Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Rhapsody on Teak.


Here they are, the last two pieces of exterior woodwork to do on the bridge and cabin. Yep, it's the bloody return sills. Only took four days to make the buggers, a timescale made longer by the fact that each piece was laminated from three bulks- which is what you get when you’ve got a load of reclaimed teak but none of it is quite big enough, and you refuse to go out and spend a fortune on new three inch stock. If you look closely at the picture you might see that I made a much better job of the starboard sill (it’s the one on the left) probably because I’d had a good nights sleep before cutting the joints on the other one. The only problem with this kind of work is that it takes an awfully long time and plenty of patience to get it right, and all those complex joints have to fit together perfectly so the hard work becomes invisible… which I think is why I’ve just realised the cabin work has taken us almost a year to complete, either that or we’re just really slow, which is always possible.

Mind you, it’s looking not too bad really, at least from a distance, which has the benefit of being further away and therefore harder to hear the swearing. As a bonus the original engine room skylight is all done and back together too. Trouble is it looks absolutely ace with the windows open, as they clearly aren’t in this photograph, but it was getting late and the leaves were all locked down for my departure.

Teak is the loveliest, most rewarding material to work with, and after just a few shucks with a really fucking sharp block plane it’s easy to see why it is so revered- and therefore so expensive- as a boatbuilding timber. It has this wonderfully close, even grain which makes it incredibly stable, yet it yields so beautifully to the blade. Workability wise it beats the pants off of Iroko which is harder, but also much more fractious with a tendency to split- a quality which is not helped by the wandering nature of iroko’s grain. Seriously, sometimes the grain starts wobbling about like a drunken Glaswegian for no reason at all right in the middle of an otherwise perfectly straight grained section. Both timbers can contain carbonate deposits, which is as a result of the tree not knowing what to do with the stuff after it sucks it up while it’s growing and is the reason why as many cutting implements as possible should be tungsten carbide tipped, but contrary to my researches before I began all this I’ve actually found more of this incredibly hard, chisel edge blunting stuff in the Iroko. Maybe I just got lucky? When all is said and done though, they do look quite similar when finished, a fact which still amazes me considering the bright yellow colour of Iroko when freshly cut, handily it changes dramatically on exposure to the air.

So now those sills are fitted, sanded and oiled, and there are two hardboard templates waiting in the back of the car for me to take along to our long suffering glazier. Soon the bits of glass will go in and Wendy Ann 2 will have a complete set of windows. With that it’ll be time to leave the hardwood alone for a little while in order to concentrate on other matters.

One last thing before I left for home. I decided it was about time that folks in Littlehampton knew the name of the black vessel that’s screeched up on the mud. So after months and months of wondering when, I got on did the naming on the bows on Sunday afternoon; in stark contrast to all the poncing around with woodwork it took me about half an hour.

6 Comments:

Blogger steve said...

i can't even imagine putting the time, effort and patience into stuff that you do. It means that everything takes a long time but boy is it worth it, it's looking A-MAZING!

9:30 am  
Anonymous SweetpeainFrance said...

FAN-TAS-TIQUE! x Madre x
July 10th 2009 23.08 French time

10:09 pm  
Anonymous Simon said...

Looks stunning, that wheelhouse is a work of art! Keep inspiring the rest of us. :)

8:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

23rd July 09
Jill & I walked by your home very slowly and were ever so slightly envious of your determination against the odds to follow a dream. Many of us has the dream but it remains so - never to be fulfilled.
Well done!! Martyn

10:40 pm  
Blogger JCG said...

Loving your Hatches
ive been searching out the best ones to go on our newly aquired barge & guess what yours are by far the prettiest ones weve seen
did you copy what came off or decide upon the shape & style yourselves?
cheers
Jeremy & Sarah
Herman Wijns
1903 70ft Tjalk

3:12 pm  
Blogger IsmilebecauseIhavenoideawhatsgoingon said...

Ummm, Hi Jeremy and Sarah
The engine room skylight is original to the vessel. And the smaller one on the cabin roof is a bit of marine salvage courtesy of ebay. Took a fair bit of work to sort them both out though.....
Does this help?
Cheers S

8:16 am  

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