My Backyard Boats:

The Quark: Single file

    This page presents the Quark's building log in a single file; the log entries are stacked chronologically. For an index of the individual log entries, click here.


A good beginning

    14 March 03: I went out this morning and got the wood to build my next boat, the Quark. The pile of lumber and plywood doesn't look like much, but it will do the job. It felt good to get going on the boatbuilding season. I got a sheet of bc pine instead of luaun, which I had assumed would be fine, but sometimes Home Depot run out of luaun, so I got the pine ply. I love the way it smells. And it has three equal plies, unlike the luaun. It is a bit heavier, but that isn't a problem in a boat this small. I'll build this one in the basement while waiting for the weather to warm. There is still snow on the ground, though the weekend is supposed to be in the 50s for the Ides of March.

    Cost so far: $49.06 for lumber, $25 (I think) for the plans -- bought about a year ago, and seemingly no longer available (visit Jim's website to email him if you want plans). I have a few boards and some epoxy that are left from other projects that I'll use on this one, but I want to have a fair idea of cost, too, so we'll say $30 for epoxy and $20 for boards on hand, for a grand total so far of $124.06.

Quark's story takes a single sheet of blueprints.


Detail of blueprints shows profile, top view, and the way to cut the sides and bottom from a sheet of 1/4-inch plywood.
Detail of temporary frame, left, and the stem.
A sheet of plywood, a 2x4 9feet, 4 inches long, and a 1x4 pine board for the temporary form don't take up much room in the truck.
Our house is more than 100 years old, and the steps to the basement are probably about that old. Someone along the way learned that a notch in the landing at the mouth of the top of the basement stairs was needed to persuade a full sheet of plywood to go on down.
Jokes and puns notwithstanding, I'm eager to build this little boat. It won't take much more than the plywood and three boards to make it, either.


Sides, form, transom in the bag

    18 March 03: I got a lot done today on the Quark project -- plywood cut for the sides, temporary form made, and the transom cut out and beveled. Next step is to make the stem, then I can put the hull together.

    Time spend so far: 1 hour at the home store, and 5 hours in the shop today for a total so far of 6 hours.


After drawing the curve of the sides onto the plywood, I cut out the pieces, clamped them together with two large wooden clamps and faired the edges.


I rented a scuffle floor sander a few years ago and ended up with a lot of 15-, 20-, and 36-grit sandpaper. This stuff is wonderful. It cuts like a wood file and lasts forever. The tool in this pic is simply two pieces of pine screwed together at a right angle, with 36-grit sandpaper clamped between.
After using block plane and sandpaper tool, I check for parallel edges with the tri-square. There will be more fairing to do after the external chines are attached to these side pieces.
I took my time with the temporary form so that it would be accurate. I used a piece of select 1x4 pine to get a good edge on all sides. The bottom is 22 inches wide, and the top is 28 inches wide. The form is 12 inches deep.
The transom is in the center of this pic, with a pattern I made from plywood to its left. Glad I made a pattern, because the measurements were tricky. Surrounding the transom are some of the tools that I used on the three steps that I did today: rafter square, sliding bevel gauge, tri-square, 4-in-1 rasp, power jig saw, and eye protection.


Stem looking good in poplar

    19 March 03: I cut the stem out tonight from a piece of select-grade poplar 2x4 that I had lying around the shop. It looks great, and I like everything about poplar except the smell, which isn't all that bad but it's just that I love the way pine smells. Poplar and pine cost about the same in select grade. This Quark boat project is as much a test of poplar as anything else, since it really may be too small for an adult to use. We will see on that. The poplar will get a test when I rip the pieces for the external chines. I'm seriously considering using poly glue, the kind that kicks when one board surface is wet down before applying the glue. Since this boat is for experiments, I'm going to consider using cheaper glue for the initial bonding, then use epoxy fillets on the inside and a coat on the outside, with glass tape on the chine joint.
    I cut the stem out with the table saw, after removing the saw guard and setting the angle. It was a bit tricky but went well. The saw guard was not setting right, which made me think that the saw would actually hit it, so I removed it for the operation. I don't like table saws and I don't like to work without the guard, but I don't like living in fear even more, so I did what I did, carefully.

    Time spend so far: 1 hour at the home store, and 5 hours in the shop yesterday, and an hour today, for a total so far of 7 hours.

Stem wood is pretty in poplar -- 2x4x15 inches.


I used a pen to line out the cuts.
The finished stem. It is within a 64th of the plan dimensions. That's pretty good for my table saw.


Elmer rewrites the hull story

  • A lengthy digression on glue for boatbuilding

    21 March 03: I had two surprises today -- Elmer's new woodworking glue with wood flour added and the Quark hull looking like its big enough for an adult.

    I was excited about both of these things.

    I used Elmer's woodworking glue (exterior) and ringed bronze boat nails to assemble the sides of the hull for the Quark and also to install the sheer clamps. When I got the sides in place, and the stem and transom dry-fitted, I noticed that I was off by one-half inch when I strung a line from stem to stern. After putting on the sheer clamps, the hull trued up. I used an extra stringer clamped to the sheer clamp on one side to pull the hull into alignment, and it worked.

    The next step is to nail the external chines to the sides and then nail and glue on the bottom.

    I ripped a poplar 2x4 into strips for the clamps and chines. I set up my cuts so as to have the grain parallel to the sides, which helped in the bending, and will give more strength than if I had cut the strips as vertical grain pieces. The poplar is probably 25 percent heavier than pine, and it warped as soon as I cut it, but for clamps and chine that is actually a plus. I probably could have driven the boat nails without drilling pilot holes but I did anyway because I had a nasty split early on when I was dry-fitting the transom.

    Time spend so far: The total going into today was 7 hours. Add to that today's 6 hours of work, for a total of 13 hours so far.

    Cost so far: Going into today the coast was $124.06. Add $3.60 for 8 ounces of the Elmer's glue, for a total so far of $127.66.

The first step was to attack the temporary form to the sides with deck screws.

Rope is used to make windlasses to pull the sides together while the stem and transom are dry-fitted with deck screws. This is a tricky part of the process; it is important to pull both ends in; the bevels don't seem right if you don't. It helps to have a helper, if you like to work with anyone else around. I don't, so I persevere, and use rope.

Form, stem, and transom in place, held with deck screws. Although the deck screws are self-tapping, I drilled pilot holes to avoid splits.

To make sure than the hull isn't twisted, you run a string from the centerline on the stem to the centerline on the transom. I like to use a stick upright on the form's centerline, rather than a plumb bob. The stick doesn't have to be held; it's always there for reference.

To apply glue, back off all the deck screws but one. I used a throw-away paint brush to apply the glue.
One of the sheer clamps in place. The line indicates that the hull is way out of alignment; I used an extra clamp on one side temporarily to put the hull into alignment. It was a half inch off until I fixed it.
At the end of the day, the hull and sheer clamps were done. Next step is to nail and glue on the external chine stringers and the bottom.

A digression on glue for boatbuilding

Water resistant, one-part, nontoxic, water cleanup, and wood flour added at the factory to make it stay put in use -- Elmer's glue.

Japanese saw makes short work of plastic water bottles. I cut right under the label to make a cup for mixing epoxy. The ripples in the bottle are my measuring marks. The method works. When I want to slow down the epoxy on a hot day, I use plastic tubs sold as storage for leftovers, but I mix in the cut-down bottles.





    20 March 03: I would like to be able to use epoxy for all uses in boatbuilding, but there are several factors that push me in the direction of finding additional options:

  • Epoxy at ClarkCraft, which is a few minutes from my house, on the Niagara River, costs $55 per gallon plus tax. I like the convenience of getting this specialty in gallon size without having to pay shipping charges that could be as much as $10, and I like the one-to-one mix ratio of resin and catalyst (I use plastic water bottles that I cut with my Japanese draw-cut saw to leave a cup-size container with regular ripples in the sides that I use for measuring).

  • Epoxy has no equal for gap filling and strength; it also has no equal for toxicity and
    messiness, and the possibility of sensitization is always there. Sometimes I just want to glue two things together without donning surgical gloves, face mask, long sleeves, hat, and safety glasses,
    then mix and use in a hurry to avoid waste. And then there is the question of when to stop monitoring for drips and dribbles and curtains and runs. Often I epoxy at the end of a long session of work to prepare for gluing, and I go inside and clean up, only to find the next time I'm in the shop that the epoxy has made a runny, rockhard mess on surfaces I will have to sand and sand and sand.

  • Small jobs such as filling a few but crucial screw holes in the hull of a boat that I'm building require the donning of all the safety gear and some attention to the amount to mix and what to do with the excess, if any.

  • The alternatives to epoxy in my mind include poly glues that call for wetting one of the surfaces to be bonded and glues such as Titebond II that have water resistance but not gap-filling qualities. I have used resorcinal, many years ago, and my father before me used this glue exclusively in prewar and postwar years of boatbuilding. Resorcinal leaves a purplish, reddish line at each glue joint, and it kicks off slowly depending on the temperature. It stains wood in ways that reduce the beauty of varnished surfaces. It demands tight joints and heavy clamping. Epoxy, by contrast, is stronger when there are gaps and bridges gaps effortlessly; clamping is accomplished with a box or two of self-tapping deck screws in sizes from 3/4 inch to 1 inch.

  • Robb White, a frequent contributor to Messing About in Boats, wrote an article about epoxy a few years ago. He says that epoxy will penetrate joints if there is enough heat. He assembles pieces and then ups the heat in his shop or uses a heat source such as a handheld hair dryer to encourage the epoxy to penetrate joints. Mind you, I am relating this from memory, and any lapses or distortions of Robb's approach are mine, not his. I used this approach in the building of my Harmonica canalboat mainly due to entropy: When the time came to seal the edges of the plywood I used for the foredeck, I covered the edges with moulding without any prior coating with epoxy. When I was finished installing the L-moulding that I used to edge the deck and provide a toe-rail effect, I brushed on epoxy on a hot day and made sure that I sealed the joint between the deck and the moulding, hoping that there had also been penetration to the plywood edge. I figured that a fillet-type seal on the moulding would do the job fairly well, but I also was uneasy about my choice.

  • I understand that strip-built boats can be joined with fasteners and cheap yellow glue such as Carpenter's Glue or Titebond II. These glues clean up with water and don't stain wood, though they will mar a surface if allowed to lay and cure in drips and rings, because of the differences in penetration of varnish, and stain (though why you would ever want to stain a wood on a boat is too many for me to figure out).

  • Epoxy makes fasteners almost redundant after the stuff has cured. The epoxy is stronger at the glue line that the surrounding wood is by nature, and the addition of fasteners is necessary to keep the pieces in reasonable proximity while applying the epoxy and waiting for curing to finish. I use bronze ringed boat nails for most of my fastening needs, and after buying some stainless steel screws, and using zinc-coated when I didn't have the stainless sort on hand, I have been trying to avoid screws as much as possible. I do like the way they look, but I have a growing confidence in epoxy alone to hold most boat parts in place.

  • After marring the finish of one boat with microballoon-augmented epoxy, I no longer use microballoon additives. I could tell any difference anyway. I also don't use Cabosil anymore, though it is higher in my estimation than microballoons. I use wood flour if I want to thicken epoxy, and nothing else. I like its cost and the way it works, and it doesn't scare me as much as Cabosil does when it gets airborne while my dusk mask is hanging on the wall instead of in place on my face.

    When I built The Weekend Skiff, I was determined, based on promotional materials to which I am highly susceptible to use the two-coat epoxy sealing approach on all surfaces. Since then, I have read about boatbuilders who say that the inside of the boat should be allowed to breathe some and allow moisture to escape, builders such as my wife's brother-in-law who even use interior plywood on boats that they store in the garage between outings, builders who swear by an interior coating of equal parts of linseed oil and turpentine (smells wonderful!) applied once a day for a week, once a week for a month, and once a month for a year. Another of my brothers-in- law, a builder of fine homes in California, swears by the principle that all sides of wood used in construction must be treated in the same manner.

     All this is a prelude to my decision on this latest boat project, the Quark, to try something new. I am at the point of putting the hull together and have decided to use a one-part glue such as Titebond II to glue the parts together with the aid of ringed boat nails and perhaps deck screws on such parts as the gunwales and external chines. I will be aiming for a reasonably close fit but not resorting to clamps. Some gaps are fine, because I will fill them with thickened epoxy as a second step, then use epoxy to tape the chine joints and to seal the outside of the boat.

     I have been wanting to test further the idea that the outside of a boat can be sealed with epoxy, to give abrasion protection, a good base for paint or varnish, and as a seal against the penetration of water through the joints; on the inside of the boat, I want to test the effectiveness of epoxy as a fillet sealer on joints such as chines and around centerboard cases and other joints at or below the waterline, with varnish or paint on the other surfaces, but without a base coat of epoxy. I like the idea that the boat can breathe and expel moisture rather than encasing moisture with epoxy on both sides. I am partly influenced by those who assert that fiberglass boats are heavier at the end of a season in the water than they are at the beginning of the season when they are put back into the water. That tells me that epoxy-saturated fiberglass does not exclude all moisture, so it is not necessary, and perhaps not wise, to use the epoxy encapsulation method that the epoxy manufacturers swear by.

     The overriding consideration for me is the fact that I store my boats inside when not in use, and that the storage is reasonably dry and weathertight, but not heated. I also am aware that I live in the northern tier of the country on the Great Lakes, where there is seldom a prolonged problem with high humidity and high temperature of the sort that Robb White, say, encounters in Georgia.

     Update: When I went to the home store to get some glue, I chose Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue (Exterior), which has wood flour added to slow down runs and ripples, got my vote over the poly glues, because Elmer's doesn't expand as it dries; the poly glues foam up and expand while drying; and because Elmer's was half the price of poly glue. Elmer's is about half as expensive as epoxy; poly glues are as expensive. Elmer's cleans up with water; poly glue cleans up with mineral spirits. Elmer's is not toxic; poly glue is a bummer if it stays on the skin.

    Update from 3-21-03: I loved using the Elmer's instead of epoxy for putting the hull together on the Quark. This new kind has wood flour, which makes for zero (!!!!) runs. The glue stays where you put it, and even when there is some squeeze-out, the glues stays in place instead of running and rippling. Set-up time at 60 degrees F. or so was generous, which is good because often when epoxy is curing, there is still fitting and re-doing to contend with. The hull is doing fine with Elmer's and bronze boat nails. Unlike the case with epoxy, the boat nails are necessary for a backup to the Elmer's.

Will it float? Yes it will, now

    24 March 03: When the kids in the neighborhood walk by, while I'm building on a boat in my garage, they always ask, sooner or later, "Will it float?" The Quark will, now, because the hull is done. Yesterday, I put on the external chines, and this evening I installed the bottom piece of plywood with trusty Elmer's glue and boat nails. The boat is a lot more seaworthy-looking than I had thought it would be, and I'm looking forward to using it now that I can see it will accommodate an adult of my size. The next step is to trim the bottom and soften (or radius) the chine joint, then apply epoxy tape on the outside of the chine. Then thickened epoxy on the interior joints, then two thwarts, and a skeg, and a paint job. I'm thinking about yellow on the outside and bright on the inside and the sheer clamps.

    Time spend so far: Add to the 13 hours total to date 2 hours for the chines and 2 hours for the bottom, for a total so far of 17 hours.

After the clines were in place, I had a spot on each side forward of the temporary form where the plywood was standing 1/2 inch proud. If I had done the stitch-and-glue approach, this may not have been a problem. However, with the external chine, which was a fair curve, by nature, I cut the plywood to match the chine. There also was a slightly less noticeable proud stretch on each side aft of the form, which I also faired with the chine.

Chines are glued and nailed in place, with light clamping pressure. Love that new Elmer's glue!

Bottom piece of plywood nailed and glued in place. There was not more than 1/2 inch to play with because I used the external chine option.

I'm thinking that the hull shape is reminiscent of a dory rather than a kayak. I call this a kayak because I'll be using double paddles instead of a single -- which would make this a canoe. I read that somewhere, as a way to distinguish between canoes and kayaks, by focusing on the style of paddle used.

Detail shot shows sheer clamps and external chines. I milled the sheer clamps oversize by 1/4 inch and the chines are under by a 16th. This had to do with monkeying with a 2x4 and making some slight miscalculations. I'll round the sheer clamps a lot, but I'm not sorry about the extra material. Can't hurt.

Twice-thwarted in good form

    I installed the two thwarts in the Quark today, and did some planing on the excess plywood on the bottom. The only thing left to install is the skeg; the rest of the work will be sanding, trimming, and epoxy coating and fiberglass taping. I still like the look of this little boat, more so because I didn't expect as much boat as it is.

    I decided to get some good screws for the thwarts, so I went to West Marine, a few minutes from the house, on the Niagara River, and got eight brass screws at 40 cents each. I couldn't touch the stainless steel ones. Still, it was better than going to the home emporium, though the screws are a lot cheaper there.

    Time spend so far: Add two hours for the thwarts and planing today, for a total so far of 19 hours.

    Cost so far: Going into today the coast was $127.66. Add $3.46 for the eight brass screws, for a total so far of $131.12.

Telephoto closeup of brass screw and thwart. The thwarts, of which there are two, are made of 1x2 poplar. The plans show a simple butt joint. I opted not to do a fancy curved thwart of the traditional sort. I may make some kind of seat back after I try the boat out, though.

After gluing and screwing the thwarts in, I took out the temporary form. Still haven't shaped the stem where it stands proud of the hull. The plans show a rounding and the drilling of a hole for a painter.

There is about 1/4 inch of plywood to trim with the block plane and wood file before rounding for the fiberglass tape.

Bonding stage begins

    01 April 04: The hull is done except for the skeg, so it's bonding time. That's how I see the hands-on work, which will take at least half of the total time, to shape and sand the boat into its final form, with the hands-on work of epoxying and painting thrown in.

    It took three hours to trim the bottom flush with the chines. I could have done it in a flash with the belt sander, but I wanted to become more acquainted with the wood, and I wanted to avoid the sore throat that comes from making a lot of wood dust in the basement. The bc pine has a hard/soft grain like fir, so the hand work, done with block plane, large file, and large rasp, is still uneven and will need to be finished with the random-orbit sander.

    I went to ClarkCraft to get a gallon of epoxy, which will be more than enough to finish this project, and the next, too, I hope. I also picked up a quart of boiled linseed oil and a quart of turpentine. Plus more of the Elmer's exterior glue, and a bunch of throw-away paint brushes (which I actually try to reuse by cleaning them with acetone).

    Time spend so far: Add three hours for the trimming of the bottom piece, for a total so far of 22 hours.

    Cost so far: Going into today the coast was $131.12. Add $12 for the linseed oil, turpentine, and some of the brushes. for a total now of $143.12. I''ll add an amount for epoxy when I see what I end up using.

After three hours with the block plane, large file (to deal with the heads of the boat nails, which are generally close to the edge of the joint), and the large rasp, I still have a bit of work to do to even up the joint. The hard/soft nature of the bc pine makes for a big challenge to the hand tools. The random-orbit sander will make short work of the problem.

Detail of the stem, sides, bottom, and chines, showing a small gap at the end of the starboard chine that epoxy will fill nicely. The boat nails ended up close to the edge, but I was more concerned to avoid punching through. This makes trimming the edge a longer job, but I'm not complaining.

Detail of the bottom-chine joint after the trimming work was finished.

Bring on the power tools

Full-size version of this pic here.


    11 April 03: Last night I moved all my tools and the Quark out to the garage from the basement. It's finally warm enough (55 degrees F. today) to work outside. The first thing that I did was use the belt sander and the random-orbit sander to radius the chine in preparation for fiberglass tape.

    A little girl from down the street who takes an interest in my boat projects stopped to show a new friend the funny old man who doesn't care what he is building, as long as it's a boat. I'm smiling.

    Time spend so far: Add three hours for using power tools to radius the chine, for a total so far of 25 hours.

Adventures in fiberglass tape

More pix here.


    15 April 03: It is always an adventure when I apply fiberglass tape to a chine joint. Puckers, ripples, and runs, with dribbles and blobs thrown in for variation, are the order of the day. Last night was no exception, though I felt that I may someday approach this task with fiberglass tape on curved surfaces with something an least mocking, if not approaching, confidence. The holdout is the vertical surface that is tape-covered. The puckers and inadequate filling of the fiberglass weave continue to elude my efforts.

    That said, I am pleased with the results. This afternoon I followed up with cutting out and epoxying on the skeg. (Go here to see several pix and detailed text about how I did the skeg for Moby Dink.) I used a piece of fiberglass tape (I don't have any problems on level surfaces with the tape) to even out the skeg joint with the bottom of the boat and to erase the proud edge of the tape that I applied last night. That edge was throwing off the skeg joint by almost an eighth of an inch. I followed up with a fillet along the skeg edges made with wood flour-thickened epoxy.

    Next task is to turn the boat over and shape the gunwales, thwarts, stem, and transom to final finish and to decide what, if anything, to do to the inside joints. I may used a bead of thickened epoxy to add some strength, since I like this boat and hope it will serve as a spur-of-the-moment fun thing for years to come. After these jobs are done, I'll put the first of many coats of a 50-50 mixture of turpentine and linseed oil on the interior.

    Then I'll flip the boat again and sand the epoxy, touch up the fill on the fiberglass tape, and then put on some construction yellow Interlux Brightside paint I have left over from painting the trim on the Harmonica.

    Time spend so far: Add three hours of fiberglass tape work and two hours to install the skeg, for a total so far of 30 hours.

    Cost so far: Going into today the coast was $143.12 Add $10 for epoxy and $3 for fiberglass tape, for a total so far of $156.12.

Bring on the power tools

    11 April 03: Last night I moved all my tools and the Quark out to the garage from the basement. It's finally warm enough (55 degrees F. today) to work outside. The first thing that I did was use the belt sander to radius the chine in preparation for fiberglass tape.

    A little girl from down the street who takes an interest in my boat projects stopped to show a new friend the funny old man who doesn't care what he is building, as long as it's a boat. I'm smiling.

    Time spend so far: Add three hours for using power tools to radius the chine, for a total so far of 25 hours.

Ready to go on the fiberglass tape application to the chine joints. Note the glue line of the plywood, which is your guide to an accurate radiusing of the edge. The dark dots are what's left of boat nail heads after the fairing was done.

It's late, and dark, but the job of taping the chine joints was done, and well-done, too.

In the light of the next day, after the epoxy was finally set up enough to stop running and rippling, I surveyed the damage. It wasn't bad. I was more disappointed by the puckering of the fiberglass tape on the chine, as shown in the top portion of this pic. I figure that I'll grind to a smooth surface and reapply epoxy. I'll be careful to leave the chine jont edge alone, though.
Rough-cut skeg, made from a piece of clear 1x4 poplar, sits on fiberglass tape, ready for epoxy filling of the fiberglass weave and applicatin of a bead of wood-flour thickened epoxy along the edges of the skeg.
All done for today. Looks good!

What's black and white and read all over? My boat is, after an application of duct tape and old newspapers to define the edges of the fillets for the inside joints.

The finished job promises a minimum of sanding.

Detail shot shows the fillets on the transom and chines. The strong line bisecting the transom is the aft thwart.

Seven more hours of bonding

   23 April 03: Still bonding with the boat ... to the tune of seven hours more of sanding with the random-orbit sander. I'm almost ready to put on the primer; I still have to decide what to do about the fiberglass tape on the chine joints. There are a lot of little craters where the epoxy failed or something.

    My choices seem to be to put on a second layer of fiberglass tape, or to grind down the layer in place until the imperfections (and most of the tape) go away, or to live with it. I don't intend to put the time and money into a second layer of tape, and I don't want to lose the layer that's there, so I will probably just live with the result so far. When the boat is in the water, I won't see it, and the bead of epoxy on the inside will assure a water-tight hull, so live with it it is.

    I had intended to use epoxy to putty the holes left from screwing the sides to the temporary form, but I decided that the job was too small, so I'm trying 3M 5200 sealant as a putty. It went on fine. I'll need to put on at least one more coat of the5200, then I'll prime. While the putty is drying, I'm going to make the double paddle.

    Time spend so far: Add seven hours of sanding, for a total so far of 41 hours.

    Cost so far: Add $5 for sand paper, for a total so far of $166.12.

Seven additional hours of sanding has brought the hull close to the finish that I want.

I'll be happy if the 3M 5200 compound works as a filler. It'll take at least one more coat to bring the patches level. Pic shows the holes left from screwing the sides to the temporary form.

Tried 3M 5200 on a spot on the chine to see how it will work there, too. Pic shows the generally rough condition of the fiberglass tape on the chines.

Double paddle without twaddle

    25 April 03: Yesterday and today I worked up the double paddle for the Quark. The plans call for using 1-inch closet rod for the shaft and 1/4-inch leftover plywood for the blades. I decided to make a blank of blades and shaft in a single piece of ply. All I had lying around was some bc pine in 3/8-inch thickness, so I used that. I also had a douglas fir offcut in 1/4 by 4 by 8 feet. I cut that in inch-wide strips. The three pieces went together with Elmer's glue.

    Today I sanded the blank smooth and fixed a few imperfections with Elmer's glue and wood flour as a putty. The paddle is cute. Hope it works OK.

    The 3M 5200 compound that I used on the hull is still tacky after 48 hours. I rubbed some wood flour into it. I'm going to start priming tomorrow.

    Time spend so far: Add four hours of paddle-making, for a total so far of 45 hours.

    Cost so far: Add $5 for plywood for the double paddle, for a total so far of $171.12.

One piece of bc pine six inches wide and 7 feet long; two pieces of 1/4 by 1 inch douglas fir. This is all it takes to make the double paddle.

The Quark weighs almost nothing, so it was nothing much to stand it up on end to make room for the paddle project. The plywood blank is cut out and maked with a center line and outside lines for the fir sandwich pieces.

The sandwich is buttered and done, and clamps are in place.
Darn, it's cute!
Final sanding done; double paddle is ready for varnish.

Prime time

    27 April 03: Yesterday I put the first of two coats of white Interlux primer on the Quark; today I added a second coat. Also yesterday, I did a lot more shaping and sanding on the paddle. I spent a long time on that because I've not made a paddle before. I used hand tools rather than power tools, to get a better feel for the project.

    Today I also used 3M's blue masking tape that can be put on a drying paint surface as soon as it stops being tacky. This allowed me to mask off the gunwales for an initial coat of varnish over the undercoat already in place of epoxy. Tomorrow I'll put on the first of two coats of yellow Interlux Brightside paint, and I'll also put on the first of many coats of linseed oil and turpentine on the inside of the hull.

    We're planning a launch next weekend to celebrate the filling of the Erie Canal.

    Time spend so far: Add eight hours of paddle-making and painting, for a total so far of 53 hours.

    Cost so far: Add $5 for 3M blue masking tape, $10 for primer, and $29 more for epoxy for a total so far of $206.12.

Last look at the natural look. Blue 3M special masking tape in place over gunwales. White stuff is 3M 5200 compound. Remind me to try bondo auto body putty next time. The 5200 sucks as a putty because it takes so long to set up.

First coat of Interlux primer in place. I used latex house paint and primer on the Weekend Skiff and was not at all pleased with the results. I used Interlux primer and Bringside paint on the Harmonica and loved it. I did used some house primer on the inside of the Harmonica but not on the hull.

I anticipated that the paddle would take a bend unless I was extremely careful in the laminating, but I decided that some arc would be good, and that's what I got. I took the block plane to the paddle and fined down the outer plies where they sit atop the paddle blade portions.
After thinking about it for a while and being uneasy about the lightness of the paddle, I epoxied the entire piece and covered all the blades except for the central rib portion with fiberglass cloth. I figured that without some help the paddle would snap or split the first time I used it to fend off. I was in my usual state of hurry concerning epoxy, so I put the tape on both sides. The tape didn't cover the edges at all, so I put on an extra piece folded over the tips and used the 3M blue masking tape to hold the mess in place while it sets. This will make the paddles a lot heavier but also infinitely more durable, too.
The beauty of that blue masking tape is that you can apply it as soon as paint skins over. That was about an hour for the primer. This allowed me to put on the first coat of varnish on the same day as I applied primer to the hull. Tomorrow I paint the hull with yellow Brightside Interlux.
Quark taking shape nicely.
Closeup of the top of the stem, with 1/2-inch hole for painter. It looks like a salamander to me.

Putting on a second coat

    29 April 03: It strikes me that I'm almost done with the Quark project. I put on the second top coat of yellow Interlux Brightside paint today and another coat on the trim and the interior. We're planning a launch for the coming weekend.

    The interior coat of equal amounts of linseed oil and turpentine will take a lot longer. The mantra is this: One coat a day for a week, one coat a week for a month, and one coat a month for a year. I first encountered this mixture as a way of rejuvenating wood. A friend gave me a gallon of the stuff that he had left over after attacking some aging paneling for a client. I made a pair of end tables a few years ago and used linseed oil and turpentine instead of polyurethane varnish. It is still good, and the finish is low gloss -- almost no gloss -- and the grain is well defined. No need for any wood stain, which I never use if I am the one who is deciding what the finish should be. Last year, I read a letter in Messing About in Boats from a guy who used the mixture on the interior of a dink that he stored in his leaky barn for the winter while he went off to Florida or somewhere. When he returned, he found the dink full of water but with no lasting harm. He credited the linseed oil and turpentine mixture. Another plus is that the turpentine cleans the surface that it is applied to, so there is no need to worry about dust or sawdust that you might have missed in prepping the surface.

    I attacked the double paddle with the sander today, too, and put on a coating of varnish. By the way, when I say varnish, I mean Pettit high-build spar varnish, which I get from ClarkCraft. The paddle is much stronger because of the fiberglas tape I put on the other day, and I'm satisfied that it is the best paddle I could have made in the 10 hours I spent on it.

    Time spend so far: Add 11 hours of paddle-making and painting yesterday and today, for a total so far of 64 hours.

    Cost so far: Add $10 for Interlux Brightside paint (I used about a half pint that I had on hand; it costs about $22 per quart) for a total so far of $211.12.

Two coats of yellow boat paint later, the Quark project is almost done, except for repeated coats of linseed oil and turpentine on the interior and another few coats of marine varnish on the gunwales and thwarts. And some sort of flotation.

This is the paddle after an application of epoxy overall and fiberglass tape on the blades. I was skeptical about using the blue 3M masking tape to hold the fiberglass tape in place over the edge of the blade end, but it worked fine. Just expensive.

I'm pleased with the finished paddle. I hope it works well in the water.

Launch ... lurch ... go home

    03 May 03: The day was beautiful today, clear, cool, and sunny. Not a cloud in the sky, and 58 degrees F. when I launched Quark at Widewater on the Erie Canal in Lockport. It's a short and disappointing story from here, though, because as soon as I sat down in the boat and pushed off, the sideways rocking, paired with freeboard of a scant six inches, shipped enough water to cast me out and turtle the boat. The good news? Only an elderly lady in a big sedan next to the launch saw what happened; I was only in a foot of water; and the water, though wet, was not that cold.

    I didn't cry, but I didn't laugh, either. I liked building this boat, and expected to be able to use it. At this point, though, I don't recommend it for anyone, though I do plan to see how the 50-to-100-pound contingent of my extended family fares with Quark this summer, under careful supervision. Shucks, I plan to try again myself. After all, I was sitting on a safety cushion, and maybe being three inches lower would make enough difference to at least paddle around in warm water. I'm sure it will be fine for little people.

    Time spend so far: Add 11 hours of paddle-making and painting yesterday and today, for a total so far of 64 hours.

    Cost so far: Add $10 for Interlux Brightside paint (I used about a half pint that I had on hand; it costs about $22 per quart) for a total so far of $211.12.

It's a one-person job to get the Quark onto the rack in the pickup truck.

At Widewater on the Erie Canal in Lockport. Ready to launch.

Ready to go home. Taking on water after a second try at making it work for me. At 200 pounds plus, I'm just too big for this fine little boat.


Redemption for the Quark

    03 July 03: Although I was disappointed and depressed after my initial launching, and dunking, in the Quark, I have not given up on this little boat. I love its lines, and I've been using the experience of capsizing this spring to learn more about boat design. One thing I did was take out the plans and look at them; I noticed that the displacement is 215 pounds and other reading helped me see what you probably knew -- displacement includes the boater and all gear. This boat weighs about 30 pounds, so it is a stretch for me to expect it to float with me in it.

   Not only did it float with me inside, it floated for two others, too. We all felt that the boat was tippy, but none of us got wet. I found that paddling was the problem; a longer double paddle, with more weight in a larger diameter shaft would put some weight outboard and make paddling easier, too.

    I'm happy that this little boat is proving itself, so I'm planning to offer it for sale through Messing About in Boats -- $250.

Ellicott Creek Park was the scene of the Quark's redemption. The occasion was a picnic for the Reverend's staff at Concern Ecumenical Ministry. Boater No. 1 had no problems other than tippiness.

Boater No. 2, a foot taller but still well within the weigh limit, had no problems other than tippiness.

Boater No. Three, yours truly, had no problems except for tippiness. It is a responsive and lively little boat.
Another view of my time in the boat. The bow is just clear of the water. The Reverend took the two pix of me.
Little boat back where it belongs.


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