Monday, June 23, 2014

Shop time: finishing touches for our Columbia 43

Making joints in the shop. On top is a dovetailed hatch frame, which is sitting on the medicine chest for the head. Next to them are the rails and stiles of the medicine chest door, which will be put together with mortice and tennon joints.
Lately I've been spending more of my boat-work time off the boat and in my garage shop. My goal is to finish the last bits of unfinished storage: a medicine chest for the head and six drawers for under our bunk.

These will be made primarily with dovetail joints. It's the best joint for the job, they look fantastic and, once I get going, I really like cutting them. There's nothing like getting it right and having the joint go together with a piston fit. Sometimes I get so excited that I call my neighbor Ray over as a witness. Once the joint is glued together the moment is gone for ever.

Ray is a great friend and a great woodworker. He spent most of the previous Saturday helping me resaw and plane what seemed like hundreds of board feet of mahogany and maple for the doors and drawers. That is just plain hard work. You can understand why master cabinetmakers assigned their apprentices that task.

Some of the mahogany and maple Ray helped me mill.
We ended up with a nice stickered pile of beautiful lumber in the thicknesses I needed and half a pickup load of wood shavings and cut offs.

This weekend, while I was in the dovetailing mood, I also cut the joints for a new hatch frame for Oceanus. The old one was an ill-fitting replacement made of cheap mahogany that had gone to rot. The new one is of teak and will fit perfectly.

I bought the teak several months ago and I've been working up the courage to make a hatch out of it. If I botch any part of it I'm out about $100 for the wood, not to mention my time driving to Portland to buy it and then making it. I'm much more fearless butchering the African mahogany I use on interior projects, which I can usually get locally for $4.50 a board foot. The teak costs $27 a board foot and I must drive two hours one way to get it. That's six times as expensive, if my feeble math skills are correct.

Oceanus has seven hatches. Two of them I built and four others I rebuilt. All the latter were rotten and leaked. The largest hatch in the forepeak seems to be in good order and is original to the boat. I may yet replace it, but it's low on the list of things to do.