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Thread: building a mast

  1. #1
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    new hyde Park, NY, USA
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    Default building a mast

    working on my shellback, and up to forming the spars. for the mast, as per the plans I took a very large piece of spruce and cut it to 10 foot x 2 inches x 4 inches and then epoxied it together to form a piece of wood 4 inch square and ten feet in length. the plans say to snap a chalk line to find the center lengthwise and then measure in three places to get the diameters of mast, and then use battens to scribe the outline of the mast. here's the question; how do you cut a long curve in a 4 inch thick piece of wood unless you have something larger than a 9 inch bandsaw? by hand, plane, table saw ( can that cut curves in a 4 inch thick piece of wood?). I've never used a table saw without using a fence.

    thanks

    david

  2. #2
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    St. Simon\'s Island, GA, USA
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    5,560

    Default Re: building a mast

    When I made my masts, 20 ft and 22 ft long, for the sharpie, I bought from the local lumber yard nominal 1x4 poplar planks, none more than 16 ft long. I scarfed them for the length and laminated them until I had two 3 1/2 square pieces slightly more than 20 and 22 ft long. Then I used a string to lay out the taper from 3 1/2 square square at on end and about 1 5/8 square at the other, a straight taper, all four sides. Then I marked where the string fell about every three feet or so and then connected the marks with a straight edge and pencil. You only need to do this on two sides.

    I rented a 10 inch hand held circular saw and cut along my pencil lines. It is not as hard as you might think, no table saw. From there I eight sided with a power planer and rounded with a hand plane.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2004
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    Victoria BC, Canada
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    493

    Default Re: building a mast

    Quote Originally Posted by dposner View Post
    working on my shellback, and up to forming the spars. for the mast, as per the plans I took a very large piece of spruce and cut it to 10 foot x 2 inches x 4 inches and then epoxied it together to form a piece of wood 4 inch square and ten feet in length. the plans say to snap a chalk line to find the center lengthwise and then measure in three places to get the diameters of mast, and then use battens to scribe the outline of the mast. here's the question; how do you cut a long curve in a 4 inch thick piece of wood unless you have something larger than a 9 inch bandsaw? by hand, plane, table saw ( can that cut curves in a 4 inch thick piece of wood?). I've never used a table saw without using a fence.

    thanks

    david
    On my 20' Chebacco mast, I marked both sides, then cut from both sides with my Black and Decker "skilsaw" with 7" blade, then ran a handsaw down the cut to remove the remaining wood. I allowed a little extra wood for inexact marking.

    Jamie

  4. #4
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    Oct 2008
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    Walney, near Cumbria UK
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    Default Re: building a mast

    As you are working to a curve, cut saw kerfs across the blank down to but not touching the line, then use a power plane to remove the waste.
    If you are old school a draw knife would be the go to tool for a small spar.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

    The power of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web
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  5. #5
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    Mar 2014
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    Ronneby, Blekinge, Sweden
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    686

    Default Re: building a mast

    Or an axe, at least for the bulk, finetune with a plane, powered or not.

    /Mats
    Yes the avatar depicts me; yes I drew the comic boat pic, it's a joke on the pop song I'm not a robot by Marina and the diamonds

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Blue Hill, ME
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    Default Re: building a mast

    Circular saw on both sides, although renting a 10" saw and doing it on one side would be faster, if available. After square, then set it at 45 degrees to get it 8 sided. Then I eye ball and clean up with spoke shave, draw knife, planes to get it close to round. It makes a mess and a lot of kindling.
    You probably do want to keep the back side of the mast straight.
    Steve B
    Sjogin IIIa
    PAYTON 13' Pea Pod

    RIVUS 16' Melonseed


    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  7. #7
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    new hyde Park, NY, USA
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    Default Re: building a mast

    thanks, thats what I'll do!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: building a mast

    thatnks thats what i'll do!

  9. #9
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    Jan 2000
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    Portland, Maine
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    Default Re: building a mast

    This is exactly why making a spar using the birdsmouth method is so much faster and easier.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2007
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    Blue Hill, ME
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    Default Re: building a mast

    I will make the mast birdsmouth, but I'm actually following Gartside's plans for the rest of his spars. He'd probably be surprised to hear that.
    Last edited by SBrookman; 02-11-2019 at 01:59 PM.
    Steve B
    Sjogin IIIa
    PAYTON 13' Pea Pod

    RIVUS 16' Melonseed


    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
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    12,140

    Default Re: building a mast

    A draw knife is a handy tool for roughing off the long curved face. Cut the curve to a bevel on each side down to close to the line. Then trim the apex with the knife and finish with a hand plane. A wood bodied fore or or bench plane is a good choice of size to use. Divide up the facets and cut with the bench plane. If you can find a couple of wood bodied planes, re-shape one to a hollow to finish rounding the spar. Follow with a long board and 80 to 120 grit paper, through the grits, with fore and aft rolling strokes. Draw knife in picture being used for small work. Notice the amount of wood being taken off fast.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 02-11-2019 at 02:09 PM.

  12. #12
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    Mar 2010
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    central cal
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    Default Re: building a mast

    When using a draw knife on very long things, I use a set of custom horses that go end to end and have clamps to hold the work piece. They are low enough to simulate a shave horse, and are used much the same way.

    Peace,
    Robert

  13. #13
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    Jan 2016
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    new hyde Park, NY, USA
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    Default Re: building a mast

    you're probably correct, but joel white designed the boat, and I had just read the book about his last years of life; couldn't bring myself to altering anything.

    David

  14. #14
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    Jan 2016
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    new hyde Park, NY, USA
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    Default Re: building a mast

    sounds like you're a true boat builder with great skill. i'll stick to the circular saw I think for now.

    David

  15. #15
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    Nov 2004
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    Port Townsend WA
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    Default Re: building a mast

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    When using a draw knife on very long things, I use a set of custom horses that go end to end and have clamps to hold the work piece. They are low enough to simulate a shave horse, and are used much the same way.

    Peace,
    Robert
    What ever is used to stabilize a spar is ok as long as the stock is locked in place. I have worked on horses but I really prefer a spar bench even for repair work. This is a temporary bench we built for splicing a new upper section on the main mast of our H28. The bench was not full length but it is of the style I like to use. The 2x4's give good support and are good for vertical clamping a box spar.
    Jay


  16. #16
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    Sep 2009
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    North Haven, CT
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    135

    Default Re: building a mast

    I built all spars and mast for my Sharpie including a 27 foot mizzen and 26 ft main . I used special selected doug fir from home depot . greater 8 rings per inch and straight grain the full lenght of the board if possible( this is why they tell you to find the center i think so you the grain runs the full length and there is no stress riser where the grain and sheer under load. the best tools i found for the job was a hand power plane and a circular saw you will want the powered hand plane i got mine at harbor freight and it has served me well for 6 years . i joined the lumber with 10 to 1 scarfs and west marine epoxy. once you have the square you lay out the lines like you were making a squared tapered mast .you want to then t cut and plane to the lines from there into your tapered square . Then you can put in your 8 cut lines and power plane it down then lay out the 16 lines and power plane it down. I did not go all the way to round because i thought angles looked cool. anyway that's what i did and it works pretty well for my boat.

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