Re: My first Project

Posted by Laszlo on Jun 27, 2007


Not to be discouraging, but first boats are never the sleakest. It's just like everything else - practice makes perfect. You have to acquire the skills, the experience, the muscle-memory and the knowledge which makes knowing when to add more wood flour to the epoxy, when enough sanding is really enough (or too much), etc., instinctive.

That's not to say that you can't make your PMD the sleakest. Just don't make it your first boat. There's an old saying among homebuilt airplane makers that everyone makes 2 airplanes - one which ends up in the scrap bin and one which actually flies. You can take a similar approach and budget enough time and materials to thoroughly learn each step before you apply it to the "golden yacht". Practice mixing epoxy and woodflour and making fillets until you know exactly how much to mix to make the perfect fillet at the current temperature. Practice wetting out glass tape and cloth until you can put down a perfect piece of transparent glass with no bubbles every time. Practice sanding until you can get a perfect matte surface with no pits and no sanding into the glass. And so on and so forth.

If you take that approach you're going to have the sleakest boat. You'll also be spending a lot of money on extra supplies, but it's up to you to decide how important perfection is to you.

Another approach is to relax and not worry about perfection. Get the video that Jim mentions. It's full of good info. Don't set a deadline for yourself. Enjoy the process of building and don't worry about when the boat gets done. It'll get done one day and in the meantime, you get to be building a boat.

Be aware that with stitch & glue and epoxy, you can fix any problem by simply grinding or sanding away the bad bits and gluing new stuff in place. Don't be afraid to do so. If there's one flaw in the various boatbuilding videos, it's that they show master boatbuilders performing operations which are edited so that they always work the first time. What first timers need is something like that Julia Child cooking show where she dropped the turkey on the floor, said "oops", picked it up, washed it off and continued cooking it.

Work carefully, think about what you're going to do before you do it, and if it doesn't turn out up to your standards, take it out and do it again. Plan on painting your boat instead of varnishing it. Filler, sand paper, primer and paint will cover a multitude of sins and that last few thousandths of an inch can really impress the hell out of your audience.

Finally, you are your own worst critic. You are going to see flaws that no one else, especially 10 feet away, will ever notice. People have complimented my unvarnished, unsanded boats. They were looking at the hull shape and woodgrain, not seeing the drips and uneven finish. Sleakness is in the eye of the beholder.

So enjoy yourself, don't get worried about achieving perfection. Lots of first timers have built beautiful boats, you will, too. Follow the directions. If you have questions, ask them here. You'll get lots of answers. Welcome to the club.


In Response to: My first Project by Paul on Jun 26, 2007