Pouring a thick coating of epoxy onto a table top can produce a unique effect. With a ¼” thick coating, you can cast a variety of objects in the epoxy for decorative accents. Coins, fabrics, sticks of wood, memorabilia and photographs have been used in this decoupage application. Here are a few tricks to make things go more smoothly. Continue reading →
The sharpie’s main reason for existence for over a hundred years is its fine operation in shallow water. However, the conventional sharpie rudder is notorious for causing squirrelly steering, often becoming totally ineffective when the craft heels more than 20°. Most sharpie sailors simply accept the handling aggravations of the conventional rudder in trade for its wonderful steering ability in the shallows. I decided to resolve the traditional faults in steering by installing a special rudder and steering system that has evolved and is used on some contemporary boats. This system will yield maximum control over a wide range of wind and sea conditions while retaining the sharpie’s shallow water virtues. Continue reading →
Wet sanding with waterproof sandpaper is often the best approach to sanding cured epoxy. Wet sanding removes amine blush while you sand, reduces clogging of the sandpaper, and reduces dust and exposure to partially cured epoxy. It lets your sandpaper go farther and provides a visual clue that everything is properly sanded. However, if you have bare wood or wood that cannot get wet, you will need to dry sand. Continue reading →
Boats are my first love, but I get excited about projects like this Supermileage® vehicle, other SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and airfoil carved-foam bicycle. My job offers great opportunities to talk to some of the most talented and positive thinking people around: sculptors, inventors, rocket builders, and good ol’ boatbuilders. Folks who envision and tinker with a desire to experiment, improve, compete, make a living or just play around. Continue reading →
Many wooden canoes and kayaks are viewed as objects of art, with finishes that have been rubbed and varnished and rubbed over and over until they glow. I’ve seen such beauties with a note nearby that says “DO NOT TOUCH.” But is that beauty only skin deep? Continue reading →
When I was building my first boat, my dad used to drive me nuts as he sat in his rocking chair considering “how to proceed.” I wanted to see the chips fly. Now, after many of my own projects, I realize the wisdom of studying the sequence of events from the beginning of a building project to the end. Building projects are a lot like a child’s dot-to-dot puzzle. Continue reading →
Cover Photo: ALPHA Z is like no other boat. It’s a stepped V-bottom planing runabout designed by Michael Peters Yacht Design.
If boat building was ever in a period of renaissance, it is now. One center for the revival in exquisitely constructed yachts is Van Dam Custom Boats near Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City, Michigan. Business partners Steve and Jean Van Dam have a 23 year history of building interesting wooden craft. Although Steve is a sailor, most of their work involves powerboats, custom one-offs and restorations. They are particularly noted for the fine detail of their wood/epoxy composite boats and their willingness to experiment with materials and structures. Continue reading →
When I was a kid, my older brother had a slingshot that was fashioned from a tree crotch. The wood fibers neatly followed the desired shape and nicely addressed the forces when operated. Centuries ago, many large ship components — knees, hooks, and floors were selected from forks, crotches and crooks of trees for much the same reasons. One-piece wooden parts were very reliable and the naturally grown beams and frames were key components of ship construction. As the availability of large naturally shaped timber diminished, large curved components were made of stacked and mechanically fastened smaller pieces of wood. Laminated wood structures weren’t possible until the relatively recent development of strong adhesives. Continue reading →
Steve Taylor of Steve Taylor-Builder, Inc. contacted us before undertaking a rather interesting project. He was about to build a boat shelter on an island in the St. Lawrence River. The design called for a row of curved laminated wooden struts, or columns supporting curved laminated tapered beams that would cantilever over the boat. The 25′ tall, 60′ wide structure would support a weatherproof fabric that would shelter both the dock and the boat. Continue reading →
What has eyes yet cannot see? A potato. But not this one. This special spud is 15 feet long and hangs in an indoor/outdoor market. It also houses a security camera which peers out of smoked Lexan® eyes. So this potato does see, guarding the real potatoes and bananas from would-be vegetable larcenists.
Suppose you needed a 15 foot-long potato. Well, not a real potato, but a sculpture that looks just like a potato. Unlike your run-of-the-mill spud, this one would have to hang outside exposed to wind and weather. It would need to be sturdy and light weight. You’d also need it to last a long time — no rotting allowed. What would you make it out of? Continue reading →