You can read Part 1 by clicking here.

Day 2: Jan 28, 2012

Andrew and Russ cutting mortises

I arrived at the museum a bit early today. I wanted to look at three specific kayaks on display at the museum. All three are Greenland skin on frame kayaks just like the one Russ and I are attempting to build. Clearly Russ and I benefit greatly from having so many valuable resources available to us. Not only can we find actual Greenland kayak artefacts in the museum but the kayak gallery also features a video demonstrating the traditional methods of building skin on frame boats. Conveniently the central figure in the video also happens to be the author of the book Russ and I are consulting during this project. After a half hour admiring the kayak gallery, I joined Russ in the shop and we set to work.

The ribs of a kayak are seated in slots in the underside of the gunwales. The distance between each slot, known as a mortise is 8”.  This was our first task for the day and by using a plunge router we got the job done in no time.

Next came addressing the sheer line of the kayak. The sheer line of a kayak describes the characteristic sweeping curve that extends from the tip of the bow to the end of the stern. The sheer of a kayak is accomplished by tilting the gunwales so that they are wider apart at the top edge than at the bottom. To achieve this we needed to plane the outside of the gunwales down to 17º starting a ¼” from the inside edge. For this step, we could have certainly used various power tools but there is something rather pleasing and even cathartic about using hand tools. After shaping the gunwales to get the desired effect we preceded to shape the tips of the gunwales to accommodate the bow stem piece which will be added at a later time.

Cutting the notch out of the gunwale to accomodate the stem piece later

Our next task was to build five temporary braces that will hold the gunwales in place. Following the advice of our guide book we used a piece of ¾” scrap plywood to build the braces. With our braces built and the gunwales properly set in place, Russ and I packed up and called it a day.

Temporary braces holding the gunwales in shape

 

You can read Part 3 by clicking here.

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