October 26, 2009

Penthouse Suite

Waterfire is a lot more fun when you're not on the ground.

October 24, 2009

Works in Progress #1

I try to document every idea that I have, no matter how trivial it may be. Whether its as simple as writing down a few words or building a full sized prototype. Unfortunately, other projects will come along and take precedence, and these ideas will get lost in the shuffle. I'm starting this series of posts as a way of revisiting these projects and possibly finishing a few.

The straight razor was a mock-up I created for use in a larger piece. At the time, it was only the blade and one side of the handle. It ended up being too large for my purposes, so I decided to finish the handle and bolt the entire thing together, thus creating a razor exactly 6 times the size of an original. I had a number of ideas on what to do with it, but never settled on anything. If I don't come up with anything soon, I'll probably paint it and hang it up in my bathroom, but I hope to think of something a little more interesting.

October 18, 2009

The Yankee I

"The Yankee Planking Bevel I is mad of maple wood and brass. It can be used on new construction or repair work. By adjusting the slide to the correct width, bevels for planking from 2” to 7½” in width, any thickness, and ½” back-out may be precisely picked up and recorded on a bevel board."Pictured is an original Yankee I, the first in a series of tools my grandfather created almost thirty years ago. In my continuing effort to understand how they work, I initially had to learn how a classic boat is constructed. Here is a (very) brief overview of what I've found so far.

Wooden ship hulls are built in several different ways. The Yankee I is made for use with the carvel method, shown on the far left. A recent article in Wooden Boat magazine likens carvel planking to a wooden barrel. "Barrel staves, analogous to our planks, are laid tightly alongside one another, and taper at the ends. A wooden boat hull is similar, but with a few extra curves thrown in." Carvel planking not only provides a cleaner look, but is also easiest to repair, as individual planks can be replaced without disturbing adjacent ones.

The edges where these planks meet vary in angle depending on their location along the frame. The Yankee I is used to copy and transfer that angle from one board to the next. The more accurate this bevel, the better the overall construction of the craft.

I am just about finished rendering the tool for both reference and illustrative purposes. My next step will be to recreate a Yankee I using one of the unfinished blanks found in the trunk. I will also be attempting to build a hull model similar to the one my grandfather displayed at shows using old photographs and his original diagrams as reference.

October 12, 2009


This is what happens when I get bored.

Spike Jonze's blog, WeLoveYouSo and Booooooom, had a competition this weekend to promote the "Where the Wild Things Are" movie. The premise was simple, build an awesome fort.

I assembled my entry in about two days using a pile of old pallets. No nails or screws were used in the construction of the actual fort. Instead the pallets were lashed together with hundreds of feet of twine. The entire structure is surprisingly sturdy, even up on the third level.

Unfortunately, this is only temporary. As much as I'd like to keep/live in it, I'll need the wood and space for an upcoming project. Check out the site to see the other entries, all of which are amazing. I was really impressed with the quality and volume of submissions.

Update: I won the grand prize! Check out the postings below, and special thanks to Jeff over at Boooooom for putting together such an awesome contest.

Booooooom: Wild Things! Forts! Winners!

WeLoveYouSo: Fort Contest Winners!!!

October 8, 2009

Yankee Bevels

"It is just that, a tool. It does not replace craftsmanship. It helps you do a better job, the right way." - Chester Rice

During his 50+ years as a boat builder, my grandfather developed a series of tools know as the Yankee Bevels. Although he undoubtedly used these in his own work for years, it was not until the early 80's that he began fabricating the tools and making them available to the public. They were sold primarily through a small mail order operation and at classic boat shows around New England, several of which I was lucky enough to attend with him. However, after his passing in the mid 90's, the Bevels and all related material, were placed in a steamer trunk and put into storage.

It was not until recently when I was contacted by Wooden Boat magazine did I consider digging out the trunk. Apparently, the bevels are still in use by classic boat builders throughout the area, and the magazine wants to recognize that. What started as a search for some old clippings and paperwork has turned into a full time project. Over the past month I have been digitizing, drawing, and modeling in order to launch a new website and possibly do a limited production run of my own using both new and old stock. For now, I still have much to learn, and will be detailing the entire process here in future posts.