Sunday, November 7, 2010

The second half

A new phase in a project marked by so many of life's changes. I had no knowledge when I began that this project would be a means to cultivate a deeper relationship with my Grandma. I never expected to discover so much of my Papaw in his workshop. I was not aware when I began that so soon after starting, I would also lose my Grandma. I had no idea that the house my great-Grandfather built, the house that raised my Mother, and the house that contained so many of my child-hood memories would be the home I raise my family in. So marks the second half...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 8, 6/1/10

The beginning of this particular evening finds me seated next to a workbench reading as my anxiousness to resume work tempts me to stand. Pages turning, reading slowly and adding numbers. Like waking up in an unfamiliar room, I begin to clarify where I left off and finish shaping the ends of the gunwales. With everything planed, chiseled, and mortised I find myself at a stage I have longed after since the first blade was place on new wood six months prior. The gunwales, in a matter of seconds, bend and flex into the shape of my kayak. I am completely silent. Beautiful. Only after spending the better part of my life studying the lines on sails, fish, waves, surfboards, and boats could I fully appreciate this moment. The temporary braces that hold the gunwales in this shape can be moved to sculpt the boat into many different personalities. I carefully make adjustments and then I notice kayak is crooked.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Days 5, 6 & 7

A quiet mind while working with my eyes to my hands has resulted in small pieces of progress, but little to write of. Recent work has improved my proficiency with tools and made problem-solving within a workshop more feasible. Mortises (square holes) in the gunwales have all been cut and the ends are almost totally shaped. Photographs accompanied with labels to clarify language and terms will soon follow when the kayak takes on a more interesting, kayak-like form.

I do consider myself blessed to have such an activity that grants such mental harmony. How do you provide your mind relief and be inwardly quiet? If nothing, make time, and seek what your mind prefers. Not an escape, just an intermission.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 4, 3/26/10

The tools and the wood each wait. Patiently enough that I discover they have not moved for two months. I reacquaint myself with locations and plans. My mind recalls what was missed in my absence and why in this work I find enjoyment. Much of my time is spent building the forms that will hold the boat in it's final shape. These forms will remain on until the boat's frame can hold the shape for itself. As blisters form I begin to wonder if it were less painful to use the edge of my hand instead of a saw. The rhythm builds and the blade sings it's song. I contemplate mounting the finished boat on the wall instead of allowing it the get wet. Out of frustration and impatience I hurry which in turn yields more frustration and poor results. Perhaps that's why my grandfather was skilled at catching fish; patience. He would correct me for casting out, quickly reeling in and repeating. But we all have our own stubborn ways that we think will accomplish our goals. You can't hurry greatness. I finish marking the gunwales (pronounced gun-nuls) or the rails that run the length of the boat. Soon I will plane them down, put them in the forms and finally the kayak will actually bear a resemblance to a kayak.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 3, 1/1/10

I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Skipping Fish Boat School here in Louisville, which teaches and guides people through the skin-on-frame boat building process. Through the owners' generosity and kind spirits I was able to sit in some of the boats, make novice inquiries, and snap photographs.

After visiting Skipping Fish I did change the direction in my own building plans. I have decided to forgo redwood gunwales after the general concensus that redwood is too brittle. I am scarfing (or joining together) three 6 foot long white pine sections for each gunwale to make the 16 foot long sections needed. I used the most volatile epoxy I have ever worked with to adhere the joints in the scarfs. This particular joining method yields joints that are stronger than the wood that surrounds them.

On this particular day I was assisted by my good friend Ed Moll, also soon-to-be step-father in-law. Geometry and fractions were something to be avoided in high-school but there is no getting around it when working with wood. Ed's experience was very much welcomed. Our time was spent transferring the measurements of my body to the kayak. The West Greenland kayak is a reflection of it's pilot in every sense. The rib spacing is measured by the length between my thumb and middle finger. The length of the kayak is 3 fathoms (one armspan is a fathom) minus a cubit, the length of my middle finger down to my elbow. The width is measured by my hips plus two fist-lengths. Time moved quickly and with the gunwales now adequately marked we moved to the door. Ed was able to meet my grandfather, so much of my repect for him was able to be shared. I haved learned much even in just the short time working on the boat and remembering my grandfather. In his life he never stopped learning. Perhaps that is one of the things that made my papaw who he was. Have you met someone who has stopped learning?