Out Straight

Good morning everyone. I will not apologize for my lack of blog last week… we have literally been out straight trying to get the schooner ready. I don’t even have pictures of the glorious paint work that has been applied to the cabin houses. Rob, Katie, Sarah and Johanne have been busting their butts and the elbow grease really makes things shine. We will be headed for the railway this next week so the cover will be coming off Monday or Tuesday. Our new cook Ina arrives Tuesday and comes to us with several years of experience cooking aboard other schooners.
I should get you up to date on our project that is yet undercover at this time. The spruce boards and wood chips tell a good chunk of the story. Take a very old spruce tree… cut it into small pieces… and mill those pieces so that we can glue them back together. Seems kind of silly but it will be strong. To make a long (really long!) board we join several shorter borads end to end using glued scarfs. The glued scarfs are 18 inches long using a 12:1 taper, more than the 8:1 taper recommended by the epoxy manufacturer. OK Ed and Alton… how thick are the pieces being joined together? And how many clamps does one need to own to do this successfully. That is actually a trick question because as we all know you can never have enough clamps!
It looks like a porcupine as we look down the row of clamps. Why have all the clamps pointing up like that? Because this whole glue process is happening 34″off the barn floor and I need to be able to get to both sides without getting skewered. I am ready for the limbo contest.

Have a great day. Be well. Do Good.


  1. Any engineer worth his salt enjoys a challenge.

    The challenge here boils down to simple trigonometry. The scarf viewed from the side forms a right triangle with the hypotenuse 18", one side 1 unit, and the remaining side 12 units.

    At this point in my dissertation being an engineer has its downside because as engineers we can't talk about these things without making a drawing. I can't draw here so I'll take a chance with just words.

    We calculate the angle between the hypotenuse and the height by looking up the arc-tangent of 12/1 which is approximately 85.23 degrees. Then we calculate the height (or thickness of the boards being scarfed together) as 18" times the cosine of 85.23 degrees. Resulting in 1.4948186373673194389124713003229 or by my tape measure an inch and a half.

    I could not help the inner engineer in me from making a drawing so if the kind reader will click on this link the drawing can be viewed.

  2. Recently I have read several articles, including one in the most recent issue of Wooden Boat, about building hollow spars. The technique involves some careful woodwork and joinery.

    Is it possible you and Bruce are constructing a new spar? Perhaps destined to become a topmast?

  3. For a second 'clue' this one is pretty skimpy; Rip Van Winkle excepted. First we have a big box that could contain anything from a new refrigerator to an armoire for Rob's outfits. Now we get meticulously scarfed joints (they are a vision of precision)on long planks that could be a new mizzen mast or the start of a new steam launch. The third clue has to be a doozy to keep up with the first two. At the end the 'secret' will probably be the world's longest steambox.


  4. I can no longer resist the puzzle:

    It's a brilliantly and beautifully constructed spruce box for an unusually long brass telescope that will allow us to view the moon in enormous detail while aboard ship.

Comments are closed.