Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Low-Buck Arts & Crafts

It may be officially Spring, but large portions of North America still lie in the icy grip of Global Warming. What's a sailor to do? Brian of Dock Six takes on some projects...

      "In the meadow, we can build a snowman..."
                                              -Felix Bernard

    ......  or not.

      As I write this, the temperature outside has nosedived to around -23 celsius.

      I am not nearly masochistic enough to calculate the windchill.

      If one is a skier, skater, ice fisherman, snowmobiler, snowboarder or snowshoer, one might enjoy freely frolicking in this frozen frontier.
      I, however, am none of the above.

      I am a sailor.

     And I am NOT going outside into this fucking frozen freakshow unless I absolutely have to.

      Luckily, I have a punchlist of off-season boat work to keep me occupied  until the lake ceases to be a solid mass entirely, and utterly, incapable of floating a boat.

     Doing something with our wobbly and plain saloon table was near the top of the "Boat projects that can be accomplished from the comfort of SJM" list.

     I've got some ideas for this project, boldly going where I had never gone before, but first: a warm-up project, an  aft cabin amuse-bouche if you will:

     Fixing the TV wall.

      The previous owners installed a small flat screen TV- its removal prior to sale has left an ugly blight in an otherwise very pleasant  aft cabin.

     SWMBO and I ruminated over this disfigurement throughout the season, and finally came up with an idea:

     A piece of scrap luan, some wood glue, and a cheap spreader to quickly, evenly and economically spread the adhesive....

      Then, trim a chart to size...

      Apply the chart to the very sticky board....

   Slather more glue on top, recalling skills vaguely remembered from elementary school art class decoupage projects.  While waiting for all that glue to dry, construct a frame from scrap mahogany trim...

Assemble  and varnish......

 ...and install (right side up) when the weather warms up.

  Right, so, feeling cocky, I got back to that saloon table....

     My initial thought was that we needed a larger table that would tie into the stripper pole, er, compression post. Upon further measuring and headscratching I realized that bigger is not better in this case.  Enlarging the table would make our current expansive and inviting recroom feel like  a cramped and cluttered cell, with a table that would be difficult to move around  and would prevent the locker door under the stove from opening fully.

So, the table can get no bigger.
It does, however need to be more stable, so I lengthened the collar underneath, that fits over the post.  Now, no wobble.

But, there is a crapload of winter left, and it is a rather plain table, so I might as well try to figure out marquetry.

     Marquetry, as defined by the OED: "Inlaid work made from small pieces of coloured wood or other materials, used for the decoration of furniture."

     So, a supply run to Lee Valley Tools  was in order.  I needed glue, veneer.... that was pretty much it.

     I still managed to spend damn near $200.

     It's that kind of store.

     I bought a "box of veneer" which was exactly as described- a pizza box full of very thin sheets of a variety of different woods:

Like, 80-100 square feet of the stuff.

The table in question is about 3 square feet.

I quickly cobbled together a low-buck veneer cutting jig- a piece of scrap ply for a bed, some aluminum angle and scraps of luan trimmed to create 90 degree, 45 degree and 22.5 degree guides to simplify the math...


 ... and discovered the tricks to cutting very thin, very brittle pieces of wood...  after destroying a bunch of very thin, very brittle pieces of wood.

Luckily, I had a lot of it.

After marking the center on the table, and the half way polints on all four sides, I laid out a simple geometric design, and proceeded to cut and tape and glue and clamp and swear my way to an end result;


       It still needs some sanding and a few more coats of varnish, but I'm not completely embarassed by the end result.

    And I still have a crapload of veneer left over.

   And a crapload of winter.

   I rummaged through the scrap pile and did some sketching and came up with a plan for a simple cockpit table.  A little ply, some reclaimed teak trim from DonorBoat, and the basics are done:



   the rough work is done, now it's just a matter of mortising and installing the hinges, final sanding, and finishing.  I'm saving that until next weekend.

   It looks like there's still lots of winter left.

Thanks for checking in, and don't forget to "Talk the Dock!"


  1. I like it, Brian, particularly the "fiddles fit for the purpose" of keeping the grog out of one's lap.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...