Tim Murfitt of Norwich, U.K., bought a classic car a few years ago, and while researching how to improve the paint work came across the clay bars car detailers use. Later, when he did the paint work and varnish on his Savo 650 in the same dusty shop he built the boat in, he was disappointed with the flaws to the finish and thought he would give the clay bar a go. It only took him 30 minutes to do the whole boat inside and out, and he was amazed at the transformation. It left both the paint and varnish feeling silky smooth.
Editor Chris Cunningham bought a bar of detailing clay and unexpectedly got a chance to try it out sooner than he expected. He’d made a new bathroom cabinet with nice Douglas-fir, varnished it, and accidentally dropped the mirror frame while it was drying. It picked up a lot of dust so he let it dry a couple of days and just took the clay bar to it. A quick rub with the bar and some soapy water took off the imperfections and didn’t dull the shine.
If you find oars unruly subjects for varnishing, you can get them to behave themselves, as Ben Fuller of Cushing, Maine, does by cantilevering them on a pair of sawhorses. With the leathers resting on one, and the handles tucked under the other—weighted if necessary—nothing is in contact with the areas you’ll varnish. Spring clamps either side of the leathers keep the looms from rolling while you’re varnishing one side and allow you to turn the oar over to brush the other.
Our editor occasionally uses a piece of rope as a belt, but it’s hard to get and keep it sufficiently tight while he ties a reef knot or a shoelace bow. A rolling hitch (Ashley Book of Knots, #1734, page 298) makes a belt that he can tie, cinch up, and have it stay tight. With repeated use the sliding knot will get tighter, so it’s best to start the next day retying the belt. Smaller versions of the rolling-hitch belt can take the place of straps and buckles for cinching sleeping bags or bundling spars and sails.
Patrick MacQueen of Hancock, New Hampshire, set out to build a Herreshoff Coquina and decided that wider decks for sitting and hiking out while sailing would be an advantage. The deck required another modification. Ordinarily the mainmast partner is set right into the breasthook and the narrow decks taper up to its corners. It didn’t seem to Patrick that the taper would be an elegant resolution for the wider side decks.
A foredeck would look better, but would make stepping the mainmast far more difficult. Patrick struck upon making a narrow slot running up to the partner at the rear of the breasthook; it would allow for easy stepping and unstepping. The Coquina’s decks had to look pretty, of course, so he glued 1/8”-thick strips of mahogany and ash on the 3/16” marine ply decks and finished them off with ash coamings.
The farrier’s rasp that Tom DeVries, of New Braintree, Massachusetts, bought at an antique shop for $3 was designed for trimming and shaping horse hooves, but it also works beautifully for tapering ash stems, bringing oak bungs down flush, and rounding spruce oar handles. It’s quick, quiet, and relatively safe.
One face has rasp teeth and the other is a double-cut file. The rasp side cuts even hardwood quickly down to size, and with a flip he can use the file face to finish smoothly. Tom has used his 17” farrier’s rasp to shape beveled stems on the double-enders he has built.
The long, keen, shearing cut of this big file makes fairing bungs flush faster, with little of the risk of tearout created by chiseling bungs. He tapes the end of the rasp to prevent inadvertent scratches as the bung comes flush.
Both edges of a farrier’s rasp have teeth; Tom used a grinder to make a “safe edge” he can use to work tight to an adjacent surface. It comes in handy for working and oar’s grip up to the shoulder of the loom. Farrier’s rasps are readily available from many online sources.
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