Making the Spars

This was the part I dreaded most. When I told my sailing mates that I would be making my own wooden spars, they told me to save the effort and go to Collars to get something professional. Apart from the cost, I also now had the wood in stock, so I had to at least have a go.

How do you take a square section and make it round as well as tapered? The process is very well described in the Oughtred book, so I took the plunge.

The key tool in this job is the sparmakers gauge, which you can make yourself with some scrap wood, a couple of nails and two pencils/biros. This cunning device is used to mark the limit lines on the spar, so the corners of the section can be planed away in a controlled way.

Before starting on the mast, the halyard sheave box is formed, with a plywood sheathing for strength and resistance.

The tapers are first done by careful measurement and marking, and then the gauge used to make the limit lines. Then, after several cups of tea, I got started, trimming the section to an octagon. This produces a lot of shavings, which is great if you have a rabbit hutch, but my vacuum cleaner had to be emptied several times!

Next is to make the octagonal section into a hexadecagon (16 sides to the layman), and the rest can be smoothed with an orbital sander. I have to say, the process was nothing like as scary or difficult as I expected, so if you have any doubts, have a go.

After finishing with two-pack polyurethane varnish, I had to learn the art of leatherwork, to put sleeves on the spars where they rub together. Again, the Holy Book describes it, and my first attempt was not bad at all. Stick the leather on with Timebond, or any good contact adhesive, and then use whipping twine to pull the two edges together tightly.

You can see the importance of measuring the spar circumference accurately. The first leather in the picture above could have been a bit better closed, but it improved with practice!

Back-breaking work

Fitting all the innards was back-breaking, as you have to reach in and down into the hull. Firstly, all the joints need to be filleted for strength, both inside and outside the tanks. This is where the syringes and lolly sticks come in

It was during this process when I started to get the feeling this was going to be a nice sturdy little boat!

In short order, the seat risers, inwales and gunwales are fitted as well as the various bits of brightwork. The centreboard case can now be glued and screwed from underneath, and filleted to the bulkhead.

As well as the gunwale in utile, I decided it would be attractive to have the second rubbing bead at the bottom of the sheerstrake. Note that this is NOT in the materials list in the manual, so I had a slight delay while I ordered up the timber.

At this point, I decided I was going to go with Epifanes for the primer and paint, so ordered up a good quantity of epoxy primer and two pot polyurethane. Yes, it’s hells expensive, but it does finish well and means that very little maintenance will be required in the future. Your mileage might vary.

Each of the buoyancy tanks received three coats of epoxy primer, which should be enough. No need for a gloss finish here!

Now the floor needs to be sheathed with 30gsm matt, covering the sole joints to add extra strength, and provide abrasion resistance. A second coat of epoxy will minimise any unsightly overlaps, which can then be sanded out later

The interior has to be faired to get rid of any dribbles and screw holes, and there’s no easy way, even with a good orbital sander. This is noisy work, as the hull acts like a loudspeaker. My neighbours have barely forgiven me!

Apologies for the dodgy outfit, but it was over 30 dgrees outside!

Lastly, the whole interior is primed with epoxy, ready for the final finish