Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

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.

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