Sunday, November 1, 2009

Swine Chine

The chine is the long, curved piece of wood that runs along the bottom edges of the boat, port and starboard (left and right, ye blasted lubbers). It reinforces the corner between the side planking and the bottom.

There I was, tra-la-la, merrily ripping a 16' piece of beautiful douglas fir. (Okay, "ripping" is an overstatement, I was using a circular saw and a careful eye to the inked line. 16' is a long long cut.) In this case the curve is too severe (not to mention a twist; it's a curvy boat) for the full piece to bend on, so I'm using three narrower pieces, each of which is sufficiently bendy enough. The three pieces get bent on individually, then all glued together.

Test-fitting the first piece is a complicated operation, involving crawling around on my hands and knees, scattering wood chips and spider carcasses (what eats spiders? Bigger spiders.) and trying not to scrape my back on the frames arcing above me like open arms.

At the bow, the chine piece is trimmed into a long and sharp angle, so it can nestle up flush to the front of the boat. Then it runs through six notches, one in each frame, bending and twisting and clamping and grunting it into place.

At the end of the boat the chine piece snugs up inside the transom, which has an angled socket ready to receive it. All I had to do was cut the wood to this complicated angle and it would press smoothly into place. Right? Who's with me?

I maneuvered the long piece of wood, flush at the bow, aft frame by frame. When I reached the transom it was time to trim it to the right angle, so I clamped five or six times until it was just right, tried several measuring techniques to capture both the angle and the depth of the hole, moved the light six or a hundred times so I could see, drew the line and cut.

Here is the result, after several hours of preparation, testing, re-testing, and finally cutting:


The chine (under my thumb) is exactly 9 millimeters too short, although it's at precisely the correct angle, thanks to my careful measuring. For what it's worth, the transom is exactly 9mm thick. Odd, that.

Luckily I had my Swearin' Hat on and was able to fire off a few blistering phrases, stunning mosquitoes and curling wood shavings. There was nothing else to do but cut a piece to make up the difference, since there was NO WAY I was going to spend another day working up another sixteen-foot piece.


And solution in place:

The douglas fir is beautiful and fine-grained. As if that's any consolation. I'll soak the whole thing in epoxy, drop a counter-sunk #10 x 1-1/2 bronze screw in through the transom, and it'll be fine.

But still.


Barbara said...

Ray would be plum proud of your use of epoxy--solution for all problems.

Peter S said...

In my projects, I would do the same thing, come up with the jury-rigged fix, epoxy it in place and as it was drying, notice that I'd put the chine in upside-down.

Sam said...

Nice. How did that happen?

Sam said...

Weird, my comment times post at east coast time. How does it know?