[SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: If you like this kind of writing style, feel free to visit my blog, Tristram Shandy in the 21st Century, www.tristramshandy21st.blogspot.com.  If you do NOT like my style, do NOT visit the blog! I want no harm to come to you!  NOTE May 2011 -- I have been a little lazy at that blog: my apologies -- it had something to do with living life rather than writing about it :-) ; but I will be getting back to it.  --wt]

Life sucks sometimes, and you have many choices, among them drinking, television, and taking long walks at night among decayed buildings. But you know better; me too. How about spending drinking money on wood, television time on building a sailboat in a bedroom, and keeping the long walks amoung decaying buildings as a useful reminder of Mortality and the Clock?

After losing everything in a divorce except some books and some tools, and having to keep my small sailboat two hours drive away, I decided to make life better actively. You can do it too, and probably better, because I know you have more skills than I do. First, two preliminary steps:

Step A -- Create a project that is somewhat unusual. Coffee tables, bookcases, etc., will not work when life sucks. Imagination and promise of adventure are stronger cures for almost anything.

Step B (see second photo of toolbox/bench if I edited this step properly)-- Build a bench-toolbox of dimensions ~12 inches x 12 inches x 4 feet (standard lumber). The door to access tools is on the side so that you do not disturb your ass if you are sitting on the bench or the workpieces if you are working them on the bench. This is your world, this compact box will hold all the tools needed to build almost anything except the Space Shuttle. Any larger tools are merely conveniences, not really needed for your project-without-workshop. (most used tools were electric drill, electric jigsaw, hand plane (jackplane), wood chisel, wood file, Japanese crosscut saw , hammer, tapemeasure, compass-scribe, sandpaper, screwdrivers, and vacuum cleaner....you are working in your living space after all!).

Add a side vise and a hold-down vise -- both are the pure poetry of the third and fourth hands. Humanity has always desired more hands. The Japanese use their feet as hands when woodworking. The Eskimo (Inuit, Nunamiut) use their teeth. I use the hold-down vise and side vise. Write a poem about them; they will be great friends:

Steel hands on soft wood,
incorporating contradictions as they should--
how can the hard-harsh fail to dent
the soft-smooth low-friction meant
for ...

OK, I have no time for good poetry now, but you get the idea. The bench is endlessly useful for people working without proper workshops. I built most of my sailing outrigger canoe (proa) in a spare bedroom of an apartment, and parts of it in my living room, and many pieces of that on this bench, where I could listen to music, eat, and meditate over the project.

If I had a one-bedroom apartment, I could have done the project in there no problem (sleep on floor on futon, roll mattress aside, cover with dust-sheet!). The wheels hardly seen at left bottom of the toolbox/bench let me drag it around after I tilted it up by the handle (they contact the floor only when the box is tilted). Lay a cheap carpet under it to protect your landlord's property.

Get a low stool to sit on while at work. The one pictured here was once used to sit near the bathtub as I bathed my infant children. I suggest that you too have a small, useful stool, filled with beautiful memories and ready to be filled with more. But you *can* sit on it, too.

Passo 1: Build your boat in two pieces

The two pieces (in this case, 7 feet long each) will let you get the boat in and out of the apartment and store it in the corner or in a large closet or corner of a room. The project started briefly in the basement of my first apartment, and I can attest I carried the proto-hulls out and up through twisty apartment stairs. Each piece was very heavy (80 pounds each at end of project) because I designed foolishly, but I am a weak 48 year old English professor, and if I can do it, you can do it.

The hulls will bolt together at their flat "transom/bulkheads" to create a 14 foot skinny outrigger canoe hull. The outrigger float seen to the left was a crazy attempt (ceased at the moment of completion, sort of like mediocre sex) at a somewhat native concept of a neutral buoyancy ama (float) but not a good idea for a solo sailor on a small boat (scaling a design up or down changes the physics of its behavior -- or rather...well, everybody seems to know physics on this site, so you know what I mean).

You see rub-strips on the bottom of the hulls. I adzed off the bow rub strips later because they were way overdone and the planling is very thick anyway, but you do need to protect the edges of plywood from being exposed. I now recommend thin-but-tough rub-strips built up with layers of fiberglass or even gobs of chopped fibgerglas plopped on in epoxy and later faired. Using graphite-epoxy from waterline down is also better than painting, I think (slippery tough coating but still has UV protection from the graphite).

The two hull pieces stand up on their flat ends and look like the wondrous towering architecture of fantasy. Sit 15 feet away, drink the relaxing beverage of your choice, and let the mind go where it will.

I used marine plywood nailed to heavy lumber with bronze ringnails sealed with polysulfide rubber-goo. You can do it better than this (read books on plywood boat building) and thereby make the hulls lighter. A skin-on-frame design may also be good (coated ballistic nylon skin is very tough), or strip build if you have the patience (I didn't). Or buid flatter parts with plywood, and the rounded botton with strip-technique, perhaps best of all, and faster/cheaper than all-strip-building.

Important note -- I had no plans -- the boat went from brain-to-wood with a few scrap-paper sketches in between. You must do this too; the Cure will not work, otherwise.
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    Jul 21, 2006


    Bio: If you read blogs, come vist mine: www.tristramshandy21st. blogspot.com where right now I am posting chapters of my humorous and philosophical nonfiction, "In ... Mais »

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