Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Frame Dressing - Part 2

It's been a fairly productive week. I'm trying to get through all the tasks necessary to dress up frames 5 and 6. So far, this has turned out well and I am pleased with the results.

To recap; my intentions are to added dressing to the gussets on frames 5 and 6 because these are exposed in the berthing area of the boat. My thinking is that it will be easier to do this now, rather than later. I will have to be careful during construction that these areas don't get damaged, but I am confident I can get through that without any major mishaps. The frames will be encapsulated by then. This will protect the dressing work, so wiping off any epoxy drips will be fairly easy and if they are scuffed (I'll try to avoid this), I can repair the scuff with additional coats of epoxy.

Dressing up the frames consists of rounding over inner edges on the frames, adding wood veneer laminations to the gussets, and adding end caps to give rounded edges to the gussets. Last week had started adding the veneers to the gussets and had constructed the end caps for one side of frame 5 and frame 6. 

This week, I've added the end caps for the one side of frame 5 and then cleaned them up. The following pictures show this process. Here the first end cap is being glued into position.  It needs to be slightly proud of the veneer so that they can be sanded smooth after curing.  

Here is the center gusset getting the same treatment.

You can see the end caps are slightly high (perhaps a bit too high on this particular gusset.

And after cleaning up the glue and sanding smooth.

One thing I found out after completing this side was that the rectangular gussets in the center were not symmetrical on opposite sides of the frame. I had to add some filler material on both ends of the gussets so that the end caps will be aligned on both sides of the frame. All of this will be hidden by the veneer, but I wish that I had thought of this when I was making the gussets earlier this year. This photo shows the filler material and some thickened epoxy. This will all be sanded to final shape before making and applying the  veneer to this side.

The other task that I have been working on is the wood inlay artwork for frame 6. Readers will no doubt remember the back and forth effort I have been going through on this. I decided to go with the laser cut inlay from Chesapeake Light Craft. These arrived yesterday, and I've started getting them installed.

The process requires that I create the veneers and then add the inlays. Creating the veneer means making a paper template first and then transferring that to the veneer material and cutting it out.

Then the inlays need to be positioned on the veneers so that the material can be cut away. This allows the inlays to lie flat with the veneer material. Chesapeake Light Craft supplied a template for cutting the circle which was easily accomplished using an X-Acto knife. I had to be sure to position the circle far enough away from the top and outside edges because there will be future construction work accomplished in those areas.

Then the inlays are laid in the circles and oriented in the desired way and taped to the veneer. And here are the two inlays taped to the veneers.

Next week, I'll describe the process of laminating them down and show the final results. I am also hoping to finish the end caps and laminations on frame 5 and then encapsulate both frames with several layers of epoxy. That should bring this phase of the project to a close.

Other work planned for this week is to purchase plywood to finish the transom frame and get that frame encapsulated as well. With a bit of luck I can get this all accomplished.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Frame Dressing

So after several weeks , I've actually got something new to show.This article continues on the process of dressing up frames 5 and 6.

It starts with several different attempts to do the artwork for frame 6. As mentioned previously, I had planned to do two wood inlay designs for the gussets on frame 6. I had initially bought some wood veneers at Woodcraft. Not knowing any better, I purchased a package of golden mahogany veneer and another package of different colored veneers. The idea was to cut the artwork out of the colored veneers and inset into the golden veneer which would cover the plywood gussets.

The first attempt at cutting the artwork out was a failure because the veneer would disintegrate under the blade of the X-Acto knife, no matter how sharp it was. What I hadn't thought about at first was that it needed some sort of backing to hold it together. So at first, I thought, okay I'll look into having it laser cut, but I found out that was going to be expensive (or at least more expensive than I thought). I was also unsure of how to go about insuring that all the artwork was cut out the way I wanted it to be.

So then, I started lowering my standards and thought, okay, I guess I could live with stenciling or laminating a printed version of the artwork to the veneer covering the plywood. I practiced with printing out the design and laminating it to a piece of scrap wood. The first thing I noticed was that the paper soaked up the resin and turned grey. So, I knew that wasn't going to work for the white sails I had in mind for the clipper ship artwork.

Maybe I could print on a plastic vellum instead. But I also showed the laminated paper to my wife and the first thing she said was "That looks like a piece of paper laminated on the wood!". Well, boo.

So I discussed the artwork with a graphic designer I knew and he suggested that I consider hand painting the art. I thought this would probably be best given the circumstances and certainly would look better than a laminated piece of paper. I spent some time trying to find the least expensive way to do this, but in the back of my mind was this feeling that I wasn't going to be happy with it.

It was about this time that I discovered a boat building sight that carried a small selection of laser cut inlays which at first appeared too big. At the same time I discovered that veneers come in paper and wood backed versions as well. I also discovered that they were readily available from my lumber supplier.

So last weekend I went to my local hardwood lumber yard and purchased a fine sheet of paper backed mahogany veneer. This was perfect for my needs as far as covering the plywood and far superior to the smaller golden pieces I had originally purchased. It is also much sturdier, which I proved to myself by cutting out some small designs as a test.

After examining my frames I determined that the inlays from the boat building site would fit after all. So I now have a fallback position for the artwork, although it won't be the artwork I originally chose. I am still going to try to see if I can find a way to do that first, but if needs be, I can go that route.

I experimented with acrylic paints and staining a small piece of the veneer and was able to get satisfactory results. I also decided to replace the compass rose artwork with an anchor and rope artwork which I like better. I will be staining several pieces of the mahogany veneer different colors with the acrylic paint and then getting them laser cut. I have determined that I can separate the artwork into it's component pieces and then provide this artwork with instructions to orient it in a certain direction so that the grain runs the correct direction. As for the cost, well I decided that as long as it's reasonable, it is worth it if I can get the look I am after and I won't have to say that I "settled for".

In other news, I laminated several of frame 5's gusset veneers yesterday and today cleaned them up. here are the photos so far of that process. First I applied a smoothing coat of epoxy on the plywood gusset. This was sanded smooth the following day and then cleaned up.

The veneers were cut out using paper patterns of the gussets, making sure to orient the grain direction the way I wanted it.

Next, I applied a thin layer of unthickened epoxy to the gusset and to the veneer, laid it down over the gusset, held it in place with a few small pieces of painter's tape, covered it with wax paper and then a plywood board. On top of that I set a cinder block for weight and let that cure overnight.

The result was exactly what I was hoping for and after sanding away the little glue that overlapped the top, it looks like this.

And finally, to give you some idea of what I am eventually after, here is a shot of the gusset with the end caps I made previously, setting next to it. It hasn't been glued into position, that will be the next step. All in all, I am very pleased with this and think that this very nicely dresses up the frame gussets in the cabin area. Once I glue it up, I will be encapsulating the entire frame with epoxy resin and it should like quite nice.

Frame 6 will be similar except that it will have artwork inlaid in the center of the veneer.

One final thing. I had been accused this week of losing sight of building the boat because I was spending so much time on the artwork. I realized that this was somewhat true, so I decided to continue the encapsulation of frame 6. The back side of that frame is not going to get any veneers so I coated it with three coats of epoxy.

So that's it for now. I feel pretty good about this latest progress and with some luck, by next week's blog article, I will have the artwork inlaid into frame 6's veneer. Still to do, is to veneer the other side of frame 5, make additional end caps for the other side of that frame, and then glue it all up. Then encapsulation.

Until next time, cheers.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Artistic Interlude Part 2

Work continues on dressing up the two forward frames (5 and 6). As mentioned previously, these frames have exposure in the berthing compartment at the front and therefore, I have decided to soften exposed edges and add some inlaid artwork to dress up some of the corner gussets. Other gussets will get a simple mahogany veneer.The purpose is to hide the plywood making up the gussets.

All of this will be added before encapsulating the frames in epoxy, so that process has been halted while I work on these two frames.

Here is an example of the gusset. You can see that it's plywood edges are still sharp while the frames on both sides have been rounded over. The plywood has bronze nail heads showing and a different texture than the surrounding frames. The flat diagonal surface between the frames is also rather ugly and needs dressing as well.

The first step was to make rounded over pieces approximately 3/8 inch in height that will fit up against the edge of the plywood on the three inner edges. That required some fitting, filing, and sanding to get them to the correct shape. At this point they still overlap one another, but this will be cleaned up subsequently.

That still leaves the flat diagonal area between the frames to cover. You can see it below the pieces previously fashioned.

 But first, the smaller pieces need to be glued together to fit around the gusset. I used the same epoxy I have been constructing the frames with, however, I added some wood dust to color it somewhat.

Once the epoxy has cured between the parts, the overlaps are blended in so that the part has a nice pleasing shape. Then another piece is fashioned to cover the flat diagonal area and epoxied to the previous pieces. This piece is also shaped to match the contour of the previous pieces as well as matching up to the frame members on each side.

The end result after cleaning up is a nice end cap that blends the sharp plywood edges into the frames. This end cap will be glued in such a manner that it is slightly higher than the plywood gusset. This is because a veneer will be applied to that surface and I want the veneer to blend into the end caps as well. More on that in a moment. Here is the end cap, after sanding, but before it has been glued into position.

All of these photos were of frame 6. That frame is only getting the round over treatment on one side as the other side will eventually have a plywood panel attached to it. However, frame 5 is further aft and will need the round over treatment on both sides as well as an extra set of gussets.

So far, I have the two end caps for frame 6 completed and have started making the end caps for frame 5.  The rest of my week has been devoted to house chores, but I did spend some time trying to cut out the artwork for frame 6.

If you recall, this was going to be a wood veneer with multiple colors inlaid into that veneer. The art work consisted of a sailing ship and a compass rose. I attempted to cut out the sailing ship using brand new x-acto blades. While I didn't have any trouble cutting along the lines of the small pieces, I did have trouble with the veneers disintegrating under the pressure of the knife. The smaller pieces were especially prone to this.

Ultimately, I had to abandon this approach as the parts were damaged too much to be used. So I decided to do some research on getting the parts laser cut. I have a few possibilities that I will be exploring more this weekend and next week. In the meantime, I will continue with the remaining end caps.

Frame 5's gussets won't be getting any artwork, but just a simple wood veneer. So once the endcaps are finished for that frame I will move on to adding the veneer. Frames 6's veneer and artwork will take a little while longer so I can solve the problem of cutting out the art.

The only other progress was the completion of encapsulation for frame 4, which gives me four frames completed with that process. Only frames 5, 6 and 0 (the transom) remain. As I mentioned, frames 5 and 6 will get encapsulation after the dressing up. The transom frame, can only be partially encapsulated because one side will eventually be attached to plywood, which I currently don't have.

So depending upon what I find with my research into laser cutting, I am hoping to have some inlaid artwork to share in the next post. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Fun Artistic Interlude

Last week I mentioned artwork and inlays on one of the frames but didn't go into any details. I have since worked out a plan and begun putting it into action. The idea is to place a small piece of artwork on each upper gusset on frame 6 on one side.

There are a couple of reasons for doing this. First, the gussets are exposed in the cabin berthing area. Since they are made from plywood and have boat nails showing, they are rather ugly unless I elected to paint them. However, the upper frame is also exposed and I am thinking that this exposed wood will look nice against a painted interior wall and roof.

So I want to laminate a veneer of wood over the gussets to cover the plywood. The veneer will be mahogany so it will look nice under the epoxy coating that will eventually be applied. The picture below shows the frame and the two smaller corner gussets will be the ones receiving the veneer.

The second reason I want to do this is because it gives me a chance to apply a bit of artistic flair to the boat. At first, I was simply going to do a wood veneer, but one morning I hit upon the idea of applying wood inlay artwork instead. Normally inlay is cut into the wood, but I cannot do this to the gussets because they are structural members and because of the nails. But using thin wood veneers, I can achieve nearly the same look.

I'll return to this in a moment, but I want to digress a bit and discuss the eventual plans for this particular frame. In the picture above, the side facing up will be towards the berthing area in the bow. The opposite side will form the wall of a small compartment at the bow where rope and other items can be stored. I will be attaching a piece of plywood to the back side eventually with a cutout for access to the bow compartment. I haven't decided on a hatch for the cutout yet.

Since the plywood will be glued to the other side of the frame, it will fit flush against the back side. But the front side will be exposed to the berthing area, so the edges of the frame parts need to be rounded over so they won't be sharp and they will look nicer.

I accomplished this rounding over last night using a router for the majority of the work and sanding to complete the ends where the router couldn't reach. I used a 1/4 inch round over bit in the router with a roller bearing guide. I set up the depth on a piece of scrap and practiced until I felt ready to do the frame. It was actually quite easy and I completed the task in about 30 minutes. 

The picture below shows the edge before sanding the ends. The router couldn't do the ends because the gussets prevented the router from moving far enough. Sanding was accomplished by drawing guidelines to show the extent of sanding needed and then sanding to match the round over contour.

For the artwork, I spent several evenings trying to find suitable candidates for the inlay. Not an easy task because most artwork is too complicated to be duplicated in wood. I also had difficulty finding art that I liked.The photos below show the two that I settled on. They represent the shapes that will be cut from the various veneers and not necessarily the actual colors. You can see the veneer packs in the first photo. The wood veneer pack is to cover the gusset and the colored veneers will form the artwork.

So the plan is to cut out the areas where each piece will fit so that after everything is in place, the entire piece will be one level. I'll cover this more in the next article when I have accomplished the work and have more photos. But with everything at one level, it will be nice and flat and should look like wood inlay if done with care.

Once I am satisfied with the artwork, the frame will get the same three coats of epoxy that the other frames have gotten. This will seal the frame against water damage as well as seal the inlay against the frame and protect the artwork.

The following picture is the pattern for the boat art. The trapezoid shape is the main mahogany veneer that will cover the gusset. The boat will be surrounded by a blue oval and will have various colors used to represent the various parts.

You'll notice that the art is offset from the center of the gusset. This is intentional as the outer edges of the gusset (the edges furthest from the art) will either be hidden by boat structure or partially cut out to accept part of the boats structure. This location is a best guess based upon photographs I have of this area from other builders of this boat, but I am fairly confident in the placement. The other artwork will be accomplished in a similar fashion.

Before attempting to glue this artwork down, I will be experimenting with various techniques to determine the best way to do this. I will cover this in the next blog article as well.

If all goes as planned, I should have two nice pieces of artwork to decorate the berthing area. I should also mention that frame 5 is similar in that it has gussets exposed to the berthing area. These however are facing forward and are more hidden by structure from what I can tell from photographs. So the plan is to simply round over the interior edges of that frame and apply a simple wood veneer without artwork to the gussets.

Until next week......................