Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

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......................

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