New Sawhorses – Fitting 2nd Floor Timber – Laminating 3rd Floor Timber


I started out the morning by knocking together two sawhorses out of scrap lumber I had lying underneath the boat.

Not great but they will have to do for now!

Using a heat gun and a paint scraper, I softened and removed the excess epoxy from the floor timber.

Then I used my 8″ grinder with a 36 grit disc (3m “Green Corp”) to get the rest of the excess epoxy off of the timber, and to fair the faces out a little bit. (This is why I wanted the new sawhorses!)

I did the final smoothing with my electric palm sander and 80 grit sandpaper.

Finally, I used my little laminate trim router to cut a 1/4″ radius along the top edges of the floor timber.

Next, I used the old floor timber as a template to mark out the shape of the new timber.

And, I cut the floor timber to shape.

As with the previous floor timber, I leveled this one up and scribed it down into place for final fitment.

And, I “tuned” the high spots with my 4″ grinder and ended up with a decent fit!

The last step was to cut the new limber holes.

Next, I raced about going through all of the steps again to layup another floor timber.

Ripping the radius off of each edge.

Wetting out the surfaces with epoxy resin.

“Number Three” all clamped up!

Categories: Making New Floor Timbers | 1 Comment

August 22, 2015 – Fitting The First New Floor Timber

August 22, 2015

After an overnight curing of the epoxy, I unclamped the floor timber and I proceeded to remove the excess glue from its surfaces.

Once that was done, using a “Sharpie”, I traced out the perimeter of the original floor timber on to the new floor timber blank.

Using my Shopsmith bandsaw, I “rough cut” the new timber to shape.

Before I could fit the new floor timber into the hull, I had to level up the boat. I did this by adjusting the “jackstands” on the port and starboard side of the hull and also underneath the stem as well.

I held my four foot level against the original head bulkhead that I left inside the hull. Doing this gave me references in the athwartship plane, along with fore and aft too; as I adjusted the “jackstands”.

I also double checked other surfaces as well. Here is one of the original floor timbers that I left in the hull.

I “split the difference” between everything that I checked. Here is the same floor timber again.

Once the boat was leveled in both axis, I could then fit the new floor timber in place. I used a level and a pair of scribes to do this.

When I had my marks on the new timber, I used the old timber to set the angle of the bandsaw. (Why reinvent the wheel?).

I knew that I needed to “tune” the end cuts of the floor timber. Lacking a piece of chalk, I grabbed a piece of Kingsford Charcoal out of the bag I keep near my BBQ grill.

I rubbed the charcoal on to the interior surface of the hull…….

…….then I “rubbed” the floor timber into the charcoal.

The coal left “black marks” on the ends of the floor timber. I needed to remove these “high spots” so that the timber would sit “tight” against the skin of the hull.

I removed the “high spots” with my grinder.

Not too bad a fit!

I decided that I wanted slightly larger limber holes in these new floor timbers. So, using my bandsaw and my grinder, I cut larger limber holes.

Next, I used my router to put a 1/4″ radius on the fore and aft top edges of the timber.

Finally, I glued up a second timber using the same process that I did on the first floor timber!

Categories: Making New Floor Timbers | 2 Comments

August 21, 2015 – Laminating The First New Floor Timber

August 21, 2015
The state of Maine, where I live, is known for its vast forest areas of timber. for fine furniture makers and yacht builders. The majority of the wood is felled and trucked off to area mills that produce paper. Largely, what wood I have available to me locally is, “pulp wood”; which isn’t anything that I want to put into my boat!

There aren’t many wooden boatbuilders left here in the Northeast. Nearly every type of watercraft is manufactured out of FRP, (Fiber Reinforced Plastic; aka “Fiberglass”), or some kind of cross-linked plastic. Consequently, the need for individuals to mill logs into timbers for wooden boatbuilding has dropped to nearly nothing.

I found one source about a one hour drive away from me that occasionally carried White Oak. I had a phone conversation with this fellow, and he was pretty sure that he would not have enough stock to fulfill my needs. His milling business had become a “part time” occupation due to the lack of volume.

After much thought, I made the decision to carry on with this project with whatever useful species of lumber that I could find “locally”. That meant a trip to my local lumber yard!

Ellsworth Builders Supply, located in Town Hill, Maine.

However, the wood that is harvested from these large tracts of land isn’t destined
EBS has some stock of kiln dried “one – by – four” Douglas Fir that I thought would work as a substitute to White Oak; if handled in an “alternative” way.

I selected random lengths of out of this pile. I made sure that I chose pieces that were of the tightest, vertical grain that I could find out of the stock.

Here is what I purchased for today.

I loaded it up on my trailer and made my way back home to my garage.

After I offloaded the lumber on to sawhorses in my garage……..

……..I assembled some “pipe clamps” that I had purchased parts for earlier in the day. I bought the Jorgensen 3/4″ clamp fixtures at my local Home Depot, as well as a, ten foot length of 3/4″ black pipe too. The sales associate cut the pipe into five 2′ lengths and also threaded each piece to accept the “head” of the clamp; all for free!

To test out my idea of how I wanted to solve “new floor timbers”, I selected one of the forward, shorter timbers to recreate out of the Douglas Fir I had just purchased.

I cut 8 pieces of Douglas Fir to pre-determined lengths.

Using my Shopsmith tablesaw, I ripped the radius off of the edges.

Then, I marked the centerline of each piece.

These marks will help me keep the pieces of wood aligned correctly as they “slip and slide” around, due to wet epoxy, as I clamp them up.

Here is an image of one of the forward floor timbers laying on top of what is to be a “laminated Douglas Fir” floor timber.

I mixed up a batch of System Three epoxy and wet out all of the faces that “mated” with each other.

Here is the first new floor timber laminated and clamped up!

I let this cure overnight before moving on to the next step.

Categories: Making New Floor Timbers | 2 Comments

August 20, 2015 – Continued Work On The Rudder

August 20, 2015

While I thought about how I was going to tackle replacing the floor timbers in the boat, I went back to work on the rudder. By doing this, I bought myself some “thinking time”, and I kept moving forward with the project.

I dug the rudder out from underneath a pile of stuff that had gotten stacked on top of it, and I moved it out on to the concrete apron in front of my garage door. Using 36 grit sandpaper stuck to a “short board”, I plowed down and faired the excess cured epoxy from the last work session on the rudder.

Short boarding the excess epoxy off of the rudder stock.

“Tuning” the radius along the edges.

Once all of the excess epoxy had been removed, the fairing done, and the edges “tuned”, I sanded the stock with 80 grit sandpaper.

Then, I gave the stock a coat of System Three epoxy.

I will be returning to this project towards the colder months!

Categories: Working On The Rudder | 4 Comments

Making My Second Knife; Another Ulu Knife.

December 29, 2014

For my second attempt at making a knife, I again turned to the Ulu knife design.  This time, I wanted to try to make a knife faster than the first knife, which meant simplifying the shape considerably.  I also wanted to have less blade curving upward. And, just like the first knife, I wanted to work with simple, easy to get materials; repurposing an old item and giving it a new life.

For less than $15, I purchased six old carpenter’s handsaws on Ebay. This included having them shipped to my home!  I removed the wooden handles and tossed them into a friend’s kindling box.

In the above image, you will only count five handsaw blades. That’s because the sixth one has been used to practice my etching skills on!

Because the round shape of the Kidde brand smoke alarm worked so well the first time, I went back to the device again to begin my new knife design. I worked my drawing out on a piece of scrap Formica. Once I had a shape that I felt was what I was looking for, I cut it out on my bandsaw.  I fine tuned the edges using my disc sander and drum sander.

Next, I moved on to the actual saw blade itself.  I “block sanded” down the surface of the steel to remove as much of the old rust as I could. Then, I traced around the Formica template and cut the shape out using my Dremel tool with a fiber reinforced wheel, and my Makita grinder to tune the edges up.

I fine tuned the edges further with my Dremel tool and a “stone wheel”, and also more work with my Makita grinder.

I block sanded the surfaces of the final shape of the Ulu knife to remove just as much of the rust and pits as I could.  Using a marker, I drew a “bevel line” that I could file the cutting edge to, and I went to work worrying that edge down with a couple of different files.

I decided to skip the heat treating and tempering process on this knife so as to shorten the build time.

I had handle material left over from the first Ulu knife that I made.  I epoxied and “pinned” the scale pieces together to form a handle on this knife just as I did on the first one.

Cured and ready for shaping.

To etch my “makers mark” into this blade, I went through exactly the same process that I did when I etched my first blade.

I used the same vinyl tape and worked through a magnifying glass to cut out my stencil shape with a utility knife blade.

Ready for burning.

Here is an image from my first knife’s etching process.  I used the same system on this knife. The “red” ( + ) lead connected to the blade, and the “black” lead ( – ) connected to my drill bit “electrode”.

Burning Reuben’s paw print into the surface of the knife blade.

Not too bad this time! Right on center!

This evening, (December 29, 2014), I prepared my very first meal solely using my new Ulu knife to do all of the work.  I have to say that I am really, really stuck on this blade design concept!

Thanks for reading!

Barry Buchanan

“Black Lab”


Categories: Knife Making | 6 Comments

Making My First Knife; An Ulu Knife.

December 23, 2014

For individuals who have spent time reading articles on this website, you have probably figured out by now that, I am not much for aesthetics.  I am a “form and function” type of person who likes and appreciates ideas and things that reflect this type of thinking. I like things that are simple and practical; not much caring for what they look like. I also like it when one object can be used for another task than what it was originally intended for. Even better is, when an object can be repurposed from its original intended use, into another completely different object of “form and function”; extending its life on Earth even farther than what was imagined for it at its creation.

Recently, I have become interested in making knives.  I am NOT interested in producing a product for sale!  Knives are incredibly important and useful tools in our lives, and I wanted to challenge my skill sets to see if I could make one.  Following my “form and function” mentality, I chose the Inuit “Ulu” knife as my first bladesmithing project. The Ulu knife is the ubiquitous “jack of all trades” blade of our northern, native cultures.  The knife design just makes sense to me!  (To learn more about Ulu knives, follow this link: The Ulu Knife Factory.)

Following is how I made my very first blade; my version of an Ulu knife.

Ulu knife designs have a curved semi-circular shape to the blade. That’s where I started with my own design.  In spying the base of my smoke detector, its diameter looked just about right for my needs.  Using a pen, I traced around the base of the smoke detector, on to a piece of heavy paper stock.

Next, I needed to create a handle for the blade.  Using a small carpenter’s square, I drew out some more lines to finish my design. Then I cut the shape out using a pair of scissors.

Before cutting into the steel that I ultimately wanted to make the Ulu knife out of, I decided to practice first on a piece of scrap 4130 chromoly sheet steel I had lying around.  I traced out the shape and cut the blank out of the sheet using my Makita grinder and a cut-off wheel, my Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel, a holesaw, and some drill bits as well.

But, as is often the case with me, once I got into the project, a different shape came to my mind.  I decided to “tweak” my original design to reflect those ideas.  In the image below, you will see the design that I came up with, and the one that I wanted to recreate for actual kitchen use.

This Ulu knife is my “practice” knife, made out of 4130 chromoly steel.

Once I had the shape finalized, I copied it to a piece of card stock paper and set it aside.

The actual working knife I wanted to fabricate out of an old, 14” diameter tablesaw blade that had been given to me by a friend.

Using my “practice knife” as a pattern, I traced around its circumference to transfer its shape to the tablesaw blade.

Next, I marked points on the design where I needed to start drilling holes to begin the cutting out process. I used a spring-loaded centerpunch to make sure that the drill bits I was planning to use, accurately started where they were suppose to, and to not wander across the surface of the sawblade.

After I had marked my starting points, using my old Shopsmith drill press, I drilled pilot holes through the sawblade at the centerpunch mark locations.

I followed the pilot holes with a “step” drill bit to increase the diameter of the pilot holes.

Then, I shifted to a one inch holesaw to remove the required material in the handhold area of the blade.

After all of the holes were drilled, I shifted back and forth between my Dremel tool, (With a reinforced cut-off wheel tightened in its chuck.), and my Makita 4” grinder, (Also with a cut-off wheel mounted to its arbor.), to cut the Ulu knife blank out of the tablesaw blade.

Once I had the knife blank cut out, I followed with fairing up the rough spots.  Again, I used my Dremel tool and my grinder to get me closer to the lines that I had drawn.  Hand files were used too!

As I was getting closer to the final blade shape, I knew that I had to think about hardening and tempering the blade.  I know nothing about this process, or even if I had to go through with it because I was using a sawblade as my stock. But, I decided to follow through with all of the usual, “normal steps” that it would take to produce a working a knife.

I sat myself in front of my computer monitor and I watched a whole host of knife making videos on YouTube and Vimeo.  I particularly focused on the ones that included the hardening and tempering process in the footage. What follows is what I came up with for my first try at this.

I drove to my local Goodwill store and I paid a grand total of $4.00 for a small crockpot.  As I watched videos online, I noticed that knifemakers pre-heated the quenching oil of their choice, (Which usually seemed to be a vegetable oil of some kind.), before dunking the blade blank into the bath.  I thought what better use of a crockpot then!  I could preheat the oil a little bit, and when I was finished with it, I could cover the oil in the crockpot with the lid, and slide everything underneath my workbench.

Because I am a 30 year veteran yacht carpenter, I have access to scrap woods like teak, cherry, mahogany, maple, and poplar.  I chose to make scales for my knife out of teak and poplar, (Which is the ubiquitous combination of woods used for cabinsoles in yachts.)

I glued up a blank of teak and poplar that I could mill the scales out of.

Then I trimmed the blank down and drilled the scales for brass pins, (Actually, brass welding rod!).

I used the drilled scales to lay out the pin holes that needed to be drilled through the knife handle area.

For the hardening process, I piled up some fire brick I have to create a crude forge of sorts.  I heated the blade up to “cherry red” using a MAPP gas torch.

When the blade was to (rough!) temperature, I quenched it in the bath of canola oil.

Once the blade had cooled back down, I placed it in my toaster oven, set at 400° F for 2 hours.

From here, I went through a lot of sandpaper to get the cutting edge where I wanted it! And, it IS wicked sharp!

Next, I epoxied the scales to the knife and shaped them to what felt good in my hand.

I added several coats of tung oil to the handle.

I also decided to glue up a “knife block” for the Ulu knife to sit at home in, when not in use. Again, I chose teak and poplar for the species of wood.

Finally, I wanted to add a “Maker’s Mark” to the blade.  I thought about this for quite a bit, and settled on a copy of a paw print of my dog, Reuben. For those that know the history of Reuben and me, they will understand and smile at the fact that Reuben has appeared, yet again, in another project of mine!

At 10 years old, I had to have Reuben “put down” the day after Thanksgiving this year.  We had a wonderful, full life together, but significant health issues had manifested themselves within Reuben’s body.  Reuben’s quality of life was affected by this.  It was time for him to move on to a healthier place, so I let him go……

A few days after I had Reuben put down, a card arrived in the mail from the vet clinic that Reuben had frequented.  It was a card of condolences, and in it was a paw print the doctor had taken from Reuben.  PERFECT!

Here is a photo of that print.

I transferred the image to my computer.

In Photoshop, I created “layers”; each of which was an outline of the pads of Reuben’s paw.

Then, I removed the background and printed out the image on to a piece of printer paper.

Next, I masked off the knife with some vinyl tape I had lying around.

On the backside of the paper that Reuben’s paw print was printed on, I heavily “scribbled” with a pencil.  Then, I cut out the little square with a pair of scissors.

I then taped the “paper paw” to the vinyl tape protecting the knife blade.

Working through a magnifying glass and using a pen, I traced the outline of each paw pad, then I removed the original drawing to reveal what would ultimately become my stencil for etching into the blade.

I am ready to “burn”!

For my electrical power source, I chose to use the rechargeable Lithium Ion battery from my 18 volt Bosch drill.

The “+ “ and “- “ signs are clearly marked on the battery which made it easy for me to figure out which lead needed to go where while etching.

To create convenient “posts” for me to connect the electrical leads to the battery, I “flattened” the ends of two short pieces of welding rod.  With this done, the welding rod “posts” clicked securely into place on the Bosch battery.

I purchased a package of four “alligator clips” from my local ACE Hardware store and made up two short electrical leads; one for “positive” and one for “negative”.  I connected the “positive” lead to the blade. The “negative” lead led to my electrode; which was a drill bit.

Next, I ripped off some “strips” of paper towel and folded them up into small square pads.  I dipped the “pad” into a solution of saltwater that I had mixed up, and then placed the saturated pad over Reuben’s paw print stencil on the blade.

Pressing down with the “negative electrode” I etched my “Maker’s Mark” into the Ulu knife.  When the pad turned black, I wiped off the debris from the blade and went at it again with a fresh pad.  I did this three times before I was satisfied with the depth of the etching.

And, the blade all cleaned up.

Here it is sitting at home in its block.

In the image below, you don’t have to look too long, or too closely, to see that the etching is off center.  I can tell you that I was very frustrated with myself for that!!!

However, my smart and lovely sister-in-law, (, commented on the issue by mentioning the following fact. She said, “You know Barry, Reuben was a little “off center” himself.  He only had three legs which made him walk a little off center. I think this is a fitting tribute to Reuben!”  What can I say to that! Perfect!

Here is a photo of Reuben taken this past summer. He was beginning to feel his age and had begun to wind down his life here on Earth.

In this image, Reuben had been in my life for just a short period of time.  He has four legs in the photo too!

This is my favorite photograph of Reuben!  It captures all that he was! This was back in the spring of 2006.

Finally, here is the last photograph I took of Reuben, the day before he left my life.

Thanks for reading!


Barry Buchanan

“Black Lab”

PS: I want to thank all of the expert knife makers who have taken the time to shoot, edit, and post their “How To” knife making videos on to the internet.  There are two knife makers I would like to specifically acknowledge, because I think their workmanship in both knife making and with a video camera are outstanding.  The first is “Trollskyy” and here is a link to his YouTube channel: Trollskyy.  The second is, Aaron Gough of Gough Custom knives.  Here is a link to Aaron’s YouTube channel: Gough Custom Knives.

Categories: Recent Posts | 19 Comments

July 15, 2014 – Removing The Holding Tank

After removing the head plumbing and the head itself, it was time to remove the holding tank too. The location of the holding tank is underneath the starboard side of the V-Berth, up in the bow of the sailboat. Previously, when I was removing the plumbing from the head, I had already disconnected the hoses from the holding tank.

I removed the bunk bottom boards and began unfastening the bunk timbers that lay over the holding tank.

After the bunk timbers were removed, I carefully lifted the holding tank up out of its perch, and rested it on the V-berth bunk surface. I NEEDED to be careful because there was still some “liquid material” sloshing around in the tank!

I walked the tank the length of the boat and slid it on to the bridgedeck of the cockpit.

Of course, I just had to spill some “goo” out of the tank…… I frantically ran for my garden hose and dragged the working end up the ladder and into the cockpit of the boat. I began spraying down the soiled area only to notice that the port cockpit drain was NOT working! I checked the thru-hull’s valve handle and it said that it was “Open”, but it was also frozen solid and I couldn’t budge it! I was in a real mess now, because I had previously removed the starboard cockpit drain and “dirty water” was now making its way out of the cockpit and into the bilge area.

I scampered back down the ladder and grabbed a “star drill”, (Used for pounding holes in concrete.), and a hammer, and I drove that star drill up through the port cockpit drain from outside the hull. Finally, water found its way out of the cockpit the proper way!

Afterwards, I hosed down the bilge to clean it up. (The port and starboard garboard plank drain plugs were previously removed.).

Categories: Plumbing Related, Restoration Work | Leave a comment

July 7, 2014 – Removing The Head

After all of the plumbing was removed, I set about removing the head as well.  Of course, the bolts that hold the base of the head to the platform were corroded and frozen solid.  So, I used my Dremel tool with a metal cutoff wheel attached to an arbor to make quick haste of removing the offending bolts!

Another “checkmark” on my list of things to do!

Categories: Plumbing Related, Restoration Work | Leave a comment

July 7, 2014 – Removing The Head Plumbing

My plan is to start from scratch on every aspect of this restoration project.  That means, all of the plumbing had to go!

I started in the head area by removing all of the hoses that were attached to thru-hulls, the head, sink, and the holding tank.

When I have come across a stripped hose clamp, or a “stuck” hose, I use my Dremel tool to assist me with the hose’s removal. The Dremel’s chuck is tightened down on an arbor that has a metal cutting disc attached to the end of it. This setup makes removing troublesome hose clamps a breeze!

In the image below, I could not get the hose off of the deck fitting. I left my heatgun at work, so sliced through the hose, cutting the wire reinforcement, with my Dremel and cutting wheel.

Holding tank vent hose.

Saltwater feed to the head.

Removing the hoses from the holding tank.

There is not much left for hoses in the boat!

Categories: Plumbing Related, Restoration Work | Leave a comment

July 7, 2014 – Doing Some Exploratory Grinding On The Hull

After peeling off large sections of the “Cascover” material that had been factory applied to help protect the exterior hull and keel surfaces, I decided to poke around with my 4″ and 8″ Makita grinders.  I wasn’t surprised by what I found, by I am not alarmed by any means!  (At least not yet anyway!)

I will get back to this phase of restoration in the near future. Between now and then, I wanted to poke around in other parts of the boat!

Those adventures will be posted soon!

Categories: 1968 Golden Hind 31' Sailboat, Hull Related | 2 Comments

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