We have been in the shop a bit over these few months. As Christmas presents, I designed and built paddles for my kids. The larger one, for my daughter, is modeled on Cree style. My son’s is Tlingit-ish (I blunted the tip for improved wear and to limit weaponization potential). All in all, I quite happy with them. They are fully varnished – scoff away, purists – and I managed to put a strip of thickened epoxy along the blade tips for wear. Looking forward to getting them out on the water this spring!
You will find that, from time-to-time, my blogging slows down here at Chine bLog. Sometimes it is the Real World beckoning, but often it is because I have a project going on. When I can, I am building skills at small boat design and construction, as an avocation. Much of this work fits in the Fusion of Tradition philosophy. I am eager to show off what I do and hear feedback on it.
From my earliest days dabbling in boat design I have wanted to build to my own design. In 2010, the dream came alive in the form of my new boat AL DEMANY CHIMAN. In initial use she has proven able, quick, light, and head-turning (if I may say so). She is also already award-winning. View highlights of the boat or browse the entire set of posts about her.
This was my first fully independent boat building project. The Peace Canoe design appeared in one of the first of WoodenBoat’s Getting Started in Boats supplements and is a good first project (by design). After some use she has proven solid and stable, though heavy and slow. She was featured in WoodenBoat magazine’s Launchings section in early 2008. View the index page for highlights and an overview as well as the entire set of posts.
I designed “LiLo” as my project for the Elements of Boat Design class at the WoodenBoat School. I did my best to reproduce the drawings in a legible manner (and barely succeeded). It was a fantastic experience and I am pleased with the results. I think she’d look stunning in any anchorage. I recommend forest green topsides and faux-tanbark sails.
AL DEMANY CHIMAN and the Sloop LiLo are the two designs of mine that have come the farthest, but others are in more formative stages. Check out my other designs and sketches, many of which build on my Fusion of Tradition philosophy. Warning: most currently hew closer to the “sketches” side of the ledger.
Browse posts about all my other projects
- The latest from our shop – canoe paddles for the kids January 30, 2013
- Time for a little boatbuilding philosophy February 21, 2012
I have given my dad a subscription to Maine Boats, Homes, & Harbors Magazine for several years. Recently he sent me a couple quotes he took from an article in the recent issue (I believe the editor’s note from the March 2012 edition). Behold:
The desire to build a boat is one of those that cannot be resisted. It begins as a little cloud on a serene horizon. It ends by covering the whole sky, so you can think of nothing else. You must build to regain your freedom… To build one’s own craft is to trade a certain kind of practicality for personal satisfaction. And to build with natural materials is also in a way to make a statement about yourself and how you want to relate to the world – to be thought of as part of the world, rather than an imposition on it.
Needless to say we here at Chine bLog can completely get behind this sentiment. In the run-up to building the Peace Canoe PEACE OF THE PUZZLE I had convinced myself that there was no way I could build a boat in the coming years. I was getting by via visits to the Alexandria Seaport Foundation and Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and shutting any further dreams out. When the idea to build a Peace Canoe started to germinate, and, more importantly, the path to do so emerged, the concept went from that “serene cloud” phase to the “I am buying lumber TODAY!” phase in about 3 hours. OK, fine, 3 days, but you get the drift. I was absolutely hooked on making that boat come to life in my back yard from the moment I realized I could.
Likewise, my skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN emerged out of many desires, with a statement of my identity being a more important one than I, at first, realized. I wanted to have this boat because it would be completely unique and would be an unequivocal testament of my personal design aesthetic (what I have written about elsewhere as fusion of tradition) and boating philosophy (small and naturally-powered, please, and suitable for at least light voyages). The boat represents what I wanted in a boat, but also very much something I needed to say.
Nice words from a nice publication.
- Memories Dept. – the check that kicked off my boatbuilding January 14, 2012
One more on checks I turned up during our clean-out. Here is the check I wrote to the late Harold “Dynamite” Payson for the building manual for my first boat, the Gloucester Light Dory. Pretty momentous purchase right there.
If anyone is looking to build this great boat, Payson’s book is invaluable. Just get it. You won’t regret it.
- AL DEMANY CHIMAN and the kayak get a new bunk bed October 31, 2010
I spent the afternoon building a new rack for AL DEMANY CHIMAN and the kayak. I’m pretty happy with it and it will make the Shaw, Inc. Building and Grounds Committee very happy.
- My son’s wooden toy ferry boat gets a paint job February 2, 2009
I showed off the toy ferry I made for my son a few posts back. I got her painted – the green is the owner’s specification – and she has been successful plying the “waters” of the play room. Reviews are strong and my son is now sure I can make anything in no time flat!
- Routers: be vewy vewy cayrfuwl January 15, 2009
[AHEM] This just in… power tools can be dangerous. I mean, hypothetically speaking, you could be playing with your new Christmas Dremel with router bits and being a little careless and then BUZZZZAP! You find yourself thinking “I just lost control of the piece and my finger is in the tool. Not good…” Totally a hypothetical situation, of course. But if it HAD happened, you can rest peacefully in the knowledge that nothing got cut off.
- A little light early-winter boatbuilding… a toy ferry for my son January 15, 2009
So my son loves trains. All trains. Loves… LOVES… them. His personal railroad is one of those wooden sets with Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. Actually I was completely psyched he took to this stuff – I can be a little railfan-y myself. I wanted, however, to tie in a little nautical thing. Brio makes a train ferry, but its a little lame seeming. I began to think: “Tim, you can do better.” So voila, boatbuilding, micro-size. I am pretty pleased, actually. They may be rumors that some defective maple kitchen drawers were harmed in the making of this boat. I can neither confirm nor deny this.
- Now all is right in the world – my new plates September 9, 2007
My wife is mortified, but I had to do it:
- A recent project – a wooden kayak paddle April 11, 2006
Here is a recent project of mine – a wooden kayak paddle. The shaft is white cedar and the blade is cherry, basswood, and walnut. I added the ferrule later. I love it – in addition to looking great, it is light and a good size for me.
I built it using plans from The Strip-Built Sea Kayak by Nick Shade. The plans are pretty good, though Nick has you build the paddle as a one-piece unit with a permanent feather. I would recommend NOT going this route. First of all, having a paddle you can break down is awfully convenient, especially when traveling with the whole family for a vacation. Second, Nick’s method of creating this joint involves some sketchy table saw work, as far as I could tell (I ended up figuring it out with a band saw) and it isn’t clear where exactly to attach the two pieces to make an even shaft. This fairly key piece is the one part that could be beefed up a bit. Again, however, don’t bother. You can get carbon fiber ferrules from Chesapeake Light Craft that work great and are much easier to implement.
- My first boat – a Gloucester Light Dory October 15, 2005
I was 16 and she was a Gloucester Light Dory, which is just a gorgeous design. The lines are amazing and she was beautiful to row. I am particularly proud of the transom, which my dad helped me do with leftover mahogany and finish bright. Same with the breasthook.
Of course I was young and stupid and sold her a year later, something I regret greatly to this day. NEVER DO THIS! It kills me – especially knowing that the buyer left her to dry out and de-laminate (he even painted the brightwork!). Argh…
- First recent project September 15, 2005
My first recent boatbuilding-type project was a canoe paddle for my daughter. It was her first birthday present. She’s three now and may soon be ready for it.
It is a pretty simple – I just carved it out of a 1×6 – but it was my first jump back into this world after a long absence. More on that later…