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Thread: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

  1. #1
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    Default Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    I recently became the custodian of a Tasman Seabird. She's called 'Waterwitch' for now. She was designed by Alan Payne (WB Mag 181 for reference) and built by Australia's own Jock Sturrock in 1962. This was the same year that Jock captained the, also Alan Payne designed, Gretel in the first Australian challenge for the America's cup. And the same year Waterwitch came 4th in the Sydney to Hobart.
    She came well looked after by her former owner who kept her in Port Adelaide. It was a challenging trip bringing her round through the Bass Straits and up to Jervis Bay here in NSW where she is now moored at Callala Bay. In the picture below she was at a temporary mooring in the Currambene Creek at Woolamia (which drains into Jervis Bay) being looked after by a family of black headed ducks.



    She came with a usable, though aging, inflatable dingy as tender. But the dingy is very small, difficult to manoeuver and a little ugly. So for all the great advantages of a soft sided tender I wish to build a wooden one. I have for many years admired the beauty and simplicity of Joel White's Nutshell.

    A quick search of the forum to find a thread that describes a full build with detail came up empty handed. The nutshell is mentioned plenty of times, and there are several threads with the building jig and then hey presto a complete boat! there was one that apologised for starting a new Nutshell thread.
    Recognising that Maynard Bray's book leaves just about nothing more to say, i will plough on and, attempt at least, to bring a full account of my build to the forum, complete with pictures!

    This is my third 'proper' build (I built a small pedal boat for my boys once that was massively overbuilt and impossible to use). Otherwise I have a strip built kayak and a strip built Compumarine Powerdinghy under my belt.



    I completed a thread on the power dinghy - called "What are sheets for anyway' or something like that.

    In a Nutshell I have;
    • The plans.
    • Printed out the 1to1 drawing.
    • Bray's book
    • Most of the materials i need, including some (heavy but beautiful) blue gum I hope to use for the transoms.
    • I go to the timber yard this weekend to pick up 3 sheets of 6mm ply and 1 sheet of 10mm.
    • AND I am armed with the vast reservoir of knowledge that is the Woodenboat forum.


    First question - the design calls for the equivalent of 6.5mm ply for the sides, is it cool to err down rather than up? Considering I will probably err on the heavy side from here on I think I'm comfortable with the lighter ply. I'm also considering a sheath of glass on the outside for abrasion (two boys 11 and 7 will learn to sail/row/crash/capsize/beach in this) - unlikely to put glass inside.
    Last edited by gypsie; 07-13-2017 at 02:45 AM.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    You think you can sneak into Adelaide and steal that gorgeous boat from right under our noses, and get away with it? Not likely, you bloody scoundrel!

    But all the same, I will be watching your thread with interest as I am supposed to be helping my number 3 son build a Nutshell for his year 10 personal project at school this year. We have the plans and the book, and good intentions, and have started to make a space in the shed, but that's about it so far.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Nice Yacht you've snaffled there and looking fwd to the build. Cant make out if you actually found a thread on Nutshell but there was one by Zuri (Travis). Whoops that was a Shellback - aren't they similar??

    heres that thread anyway
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...lback-for-Zuri
    Last edited by andrewpatrol; 05-11-2017 at 05:08 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    You probably have more than enough room on that lovely boat for a solid pram, but here is a nice idea that I build to fit on my somewhat smaller 8.0 sailboat. I built an 11'6" one and is was a super simple quick build. There are lot's of examples shown here.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=nest...X3kL6h4JdRB_M:

    Tom...
    "Lord, please keep your arm around my shoulders and your hand over my mouth."

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    In looking for ideas on the nutshell, don't overlook the shellback, a little longer with a pointy front instead of a pram bow but essentially the same boat. My brother built a shellback and there are a few shellback threads kicking around. You'll be on your own for figuring out how to put a second transom on her but I suspect the little one in front would be similar to the big one in the back.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewpatrol View Post
    Whoops that was a Shellback - aren't they similar??
    yes!
    perfect thread. I remember watching that as it was happening.
    what a way to intimidate a would be boat builder though! sheesh.

    thanks for that
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Hoffman View Post
    Thanks Tom,
    This one caused a proper double take;



    like a magicians trick without the glamorous assistant.
    Hard to see how it would nest.

    but yes, i've thought about a nesting unit. I am just thiking about towing for now. ocean voyages where stowing on deck is required are not on the horizon just yet.

    thanks mate.

    Trev
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    You'll be on your own for figuring out how to put a second transom on her but I suspect the little one in front would be similar to the big one in the back.
    I'm being a bit precious about the past threads.
    Maynard Bray's book is very detailed and complete. It'll be hard to go terribly wrong (though i'll manage getting close i'm sure).
    But i agree, the Shellback does seem to have all the same challenges.

    Trev
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    It's not much of a step by step kind of thread but it could be inspirational. I just thoroughly enjoyed rereading it.

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...th-my-daughter

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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Is this an insane idea?
    see at the first chine down, where the sheer meets the middle strake; couldn't a baton run the length of that chine form a shelf to which the mast partner, thwart and aft seat can be attached. it looks to me like it would raise them about their own thickness, which isn't much.....?
    I'd build the baton into the jig from the start, so the strakes would fix directly to it.
    i can see a number of advantages; greater rigidity to the sides, greater 'landing' pad for the strakes, easier fit for the seats, and really minimum weight gain.



    Have to think through the dagger board case, see if i can lift accurate measurements from the drawing, but it could be built up.
    There is that rule about messing about, 'improving', well tested designs..... Am i in danger of crossing a line?
    Last edited by gypsie; 07-13-2017 at 02:46 AM.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Gypsie, That 1st to 2nd plank lap is already probably strong enough given its a double thickness and the two planks meet at an angle to each other, on a curve, to boot. You also have the inner/outer gunwhale not far away, not to mention seats etc.
    Also that fulll length batten would create a dirt ledge and make it harder to tip dinghy on its side to drain water out.
    You could make the seat cleats slightly longer if you want for a better landing but again see point two above.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    She doesn't need any extra rigidity, you don't need an extra landing pad for the strakes and I don't think it would help with the seats very much.
    Plus, it could be a place where water sits without draining, leading to bad things happening down the road. Like green slime.
    Other than that it sounds fine.

    Oh, I forgot to add that Waterwitch is gorgeous!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Tasman Seabird is one of my very favourite yachts - congratulations!

    I also have plans for a Nutshell and have been thinking about ways to make it lighter too. I think the best way would be to build it from foam (not sure what the foam is called but it's commonly used for building lightweight dinghies etc. I love the idea of a dinghy you can easily lift by hand onto deck.

    That `batten' you're talking about is really a chine log. It's a pretty common, traditional method in building plywood, and planked, boats. The chine log can be shaped with an angle to expel water or filled with, er, filler, to shed water. I don't think the Nutshell needs it though, even with your thinner ply (and sheathing).

    Rick

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    The thinner ply would mean a smaller lap of material at the plywood/epoxy joints. The thicker bottom to garboard plank lap joint, is the most vulnerable.

    After 20+ years of hard use, the achilles heel of our Nutshell has been that plywood epoxy joint. The joint is strong but it has to endure a lot force, especially if you build and regularly use the sailing version.

    Because the Nutshell, under sail, is so stiff (broad hull shape), the mast can apply tremendous leverage - twisting - to the lap plank seams forward of the center thwart. Ours is sailed hard often with a huge load(3+ adults). It's never capsized despite very heavy winds.

    And then there's groundings under sail,... That can test not only the centerboard case joint but the forward lap joints at the plank seams.

    Ours has been dragged for years on hard granite and worn out a metal keel shoe. The plank/bottom material is plenty thick enough for that abrasion but the plank joints, I wouldn't want those to be smaller. If I built another one, I might consider increasing the garboard thickness, to make a stronger bottom to garboard seam.

    I've repaired both sides of the bottom to garboard epoxy lap joints. Not too big a deal. And I've added 2" glass tape to the exterior of the joint as well. It's still strong and dry after all that use.


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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    They're such a great little boat and that's a terrific photo!

    Rick

    PS What did you make that rubbing/fender strip with?

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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Quote Originally Posted by RFNK View Post
    They're such a great little boat and that's a terrific photo!

    Rick

    PS What did you make that rubbing/fender strip with?
    We used this stuff, Rick, Tom's looks like the same: https://shop.hamiltonmarine.com/prod...50--26593.html

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Thanks! Looks like great stuff - expensive! I don't think it's available here so, with exchange rate and freight, it would cost about $500 per dinghy. Hmm ...

    Rick

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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    I was originally thinking of a chine log at each chine. I have some 10mm by 50mm strips left over, I was thinking of placing them in the corners of the molds pre-planking. Plane to match the sides and glue each plank to it. It would, after planing, leave a glueing surface of 15mm to 20mm, plus the edge of the ply plank, I'd have an inch (in old money) to land the next plank.
    Wouldn't add any material weight.
    i bought the stock, 7mm ply, so ever so slightly over the spec'd material. But it feels very thin! Just lining them up for scarfing, at 12:1 that's 84mm - very slight gradient. Those edges will be very delicate until glued up. It feels like tapered edges could do with a little assistance.

    Thanks for your insights Tom3, must remember to reinforce that bottom to Garboard join while it's easy.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenBauer View Post
    It's not much of a step by step kind of thread but it could be inspirational. I just thoroughly enjoyed rereading it
    Thanks Steven, that's a very lovely thread. I read some of it while it was happening. It always struck me as such fun, especially those happy smiles that seem so pervasive. I wouldn't challenge the idea that your thread lodged the idea of a nutshell in my mind to start with, positive associations ��
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    First things first;

    Last edited by gypsie; 07-13-2017 at 02:50 AM.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    tried mounting it facing out, didn't work well, but reverse is just right.



    Now, on with the boat.
    Last edited by gypsie; 07-13-2017 at 02:50 AM.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Tidied up the shed to make some space.
    All the kids old clothes and toys that have been sitting in there for 18 months have been shipped off the the Saint Vincent De Paul shops to be recycled.
    here's the 'After' shot.



    The beehive in the foreground is an -ex-beehive now unfortunately.
    The west coast of Australia has been invaded by a little beetle from Africa called the 'Small Hive Beetle'. They get in and lay their larvae in the comb, and in so doing kill the existing bee larvae. A healthy hive can keep the infestation under control, the only danger is the queen gets annoyed by their persistence and flee's for greener pastures taking her army with her. This hive was abandoned about a week after we discovered their presence (and retrieved about 15 litres of honey).



    They also turn the wax a yucky mucky brown and, whatever it is they do to it, makes it unusable. Doesn't even melt under a heat gun.

    Anyway - Boat stuff;
    Strongback in progress.

    Last edited by gypsie; 07-13-2017 at 02:52 AM.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    My brother in the US sent me the book and plans and with that built the Nutshell a few years ago at home here in Victoria. It was a thoroughly enjoyable build. I didn't sheath the hull as I figured any dings & gouges could be easily repaired and thus kept the weight down. I'm now doing a Devlin Pelicano Shrimper which has been a challenge. Enjoy!

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    We've had a couple of hives on our place for 18 months or so, which a beekeeper friend abandoned. We had another beekeeper friend open them up the other day. Plenty of bees flying in and out, but no honey! Don't know what that's all about.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    We've got a friend with beehives in Taree. He's always getting stung by them - I think you'd have to be nuts to have beehives! But I don't really like honey .....

    Aaaanyway, off we go with the Nutshell - great!!

    Rick

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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Quote Originally Posted by gypsie View Post
    Is this an insane idea?
    see at the first chine down, where the sheer meets the middle strake; couldn't a baton run the length of that chine form a shelf to which the mast partner, thwart and aft seat can be attached. it looks to me like it would raise them about their own thickness, which isn't much.....?
    I'd build the baton into the jig from the start, so the strakes would fix directly to it.
    i can see a number of advantages; greater rigidity to the sides, greater 'landing' pad for the strakes, easier fit for the seats, and really minimum weight gain.
    I built a 9'6" Nutshell in '08 and still sail it regularly. The big disadvantage that I see is that that batten would make it very uncomfortable to sit on the sole of the boat with one's legs athwartships and one's back resting against the curve of the hull. While sailing, I find that that's one of the most comfortable ways to sit, particularly if two people are in the boat (in which case they sit on opposite sides, to balance the weight). Sitting on the thwarts is more for rowing that boat, in my experience. When sailing, I'm almost always down between them.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Quote Originally Posted by RFNK View Post
    We've got a friend with beehives in Taree. He's always getting stung by them - I think you'd have to be nuts to have beehives! But I don't really like honey .....

    Aaaanyway, off we go with the Nutshell - great!!

    Rick
    I like honey. But I also like flowers, fruit, trees, vegetables, all that stuff. Sorry for the thread drift!

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Hi gypsie,
    I built a 9'6" nutshell a couple of years ago and am very happy I did. I decided to try and make it light - row only, lightest Okuome to the plans and solid mahogany transoms, doug fir laminations, light cedar seats, did not epoxy coat or glass except for a bit of dynel on the bottom, painted with 2 part Interlux Perfection. Bronze rubstrip on the keel and that great gunwhale guard. Mine weighs about 75 lbs and rows like a dream. I don't use it hard and if I did I think I'd wish I had epoxy coated the whole hull and added some glass for strength and toughness. There was a very well photographed build essay on line of someone's build that was helpful to me - I'll see if I can't find it and post it. I used 8' ply and scarfed the joints with a hand plane for the long planks - went pretty well and I am a sailor not a carpenter. The book is helpful but if you are a first time builder as I was, it can be kind of challenging figuring out the bevels and stuff-the easy way out is the kit I suppose, but I take some pride in having done it from scratch. I kept an hourly record for a whlle, but I'd be afraid to figure out how many hours I have in it. Lovely little boats though - burdensome, tow well, row well and look good - they sail pretty well too. Good luck!!

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Went to the timber yard, they had no Marine ply, only 7mm shuttering.
    Quick decision to saturate everything in CPES and epoxy - okay i'll take it.

    Waste of money. Stupid decision, don't know why i went against my own better judgement..... Haste, just wanted to get on with it.

    There - i got it off my chest.

    Head down to Mr. Plywood this weekend to get 6.5mm marine ply.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    I like Mr Plywood but their marine ply is quite heavy. You might consider contacting Bruynzeel at Brookvale. They have some lighter marine ply.

    Rick

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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Quote Originally Posted by RFNK View Post
    I like Mr Plywood but their marine ply is quite heavy. You might consider contacting Bruynzeel at Brookvale. They have some lighter marine ply.

    Rick
    Thanks Rick,

    Bruynzeel is the bench mark, but just too far away. I won't get a chance to get up there for a while.
    Mr. Plywood seem to have a few options; 'Genuine' Mahogany (which i like the sound of), White Cedar and 'Decorative' Cedar - which is imported.
    All are about 10kgs to 11kgs per sheet.
    The white cedar ply is 6.5mm, where the others are 6mm.
    http://www.misterplywood.com.au/Prod...nePlywood.aspx

    Its a real head spin moving from my familiar kgs and millimeters - into inches and fractions. I was raised in imperial in Ireland in the 70's, but its been a long time since I've had to use it.
    Did you know the official (national) measurement system for the USA is metric....? Which makes sense when you recall it was the French who armed and trained its military to win independence from the British. Hence also driving on the right hand side of the road....
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Mister Plywood is no longer in business down in the Gong, but Joe's Plywood seems to be a happy business. At least Joe is a happy chappy.
    2 sheets of 6mm ply with 5 plys to make me feel better.

    2 sheets of ply.
    One cut in half lengthways.
    One half of this further cut with 4ft to be rotated and match the end of the full 8 x 4 sheet = 10ft board. 4 x 10
    The remaining 2 x 4ft cut in half again to give the 2 x 8ft piece an extension = 10ft board. 2 x 10

    Cut and made ready for scarfing.


    Scarf edge roughed out, first with electric plane, then the belt sander when i started to get nervous about the amount of material coming off those thin little boards.


    Then some epoxy smeared on to wet out the joins. probably could have gone another little scrub of the sander on that right hand corner.


    Glued up with thickened epoxy and weighted down.


    The boards came up very nicely. the glue oozed out to fill the minute little step that might have existed between the scarf joins. quick rub of of the orbital sander got rid of the little bit of lumpiness where the epoxy gathered under the cling wrap. I feel like wrapping all my epoxy joins in cling wrap, its great.

    Trev
    Last edited by gypsie; 07-13-2017 at 02:56 AM.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    I had some 10mm x 50mm douglas fir strips left over from my last boat. So I thought I'd use that for the laminations, but there was no way 10mm was getting around those bends.
    My thicknesser seems to stop at 5mm, though it says 3mm....

    Got down the strips and ran them through the thicknesser. i think i have enough to do the job, but if not i have a few 2.4m planks of DF i can cut some more strips from.



    Stuck one on the jig to see if it would snap, it took the curve without any trouble really.
    It'll be interesting to see if they take the tighter turn on the centre laminated frame behind. I'll do multiple strips i think and keep a metal band on the outside as I've seen somewhere. That or steaming, but i'm not equipped to steam, hot towels.......

    Last edited by gypsie; 07-14-2017 at 01:41 AM.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Eventfull weekend, few hours anyway.

    Attempted to bend on my 5mm strips to the jig for the centre laminate. but there was no way they were going round that tight curve. So i built a steaming tube with PVC pipe.



    I'd like to say it worked a treat. as soon as the images of the big floppy piece of PVC pipe download i'll show all and sundry, even those who knew already, why you shouldn't use a PVC pipe for steaming.
    i know - its obvious.

    i built a wooden box which worked well, though the strips started to cool down pretty quickly after coming out of the box. I have the strips bent onto the jig but there are definitely cracks in there. might have to start again.

    for the bow laminate, got that glued up;



    And when it came off not a sign of spring back, millimeter perfect - very happy.

    Last edited by gypsie; 07-14-2017 at 01:44 AM.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

    Nutshell Pram Build pictures ; https://photos.app.goo.gl/1GdBcckcgBAWsbVg1

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Port Stephens
    Posts
    15,939

    Default Re: Building a Nutshell Pram - 9' 6"

    Hardly anyone here will agree with me on this but ...... if I were you I'd ditch the steaming, cut your timber into thin strips and laminate it. Steamed timber regularly fails, especially thin pieces. Laminated pieces will last a lot longer, it's easier to do and a lot stronger.

    Rick

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