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Steps in Building a SCAMP sailboat

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Building a Scamp Sailboat
Cutting the First Piece

While I was waiting for plywood, I spent some time getting ready. I cleared space in my shop. I then checked my clamp collection, scraped old hardened resin off, oiled and cleaned them. While I was doing that I noticed a bunch of old clamps I had rescued curbside. They were rusty and crusty. I used molasses to clean them up and they look good now. If you're interested here is a link on how to clean rust using molasses. It's safe and environmentally friendly.

photo set square

Then I checked my squares. I had noticed that some of my cuts had been off even though I had been careful. Sure enough, one of my squares wasn't!! It had a plastic head that must have warped. It was my old drafting square -- remember when drafting was done with squares and pencils? I could not get it to square up so I made a new head. Since I plan to use it to draft the shapes on the plywood it's pretty important that it be square.

Next I prepared a long thin bendy piece of clear pine to use to make my "fair curves" between measured points. I had to scarf 2 pieces together to get 12 feet long.

Plywood for making a scampships curves

I had plans and plywood and I was ready to go. I chose a sheet of the layout pretty much randomly. The manual has a layout that was used for the kit and it looks like it will work. I set up the plywood onto my workbench and onto another table I have around and I started drafting. There were a couple of mystery marks but otherwise the plan was pretty clear. Some of the curves are left to you to sort out. I have a set of ship's curves from my design days. I've never before used them for ships though.

After 3 hours I had drafted the first sheet of plywood. After checking my measurements I was ready to start cutting.

dremel saw dremel saw blade

I have recently bought a new saw. A Dremel Ultra Saw. I plan to use it for gentle curves and straight cuts. It is much faster than my jig saw and leaves almost no burr. It has an open side so I can see where the blade is cutting and can be quite accurate. This is what they call a flush cut blade. I don't think it is necessary to have a flush cut blade but I was curious how it worked. It also had a finer edge so hopefully it cuts smoother.

It plunges into the wood easily and is not heavy to handle. It has lots of power so there is no need to push hard at all. In fact it is very easy to push, so I have to be careful to control it well. It's very easy to handle and it's a real bonus to be able to see the blade so clearly from the side.

Photo shows details of the blade. If it gets pushed sideways it burns the wood a little. It is already showed it's faster than the jigsaw and can be accurate.

dremel saw cut

My first cut wandered a bit but I got it after this. The saw blade is more of a burr than teeth and the blade cuts from the side if the dremel is turned too sharply. I had a small gouge in the curve but since it is shape to suit I'll sand it smooth and we will not talk about it any more.

jig saw

I used my trusty jig saw to cut the oval opening. "shape to suit". I use a sharp metal blade because it is not so likely to leave a burr.

jig saw

I drew the oval using a string and 2 nails. The closer the nails, the rounder the oval. I just used trial and error to figure out exactly what I wanted.

scamp stem

After a quick pass with the sandpaper my first piece, the front stem, is cut and ready to go.

I'm very pleased with myself and feel that I have finally started my SCAMP Build!

scamp stem

I've cut my first sheet, the stem, 2 vertical seat sides, a doubler. This plywood is 9mm thick and very easy to cut.

scamp stem

I've started on a second sheet. This one has some bulkheads and the bow piece.

In the kit layout one of the bulkheads is cut in order to fit it better in the layout. Builders then re assemble it. Since I have an extra sheet of ply I will not cut the bulkhead in 2 but rather will draft it in one piece. This means that I will not be able to fit everything that the kit builders had on this sheet. I will use my extra sheet for this.

I'm still getting used to the little saw. I'm not as accurate with it as with my jig saw so for this sheet I will rough cut the pieces apart to make them easier to get to, then cut the final size with the jig saw. I would separate the pieces anyway but the circular saw makes it faster.

The holes allow the jig saw to start more easily. I've drawn the pieces one in the other quite closely as it turns out.

SCAMP part

I've actually drawn one piece over another. about an eight of an inch overlap. Annoying but not fatal. That's what thickened epoxy is for.


I got stumped in one of the parts.

One of the bulkheads is in 2 parts to allow for the board case. I could not figure out where one of the points should be. I finally figured that the outside of the port and starboard would be the same and took a pattern from the one I had just drawn. It worked fine. I must have missed a measurement somewhere. Sometimes I get a little fuzzy.

scamp parts

I'm using my block plane, sander and file to fine tune the cuts. So far no mishap.

I've not cut the slots that allow the parts to be lined up like old fashioned cardboard egg boxes, wine bottle boxes divisions. I'll wait till I've cut and tried the parts to fine tune the measurements. Sheet 2 is almost complete.

scamp parts

The plans call for bevels to be cut on the front bow panel. I tried using my block plane but the plywood is quite brittle and when I was cutting into the grain it was tearing out so I switched to files. First a coarse rasp and then a less aggressive one. It worked really well.

scamp parts

I've finished the second plywood sheet. It took a while to cut out all the ovals, half rounds, circles and some slots. The shapes of the bulkheads are quite a workout to accurately lay-out on the plywood.

I've now laid out my third sheet of plywood. It has the top of the seats. Not so many parts and not so complicated. I'll check my measurements tomorrow before I cut.

scamp parts

After checking my measurements I cut out the seat top and one cockpit side. It was trickier to draft that piece. I have to remind myself that it's just plywood. It is not serious.

Sheet number 4 is now laid out. Or more exactly partially laid out. It has a couple of bulkheads and lots of smaller rudder parts. I'll mark out the rudder parts later.

scamp parts

I have 2 more bulkheads to add to the cut list. I still have to fine tune the top curve. I've marked it but cut a bit wide. I'll adjust when it comes time to add the top.

scamp parts

I'm working on the transom. There is an opening as well as bevels on all the curved sides.

There are also a few markings that need to be there.

It took a while to get it right but finally it is checked, rechecked and cut.

scamp parts

All the bulkheads are cut and ready to go except for the cut out for the supporting strips of wood. I'll add these after I've milled the wood and done the first dry fitting.

The seats upper and side are cut as is the stem, inner board piece and side coaming. I will wait to cut the rudder pieces till I've cut the main rudder itself, just in case.

The Puddle Duck Racer is getting it's last coats of paint and varnish, all a bit rough I'm sorry to admit, but soon it's going to be moved out of the workshop till Spring launch. Once that's done I can build my SCAMP frame and get on with assembly.

Today I sorted out the tools, replaced the wood table on the drill press that had been shredded over the years and found my new package of planer blades. I need to replace them before I can mill wood for the SCAMP strips and mast parts. Might as well do it in one run. It's such a messy job.

I also built a scratch gauge. I think it will be useful to mark bevels on the side panels. Marking bevels accurately on the transoms was time consuming.

emails: Christine

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