Last night, after returning from dinner, I finished up the seam stitching on the bow and stern. Spent an hour or two making small “X”s along the edge where wood and two sides of the skin meet. Here’s a fact which I found surprising until I gave it a half second of thought: The polyester “skin” which is tough enough to endure a lifetime of seawater, sandy and rocky shores, the roof of whatever car I use to transport it – it turns out that this material is also tough to sew. Pushing that needle through four layers of weave, all in tension, took some serious effort. Yeah, I know – pretty obvious in hindsight. Luckily I had those leather gloves, so no bloody paws today.
Everything Sounds Dirty
A couple days ago we placed long strips of Ash into the steam box.
After they cooked we pulled them out and bent them to our will. (Our will, it turns out, is shaped like an egg.) It starts by hand again (or knee), getting that first ben dCorey has a very cool jig for shaping the ovoid curve we use for our cockpit ring.
The length is adjustable (fitting the theme of a personalized water craft); once that size is set, it just takes one shaper and one… ‘stander,’ I guess. Form the shape, put on some clamps and…
…Presto, a cockpit ring! It stays clamped overnight, then finished (sanded, drilled), and then banded for placement on the still-shrouded Baidarka. One – and I’m not saying whom – of the students was unable to refrain from making comments along the lines of “hey, I have a nice, smooth ash!” He (or he) was told to keep that to himself.
Caterpillar not withstanding (seems like I say that every day…), it was time to open the cocoon! This was the first view of what will be the finished appearance, and it’s another very exciting moment – it looks great!
Now that it’s open, pull up the fabric and stitch it all together! The front and back edges rest on cross beams; everything else is held in place only by the skin tension. Tension which is, thanks to my OCD stitching technique, ridiculously high. Tapping the skin makes a deep drumming sound, which I’ve been told is a good quality in a skin boat.
Now it’s just another bit of preparation before the urethane coating. Spray the fabric with water to loosen it up, then heat it up to slightly shrink the fabric, removing wrinkles. [side note: I was under the impression that only water and rubber shrank when heated, and everything else expanded. If someone knows enough chemistry or whatever to explain this, please shout!].
I worked with a hot air gun.
…and possibly something a bit less modern.
After a good amount of time being very careful with the heat (avoiding a hole in the new skin at all costs!), Corey came in and said: high heat. So, maybe I need to be a bit more daring – because he was right, and the hot iron steamed out the wrinkles beautifully.
Then Joe helped out again, giving me instructions on mixing the two-part urethane coating and applying coats three and four after Corey did the first two.
Another interesting fact: there is absolutely no way your hands won’t end up sticky.
The bottom of the hull is drying tonight; tomorrow we’ll flip it and coat the top. And then I gorged on popcorn covered with melted coconut oil, salt, and grated parmesan cheese. Never had that before, and now I can’t wait to make it again.
On an almost completely unrelated note, Corey is venturing into organic, all-biological ingredient skin care products. Alex and I learned the secret method for making his “whipped body butter” (various oils and vitamin E whipped into something resembling buttercream frosting, but smelling like coconut and bergamot) which, if you ever have the opportunity to try this stuff… do it!
One more day….