Sunday, June 4, 2017

Beginning the Boat

This blog post is late coming, but not for lack of desire. We've quickly settled into our pattern: awake at dawn and then to the building site by 6 am. We get a jump start on the day before Nasu san arrives about 7:30. He supervises us until about 5 pm and we sometimes stay longer just to finish what we are working on at the time. On Saturday Nasu san spends the morning with us and we either quit when he leaves at noon or we keep working the rest of the day.  Its been two weeks now of this schedule and in that time we've managed to finish the bottom of the boat. About two hundred edge nails, with eight hundred to go to finish the sides.

I have had a surprising internet success with the posting of a video of Nasu san's nailing method at my Instagram page. Over 8,000 hits thus far. Check it out here.

We are working with the bottom set up on the vertical, something most Japanese boatbuilders do not do (we briefly did this at one point building the sabani in Okinawa). It meant hard work when were were fitting and nailing the first seams, squatting and working on our knees, but it got much more comfortable toward the end. The bottom consists of seven strakes comprised of nineteen pieces of wood scarfed and edge-nailed together.

Readers are familiar with my describing the fitting of planks using a handsaw. I could give much more detail and will try later, but feeling pressed for time I offer a photo of the fit between planks after sawing.

Once sawn to fit we pound the edges, making a slight concavity. The trick is to NOT touch the corners, so the seam maintains the tight fit. The idea is moisture will expand the compressed fibers tight to one another. First pounding leaves visible hammer marks...

Then you make a second pass with the round-faced hammer to smooth out the marks.

It is not easy negotiating the work site, stepping over and ducking under the forest of props holding the bottom upright.

Nasu san uses a strange stick pattern to set the bevel for the side planking.

And all angles are a horizontal measurement taken from a plumb bob to a known point on the stick. Here he is showing us the eventual angle of the bow transom.

Here is a bow transom off a boat he thinks built before the War. He gave us the pattern so we could make a new one.

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