Saturday, February 20, 2010

installing the masik

Saturday 20 February 2010: By Friday night, I had developed a theory about how to replace the top of frame 4 with the steam-bent masik. I cut away the top of the frame with a Japanese saw and drilled holes near the top of the remaining section of frame 4.

I filed shallow grooves into the top of the gunwales so that lashings would not stand proud there because I want the masik to attach with a rabbet over the top of the gunwale. Then I re-lashed the frame to the gunwales using the holes I had drilled in frame 4.

I cut rabbets into the end of the masik, and then chiseled a groove to lock over the top of frame 4.

I drilled two holes trhough from the top of the masik at each end to accept lashing and lashed it down to the gunwales. It was a little tricky to figure out a way to lash these joints. I didn't want to drill holes in the gunwales, and that little section of frame 4 on one side tends to get in the way of some of the more obvious lashing patterns. But this seems quite solid the way it is and looks like it will do. I could peg the masik into the gunwales but I think this is strong enough.

straightening things out?

Saturday 20 February 2010: Tuesday and Wednesday, with the frame off the strongback and resting between two sawhorses, I eyeballed it from various perspectives and bent and twisted it a little between the sawhorses to tweak the alignment. It looks pretty fair and straight after that. In hindsight, it would have been better to have done this before I pegged the gunwales to the stem plates. But is seems possible, by gentle pressure on the frame at the right angles, to be able to adjust the way the lashings sit slightly. Or maybe the frame was just already straighter than I had been thinking? At any rate, it seems to me that a good strategy for winding and alignment might be to lash things up on the strongback as carefully as possible. But then take it out, turn it over, sight down the keelson, push it and twist it and adust it until it lies just so; and then peg the gunwales to lock it down tight.

I've been staring hard at frame 4 over the last week trying to visualize how to attach the masik and whether to cut to top of the frame away to do it.

Monday, February 15, 2010



Monday 15 February 2010: The masik is a curved deckbeam in a traditional Greenland kayak that lies just before the cockpit. The knees slide under this beam, and one uses upward pressure of the top of the thighs, or knees against the bottom of the masik to brace when leaning or rolling. Frame 4 in the Sea Rider lies at the position where the masik would be in a traditional kayak. An advantage of a traditional masik over the 12 mm marine ply from which frame 4 is constructed is that a true masik is much wider and so provides a more comfortable surface against which to brace than would the thin plywood of frame 4.

And so I have wanted to make a real masik for this boat. I had tried steaming and laminating 2 strips of red oak about 3/8 inch thick and an inch and a half wide. They bent fine and held their shape well. But because I didn't build a full jig to clamp them, there were small gaps between the strips around the areas near where the bend was the greatest. I also didn't like the fact that at 1.5 inches wide this was still a little narrow. Looking at the way the masik is built in Chris Cunningham's and also in Mark Starr's books on building traditional Greenland kayaks, and also at this nice photo gallery by Bryan Nystrom: Steam Bent Masik, I decided to give that technique a shot.

First a blank is cut from a red oak 1 by 3 inch board:

The blank is cut on a bandsaw so that it thins to about 7/16 inch in the center, leaving the full thickness at the ends. This was steamed for about 30 minutes and then clamped:


After cooling and sitting, when released, there is some springback. But it looks pretty good. I round over the edges, then finish it with a belt sander and it is now ready to be fitted to the gunwales. I think I will cut out the top of frame 4 to install this. But I am still contemplating exactly how to place and attach the masik to the gunwales and whatever I leave left at the top of frame 4.

shall we move on?

Monday 15 February 2010: I grow tired of fooling around with the bow. I cut it completely apart, tweaked, adjusted, pegged the gunwales and re-lashed it over the last few days. Staring at it hard and trying to discern where anything might be off-kilter. It is nice and plumb now and looks pretty good though the gunwales and chines are starting to look a bit ragged from being hacked at too much. But, though the bow looks ok now, the keelson doesn't lie as straight as I might like. It seems to lie about a quarter inch to port of dead center at frame 4, just before the cockpit, about the longitudinal center of the boat. This curve is just discernable to the eyeball if the boat is upside down and you sight down the keelson. It is more easily noticed with the laser level sighted down the keelson. I don't think I can do a whole lot better than this without substantially cutting things apart and perhaps this is good enough? I'm still pondering that thought. I've noted before, the whole frame is flexible, a bit basket-like, and the position into which it relaxes varies somewhat and can be pushed around slightly. As the boat is skinned and eventually when it sits in the water, under the weight of a paddler, equilibrium will happen at some slightly other unpredictable line. So I am sure there is a point where it is counter-productive to worry about minor anomalies in alignment. Am I at that point yet? That is the question.

Otherwise, the gunwales, chines, keelson and stems are fully lashed. I have taken the frame down on the floor and tried sitting in it to see how it fits. It is tight. It seems that my legs are not long enough to quite use frame 3 for a foot brace. I may need something as much as 6 inches forward of frame 3 if I want to use a foot brace in this boat. I ordered some bundles of 4 and 6 mm okuome marine ply to make a footbrace, and cockpit floorboards. But UPS has been freaking out over the weather and has still not delivered that. First missing last Friday, and then again today. Perhaps tomorrow?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

fixing the bow

Thursday 11 February 2010: Another 4 hours of shoveling today. Snow from the whiteout blizzard yesterday was only maybe 8 to 10 inches. I cleaned out the street in front and then did about half the downhill neighbor's street. He is getting pretty frail and I didn't see him come out today. Some clowns left their BMW parked in front of the fire hydrant all day yesterday during the storm. Possibly it was difficult to see when they parked, but not really. I had dug it out completely and the yellow painted curb as well. But then I guess there was the whiteout thing going on. They showed up while I was shoveling, apologizing and trying to shovel out for me with a little garden spade. I just laughed, helped push them out and got rid of them so I could finish things off.

I also got the ladder and cleared most of the snow on the front porch roof since it is flat, old and leaky and had probably over 20 inches of wet, heavy snow sitting on it. No, I did not climb on the roof. Just stood on the ladder and used the snow shovel to undercut, and slide the snow off. That got most of it and was pretty easy aside from wrestling the ladder out from the backyard, wrangling it around the porch and then putting it back.

I released the clamps holding the masik pieces and they held their shapes probably well enough to do.


So I slathered them with titebond and clamped them back together. We'll see how well this worked out tomorrow. 

I cut the bow apart and started carefully relashing it with the laser out of the way and lining things up by line-of-sight as I lash it all back down. I'm much happier with the result. Still have some more lashing to tie and then I'll re-peg the gunwales and chines to lock everything down. Hopefully it will look a little better this time. I'm obsessing a little much over alignment and symmetry although the whole thing is a bit like a basket. You can pull and stretch deform things in various ways. Presumably, when a paddler is sitting in it paddling, the whole frame will be shifting, twisting and flexing through the water like a fish. But it can't hurt to pay as much attention to lining things up nice and straight as I run the lashings.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

steam box -- she goes belly up

Wednesday 10 February 2010: It's Wednesday, white-out blizzard conditions outside this morning and the government is still closed. If it keeps up, it'll likely be closed tomorrow too. Good day to make some steam. Hooked a Wagner power steamer, used to remove wallpaper, to the foam steambox and put two 23 inch long strips of red oak in there to soak. After 30 minutes they were still too stiff and I was wondering if this was going to work at all. I put them back in for another half hour, and then they grudgingly bent.

I expect there will be some spring back when this is released so the curve is bent past what will be required. I'll have some idea tomorrow.

I spent the rest of the day staring at the bow plate, lashing and fiddling with it an just couldn't feel happy. It is pegged now, and I don't like the alignment. I finally decided that the laser was just in the way, and I want to be able to really see the keel line. Since everything is mostly lashed now, I detached the frame from the strongback and turned it over.

Eyeballing things with and without the laser, I decide that I'm going to cut the bow apart and try again tomorrow. I think the reason the stern came out so much better is that the stupid laser was not in the way. I could move around and eyeball the lines carefully while I lashed things down. On the bow, the laser just gets in the way.

lashing the stems

Monday-Tuesday 8-9 February 2010:  I've been lashing and unlashing and then re-lashing the stems. Actually mostly the bow plate. The stern looks good. But I think the keelson has just the slightest bit of corkscrewing in the last 12 to 16 inches approaching the bow plate. It isn't noticable until I try to line the bow plate up with the laser. I'm probably just obsessing over a pretty insignificant deviation. But I've been thinking it would be wise to put some pegs in the gunwales and chines anyway just to really lock things down. I don't want the stress from pulling the skin tight to move anything around up there. So I cut off most of the bow plate lashings, lined things up as best I can, drilled a quarter inch hole through the gunwales and pegged them to the bow plate with an oak dowel and some titebond II glue.  Pegged the gunwales at the stern similarly and will peg the chines too before re-lashing everything.

Looking at the stems, it occurs to me now that it might have been better to let the plates continue forward in line with the bottom of the keelson for a couple inches and then round up to the line up to the bow. That would have avoided having a sharp angle where the stem plates meet the keelson and also avoided that slightly weak looking triangle of plywood there. I'm almost tempted to cut the plates out and redo them. But that would waste wood and the plates as they are very much in the spirit of many other sea riders as shown on So I think I'll leave them alone and make that fix on the next boat!

Late Tuesday night I cut up panels of 1 inch silvered insulating foam and built a small steam box that is long enough to steam oak strips for laminating a masik to replace the top of frame 4.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

cutting the stem plates

sunday 7 february 2010: By last night I had finished lashing all the frame to stringer connections I can access without removing the frame from the strongback. So today I began to tackle cutting and shaping the bow and stern plates. I cut a strip 6 inches wide across the width of my sheet of 12 mm okuome and roughed out the basic outlines, cut the plates out on the bandsaw did final fitting. I drew the outlines of the chines and gunwales onto the plates and then marked and drilled holes for the lashings. The holes are all 1/4 inch.

I drilled shallow holes into the keelson and plate bottoms to accept 1/4 inch oak dowels to lock the alignment of the plates to the keelson when the lashings are pulled tight.

After rounding over all the sharp edges on the router table, I lightly sanded the plates and then sealed them in epoxy. I think next time, I'll just skip the epoxy seal of the plywood pieces and just oil them along with the rest of the frame.

It only stopped snowing around sunset Saturday after dropping about 24 inches of heavy, wet snow. So I also spent about 4 hours  today removing what must have been a couple of tons of snow from the street in front of my house along with digging out and clearing katinka, though ain't nobody going nowhere right now given the road conditions.