hello world – 1, part 2

was having quite lots of work, those coding stuffs, and suddenly I recall a popular joke of the IT field: Question: how many software engineers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: none, it’s a hardware problem! 🙂 . Plus the burden of many nameless tasks of the canoe building, sometimes I feel a bit tired. But occasionally on the way back to my workshop, I stop on the bridge, look out the wide scenes on the river. Boats of all kinds and sizes come and go, waves gently flapping the banks, the tide quietly rises and lowers, and the breezes murmur into my ears a long – forgotten melody: Moon river, wider than a mile, I’m crossing you in style, some day… And I felt that, the rivers are calling, they are calling me… To the next steps of the boat project…

4.     STITCH

This gonna be a fun part cause it resembles a kid’s game when he/she just cuts pieces of paper and stitches them together with glue. Forming the boat hull from plywood planks is much the same way, on a larger scale, hence the boat construction method named: stitch and glue. Starting from the center bilge, I drill 2.5 mm holes at 22 ~ 24 cm intervals to stitch the next 2 pairs of bilges together using short pieces of steel wire. Then I fit the forward and aft bulkheads, also the center mold, then stitch the final upper bilges. Let take a look at this photo album to see in details, how, in just a couple of hours, the hull gradually takes shape. It’s really fascinating to have completed this step, it produces the first impression on how my canoe would eventually look like! 🙂

5.     GLUE

The bilges are just temporarily hold in place by steel wires, next is to permanently glue the seams with thickened epoxy. I used a mixture of silica and wood flour (the collected sanding dust) to thicken epoxy, then apply to the seams with a small masonry trowel. The two sides of a seam are covered with duct tape in advance so that epoxy won’t mess around, and duct tape is removed when epoxy half cures, leaving a clean fillet line. The next steps are glueing the bow and stern sections, cutting steel wires, filling remaining empty slots, then turning the hull over and do the same thing on the exterior side. There’s actually not much work, but it require leaving epoxy overnight for it to completely cure before glueing more, it gonna take the next few days to finish this step.

6.     SANDING

Now the labour – intensive task of sanding (even with the help of power tools). But first, I would need to fair the seams’ fillet curves a bit with the angle grinder using 60 grit sand paper. Then fill all drilled holes left by the steel wires, then proceed with the random orbital sander through 3 levels of fineness: 80, 100 and 120 grit. Since the glueing was a bit messy, it puts more work into this step, to really smoothen the hull’s surfaces before being able to move to the next step. Sand the hull, wipe out all dust, sand again with finer sand paper, repeat 3 times and for both outside and inside, that means: lots of work, given that next week would be a busy week for me with my job! 🙁 But those “gorgeous curves” gave me lots of joy and encouragement on the to – be – finished – product! 🙂

hello world – 1, part 1

y first boat project now officially starts! 🙂 I’ve been thinking about building my own boat for a very long time, but still couldn’t arrange for it. Now, just have to stop daydreaming about “the ultimately – beautiful watercraft of my life” and roll up my sleeves. Given my poor woodworking skill set, after lots of consideration, I’d decided to start with a simple design and construction method, a 12 feet (3.66 m) Selway Fisher’s Asymmetric Baby Raven, intended to be my general purpose / fishing canoe with the given name: Hello World – 1 🙂 . In the upcoming blog entries, I will try to keep a log on the building progress, which is expected to finish within a month or so, cause I would mostly work at weekends, and some limited hours in the weekdays.


It took almost 3 weeks to make all necessary preparations: building myself a table and a shelf to store tools and materials, a simple workbench to work with the boat on. Also, I built a bed, a smaller shelf and a chair, all of the simplest kinds, as household objects. That is to get myself familiarised with woodworking, gain some experiences with wood, epoxy, fiberglass fabric… There were lots of new stuffs for me, whose hands have rarely touched those kinds of job before. Anyhow, my small workshop setup is now basically completed: hand saw and power jig saw, a drill kit, random orbital sander, a disc cutter, hand plane, chisels, clamps, pincer, hammer… paint, brushes and rollers… I even have a small electronic scale to help epoxy resin mixing more accurate.

2.     CUT

It’s easy to find exterior – grade plywood to WBR (Water and Boil Proof) standard, but it’s hard to find really – good exterior – grade, not to mention marine – grade ones. First, many of the so called “water resistant plywood” out there in Vietnam market use melamine, not the superior phenolic glue. Second, most of them are laminated from cheap poplar veneers, the best I can find so far are those with interleaved layers of poplar & tropical hardwood veneers, usually marketed as: meranti or okoume, but I guess they’re just other tropical hardwood equivalences. Today, the ordered plywood sheets have arrived (I use 5mm thick ones), it’s time to draw and cut the planks. As usually said: measure twice, cut once, I proceed slowly & carefully to this initial stage of the canoe.

3.     JOIN

I was too busy during this week to actually got any boating bit done, need to get all the cutting and joining jobs finished this weekend… Finally, the complete set of planks is cut out. Before joining, all bilges need to be trimmed down to the precise shapes. I clamped each pair of port and starboard bilges together, then used an angle grinder to trim the edges and smoothen the curves. Since the plywood sheet has length of 2,440 mm, they need to be joined to the 3,660 mm length of the canoe. Bilges are screwed down to a piece of wood to fix the position, a layer of bin bag is placed in between to prevent the wood from sticking together. Then I applied epoxy, pieces of fiberglass, and epoxy again until the glass is completely wet out to form simple butt joints which get the jobs done.