, there are a couple of mistakes in the pre-cut forms that
you should be aware of and fix for the next customer.  First, forms 2
and 15 lack the cut-out for the bow and stern forms (i.e., they
should be two half forms like forms 1 and 16).  It was not a big deal
to cut out the thickness of the bow and stern forms, but for a
customer who expects a kit that will not require any independent
thinking or cutting out forms, it could be frustrating.

Second, form 15 has a full 2"x4" cutout for the strongback, even
though the strongback is tapered to 2" at this location.  This leaves
very little material in the form for strength and for gluing, once
the stern form area is cut out.  In fact, form 15 detached and broke
on me as soon as I tried to bend in the sheer plank, which puts a lot
of pressure at this location.  I will take some credit for this goof
-- I should have blocked it like the rest of the forms.  But a form
15 with a 2"x2" cutout would work much better.

Keep upt the great work designing kayaks and kits.  I think I am
going to be hooked on this hobby!

Karl Coplan

 Date sent:        Sun, 4 Jan 1998 14:55:52 -0500
To:               kcoplan@genesis.Law.Pace.Edu
From:             Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: Coastal Kit from Newfound Woodworks

Karl,
Thanks for sending the picture. I'm glad you are enjoying the project.
I'll take a look at the computer cut forms and see what I can do to improve
them. Keep the comments coming.

Nick

From:                 Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: Coastal Kit from Newfound Woodworks
Date sent:        Mon, 5 Jan 1998 12:28:30 EST5EDT

Here's another progress report -- and some more comments on the 
construction process.  Stripping the boat is thoroughly engrossing -- 
so much so, that time passes quickly.  My ten year old son came down 
to help (mostly shooting the staple gun), and, after fitting all of 
one plank, said, "Gee, Dad, this is going so quickly we are going to 
be done in no time."  I pointed out that two hours had passed in the 
mean time!

  It might help to provide some hints with the kits about where the 
best place to use the "thin" strips is.  I started using them after 
three full strips "up" from the sheer -- they make stripping around 
the chine easier, but their real value is at the twisty hollows at 
the bow and stern.  Still, I am vaguely worried that sometime much 
later in the process I will find a place where I "really" should have 
saved them for.

   By the way, I found stripping the second and third strips  (plus 
the "cheater" strips) very difficult at the stern section.  The bend 
there is very tight and the strips keep pulling away from the forms.  
I ultimately switched to a couple of ring nails to keep them in (the 
strips would just slide right up regular finishing nails, which also 
pulled out from the forms).  The cheater strips were especially 
difficult; they just did not want to make the twists and bends 
necessary to mate cove and bead with their neighbors.  After a lot of 
whittling and fitting, I managed to get just enough contact on both 
sides of the cheater strip for a line of glue with their mates.  
There is no daylight showing now,  but 
I am worried that there will be nothing left here by the time I fair 
the hull down.  Would it make sense to layer a second strip into the 
"gully" that formed  there, so that there is some material left for 
fairing?

   Still, cedar is a pleasure to work with.  Most of the shaping can 
be done with a utility knife.

   I am using Elmers "Weather tite" water resistant glue.  It seems 
to have more body and gap filling than regular Elmers carpenters glue, doesnt drip, 
and dries to match the color of the cedar very nicely.  I am not sure 
that it is as strong, but the strength of the boat comes from the 
epoxy and fiberglass, not the glue, right?

  Still, my nagging fear is that the boat wont stay together long 
enough to get the fiberglass on once I pop it off of the forms.

  Hope you like to hear about construction progress.  Any hints would 
be appreciated.
  Attached is another shot of  progress to date.

Attachments:


Date sent:        Mon, 5 Jan 1998 18:12:10 -0500
To:               "Karl Coplan" <kcoplan@Genesis.Law.Pace.Edu>
From:             Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: Coastal Kit from Newfound Woodworks

>Content-type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
>Content-transfer-encoding: 7BIT
>Content-description: Mail message body
>
>Here's another progress report -- and some more comments on the
>construction process.  Stripping the boat is thoroughly engrossing --
>so much so, that time passes quickly.  My ten year old son came down
>to help (mostly shooting the staple gun), and, after fitting all of
>one plank, said, "Gee, Dad, this is going so quickly we are going to
>be done in no time."  I pointed out that two hours had passed in the
>mean time!

Don't get too excited by the speed of progress, because the finishing
always seems to take much longer than it has any right too.

>
>  It might help to provide some hints with the kits about where the
>best place to use the "thin" strips is.  I started using them after
>three full strips "up" from the sheer -- they make stripping around
>the chine easier, but their real value is at the twisty hollows at
>the bow and stern.  Still, I am vaguely worried that sometime much
>later in the process I will find a place where I "really" should have
>saved them for.

You have used them in the right place.

>
>   By the way, I found stripping the second and third strips  (plus
>the "cheater" strips) very difficult at the stern section.  The bend
>there is very tight and the strips keep pulling away from the forms.
>I ultimately switched to a couple of ring nails to keep them in (the
>strips would just slide right up regular finishing nails, which also
>pulled out from the forms).  The cheater strips were especially
>difficult; they just did not want to make the twists and bends
>necessary to mate cove and bead with their neighbors.  After a lot of
>whittling and fitting, I managed to get just enough contact on both
>sides of the cheater strip for a line of glue with their mates.
>There is no daylight showing now,  but
>I am worried that there will be nothing left here by the time I fair
>the hull down.  Would it make sense to layer a second strip into the
>"gully" that formed  there, so that there is some material left for
>fairing?

I wouldn't try fitting anything in yet. Wait until you start fairing so you
get a feel for what will actually happen. You might find nothing needs be
done.

>
>   Still, cedar is a pleasure to work with.  Most of the shaping can
>be done with a utility knife.
>
>   I am using Elmers "Weather tite" water resistant glue.  It seems
>to have more body and gap filling than regular Elmers carpenters glue,
>doesnt drip,
>and dries to match the color of the cedar very nicely.  I am not sure
>that it is as strong, but the strength of the boat comes from the
>epoxy and fiberglass, not the glue, right?

the WeatherTite stuff is plenty strong enough.

>
>  Still, my nagging fear is that the boat wont stay together long
>enough to get the fiberglass on once I pop it off of the forms.
>
It may be a little delicate, but it should hold together. I have had to
reglue some joints from time to time, but usually everything works and
accidents are easily fixed.

>  Hope you like to hear about construction progress.  Any hints would
>be appreciated.
>  Attached is another shot of  progress to date.

Thanks for the photo. Looks like your doing great! I like hear about
progress, and although I don't like criticism, it is useful for me so feel
free to point out any problems.

Nick



From:                 Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          More progress, more questions on Coastal kit
Date sent:        Fri, 9 Jan 1998 13:00:44 EST5EDT

Planking proceeds apace.  It is very  satisfying to watch the thing 
turn into a boatlike shape so quickly -- and I have the rest of the 
winter to fair, sand and finish it.

But, with progress comes a few glitches, and the need for more 
advice.  Just when I thought I was over the hump on the stern hollow, 
the full width plank I was twisting into place at the very stern 
cracked (right at the nail hole, of course).  It is not cracked all 
the way through, and the outside surface of the plank is intact.  My 
wife couldnt even find the crack when I asked her opinion.  Last time 
this happened, I put the cracked plank aside.  This time I left it in 
place, figuring that the crack is not serious enough to prevent 
fairing the hull, does not seem to have seriously weakened the plank 
(it is very stiff at this location), and will be strengthened by the 
fiberglass and its neighboring planks before the kayak is pronounced 
finished.  The fact that dinner was on the table and my children were 
complaining that I loved my kayak more than my family might also have 
clouded my judgment.

   The glue is now dry, but I suppose I could still rip the plank out 
and scrape off the dried glue and wood splinters that would result.  
Should I?  Or am I correct in my hunch that one cracked strip at the 
stern will not substantially weaken the boat once all is said and 
done?

  Looking ahead, do you recommend gluing a strip of hardwood onto the 
stem and stern, as indicated in the Newfound Woodworks strip building 
newsletter than came with the kit?  One of the pictures in the 
instructions also looks like you are gluing a strip onto the stem, 
but the text does not mention it.  If so, should this be done before 
fairing? Immediately after fairing?

  Looking even further ahead, I've noticed that many of the pictures 
of finished kayaks appear not to have any hatches.  (Either that, or 
the flush hatches are so perfectly faired in as to be invisible!).  
Since I dont plan to use my boat for camping or other cargo carrying, 
I thought I'd save the effort and holes in the hull and leave them 
out.  Would it be a good idea to put in some inspection/drain ports 
in lieu of hatches, or can I just leave the bow and stern sections as 
permanent airtight/watertight compartments?  West Marine sells thes 
inspection ports for about $10 each.

  Here's another picture of the work in progress.  My son is 
complaining that he cant even drag me away from the kayak to play 
Riven.

Attachments:
  A:\kayak2.bmp

Date sent:        Fri, 9 Jan 1998 19:23:48 -0500
To:               "Karl Coplan" <kcoplan@Genesis.Law.Pace.Edu>
From:             Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: More progress, more questions on Coastal kit

<snip>
>But, with progress comes a few glitches, and the need for more
>advice.  Just when I thought I was over the hump on the stern hollow,
>the full width plank I was twisting into place at the very stern
>cracked (right at the nail hole, of course).  It is not cracked all
>the way through, and the outside surface of the plank is intact.  My
>wife couldnt even find the crack when I asked her opinion.  Last time
>this happened, I put the cracked plank aside.  This time I left it in
>place, figuring that the crack is not serious enough to prevent
>fairing the hull, does not seem to have seriously weakened the plank
>(it is very stiff at this location), and will be strengthened by the
>fiberglass and its neighboring planks before the kayak is pronounced
>finished.  The fact that dinner was on the table and my children were
>complaining that I loved my kayak more than my family might also have
>clouded my judgment.

<snip>
 As long as it looks alright, I would not remove the strip. The surrounding
strips and the fiberglass will serve to make it strong enough. The epoxy
will get sucked into the crack and it probably won't lose much strength at
all.

>  Looking ahead, do you recommend gluing a strip of hardwood onto the
>stem and stern, as indicated in the Newfound Woodworks strip building
>newsletter than came with the kit?  One of the pictures in the
>instructions also looks like you are gluing a strip onto the stem,
>but the text does not mention it.  If so, should this be done before
>fairing? Immediately after fairing?

I have recently been gluing hardwood on like seen in the newsletter. I
plane the stem and stern to make a flat surface to glue 1/8" thick hardwood
veneer too. This is certainly not a requirement, but it does look nice. I
don't glue any of the strips to the stem forms. I put the hardwood on half
way through fairing. I do a little fairing to get a better feeling for the
final shape then finish fairing after the glue dries to get a smooth
finished surface.

>
>  Looking even further ahead, I've noticed that many of the pictures
>of finished kayaks appear not to have any hatches.  (Either that, or
>the flush hatches are so perfectly faired in as to be invisible!).
>Since I dont plan to use my boat for camping or other cargo carrying,
>I thought I'd save the effort and holes in the hull and leave them
>out.  Would it be a good idea to put in some inspection/drain ports
>in lieu of hatches, or can I just leave the bow and stern sections as
>permanent airtight/watertight compartments?  West Marine sells thes
>inspection ports for about $10 each.

All my boats (accept the Little Auk) have hatches. Some don't have them in
front hatches, but they all have them in back. Look close. The idea of
putting an inspection hatch is a good one. I would put it in the bulkhead.
That way it doesn't mess up the deck.

Thanks for the pictures.
Nick



From:                 Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Finished stripping the hull
Date sent:        Mon, 12 Jan 1998 10:32:33 EST5EDT

Thanks for your quick reply to my last e-mail.  I finished stripping 
the hull this weekend.  It looks great, and the curves are beautiful 
even before fairing.

Also, thanks for the tip on putting the inspection ports in the 
bulkheads, so I dont mess up the decks.  It's one of those obvious 
things that I never would have thought of.

One more question, as I look forward to starting stripping the deck.  
I am tall and skinny (6'1", 180 lbs) and have long legs.  I like the 
look of the lowered deck around the cockpit (better than Bob Wier's 
version without the lowered deck)  and like the idea of 
something to brace against, but was wondering if someone with long 
legs like mine will have trouble entering and exiting the kayak.  
Have you had any comments from tall customers about the lowered deck? 
 My preference is definitely to strip the lowered deck.

Thanks again for your continued e-mail support.  Here's a picture of 
the proud builder with a fully stripped hull.

Attachments:


Date sent:        Mon, 12 Jan 1998 19:21:02 -0500
To:               "Karl Coplan" <kcoplan@Genesis.Law.Pace.Edu>
From:             Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: Finished stripping the hull

I'm 6' 1" with 34" inseams. Although my boats were designed for me, so I
think you should be fine with them. The boats are snug, but you don't need
bird-legs (backwards bending) to get in.

Your making quick time on that boat what are you going to do the rest of
the winter?

I'm collecting all your pictures and I'll eventually but them on my web
site if you don't mind.

Nick

>
 
From:                 Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Oops!
Copies to:        "Robin E. Bell" <robinb@ldgo.columbia.edu>
Date sent:        Tue, 13 Jan 1998 10:15:19 EST5EDT

Don't post those pictures quite yet -- I don't know what the end 
result will look like.

When I flipped the boat over last night, it became obvious that the 
stern section had come out of alignment during stripping. The boat 
has an upturned stern.   The stern 
is a whopping 5" higher than it should be.  The 2x4 has a very 
graceful curve to it, starting at around section 12.

I am sure that it was in alignment when I started, and after the 
first few strips.  But as stripping proceeded, it was difficult to 
line up the reference marks on the upside down, partially stripped 
boat, and at some point I stopped checking.  In retrospect, the stern 
did seem to be hanging awfully low.

The forward two thirds of the boat lines up just fine.  I don't know 
whether the 2x4 warped naturally (awfully fast), or whether the 
pressure of the strips bent it.

I am considering my options:  1) tear the boat apart, buy some more 
strips, and start over  2) finish the boat and accept that I will 
have a "unique" looking (and paddling) boat,  3) try to gently 
persuade the boat to come back closer to the shape it was designed to 
be, or 4) give up kayak building and take up some less precise 
hobby, like gardening.

If 3 is truly an option, it is the preferred one.  Have you ever heard of anybody successfully bending a boat back into 
shape at this stage of the process?  So far I have hung a bucket with 
some weights off the stern and cut some notches in the 2x4, 
with the boat balanced over form 12.  While there is about an inch of 
flex in the hull, this method could take an exceedingly long time, I 
suppose.  (I know that wooden boats that are improperly cradled will 
sag at the ends or "hog" after a while, but this usually takes months 
or years).

I have also considered cutting the 2x4 forward of station 11 or 12 and 
removing the forms aft of this station, on the theory that there 
would be a little more flex in the hull without the forms in place.  
If I could flex the hull more closely into alignment and figure out a 
way to hold it there, I could then replace the forms, possibly shaving the forms as 
necessary to get them to go back in place.  This would presumably result in a 
slightly skinnier boat at the shear, but that would be a much less 
radical design change than an extra 5" of rocker at the stern.

Any advice? Give up? Start the kayak builders' "Hall of Shame" on the 
internet and post my pictures as Exhibit A?

Thanks for your continued advice and support. 

From:                 Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Just how bad is it . . .
Date sent:        Wed, 14 Jan 1998 10:27:04 EST5EDT

Nick--

   Haven't heard back from you yet (but the University server is down 
this morning).  But on further reflection, I am 
coming to the realization that hoping to bend the hull into shape is 
wishful thinking.  It's just too stiff, and bending it is more likely 
to generate hard spots and weird curves, or just plain cracked 
planks.

   It's not that the hull is bad looking the way it is.  I kind of 
like the upturned stern.  (In fact, because my mental image of the 
boat I was building had exaggerated the upturn in the stern, I didn't 
spot the deformity when I should have.   I had kept checking the 
horizontal alignment of the forms because I was worried about 
building a curved boat that wouldnt paddle straight, but I wasn't 
thinking about a curve in the other axis).   Attached is a picture.

  It's just not the boat that you designed.  As Robin puts it, "Looks like 
you are building a pintail instead of a Guillemot."

   I am worried that it will be a dog to paddle.  I may be losing as 
much as a foot on the waterline, and I suppose the bow may come out 
of the water as the boat settles backwards to make up for the lost 
buoyancy aft.  It also may not track well, as the sharp parts of the 
keel at the stern may be out of the water.  I suppose as the boat 
reaches hull speed, it may gain some of that waterline back.   

  Any thoughts?  Has this happened to other Coastal builders? I have 
looked at the 2x4 closely, and the bent part seemed to be straight 
grained, with no obvious reason to warp.  I wonder if the forces 
generated by the curve in the planks at the stern are just too great 
for your run-of-the-mill lumber yard 2x4 to withstand.  I would 
recommend a stiffer strong back to other Coastal builders.

  I am thinking of finishing this boat off as it is, then building a 
second boat to try and get it right  (after all, Robin is hinting 
strongly that she would like a sea kayak,too, and her birthday is in 
May).  One way to stiffen the strongback, I think, would be to rip 
the 2x4 in half longitudinally, then nail 
and glue it back together to make a laminated strongback.  This still 
seems easier than building a plywood box beam, which would require a 
lot of long pieces of plywood and some fairly precise cutting and 
rounding the edges.  I do not own a table saw or a router.

  I'd still like to hear your thoughts on how best to proceed.

Attachments:
 

Date sent:        Wed, 14 Jan 1998 19:10:41 -0500
To:               "Karl Coplan" <kcoplan@Genesis.Law.Pace.Edu>
From:             Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: Just how bad is it . . .

Karl,
 Sorry I didn't respond yesterday. I was trying to think of some ideas.
Can't say as I have any. It is hard to determine just how badly off you are
from your description, but looking at your picture now, I can see that the
bend is pretty severe. I am surprised that it bent up like that. The force
of the strips should bend the strongback down not up as it did.
 I would consider trying to straighten it out. It will not want to, and I
don't have any great ideas on how to make it. You could saw off the last
few feet (the bent part) and restrip just the end, using a butt joint with
the existing strips. If you do this section in a different color and make
the cut an interesting shape, you could claim you meant to do it.
 If you don't want to get that drastic, just finish it as it is. However,
the performance may be a little wierd. It may not track very straight and
you might want to install a skeg to help it. The skeg could only be a piece
of wood glued to the bottom like an extended external keel.
 I am really sorry this happened to you. I have not had anything like this
happen to me and no customers ever reported such a problem (maybe they were
too pissed to talk to me.)
 Let me know what you plan to do and if there is anything I can do to help.
 Can I ask you how long you had your 2x4 inside before you started working
on it? It is possible the change in atmosphere (humidity/temperature)
caused the beam to bend.
 I have had a problem with wood changing after I bring it inside. Read my
journal about building my stitch and glue design.
Thanks,
 Nick

From:                 Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Boat Unbent
Copies to:        "Robin E. Bell" <robinb@ldgo.columbia.edu>
Date sent:        Thu, 15 Jan 1998 12:12:27 EST5EDT

Nick--

  It is not easy to take a saw to a project like this, but your 
e-mail helped clarify my thinking about drastic remedies.  I wasn't 
going to have much enthusiasm to finish a boat that, however nice it 
might look, was always going to be a freakish paddler.  I was even 
ready to follow your suggestion to cut off the entire stern section.

  First I cut the strongback aft of form 11 and removed the forms 
(some were stuck pretty well despite the masking tape!)  Even without 
the forms, the boat was not going to flex enough to make up the 
difference.  But it was clear that it was the sides that were holding 
the shape, and not the bottom (I had feared that the slight v-joint 
at the keel strips would prove too stiff to bend).

As long as I was ready to cut the entire boat in half, it wouldn't 
hurt to experiment with notches.  So I cut slits on both sides, from 
the shear down, one strip at a time.  It took four strip-widths 
(basically, down to the chine), but the boat became very flexible.  I 
then lashed the aft section of the boat to a 2x6x8'.  The result 
shows up in the attached pictures: a basically straight boat.  (The 
aft forms in the picture are free floating right now, and I have not 
finished re-aligning things perfectly).

  Some of the planks split at the glue joints right near the slit, 
and the remaining planks are a bit too stiff to bend in fairly to 
the new shape.  I figure that I will end up cutting out about a foot-long length of 
planks around the slit on both sides, stepped down to the chine,  and re-strip the
area to bring it in fair.  The splits along the planks should not be too hard to 
re-glue.  I think the result should be undetectible except to a 
connaisseur. I am trying to think of a nice pattern to put in to make 
it look intentional; perhaps a feathered arrow or a wing or 
something.  In the end, I think it will not look much worse than many 
"first" stripped boats (what did Bob Wier say about wood putty being 
every kayak-stripper's dirty little secret?), and, more importantly, the basic shape
 and paddling characteristics should be more like your excellent design.

  I think that you are right about the 2x4 bending the boat, and not 
vice-versa.  My cellar is cold and the weather was mild,  but the humidity changes are 
probably pretty drastic.  I am sure that the 2x4 was brought inside 
less than 24 hours before I lined up the forms.  Also, it was a 
typical lumber yard 2x4, i.e., it was in a tight stacked pile where 
every 2x4 was dripping with moisture when you removed it.  The 2x4 
kept its bent shape after I removed it (if the boat were bending the 
wood, it should have sprung back).

  Also, the bend must have happened very early in the stripping 
process -- otherwise, the bend would have forced the side planks 
visibly out from the forms.  I now think it happened when I left the 
boat for three days to go to my sister-in-law's right after I laid 
the first two strips.  When I got back, I had been away long enough 
not to notice the radical change, and I got so absorbed in stripping 
that I didnt notice.

  Literally, I lost track of the forest for the trees.  Which is a 
way of saying this is my goof, not your design or your instructions 
(you clearly say to check the alignment after putting in the first 
few strips).

  Thanks again for your reply to my e-mails.  It was very important 
to get your encouragement to try to straighten the boat out.  There 
is still a lot of hard work ahead to finish the boat, and I am not 
sure that I would have kept going if I thought the end product was 
going to be useless as a kayak.

  The "Pintail" name may stick, however.  More later.

Attachments:



Date sent:        Fri, 16 Jan 1998 01:19:00 -0500
To:               "Karl Coplan" <kcoplan@Genesis.Law.Pace.Edu>
From:             Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: Boat Unbent

Karl,
 I was a little scared when I suggested that you cut the stern off that you
would actually do it. It looks like you did a good job straightening out
the boat. It's kind of any ugly little notch on the side, but I think you
can patch it up so it doesn't look bad. You can either try to hide it or
accent it.

 If you cut back the strips at staggered lengths and patched in matching
wood it will virtually disappear, or you can cut in a wider triangular slot
and put in contrasting wood. If you did this on both sides it could look
cool. Better still don't listen to me and come up with your own idea.
Little cracks between strips can be filled in with slivers of wood.

 I feel responsibility for not warning about the possibility that the 2x4
might warp after you bring it in side. Although it had never happened to
me, the other day I did suggest to someone that they let their strongback
acclimate for a while before stripping. The next day you tell me about your
problem. I feel part of my job is to steer people away from problems like
that. If you need any more strips to fix your problems and finish the boat,
let me know. We will send you what you need.

 I know you are never going to feel completely satisfied by this boat
because you will always see your mistakes. I haven't been happy with one of
my boats yet. The thing is, nobody else sees the mistakes. They are so
impressed by the forest that they don't notice the trees. If it's any
consolation, your mistake will help me tell people how to avoid making it
again.

 If you need any voice-to-voice help, feel free to call me at (603)
744-6872 during the day or (860) 659-8847 at home.

Thanks,
 Nick



From:                 Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: Boat Unbent
Copies to:        "Robin E. Bell" <robinb@ldgo.columbia.edu>
Date sent:        Fri, 16 Jan 1998 09:45:02 EST5EDT

Nick--

   Thanks for your encouragement.  If nothing else, I hope my 
experiences can add to your ability to steer others right.

   I replaced the aft section of the strongback with part of a 2x4 
that has been indoors for 60 years and is still straight.   (I tore it out of our bathroom 
wall last year).  They sure don't make 2x4s like they used to, do 
they.

   I cut slits along the glue joints on either side of the notch, and 
I think that I will gain enough flexibility to minimize the amount of 
new wood I will have to put in. I plan to bend the strips down one at 
a time and reglue them.  This might result in a some hairline gaps in some
 of the glue joints, but I don't think it will be very visible, and no worse than 
one or two of the joints on the bottom where I had to plane in two 
ends of a strip at once.

   I have a neat -- and very appropriate -- idea for a way of 
restripping and hiding the notch, which I will show you if it is successful.

  Thanks again for your continued advice and your generous offer of 
more strips.  I think I will probably stay within the 20% or so 
planned for wastage when all is said and done, but if I need more 
strips, I'll let you know.



From:                 Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: Boat Unbent
Copies to:        "Robin E. Bell" <robinb@ldgo.columbia.edu>
Date sent:        Sun, 18 Jan 1998 20:45:02 EST5EDT

Nickó

  See attached photo of the starboard side where I had to cut out the
notch.  You have heard of the dovetail joint.  I call this the pintail
splice.  For emergency use only.  It may not be perfect, but the
casual observer will never guess that the ducks are hiding a major
construction goof.

 Thanks again for your advice.  Things are definitely back on track
The second photo shows where I am now. I'm having fun getting back to
plain old stirpping again and watching the deck take shape.  The next
step is stripping in the pattern on the deck.  I find it hard to put
this project down because I'm so interested in seeing how the next
few strips will go on.

  Stripping in angles with the cove and bead strips is a real
challenge.  While the coves and beads are great for flat stretches,
and it is simple enough to plane and sand a bead onto a cut piece,
what are you supposed to do when your cut edge is supposed to fit
onto a "bead?"  When I have thought ahead, I have flattened out the
bead in these situations with a plane, but now I didnt think to do
that with the two-beaded strip I made for the centerline of the deck.
 Now I am stripping the side strips at an angle to the center strip
and I have to make the cut edges mate with the bead.  What I have
ended up doing is planing in a 45 degree angle (slanted towards the
joint on the
outside of the strip).  Then I use a rolled up piece of coarse
sandpaper to sand in a little bit of a cove.  I know this will leave
some gap on the underside, where it will not show, but
it makes a pretty snug joint on the visible side -- certainly more
snug than most of my flat-to-flat joints seem to end up.  There must be
better tools for this -- perhaps a small, round file.  Or I suppose
if you had a router and the proper bit, you could route in the proper
cove on each cut edge.

  I have stripped most of the deck so far up from the sides instead
of straight and parallel to the center line.  I like the look of the
curves in the planks better this way, though it has involved some
more unnatural twisting of strips to get them in place Once again, I
had the experience of carefully planing a strip to fit perfectly into
the notch at the bow, test fitting it (including a test fit of the
twist in the strip), and spreading glue along the length of the
strip, only to have the strip crack in two while I was stapling and
nailing it in.  This one broke completely in two, not even tempting
me to leave it in place.  The replacement strip went in without a
hitch.

  As I get closer to stripping in the pattern to the deck, I have
noticed that the redwood strips seem to be two different shades.  Are
there two varieties of redwood included?  There are some beautiful,
deep red strips, but only in the thin (1/2") size.  All of the full
size dark colored strips are browner and grayer.  Is this just the
luck of the draw?

  I'll let you know how things progress.

Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 18:42:02 -0500
To: kcoplan@genesis.Law.Pace.Edu
From: Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject: Re: Pintail Redux

The Pintail looks great!
 Unfortunately, I wrote the instruction booklet before I started using
cove-and-bead strips. I generally cut the bead or cove off the pattern
defining strips that will have strip ends coming in to their sides. Since
my brain tends to smoke when I try and figure where I can leave the
cove/bead on these strips, I end up cutting both off even in places where I
could safely leave them. I use a plane to remove the cove/bead.

 The 3/4" wide strips that are not white are western red cedar. The narrow
darker red strips are redwood. You have some western red cedar narrow
strips as well. The natural variation of red cedar make it hard to get
consistant color. This can open of artistic possibilities as well as shut
down others.

Nick

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From:                 Self <GENESIS/KCOPLAN>
To:               Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Stripping the deck pattern
Date sent:        Mon, 26 Jan 1998 10:58:29 EST5EDT

As you can see, I have finished stripping the pattern into the deck.  
This is definitely a fun part of the project.  The strips are small 
and easy to work with.  The contrasting wood is beautiful, and each 
strip adds to the pattern.

Speaking of contrasting wood . . . I am not sure that in the poor 
lighting of my cellar, I may not have confused some dark pieces of 
white cedar with some light pieces of red cedar, or vice versa, 
earlier on.  So there may be some random color elements in the hull!  
I don't mind.  If I wanted a perfectly uniform colored boat, I should 
have built one purely of fiberglass, or painted wood.

Some of the red cedar (at least I think it is red cedar) is a 
beautiful golden color, which I used to strip the area just forward 
of the cockpit.  Not only does it look  nice, but it gives off a very 
sweet, honey-like smell when you sand it.

I bought a small round file for cutting coves into the cut strip 
edges. It only cost six bucks and it works great!  It is very simple to file the cove 
into the cut edge, and I am getting much tighter joints than I ever did 
working with flat edges.  Also, I am getting fewer cut fingers than I 
was when planing the bead onto each strip.  I would recommend a round 
file for anyone working with cove and bead strips.  And a box of 
band-aids.

As you can see, I was a masochist and bent in a lot of curved strips 
on the deck.  Though I did crack a few strips, I think the end result 
will be worth it.

What's your view on homemade epoxy fairing putty versus wood putty?  
I have a can of "Elmers" wood putty, which I havent opened yet.  I 
know you talk about mixing up sawdust with epoxy.  My experience with 
that kind of mixture in the past is that it is very tough to sand.  
Is there any reason not to use a commercial wood putty instead 
(assuming the color doesnt stand out too much?)  Is there any 
question of whether the epoxy will bind to it correctly?

I'm still getting a lot of work done while the cross-country skiing 
around here remains lousy.  If we get a good snow storm I may have to 
take a vacation from this project.

Attachments:




Date sent:        Tue, 27 Jan 1998 17:57:41 -0500
To:               "Karl Coplan" <kcoplan@Genesis.Law.Pace.Edu>
From:             Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Subject:          Re: (Fwd) Stripping the deck pattern

Karl,
 The boat looks great! I've used a chainsaw file for making coves. Works
well, but I prefer making beads, I find it easier.
 I'm alittle concerned about the strength of the wood putty. It tends to be
brittle. If you are careful with your application of epoxy/sawdust putty
you don't have to sand much, but as you say it can be difficult to sand.
 BTW, have you checked into my kayak building bulletin board? I've been
very happy with the quality of discussion on it.
Nick



From: kcoplan@genesis.Law.Pace.Edu
To: Nick Schade <Info[at]guillemot-kayaks.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 00:04:54 +0000
Mime-Version: 1.0
Subject: More progress on Pintail
Cc: ROBINB@ldgo.columbia.edu
Priority: normal

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Nick--
I finished stripping the deck at 12:40 a.m. Saturday morning.  It
looks like a kayak!  Finishing the stripping, I feel like a kid who
has been gorging himself on a seemingly bottomless bag of halloween
candy, then discovers that the candy is all gone.  Now it is just  a
matter of picking up all those wrappers and cleaning things up . . .

Of course, there is still the cockpit "flat" to strip in.  Fitting
these strips is not difficult, just tedious.  I left  a little bit
of an angled lip on the edge of the cutout, so it is just  a matter
of sanding each little strip with course paper until it fits right.
I am getting good joints, it just lacks the reward of watching large
sections of the hull take shape that comes with stripping the hull
and deck.

I was a little worried that this would be the weakest joint in the
boat, since I am a little suspicious of the end-glued strips that are
impossible to clamp.  Also, I suppose this joint will be stressed
every time you drop your butt into the kayak.  But I guess that the
part that will be stressed, the aft part of the cockpit, also has the
smallest amount of lip to it.

Thanks for your views on fairing putty. I finally looked in the box
of epoxy stuff that came with the kit, and saw the huge tub of
"Cab-o-sil" to make epoxy fairing putty out of.  God, I hope I dont
need _that_ much fairing putty.  to finish this boat!  Honestly,
there is more daylight coming through the hull from staple and nail
holes than from the two or three places where the planks dont quite
meet.  I was still thinking of filling some of the nail holes with
wood dough, where strength would not be that much of an issue.

        Yes, I have pursued some of
the links on your kayak building bulletin board.  The board  -- and
other internet links -- can be a little overwhelming in terms of
conflicting strongly held views among various "experts."  The
Newfound Woodworks instructions tell you to sand the bare hull with
progressively finer paper, down to 220 grit or so, while the Laughing
Loon "Shop Tips" assure you that epoxy will not stick unless your
last sanding is with no finer than 80 grit.  Meanwhile, some builder
out there assures you that the scratches left by any sanding at all
will structurally weaken the boat, which is why he prefers not to
sand at all!.

  Then there is the thread about whether you should wrap
your boat in black plastic and leave it in the sun to "post cure,"
with experts claiming variously that failure to do so will certainly
lead to "glass creep" and that doing so will disasterously weaken the
epoxy.

   I did find the guy who left his partially epoxied boat in the
cellar for two weeks and then came back to find it curled up like
a leaf.  Made me feel better about my own "bent boat" problems. But I
also guess that I am not out of the woods yet.  Has anyone ever
posted a 24 hour watch to guard against curling boat problems?  I
plan to keep my boat on the forms as much as possible, especially
since I still dont know what its natural, unsprung shape would be.

    So here are this week's list of little questions:  (1)  Do you
recommend "post curing" the epoxy on your boat with the black plastic
bag method?  (2)  How about the "end pour" heat issue -- I saw that
Bob Weir resorted to submerging the end of the boat in water to draw
off excess heat -- is this really necessary (or does the extra heat
just help the "post cure" process?  Would extra filler (i.e., sawdust
and Cab-o-sil ) help reduce the amount of heat?   (3) Are the hardwood strips
included with the kit meant for stripping the stem and stern, for
making the lip on the coaming, or for both?  (i.e., if I use them to
cover the stem and stern will I not have enough for the coaming lip?
(4) What is your view on the hull sanding issue -- i.e., do you
finish off with a "roughing up" with 80 grit before the epoxy (as
Laughing Loon recommends)?  Or do you finish with the 220 or so that
Newfound recommends?

  I am also interested in your thoughts on varnishes.  I am most
interested in durability/ease of refinishing.  The varnished wood on
my sailboat is always a pain, because when the varnish wears, it
tends to peel off in long flakes that are hard to either scrape or sand
unless you are ready to sand agressively back to the bare wood or use
varnish remover..  Does
varnish on epoxy wear off in the same way (i.e., should I plan to
sand the hull to bare epoxy every year?)  I would prefer a finish
that is easiest to refinish and maintain, even if it means less
gloss or more initial preparation time.  I know you dislike the
non-durability of water-based varnish.  Does water based varnish peel
the way oil based varnish does when it wears?

     Sorry for all of the questions.  I trust your advice better than
the random supply of expert opinions on the bulletin board.

     Well, now I've got a sea kayak in my basement.  It just needs
some sanding and finishing before the paddling season starts.  Of
course, the paddling season has never ended around here this winter.
The Hudson is still ice-free hereabouts.

                                                       --Karl

(To Part 2)

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