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  • Writer's pictureMike

Sorting Strips, Form Alignment and First Strips

Since the last blog instalment, there has been significant progress on the kayak. Here is the first update:

After ripping the strips and keeping them in order for the planned book-match layout, I organized them by where on the kayak they should end up. I wrapped sets of strips up for the deck, sides and bottom of the kayak with each set divided into which side of the boat they are intended for. The main goal was to have the strips from the center of the board end up in the center of the kayak with mirror image grain. Needless to say it took a long time to come up with a plan, number and mark each strip with its position, separate and label each set of strips and then put them all in a place where they won't get damaged. Some cheap shelf supports screwed to the wall provided a nice way to keep the bundles off the ground and relatively flat.

Next, the forms had to be aligned to guarantee the final product comes out relatively straight and symmetrical. I purchased a laser level to help with this but ended up using a combination of the level, a clamped on strip or two and just eyeballing the alignment marks on each form. It was a frustrating process mainly due to the strongback not being perfectly straight and not as stiff as I had hoped. In the end, all the forms had to be removed and the holes in them enlarged to provide a bit more adjustment range on the strongback. Once the alignment was acceptable, the form spacers were fully tightened up using a couple wedges tacked into place.

My previous kayak was built partially without staples but it was difficult to keep the glued (to each other) strips from moving around a bit on the forms. This obviously occurred before hot-melt glue was invented... Another related concern I had was that the downward (toward the sheer line) pressure on the sheer strip (1st one) due to clamping on each subsequent strip would move the sheer strip out of position. To address this, I screwed some scrap pieces of wood to each form to add some support to the sheer strip. Maybe it's overkill but I feel it was worth the time to avoid problems down the road.

One advantage of using these supports was that they helped with aligning the forms and making sure the first strip ran true without any odd bends.

With the forms fully aligned and the sheer strip supports in place it was time to apply a bit of hot-melt glue at each form and declare the sheer strips installed.

If the final plank installed on a wooden boat is known as the "whiskey plank", what is the first one called? I don't know the answer to that one but I do know I have a long way to go....

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