August 2004


Kickoff Dinner

President's corner

Next meeting

Last meeting

This 'n That



Last Meeting

On July 15th, a smaller than usual band of woodworkers defying calls of vacation and other activities met at the Arques School of Traditional Boat Building in Sausalito. President Craig started out the meeting by showing a large reversible Quick clamp that was going to be the prize for the Name Tag contest of the evening. Members placed their name tags on a table to be voted on by the members during the break. He thanked Jamie Buxton our webmaster for the photos that appear in the web version of our newsletter saying that it really improved the newsletter. Fred Reicher of our Programs Committee gave us an update of future meetings: Ronnie Sorgi in August at Foster City, The Annual Kick Off Dinner in the San Mateo area in September, a harpsichord maker in October and possibly a meeting at Rockler in Pleasant Hill in November. There was not going to be any Raffle or Door Prizes since Stan Booker our rafflemeister is on vacation. There was a Medium Bailey Plane and a hand drill for the silent auction donated by Al Semenero. We had a guest Beckie Yoder, the wife of Mike. Andrew O'Keefe who is a student at the school. Bruce Harteneck joined and we found a member! Chuck Conner joined several months ago but somehow both myself and Harold Patterson our Membership person lost his address. But woodworker persistence paid off. He found us on the web and came to the meeting. A big welcome to all.

SHOW AND TELL was next with Mike Bray showing us a stool that he had made. All the wood was salvaged wood. He did buy a pipe clamp to fit into a piece of ¾" pipe which served as the center support. He used a pipe clamp to hold the seat in place at whatever elevation of the seat that was required. He used pocket screws and butt joints all held together with white glue. The cushion on the seat was removable so that the stool could be used as a rotating spray table. Another interesting "Mike Bray Special".

After a break where we consumed goodies brought by a Hospitality volunteer Nick Korens. Our main presentation began.

Robert Darr is one of the teachers at the school together with Rob Thompson and Jay Van Arsdale.

Robert has been involved with boat building for over 25 years. He described the school as teaching almost everything required in boat building from the design of boats and fittings to rigging, making sails, rope making and making their own hand planes for use on the boats being built. It is an intense course and costs the student about $4,600 a year for being an apprentice. The course is one year long and there are only six students admitted. They also have Saturday courses on very specific subjects. has more information.

The wood they use is all seasoned and is Black Locust, Bay Laurel (Pepper wood) for the stern, Red Cedar for the hull, Fir for the planking and Eucalyptus for the framing. They get most of the wood north of Cazadero near the Russian River from private lands and it is mostly free. The school has a good relationship with the ranchers up there. He said that for example, the Pepper wood withstands rotting much better than the lumber at lower elevations. The trees are cut during the rainy season. The wood is then milled and under cover allowed to dry naturally. He doesn't like kiln dried wood since the character of the wood changes. They make their own patterns for the fittings and then make the fittings. The keel is formed with lead. Many worry about working with lead but he has had blood tests taken to show the students that there is no lead in his system. They use a bathtub and build a fire underneath to melt the lead.

There were two boats that were in the process of being built. He showed us the initial drawing of what the boat would look like. Then it is painstakingly transferred to a full size drawing which is then hung on a wall. The drawing shows every bent and every detail of the boat. The station marks horizontally and vertically must meet exactly. They use thin White Oak flexible strips to draw the necessary curves.

Robert talked about some of the details of boatbuilding. Screws are now used to hold the planks in place rather than copper rivets in the days of old. They caulk with cotton beaten into the seams. West System adhesive is used and Product 5200 which fills voids. The planks are steam bent. The grain of the planks for the hull must all run in the same direction so that they can be planed to shape. Masts are another matter. They start as square wood then cut into octagons then tapered round with a flat side where the sail will be. All this is done by hand, no lathe used.

The finish is basically 20% Linseed Oil and 80% varnish. This mixture is arrived at by heating the Linseed Oil and going through a process to get the finished product. As to tools, they use a bandsaw to cut the planking for the hull. One person calls out the angle and moves the table while the other person moves the plank through the bandsaw. They also have a huge very old band saw where the blade assembly moves rather than the table. They also use hand drills, a dado and various types of planes. Robert mentioned that the school was owned by a man named Arques. He had set up a foundation who now runs the school.

While the meeting was going on, Craig was busily counting up the votes for each of the 8 or so name tags that were entered into the competition. David Heim was the lucky winner even though I tried to stuff the ballot box with my own name. This ain't Florida!

The Silent Auction winners were Mike Bray for the plane and Craig for the hand drill.

Another extremely interesting meeting came to an end as members went home to keep adding to the piggy bank to save enough to enroll in the boat building school.