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Steps in Building a SCAMP sailboat

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Getting the decks on

deck support notches

The Scamp has a deck at the front, and side decks. These are supported by planks which fit in slots cut in the bulkhead tops and these run from the bow to the stern.

The decks is supported on the outside by the top of the sheer plank doubled with gunwales.

I had prepared some nice douglas fir planks to fit the slots but when I checked the fit I realized that since the plank was at an angle my slot also needed to be slightly beveled. I cut the bevel with a file.

Joining Planks

My lumber was shorter than the SCAMP so I needed to scarf the boards. Here is my page on joining including scarfing.

cutting the scarfcutting scarf

I cut the scarfs using bench plane. It worked well and created fabulous curls.

Gluing supports Gluing supports

After gluing the strips and cleaning up the squeezed out glue I let it set overnight. When I built my Skerry, I over tightened a scarf joint and starved it of glue. This time I made sure not to tighten too much.

Joint is nice and clean and seem strong. The epoxy is still a bit too gummy to sand. I'll give it more time.

Shaping and installing the Supports for the side decks.

I tried dry fitting the support on the boat but found that the planks were too stiff to easily bend.

I can either try and bend the boards gradually, or I can split them and re-laminate them together in a bent position.

bending boards

I decided to try bending them first by just wetting them. They bent but not enough and one joint failed.

ironing wood to bend it bending wood

I tried using an iron to help bend the wood. It helped and the wood softened and bent, but overnight one of the pieces had failed. It failed on a slight flaw of the wood, not on the joint. The other piece had enough of a bend to try and do a rough fit.

I re-glued the damaged piece

dry run of the deck support not a fair curve

It took a long time to coax the support into place. I used clamps and rope to gradually pull it in position in the slots of the bulkheads.

The curve is not quite fair. I had noted that 2 of the bulkheads were slightly proud of the top plank and this 3/16 of an inch on the worst one, makes a difference on how the wood curves. I will have to trim this.

I left the wood in place for a couple of days to set the curve but removed it to finish sanding the inside.

bending the support

I adjusted the depth of the slots for the deck and this gave me a nicer truer curve.

I started bending the second support but It broke twice before I gave up with this piece of wood. The mistake I made was to choose wood that had grain running in the wrong direction. Once I had replaced it with quarter sawn pieces they bent very nicely but failed again after drying.

This wood was douglas fir. I guess it's not very happy bending.

I start over with the ash boards

I had picked up some nice Ash Boards so I got them out to cut new carlings and at the same time cut the gunwales.

Ash is often used for gunwales of canoes around here so I know it's a suitable lumber.

squaring the boardcutting the wood

The lumber was raw 4 quarter and needed to be squared at least on one edge and then cut and put through the planer. This took a bit of time but the wood is lovely and very bendy. I cut the carlings and the gunnels out of the edges, which are essentially quarter sawn and kept the centre pieces to make the boards that are glued on the vertical edge of the seat which support a cross seat used for rowing. Those pieces did not need to be quarter sawn.

cutting the woodsquaring the board

The boards were 10 feet and 8 feet long and 12 inches wide. They were quite heavy. I set up the table saw with every guide I could think of including a featherboard. I had no trouble pushing the boards through and cutting them to manageable size.

I used the plane to cut the scarf joints.

carling dry runcarling glued in place

I had already checked the fit of the previous carling and so I did not have to do much adjustment. The support went on without any trouble. I had not glued the scarf before and having 2 pieces made it much easier to handle and place. I glued the scarf in place rather than before installing and this worked better. I think If I had had a good helper then installing the carlings would have been easier and I might not have broken the previous ones.

The ash was strong and easy to place and I was soon satisfied that the support is in good position and I glued it and left it alone for 2 days. The epoxy sets completely in 7 days according to the literature.

starboard carlingchecking angle

I had a bit of trouble trying to figure out how to accurately check one side to the other so they would be the same. I was sort of blocked for a couple of days while I did other things. In the end I checked that the carlings were the same height using a level. I also checked the angle of the carling compared to the sheer plank. Luckily for me the angle and the level both matched quite well so all I had to do was lift the starboard carling about an eight of an inch in one spot and the rest were good.

I knew that the top of the sheer plank was quite level and symmetrical on both sides so I could measure from the edge.

second layer-gluedstarboard carling glued

I went ahead and glued the starboard carling and the second layer of the port carling. It was much easier to work with the wood with one piece already in position.

Installing the Gunwales

I had cut the Gunwales when I re-cut the carlings/deck supports.

When I went to install them I found that this particular board was stiffer than the previous one and I could not bend the board to the side of the boat. I had cut the gunwales in 2 thinner pieces but there was no way it would bend.

I decided to make a temporary steam box to bend the wood. It took me an afternoon to put one together but it worked very well and I was able to bend my first pieces.

Bending the boards by pouring hot water over them or ironing them could have worked but I was curious to see if I could make a steam box instead.

steam box

Here is more detailed description of how I built the box, It can handle wood about 12 feet long.

Gunwales on boat

The gunwales are clamped but not glued on the boat. I only did one board to test the steam box. It took one hour to steam and that was enough to bend it to proper shape.

I let it cool and dry overnight and took it off. There is quite a lot of spring back but I guess the gunwales will go back on when I start gluing.

Gunwales on boat

This is the last gunwale piece. I now have all the pieces bent. I can assemble the half gunnels. I have already cut the scarf joints.

Why so much trouble with the gunwales?

Instructions for the gunnels said they should be 20 x 30 mm. To make it easier to bend they were to be split in 2 pieces of 10 x 30 mm. Because I could not easily get, or handle and cut, 13 feet wood, I used 2 pieces of 6.5 feet with scarf joints. This mean that I have to prepare and bend 8 pieces. I was not lucky in my choice of wood and the gunwale board was quite stiff and simply would not bend to the hull shape so I had to steam it to bend it. All this is done now and I can start putting the pieces together and gluing them to the hull. FINALLY!

First step, glue the scarf joints.

scarf joint

I aligned the scarf joints where they are going to be and glued the 2 pieces together. I did this on the hull because there is just a bit of curve and I wanted the scarf to fit and not make a flat spot. Tomorrow I will actually glue the inner gunwale to the boat.

It would have been faster to glue the scarf and the gunwale in one step but I was not completely confident I could do it quickly enough and split it in 2 days. I'll do the top layer in just one step.

epoxy on the side decks

While the scarf joints are setting, I coated the decks with a first coat of epoxy. I actually spent quite a lot of time cleaning up the deck of pencil marks so that I can leave it bright if I decide to do this. I would like just a bit of wood showing and I'm not sure which piece will look nicest so I'm covering my bases.

I will have to assemble the decks in their spots on the boat. I don't think I can wrangle the whole assembly over the cabin top and in position otherwise.

gluing on the gunwalesgluing on the gunwales

I got the first layer of gunwales glued on and once set I glued on the second layer. It's easier to work with one layer already in place. The steaming had bent the wood enough that it was not difficult to coax it in position.

I used every clamp I own except for the really large bar clamps and the anchor sized C-Clamps. I always envy people who show off their project and every clamp is neatly set and they are all the perfect size and nicely all look the same.

This is a lifetime of clamp accumulation. On the other side I also used the cut up pipe sections. These work surprisingly well and if doubled or tripled one inside the other can apply quite a lot of pressure.

The Carling on the inside and the Gunwales on the outside, support the side and fore deck. I now need to smooth then out and install the decks. Before I do this I will spend some time cleaning up and sanding the front locker/compartment, and painting everything white so that they are brighter. Once closed in there is no light.

I also have to decide where various bits of hardware will attach so I can prepare doublers and reinforcements.

Fixing a small OOPS.

The outside gunwale piece, (each gunwale is made of 2 layers glued together) turned out to be just a bit too short and did not quite extend to the bow. I had had to cut a flaw and I thought I had enough material. The inside was fine but the slightly larger outside layer was just a bit short.

gluing on the gunwalesgluing on the gunwales
gluing on the gunwales

After sanding a scarf I glued 2 extension pieces on and clamped everything with wax paper to protect the clamps.

The joint seems to be good. I'm not too worried because ther is a final layer that will cover this. There is a cap that covers the gunwales and the edge of the deck. This will help solidify the edge and cover the joints.

front deck supports forward front deck supports

I had marked the location of the deck support on bulkhead 2 so while the gunwales were setting I glued the curved piece in place. The wood flour I'm using is very dark so the glue lines look quite dark but once smoothed and painted they will be fine.

I had to guess as to the exact shape of the support piece. I put the deck on and bent it over the center beam and traced the line. I think that as long as the deck fits on and looks right it can vary a little bit. The curve is very similar to the curve of the bow.

The bow support pieces were also glued in, one on each side. I had not fastened the carlings to the bow panels yet. The supports will be higher than the front boat panel but it will be easy to trim to size.

Coming back to the decks after working on the port side bench. I cleaned up the gunwales. There was some squeeze out I had not caught when gluing them. I also started trimming them to exact size to support the decks. Pleasant job with nice music. I'm using a coarse file. It's just as fast as a plane and I don't have to keep sharpening it.

dry run for corner piece screw holes ready
nice shavings

I made a pile of lovely shavings. I don't know why this is so pleasing but it is. I was shaping corner pieces for the bow. They help support the deck and give me something solid to screw into.

John Welsford suggested that some screws in the front will help strengthen the gunwales in case of a bump.

I marked where the screws were on some tape. I still have to add another layer plus screw on the deck and wanted to know where the screws were.

screwed in corner braces.

Corner pieces have been glued and screwed in. I also went around and filled any gaps in the bow area. I still have to tidy the extra epoxy and finish shaping the bow, but I'm almost ready to glue on the front deck.

sanding the forward compartment forward front deck supports

I touched up various little spots and spent a day sanding and scraping the forward compartment. Not my favourite so it doesn't get done to perfection. There are no rough spots that would snag the hand or gear.

front compartment gets a coat of paint front ring installed

The front compartment got a good vacuum and dusting and 3 coats of paint.

Because it is almost impossible to reach the front after the decks are on and the front is closed in, I installed the front ring. I sanded the front perfectly smooth and sealed the ring with a generous amount of 3M 4200. It's an adhesive/sealant that they claim is NOT absolutely impossible to take apart. I've used it on the Tanzer and it is almost impossible to remove and very weather resistant. I used lots on the inside and in the drilled holes. God help me if I ever have to replace that set up. I cleaned up the squeeze out from the front but the inside was too hard to reach to do very well.

deck dry run

After putting everything together I spent some time figuring out how the sides of the cabin fit on. I also saw that my decks are wider than the supports. I guess I will have to trim them. My supports strips were slightly wider but not as thick as the plans suggested so the side decks overhang the supports. No trouble I think.

Before putting everything together I had checked and trimmed the carlings and they were symmetrical on both side with no obvious discrepancies. I also checked and adjusted the curve of the front deck. There were a couple of slightly higher spots on the wood I had glued on in the front corners.

coating decks with epoxy epoxy on the sides and coaming

The decks get another coat of epoxy as do the sides of the cabin and the coamings. There is never enough flat space when coating with epoxy. I found that the front deck was getting very stiff and I was afraid that I would have trouble bending it on. I pre-bent it before putting any more epoxy so it would have a slight curve.

front deck glued on side deck glued on

I had put a couple of screw holes on the front deck to help get it in position while I glued it on. Mostly I used clamps. I found that the screws were making a flat spot so after clamping everything I removed the screws and the curve improved.

inside photo

I cleaned up the squeezed out glue on the outside and let everything set. The next morning I took some photos to make sure the inside looked solid. There was a satisfactory amount of squeezed out epoxy around the outside edge but the middle beams had little. This is where the screws had been and the deck had moved up slightly when I removed them to correct the slight flat spot. I can reach the spot so I will add a bit of epoxy just to make sure there is no gap between the deck and the central beams. If there is any space it is very small and not all the way through.

[pty] deck glued on side deck glued on

Port deck seems quite smooth. I will have to trim the excess but the seams are smooth and will be invisible after some sanding.

The Starboard deck is glued on. Lots of clamps in use. They are all getting a bit gummy. I'll have to do a major clamp cleanup excercise when the boat is finished.

emails: Christine

If you decide to build a boat be careful. These tools can be dangerous. If you don't know how to safely handle something find out. There are lots of forums out there.

This web site reflects my personal ideas and doesn't represent anyone else's point of view. I don't claim to be an expert in anything, just some little old lady muddling along.