Friday, February 24, 2012

Laminating the Keel

Once I had all the patterns I needed for the keel chunks, I assembled a cradle from 4x6s fastened with lag bolts and started laminating the pieces of keel from thinner stock. Several hundred board feet of Southern Yellow Pine 2x8s, 7 gallons of epoxy and 15 gallons of fumed silica later, I had my keel chunks laminated.

There were big lessons learned in the process:

1) I will need about 500 clamps to build this boat.

2) It would have been ideal to buy the construction grade lumber I used at the exact moment I needed it and no sooner. Even when stacked properly in a rather consistent climate (the desert), it tended to warp and twist and required all manner of cursing, cajoling, and sweet-talking to get it to laminate up into a straight chunk of wood. I guess it's good to make do with what you have. If I waited for the perfect tools, the perfect materials, the perfect budget, and the perfect place to build, I'd probably never get started.

3) Epoxy is not fun to work with. Laminating the keel with epoxy made the decision to plank the boat rather than use plywood easy.

As I laminated a piece, I traced the shape of the pattern on each face and cut them a little outside the lines with my Skillsaw. Then I took a chainsaw and cut down until I met the Skillsaw cuts on each side and then whacked off the chunks with a hatchet and chisel. A power planer was my best friend in getting the pieces true to shape.


Boat building in hindsight: For the next boat (a 50 ft. cargo junk schooner, perhaps?), I will definitely buy the timbers I'll need rather than laminate them from thinner stock-- it should be much cheaper and easier.

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