Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cool features of my kits

I'd like to discuss, in the next few months, a few examples of groovy ways to engineer a boat kit and build a boat. The first photo shows the side girders of the CNC cut strongback. This has been one of the gbuildest aspects of creating kits. In a few hours time, the strongback can be built and the chipboard molds attached via precut slots cut in mold and girder. If you make "Spock hands" with your left and right hands and insert left into right, you'll get a good idea how accurately and easily a CNC cut strongback is to set up. Even  these two dogs were able to do it, no sweat!

The second photo shows the chipboard bulkhead supports that slot into the girders and then are locked into alignment with a long batten which slots into the supports and automatically squares up the set up. These chipboard components are made out of 1/2" and 5/8" Advantech chipboard which stays quite flat. These chipboard components DO NOT become part of the boat.

The third photo shows the bulkheads and other marine plywood components of the boat mounted on the setup. Notice how the strongback catches the top of the stem so it locks into place. Anyone who has mounted a stem in 3d space over a strongback can immediately see how nice this is! You can also get a better sense in this shot how the supports slot into girders.

Next time I'll try to get some additional close ups of the alignment features of the building jig unique to my kits. These photos are courtesy of Jim Levang building hull #1 of the Calendar Islands Yawl. His build is at

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New kits, Old kits, More kits!

New and Updated Kits

Calendar Islands Yawl under construction
Updated Deer Isle Koster (KDI) kits being cut out West

The CIY hull#1 is being expertly built in Duluth and everything is looks really good. The boat has been set up and planking has started.

The building jig set up was all CNC cut and self-jigging. In a post on the Wooden Boat Forum about the CIY project, the builder says "I have the distinct sense of the boat building itself" as he assembled the building jig and is not planking within 10 days time working on the side.

Here is the boat so far, all photos courtesy of Jim Levang, builder and owner of hull #1.

The building jig set up. All parts are CNC cut.

The stem, bulkheads, centerboard trunk, and transom all set up. They were all CNC cut.

Bottom and garboards attached!

But that's not all! You can also get the updated KDI. This model is not my own design, but drawn originally by Bruce Elfstrom, friend, fellow designer, and small boat guru from Connecticut who plays with boats, particularly Scandinavian type boats on the side. I have done a lot of new design work with the help of three builders of hull #3, 4, and 5. Photos below courtesy of Frank Stauss in New Jersey. He looks to be doing a fabulous job. 
New Jersey KDI.


The Deblois Street Dory is getting a few tweaks to the building jig set up to facilitate building and then two kits will be cut. Finally, the last project will be to finish the Drake 19, a new model. A bit of a line up is forming there for this kit. Everything is on track to be done by the end of May. Then I am going rowing and sailing, dang it!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Calendar Islands Yawl Update

The CIY is becoming Reality

A father son team builds CIY #1 in Duluth, MN.

The last update had me quarter scale modeling the CIY hull. That work has completed and I've even put some paint on the model so it looks presentable. The model is also a great opportunity to use up left over paint and to test colors. I consider the color scheme -- and lack of varnish I might add -- to be an important part of the overall feel of my boats. I am not settled on the scheme, but still looking for the right brown for gunwales. I like the sand interior. The dark blue is the only boat I have ever used it and it works OK, but I am not in love with it.

My little guy helped me paint the interior of the CIY model. He said the interior color "looks really good, Daddy". So I'll go with that!

CNC Cutting in Maine

The parts for the kit were cut at Hewes & Co in Blue Hill, Maine. They also cut the Vivier boats now and all the Oughtred kits and I am so glad to be doing business with them. Here is their work:

The CNC cut Advantech chipboard supports for bulkheads with some patterns, too.

The CIY planks being CNC cut with the NC Scarf.

While the cutting was going on in Maine, the builders in Duluth were starting the birdsmouth masts and spars. They are great, hard working guys and have built several boats.

CIY Builders fabricating hollow-birdsmouth mast.

The kit arrives in snowy Minnesota. You can see the Advantech strongback components here.
The parts making begins. Here they glue up the NC stem.

My way of giving

In the meantime, in my studio overlooking the Saco River I work on more CAD files for people who want to build my boats. It is the highest honor and I will work hard to make it happen for them. They always give back and make the design better than I could have made it alone. The revised KDI kit is about to be cut again on the West coast, the new Drake 19 is shaping up for a few interested rowers, and the Deblois Street Dory is getting a revision based on the Compass Project build and plans and kits will be sent out this spring. I have views like this to keep me going.
I live in the North Dam Mill there on the left bank if the Saco River. The ice is almost out on the river!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Drake 19 Design Work Continues

Drake 19 Rowboat Project

Oar-and-Sail Tandem Rowboat and Cruiser with downwind sail

Drake 19 Rowboat with "squgsail" for off-the-wind sailing. Drake is primarily a rowboat (no board; rudder not shown above)

The 19 is essentially a stretched Drake 17 with the hull lines tweaked to support tandem rowing and fast, camp-cruising. The boat is being modeled currently and the hull lines tested next with a quarter scale model. Once the hull form is all set, the interior will be modeled and strongback prepared for kit-building. I'm excited about this boat and look forward to setitng up the first builder. I always offer an intro discount for the first builder as they are providing me with the help of documenting the build and providing feedback. If interested in being the first builder, please let me know. You can be experienced or a beginner, but one project of experience is helpful as is some good ole' problem solving abilities. The discount is generally 25-30% and the plans are free to the first builder.

Preparing the quarter scale model for the Drake 19. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Calendar Islands Yawl Modeling Continued

Fleshing out the Calendar Islands Yawl

Modeling the Interior

While I am actually breaking out the geometry of the final 3D computer model, the interior of the "in-the-flesh" model was glued in yesterday and I'll prime it today.

Cutting out quarter scale bulkheads for Calendar Islands Yawl interior.

It never ceases to amaze me how everything just fits. Paper patterns are Spray77 tacked to 1/8" plywood and cut to the line on the bandsaw. Then the parts are glued into place with little to no refinement and they fit well. It makes this method of proving out the hull design quite efficient.

After hull turnover in actual full-size construction, this is what the boat interior will look like.

The beauty of kit construction, is that we set up stem, bulkheads, and transom on a CNC cut, self-jigging strongback. And after planking, we turn over the hull and the interior structure is already complete. In traditional construction, the molds would be removed and bulkheads fit in their place. Kit construction allows the professional and home-builder to skip the time consuming steps of making patterns and scribing in bulkheads.

After turn over, the tank tops are put in place. They play an important structural role in stiffening this very light boat.

Stay up to date with me as next I'll prime the hull and make paint choices. Furthermore, the cutting files will be ready for CNC cutting of the first kit. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Modeling in the Flesh and Screen

 Modeling the hull

After slicing and dicing the hull "shell" in the computer, I had the parts cut and assembled them into a quarter scale model. Modeling is a great way to test the plank shapes and make sure the lines look good in 3D reality. 

The CNC cut parts delivered by CNC Routing & Design in Camden, Maine.

The molds set up and plank-keel attached. The molds are stand ins for the permanent bulkheads that will be set up in the actual boat. The molds are set up using hot glue.

Planking up the model over the molds. The planks (1/8" thick ply) fit well and the lines came out as fair as I could have hoped.
The CIY model with outer stem and gunwales attached. I slightly tweaked the sheer.

Aft view showing a very pretty transom. I also made slight tweaks to the width of the strake below the sheer, but most people would never notice. Not me; I see a line that's a 64th of an inch off!

Once I was assured that the hull aesthetics and plank fits were "right", I proceeded to finish modeling the interior of the hull and, finally, designing the strongback system, no small task. I'll report on this next post and hopefully show some paint on the model, too!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Real Hull Model

The Calendar Iands Yawl

Hull Modeling in the flesh: part 1

CNC cutting parts for a quarter scale model

The 3D computer model is sliced up into sections that become molds for defining the hull shape.

You can see the molds formed now, trimmed to the hull surface,  and one more to go!
The hull is planked and ready to be broken up into the "flat" 2D geometry.

A neat screenshot that shows the 3D and 2D nature of the work: in the foreground is the 3D hull model. In the background is the geometry flattened onto the "construction plane".
This is the file with the 2D geometry as received by the CNC cutter, CNC Routing & Design in Camden, Maine. Tim will load the file into his Shopbot software, make toolpaths, and cut the parts.

The ShopBot machine cuts to my lines with a couple thousands of an inch accuracy. These are the planks of the boat, the bottom keel plank in the center and the sheer strake to the far right and left.

The molds of my quarter scale kit around which the planks will be wrapped and checked for fairness and for fit.