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Thread: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

  1. #1
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    Default Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    My father and I would frequently chat about boatbuilding and sometimes he would say to me “it’s a hard thing to build a boat, but building a hundred boats is easy”.

    My father never actually built 100 boats, so I would silently question where he gained the wisdom and authority to make this statement. But he did have a point. So much of the effort in building a single boat goes into the molds, jigs and templates needed, which are used one time when they could serve just as well for subsequent boats.

    My plan (having made the appropriate arrangements with Mr. Oughtred) is to build several Wee Rob canoes in order to compare the open, decked and sailing versions. I am also using this project as an opportunity to experiment with some "LVP" (Low-Volume Production) techniques. Templates will be made for everything I need to cut, including the planking. This won’t go down the path of any use of CNC cutting; everything will be done using the usual range of hand and power tools only.

    Beginning with the mold....Iain's plans for Wee Rob call for station molds only. I elected to add ribbands for several reasons. Ribbands would allow me to use a “wing” or guide on my block plane, Tom Hill-style, to more quickly and accurately cut the plank lands. Iain does reference the possibility of adding ribbands in his book on Clinker Plywood construction. I also have a somewhat half-baked idea to attempt a cold-molded Wee Rob someday, and I thought that I could repurpose the mold if that project ever comes to be.

    Wee Rob Mold_1.jpg

    block plan guide_3.jpg

    block plan guide_4.jpg

    The station molds were made full-sized and then notched for the ribbands at the plank lands, the width of the ribbands being the same ˝” as the plank laps. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t do it this way again. Notching the station molds was time-consuming, and the “busyness” of all the ribbands, particularly at the stems, wasn’t helpful for cleaning up glue drips where the planks were bonded together. I have found that glue drips and globs are one of the few drawbacks of clinker plywood construction. They are incredibly tedious to clean up later, so anything that can be done to prevent them is worth doing. Using ribbands, but just deducting their thickness from the station molds and screwing them to the outside of the station molds, may have worked better and would certainly have been faster.
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Looks like you've got a good start there.
    I've built five strip planked boats (all different designs, mostly Rushtons) using Tom Hill's method and wonder why more people don't.
    It's a great way to lay out planks and makes beveling very easy. Also makes clamping the planks easier.
    I opted not to notch the frames but just reduced the molds by the thickness of the ribbands. This also allows for fine adjustments in ribband placement to be made before final attachment to the molds.
    Cover the mold edges with packing tape to prevent wayward epoxy gluing the boat to the mold.
    Another Tom Hill trick is to wax the ribbands to keep epoxy from sticking to them.
    I built my canoes from 4mm ply for lightness. What are you going with?
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.
    Skiing is the next best thing to having wings.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Hi Rich,

    I'm using 4mm for the hull, and for the decked version 3mm on top.

    For okoume ply I've never used anything other than Bruynzeel, just because I have been led to believe that Bruynzeel (and possibly Joubert) is the highest quality. But it seems to be getting harder to find so I've started getting my okoume ply from Boulter, which is convenient for me because they are nearby. I'm curious if you or anyone else on the forum knows if there is a difference? The price is similar, and they all seem to have the same format for the production stamps, which makes me wonder if they all really come from the same factory.
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    To avoid the last-minute hunt for bricks and cinder blocks I made up a quickie scarfing table, where I could position the ply at the edge to cut the scarfs, then reposition both lengths of scarfed ply in the middle to clamp down for for gluing. I'm not sure if there is any better way to cut scarfs in 3mm or 4mm plywood besides by hand with a sharp block plane.

    Scarfing jig_1.jpg

    Inner and outer stems were made in the usual manner; the only thing of note was that I made an “outsie” jig for the outer stems and an “insie” jig for the inners (or maybe it is vice-versa) so that I wouldn’t need to cut through the laminations on the exposed faces. Alaskan yellow cedar for the inner stems and keelson, iroko for the outer stems and keel.

    wee rob stems_1.jpg

    wee rob stems_2.jpg
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Methodical and clean...nice work.
    Focus on the effort not the outcome.

    "Don't take life seriously. Either way, you won't make it out alive."

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    I believe all my ply was Joubert and it was good stuff.
    Note: all my boats are garage kept, never left outside to the elements.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.
    Skiing is the next best thing to having wings.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    My first keelboat was a Pennant, built in Whitestone NY. An observer recalled that he had patterns for all the parts, planks included.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Taking another page from Tom Hill's book, each plank lap was sandwiched between the riband and an outside batten. It was hoped that this would ensure a fair curve over the length of the plank laps, and it also enabled the use of simple plywood cramps to secure the laps while the epoxy set. These had a tapered throat and were made in a handful of different lengths. They were light, generated plenty of pressure for epoxy, and could be affixed one-handed during glue-up.

    Wee Rob Cramps_1.jpg
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    In the spirit of LVP I tried a jig for cutting the plank gains with a router. The jig is just two pieces of plywood separated by strips tapered to match the desired length of the plank gain for the thickness of the plywood (in this case 4mm). The top piece of the jig has a fence on each side and a slot in the middle for the router.

    wee rob_plank gain jig 1.jpg

    The end of the plank is inserted into the jig, it is aligned for the width of the gain by temporarily inserting a plywood “cassette”, and then the plank end is held fast by inserting two long wedges.

    wee rob_plank gain jig 2.jpg

    A router with a straight bit is used to cut the gain. The beveled top surface of the jig that the router slides on cuts a clean gain about 5” long in the 4mm planking in two or three quick passes as the cutting depth is increased until a feather edge is obtained. With a little practice I could do this in under three minutes per gain.

    wee rob_plank gain jig 3.jpg

    Wee Rob_plank gains.jpg

    This prototype jig is admittedly crude but it worked well enough that I’ll be building a more elaborate adjustable version for the next boat that can accommodate different thickness of planking stock. There is a downside in that the planks with the gains now pre-cut to a feather edge need to be handled carefully during transport to the mold and gluing, but I felt that the benefits outweighed this drawback. I also very much like the little cordless Milwaukee M18 palm router in the picture, as I do all of the M18 tools I have tried.
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    First hull popped off the mold cleanly, thanks to a lot of packing tape, and is ready for breasthooks and gunwales.

    Wee Rob 033122.jpg

    Wee Rob stern.jpg

    Wee Rob1 033122.jpg
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Beautiful.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Lovely design and well executed!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Glad to see that the sheerstrake is wider than the rest so that when the outwales are added, all the strakes look the same width.
    I sold the two Wee Lassie type canoes I built because I could no longer easily get in and out of them!
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.
    Skiing is the next best thing to having wings.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Gunwales in. The observation that Iain Oughtred's double-paddle canoes have lines like "baby whaleboats" seems apt. Weight is at 25 lbs with the floors and thwarts still to go, more than I had hoped but next time I'll try not using so much hardwood.

    wee rob 092722_1.jpgwee rob 092722_2.jpg
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    sweet and sturdy

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Beautiful work.
    What will be the finish? Paint? Varnish? Epoxy sealed prior to finish?
    I didn't seal with epoxy, knowing the boats would never be left out in the elements.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.
    Skiing is the next best thing to having wings.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Hi Rich, I may or may not coat the exposed edges of the planks on the exterior only with epoxy but no more than that. My experience has been similar to yours, I have a 35-year old Tom Hill design here that was not epoxy sealed (other than the Xynole-sheathed garboards) and it's held up fine despite spending lots of time outside, including more that a few winters under the snow. This one I will give 2 coats of Petit EZ-Sealer inside and out, varnish the interior and the outer sheerstrake with Captains 1015, and paint the rest of the hull with an off-white Brightsides. For the red cedar floorboards I plan to oil them for something that can be easily touched up as needed and a little softer than varnish. Probably Deks-Olje D1 although I've never used it before.
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Nice thread Walter, outstanding approach to updated 'traditional' boat-building techniques.

    Which of the three design lengths did you settle on for your Wee Rob builds?

    (I just 'discovered' it this afternoon after doing some tidying up in my garage in preparation for hanging my CLC Waterlust once the too-soon-to-come end of the midwest's sailing season arrives. Would have built a MacGregor some thirty years ago had I had my wits about me, not been working full-time, commuting 4+ hours round-trip to work, besides working through a whole-house remodel/rebuild project.)

    Been thinking about how much I enjoyed the process of building that Waterlust from a kit, then the amas + aks accessory package (for added stability under sail) from plans. I still have four+ sheets of Joubert 5mm around from that MacGregor dream... I like your jig for making the plank gains. Mind if I 'borrow' your idea?
    Last edited by sp_clark; 09-27-2022 at 03:28 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Hi sp_clark, I am building to the standard 12'3" length. One of the downsides of the battened molds is that I don't readily have the option of varying the length for subsequent builds. I too have an unused set of MacGregor plans which I hope to get to some day.
    The plank gain jig is not original with me, so borrow away! I am going to try to refine it a bit with the next canoe and I'll post the results here. I was pleased with how well it worked.
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  20. #20
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    Default

    Lovely!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Looks great!

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    I spent a lot of time pondering how to best attach the floorboards, as I wanted them to be easily removable for cleaning the "bilge". In the end I decided on threaded inserts in the floors with large-head bolts to secure the floorboards. I'm not crazy about them as I think that they look a little clunky, but I guess they can always be swapped out later for something less obtrusive.

    Wee Rob 11112022_1.jpgWee Rob 11112022_4.jpgWee Rob 11112022_3.jpgWee Rob 11112022_2.jpg
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    It looks good, and seems practical.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Launching tomorrow once the last coat of varnish on the paddle dries....

    Wee Rob 112922_4_crop.jpg
    Walter G
    Chadwick Pond Boats
    www.chadwickpondboats.com

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Gorgeous!

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Wee Rob Build in Massachusetts

    Very nice! I hope the sun shines for the big occasion.

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