Got clamps? (bowsprit part 1)

One thing about woodworking; you can never have enough clamps.  I thought I had enough clamps, but boy was I wrong.

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Last week I made the trek back to Berkeley to pick out the lumber for the new bowsprit and Samson posts.  Our existing bowsprit is a solid 6″ X 6″ timber (I’m not sure what species), and it’s starting to show signs of rot.  I managed to find 3 nice straight planks of 8/4 (2″ thick) vertical grain Douglas Fir to laminate for the bowsprit, along with a hefty plank of 8/4 Sapele to laminate for the sampson posts.  I hand-picked each board, digging through and rearranging the stacks of lumber to find the planks that suited my needs.  At some point during my search I think I was beginning to get on the nerves of the warehouse guy, but at this price for lumber, you bet your ass I’m gonna’ chose the best wood possible.  Besides, the bowsprit is what holds up the mast so it’s pretty important.  A bit over 10 foot long each, they barely fit inside my truck but I somehow managed to get them home.

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I started by building the Samson posts first.  The 7-1/2″ wide, 1-3/4″ thick by 9 foot long piece of Sapele got cut in half, and each half was ripped down the middle giving me 4 boards roughly 3-1/2″ X 54″ long.  Each pair of boards was rotated and flipped end for end so that the growth rings opposed each other for strength.  The surfaces were rough sanded with 40 grit to give the glue some “tooth” and wiped down with acetone to remove any natural oils in the wood.  I wetted out each side with “neat” epoxy then laminated each pair using thickened epoxy and a ton of clamps.

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After a couple days of cure time I squared up the posts on the table saw and ripped them down to their finished dimension of 3-1/4″ X 3-1/4″.

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The bowsprit was a bit trickier due to the size of the lumber, but I managed to muscle each board through my little table saw and get them ripped down to just over 6″ wide.  The sprit is just over 8-1/2 feet long, so the off-cuts from the 10 footers will be used for the cross pieces that support the pulpit platform.  Each board received the same surface prep treatment as the Samson posts, then everything got sandwiched together with more thickened epoxy and left to cure for a couple days.  Now all I need to do is figure out how to get this monster timber shaved down and squared up.  I’m pretty sure it’s not going to fit through my table saw.

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Stay tuned for part 2…

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New lifelines and solar panel rails
Now that's using your head
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