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Day 2


The puzzle joints have cured and everything looks OK, although it looks like I had too much epoxy on some of my joints.  I hope this doesn't turn out to be a big problem down the road, and I don't think it will since all of the parts will  eventually be sheathed in another layer of epoxy and fiberglass.

Today I am starting out with beveling all of the panels.  Beveling the edges of the panels makes for a good fit where two panels meet and it provides more surface area for the epoxy tack welds and fillets to adhere to later.  The manual says you can use a block plane, rasp, or sanding block to bevel all the edges to a 45 degree angle or in the case of the bow and stern edges a much sharper angle (maybe 30 degrees, but this isn't specified).  It's OK for the beveled edges to go more than 45 degrees. 

I started with a small block plane as seen in this picture.  A larger block plane probably would have made the work go faster, but I don't have one of those.

I ran into two challenges with the block plane.  The first challenge was that because I was trying to work with the panels between two saw horses and not using a flat surface, the panels had a tendency to flex away from the block plane and thus no material was removed on a pass.  I solved this by clamping each part to a board and working between the clamps, then I would move the piece, clamp, and work on that area, rinse and repeat.  This took more time than I would have liked, but I don't have a table and don't want one taking up space in my garage, so it is what it is. 

The second challenge I ran into was beveling edges where there was a concave curve, specifically at the bow and the stern.  Here there was no way to get the shallow blade of the block plane to make contact with the panel.

To get around these areas I just switched to my sureform tool and used more of an angled stroke and it worked fine.

After going over the edges with the block plane to get the angle I wanted, I then went over each edge again with the sureform tool to smooth and then 100 grit sand sandpaper to smooth everything out.

One note of caution if you are working with a kit that included a Sapele deck.  Sapele is harder than Okume, so after beveling the soft Okume parts for hours it took some time to adjust to the Sapele.  It did not want to come off in nice clean strips but rather in chunks, and I ended up with a rougher edge and some chips in the face veneer.  This may also have been due to the wavy grain of Sapele as opposed to the more uniform smooth grain of the Okume.  I was able to smooth everything out with the sureform tool so no harm was done, but I thought I would mention it anyway.

So all of my panels were were beveled, I had cleaned up the mess of wood shavings and saw dust, and it was only 11:00 PM, so I decided to move onto the next phase which is stitching the hull together.  

The hull starts with the bottom panels laid out like a book, and pieces of copper wire are threaded through pre-drilled holes along the keel line.  Warning: know your parts, their shapes, and their orientation.  The picture on page 26 of my manual looked like the stitches were placed in the opposite side of where they were supposed to be.  Much to my chagrin, when you stitch that side and open the book it does not look anything like a kayak hull, and removing the stitches and replacing them is not fun.  That's what I get for strictly following the manual and not listening to my inner voice.

With the stiches in place on the correct side of the bottom panels, you open them like a book.  If you stitched too tightly you will have to go back and loosen a few of them so it will open up without damaging anything.

Now it's time to place the temporary forms and the permanent bulkhead.  Refer to your parts list so you know what's what.  I had a hard time figuring out which end of the boat was the stern and bow at this point.  The forms are cut so they only fit where they are supposed to be, but I still managed to mistake the bulkhead for a temporary form.  The manual says you need to clamp some scrap wood to the tops of the forms and bulkhead to keep them straight.  I picked up this tip from another builder page, instead of clamping use drywall screws to secure the stiffeners.  Just make sure you know which is which.  I am sure I can seal those holes in my bulkhead with epoxy thickened with wood flour later (oops).

The forms and the bulkhead are stitched into pre-drilled double holes along both edges of the panel.  One would assume that the forms and bulkhead themselves would also be pre-drilled, and one would be mistaken.  Only one of my temporary forms had holes, so I had to drill the rest myself.  This was not a huge deal, but it took time to mark the holes in the right spot and drill each of them.

Stitching the forms is not an easy task.  You have to run the copper wire through the form and then each end down into the holes on either side of the part you are working on, all the while forcing the hull to conform to their shape.  It would be easier with a helper, but at 1:00am those are in short supply.  In places where I had to force the parts to come together, I just braced the bottom against my hip and pressed it together with my left arm while I tested the wires with my right hand.  It worked out OK.

Once all the stitches were in I was able to flip my bottom over.  My keel line was a real mess and nothing was coming together neatly.  I loosed some of the wires  and starting from the stern I straightened out the keel line so the panels met on the newly beveled edges.  After everything was neat and tidy I went back and tightened all the stitches using pliers.  Over tightening or twisting them too many turns can cause the copper to break and those holes will need to be re-stitched. In places where I could not get the edges to come together I added a stitch on either side of the gap by drilling new holes and I was able to get everything to come together.

So the bottom of the boat is now assembled.  

Next comes closing in the ends of this assembly and adding the sides.  

Total time on this phase: 3.5 hrs. 
Total time on construction: 5 hours