Jcubero's Merrimac

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jcubero
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Jcubero's Merrimac

Post by jcubero » Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:43 pm

Hi! I'm new to this forum and I'm excited! :D
First, a little background. I have quite a bit of woodworking experience, mostly furniture building. However, I've never built a boat or done any major epoxy work. I wanted a canoe for pleasant, easy canoeing here in Central Florida - lakes and slow rivers like the Wekiva. I also wanted it to fit my wife (Kym) and 10-year-old son (Alex). After much internet soul-searching, we found Jem watercraft and the Merrimac. It looked like a great first canoe - interesting and attractive but not too many parts.
I received the plans in the mail Monday. Checking the forum, I decided to go with the Luaun plywood from Lowe's. I bought plywood today and immediately started marking it out. I found the plans to be very easy to read and transfer to the plywood.

Here I am marking the plywood:
Image

I have the first sheet cut already - the top and middle pieces. I had to force myself to stop - this is fun! Tomorrow I'll cut the second sheet of top & middle, then mark and cut the bottom pieces. I didn't find the luaun to splinter too much, but I was ready for it thanks to the feedback here. I used a plywood blade on my skil saw, and a fine blade on my jigsaw with a fairly high blade speed and nice slow feed rate.

Now comes my dilemma - I don't have epoxy yet! I need to order soon so I can start putting the halves together.

:?: BIG Question: With this design and this plywood, carrying three people, should I go with tape only (seems easier) or cloth (seems sturdier)?? Or a better way to ask, is tape sufficient for a sturdy canoe?

I look forward to hearing from everyone, and I'll keep posting my construction progress - blogging is almost as much fun as building a canoe.

P.S. I already have a strong feeling I'll be building more canoes and kayaks, maybe even bigger stuff.

--Javier Cubero
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Javier

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jem
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Post by jem » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:05 pm

You could tape the seams but the luan from Lowe's is 5.2mm.

So you'll need some additional stiffness provided by fiberglass cloth. Plus the luan from Lowes is like a hardwood and might check (form small cracks) after a while.

Welcome, thanks, and good luck!
-Matt. Designer.

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skiabq
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Post by skiabq » Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:15 am

I have built a canoe from the 5.2mm luan from Lowe's and I am happy with the final product, but if I were to do it again I would totally cover, at least the outside, with fiberglass. I have not encountered any checking yet, but I keep it inside as I am afraid of it happening.

Good luck, have fun, post lots of pics and welcome to the addiction!
Corey

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Post by Oldsparkey » Thu Aug 17, 2006 10:00 am

I use the Luan Plywood from Home Depot and every boat I have made the wood has been epoxy saturated to help protect the wood by the epoxy soaking into it, then they were glassed inside and outside for more strength and protection.

I don't recommend anyone doing this but one canoe I made with 1/8 Th. inch Luan I paddled down a white water river in Arkansas and it survived the trip, I went involuntary swimming at one bend in the river, I also survived but was real wet. I was sure happy that the wood was epoxy saturated and then glassed with some good glass the way those rocks and waves were trying to attack that canoe.

For paddling around here in Florida all we have to worry about are sand bars and some mud but you never know where you will be taking the canoe so I would suggest completely glassing it. After all your family is going to be with you, safety 1st. :D

Chuck.
Remember:
Amateurs built the Ark...... Professionals built the Titanic
Visit some fine paddlers at The Southern Paddler

jcubero
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Post by jcubero » Thu Aug 17, 2006 3:05 pm

Thanks for all the info and quick responses here! I just ordered the epoxy and glass from Larry at RAKA. I've decided it's probably best to glass the whole boat in & out. I ordered the 3 Gal kit, 60" 4 oz cloth, a roll of tape for reinforcing the keel and other spots and some graphite for the bottom. All for <$250. With the money I spent at Lowe's last night on plywood and other supplies, I'm about $300 into this. Unbelievably cheap - so far. :wink:
Larry said I should receive it tomorrow. It helps to be only a few hours' drive from your supplier! Oh, as others have said on this forum, Larry was great - very knowledgeable and helpful. Got me squared away in no time.
I'm considering staining the plywood with a water-based cherry stain. I think I'll stain 1/2 a scrap piece, then epoxy the whole thing and see how it looks stained vs natural. I'll post pics.

I have to admit I'm a bit skeptical about the whole butt-joint thing. :shock:
You're looking at a guy who does dressers with mortise-and-tenon frames and hand-cut dovetail drawers. I could park an elephant on my dresser. I'm probably going to do a test butt-joint out of scrap, both for my peace of mind and so that I can practice the process where it's less important.

Chuck - I definitely plan to epoxy-saturate the wood, it sounds like a good idea.
More later...
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Javier

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jem
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Post by jem » Thu Aug 17, 2006 3:13 pm

Butt joint is very strong. But do a test piece like you said. Bend it until it breaks. You'll see the wood delaminate before that joint breaks open.

Also be sure to test the stain. RAKA epoxy has a slight amber tint to it that you might have to adjust your stain slightly for.
-Matt. Designer.

jcubero
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Post by jcubero » Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:02 pm

Day 2

Today I finished tracing and cutting the rest of the tops and middles. My son Alex helped:
Image
Oh, and I realized after I'd already cut the first panel that I never did my QA measurements. :oops: Read your directions, folks! The good news is I was within 1/16 and 1/8 on the corner to corner measurements, so I'm pretty satisfied with that. Measure twice, cut once!

Then I marked and laid out the bottom piece. The procedure I follow is I make all my marks, then I hand the plan to my wife and I remeasure each mark, reading the result to her. She then checks it against the drawing. So I literally measure twice, and use another set of eyes to make sure I'm not looking at the wrong thing because it's what I expect to see. It was very helpful yesterday, as I caught one measurement that I had done as 15/16 but was supposed to be 5/16!!
I use a piece of corner bead to lay out the curves - it's flexible, cheap, flat on one side and comes in 10' lengths or greater. I also had some laying around from a room remodel. Here's a pic of layout:
Image

You can see the 4' metal square - invaluable for plywood work. I use c-clamps on the edges and small dumbbells along the length to keep the curve where it should be.
By the time I got done cutting out the first bottom piece it was after 9:30, so I had to stop cutting :cry: I marked the other three bottom pieces and will finish cutting them out tomorrow. Then I have to wait for my epoxy to arrive before I can continue. Hurry, UPS guy!

We did a test patch of cherry stain on a piece of scrap wood - survey says meh. The natural wood looks better. Wife agrees and she's much better at the whole color thing - so we're going to skip the stain. Less work for me! Tomorrow I'll be sanding, so I won't have much to report unless the epoxy comes in.
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Post by hairymick » Fri Aug 18, 2006 4:02 am

Ho Javier!

Good on ya mate for getting the family involved. :D The little bloke will be loving helping his Dad build a boat. :D

I was skeptical re the butt joints too. They are very strong! and when combined with the other hull panels all stuck together the strength is compounded, you don't need to worry mate. :D :D

Looking forward to watching you progress with this one. :D :D
Regards,
Mick

JEMWATERCRAFT Swampgirl; Wadefish;Touring Pirogue;South Wind; P5 ;
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Post by jem » Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:12 am

this has the makings for a feature article on my main page.
-Matt. Designer.

jcubero
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Post by jcubero » Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:01 pm

Wow, thanks for the compliment Matt. :oops:
hairymick, I'm doubting more my ability to do it right than the joint per se. It seems like if I screw it up.... *POP* So the test piece is more because I've never done epoxy work than anything else. I still remember the first big glue-up I did in woodworking. Peeled like an onion. It was my fault for doing it wrong of course - I used way too much clamping pressure and too little glue among other problems (like using pine :x).

I'm thinking ahead to gunwales and the triangular breasthooks. There's my chance for some fancy woodwork. I'll have to see how the final color turns out, but I'm thinking mahogany gunwales and some kind of glue-up of maple and walnut or cherry for the breasthooks. I've got a big chunk of mahogany 2x6x8 that's been crying to be worked into something fancy. I'm definitely leaning to inwale/outwale, and the slotted inwale at that. I'd like to see some examples of what fancy things others have done...
--
Javier

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