lessons learned

Mill Creek 16.5 lessons learned.


I have been building furniture for about 20 years now. I started out with a handful of tools and aspiration of becoming the next “Stickley”. Producing high end, expensive hand made furniture. And here I am today with nice shop and an arsenal of tools that would make Norm Abram grin. I build 1-2 furniture pieces a month, and sell 2-3 pieces a year the rest fill my house. I take great pride and countless hours telling visitors stories of turning barn boards or lumber recovered from horse stalls into Sideboard hutches and Morris chairs. I don’t use nails it’s all exposed mortise & tenon joinery.

So building a boat seemed like a breeze in comparison to an 8’ wide 7’ tall mahogany China Hutch. My sons (all 6) were immediately excited, finally a project we can all enjoy and not be given a raised eyebrow when shutting a cabinet door to hard or setting a glass on a chairs arm rest or coffee table.

Here are my lessons learned from the experience.

·        Building a stitch and glue boat is more chemistry than carpentry.

·        It’s a 2-1 ratio for resin and hardener…”do not think otherwise”

·        White vinegar will remove wet epoxy from hair and skin.

·        A good barber can remove dried epoxy from hair.

·        Drill-fill-drill.

·        Learn to love wearing rubber gloves.

·        Spring clamps: buy 30, then go back and buy 30 more.

·        Learn to love sanding, even when its 10 pm on a work night.

·        Use “Interlux” paint, read the label. Then read the label again and visit the company’s website.

·         Blue painters tape and 3M Fine-line tape, know the difference between them.

·        Less is more when applying: epoxy, primer, paint and varnish.

And the most important lesson: Don’t forget to check in with your loved ones. You have now been in the (cellar, garage, wood shop, car port, or tent) for the better part of a month working on your boat and they see you covered with sawdust, epoxy dust, and running to and from the hardware store for god know what. Your (wife, husband, girlfriend, etc.) just need to know the lawn will get mowed and that you will be rejoining your family unit in the near future. They are excited about the boat because you are. They are tired of hearing about scarf joints, hanging knees, copper wire stitches, epoxy, sanding, and bubbles in the varnish that will need to be wet sanded again. They dream of a leisurely paddle on stream or lake and hope that you won’t raise that same eyebrow when they bang the paddle against the coaming rail.  I have to get back to the boat now, I know that 8th coat of varnish on the deck will be the last one needed.


6 replies:

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RE: lessons learned

yep thats about it, nice post

RE: lessons learned

Very nice post!!

RE: lessons learned

Having just about finished my MC 16.5, and having lots of time between coats of bottom paint and varnish, I definitely concur.  In my case pay-back has involved repainting bedrooms while waiting for the important paint to dry.

 I would guess that even with your woodworking experience there were enough issues that you wish to have a do-over on.  What will be your next boat?


2008 "Most Enjoyable Contemplative Post" category.  Thx.

RE: lessons learned

It was a very interesting build. and very enjoyable for the family. last january we were trying to decide a summer family activity.. Disneyland, Hawaii, etc. with 4-boys the cost would have been over the top. when i brought up the idea of building a boat. to my surprise everyone was "all in"

so not only did we get a very classy looking boat that we as a family take out almost every weekend, we also had it in the budget for Mom and Dad to take a Grown up trip to Maui. so that worked out.

the boys have been on me to build a sail boat or another MC-16. but i would love to build a wood duck. 

wishing you calm waters


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