Saturday, January 19, 2008

Canoe: Should be done by 2010

Ah, it's Miller Time. As I sit here savoring an ice cold beer, I can still smell the odor of burning plywood permeating the entire house. I spent a few hours working on the canoe, specifically marking and cutting the first piece out of the plywood. Let me just start out by saying that I'm very glad that I'm not $300 into this wood!

The marking went well enough, but there was one instance of mis-measuring. I've taken to using the 1" marking as the end of the straight edge because the 0" mark (or the end of the straight edge if you prefer) is kind of dinged up and I don't overly trust it to be true. The problem with this comes in when I forget to add an inch to the mark I'm measuring from. So, what ended up happening is that a mark that should have been at 3 3/8" ended up being at 2 3/8". The tip-off that something was awry came when the PVC pipe refused to make a nice radius. That prompted me to re-measure and find the problem. Once the first marks were in place (correctly), I nailed the PVC into place by pushing it against a nail pounded in at the mark and holding it in place with another nail on the other side:

I simply ran a Sharpie along the edge of the PVC to make the line that I would (attempt to) follow with the circular saw.

The bow has a one inch camber (mostly for aesthetic reasons, I think) that I drew by measuring half of the distance from the two front points, then measuring an inch from that line. I pounded a nail in at that mark, then tried to bend the PVC around it to get a good curve. The PVC was reluctant to make such a tight turn, so I ended up having to hold it in place while I drew the line. I wish I had a picture of what it took to do it, but since I don't, just visualize a game of one-man Twister. I ended up with one hand holding the PVC, knees brought into play in various areas, and the other hand both holding the PVC and wielding the Sharpie. It all turned out ok, though:

The second long line was pretty much like the the first, but without the mis-measurement. That done, I was ready for the first cut:

I set the cut depth on the saw at 1/4", but for reasons running from the 150 tooth blade (versus the 20 tooth default blade) to the fact that this is the cheapest saw money can buy, it took no less than six adjustments to get it set at the right depth:

As I cut along the long edges, the saw would bog down whenever I had to follow the gentle curvature of the lines. I was pretty sure that this meant following the camber of the bow was going to be a real bear, and I was right. Even with the maximum turn that I could make (which is where the burned wood smell that I am still enjoying came from), I couldn't get it to follow that tight of a radius. I ended up just doing it in two cuts:

With the blade depth set where I had it, I got all the way through the wood, but there were marks here and there on the OSB that demonstrated why I wanted to have it under there in the first place. Those were spots where the saw blade would have come into contact with the basement floor, and I really didn't think that would be a good idea.

So, here's the first part, all cut out:


  1. hey i think it is time for a new tool. what you need is a jig saw. with that you will be able to make all your curvy cuts. naturally long smooth cuts will be harder to keep smooth but i think you are up to it.
    the other one of the 2 readers your referenced a couple weeks ago--leo

  2. hey what happened to the "n" from my name-it was there in the preview. oh well

  3. Leon (aka Leo, aka #2):

    I have a jigsaw, and strongly considered using it. The Bateau people don't recommend it as they think it is harder to keep a long, straight line with it, but that wasn't the primary reason I decided against it. The thing about using a jigsaw is that the plywood would have to be up off of the floor, and I think the 1/4" thick plywood isn't rigid enough to sit flat on sawhorses.

    That said, now that I think about it, it seems that I could make the long cuts with the circular saw, then use the jigsaw to do the tighter radius turns at the bow and stern. That actually makes a lot of sense, so thanks for the suggestion!