Friday, December 1, 2023

Sherpa Templates available now

Full-Size Template Kits and Roll-Form patterns for John Welsford's Sherpa dinghy are now available from Duckworks

The kits are PDF files, in various paper sizes, that you can print yourself on an ordinary inkjet or laser printer and then you assemble the pages to make full size patterns.  They are accurate and save the builder considerable time, effort and possibly costly mistakes.  Also included in the downloads are roll-form versions that require no assembly.  They are 3' wide by up to 8' long.  You can have them printed at your local printshop, or you can have Duckworks print them for you.  They look like this:

Next up will be Templates for Welsford's upcoming new design - Scallywag.  I'm very excited about this new design and I can't wait to create templates for it.  Scallywag takes Welsford's blockbuster design SCAMP to a whole new level by enlarging it, adding a cabin, inboard motor well, anchor locker, mizzen, folding main mast, and probably more.

If you're unfamiliar with my Template Kits, more info can be found by clicking here.

Template Kits are available for several other of John Welsford's designs too.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Super Simple Jam Cleats

Legend has it that Einstein once said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”

In truth, the quote isn’t actually Einstein’s, but he did agree with it.

And so do I, especially when it comes to jam cleats.

Years ago, I became frustrated with the cam cleats and horn cleats that I used for my halyards, roller furler, and centerboard lift. Cam cleats can all too easily be released accidentally. Horn cleats take longer to tie off and usually require two hands to make fast (unless you’re some sort of one-handed horn-cleating ninja). They require too much attention for too long when things get hectic.

What I really wanted was a cleat that would hold a line fast by simply and quickly wrapping one turn around it, using only one hand.

But I also wanted the ability to secure the line to the cleat with no possibility of it accidentally releasing.

And I needed two sizes, but wanted the option to swap one size for the other without having to drill more mounting holes.

I also wanted something I could make myself because, well, that’s what I do.

And of course they had to be “as simple as possible, but no simpler”.

This is what I came up with.

These jam cleats are made from a scrap of 3/4” hardwood (1/2” for the smaller cleat). I used white oak and painted them black. Pretty much any type of hardwood and finish will do. For best results, use a strong wood, with the grain running lengthwise, and a finish that’s not too slippery. I suggest bare or oiled wood, painted rather than varnished for example. Simply cut them out, round over all but the bottom edges, drill two countersunk mounting holes and that’s it.

Here are the cleats with a single turn around them. One wrap plus a tug to jam the line under the horn is all it takes to make them hold securely. I haven’t had an unintentional release yet.


For ultimate security, add a hitch around the horn like this.

I do both. When things are hectic, I do the one-handed wrap-and-tug. After things settle down, I go back and add the hitch. Then I can relax.

I made two variations of this jam cleat which I'll dub the Single Jammer and the Double Jammer.

With the Single Jammer cleat, you route the line around the aft end of the cleat, pull the line forward to tighten, then wrap around the forward end of the cleat to secure.

I prefer the Double Jammer cleat if the line already has a lot of tension on it.  Wrapping the line around the aft end of the cleat secures the line instantly.  Then, wrapping the line around the forward end of the cleat secures the line even more.

I’ve been using these cleats for several years now, and I absolutely love them. Here are the plans if you would like to make some for yourself.  Download .zip

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

My new set of sails from Really Simple Sails

After just a couple of daysails, I finally got a chance to give my new RSS sails a real test. A 100 mile, week-long cruise with the Salish 100. The boat is my Welsford Navigator 'Ellie', built by me and launched 12 years ago. This is my second set of sails for my gaff rigged yawl, with some slight modifications from the original plans. I increased the area of the jib slightly. The mainsail uses 4 equal length battens angled towards the throat so they never need to be removed or re-installed when raising or lowering the mainsail. I raised the clew a bit to clear my head. I rounded the foot a bit on all 3 sails. I went with lighter weight cloth vs my original set. I am extremely impressed with the quality and workmanship of these sails! Amazed, actually. I absolutely love them. Ellie performs noticeably better, and not having to deal with battens in the main is a godsend. The level of detail was impressive. Tapered spring loaded battens, leech lines, lacing rope, tell-tales and more were all included and unexpected details. The black stitching on white sails, IMO, is something only a quality sailmaker who's proud of their workmanship would dare do. And they earned it. Hats off to RSS, well done!

For more details, and to download my modified sail plans, click here

Thursday, July 6, 2023

How to make a wood and leather scoop bailer

Are you still using an ugly old cut up bleach bottle as a bailer?

Maybe it's time to replace it with this beautiful, functional, effective, and traditional handcrafted scoop bailer.

Made of wood and leather, it looks about as salty as it gets.  The leather won't scratch or ding your paint and varnish.  The leather forms to the contour of your bilge making it more effective than that old bleach bottle. It will hold about 3 cups of water, but will "throw" almost twice that.  A frightened sailor can move about 25 gallons per minute - that's faster than the roughly 20 gpm of a typical kayak style manual bilge pump. 

You can build one yourself.  The plans and instructions are available by clicking here.  It's an enjoyable little project that only takes a couple hours to complete.  If you're not a woodworker you can purchase one from Duckworks.

Monday, May 15, 2023

A sturdy step ladder for small boaters

Need a sturdy little folding step ladder to get into your small boat?  I built this one  to replace my previous one that was cobbled together from 2x4 scraps. I used leftover oak hardwood flooring pieces that I got for free. I modified the plans slightly. I used pocket screws rather than dowels for the joinery and took advantage of the tongue and groove flooring to make the top step flat instead of using slats. This thing is solid as a tank and should last a long time. An excellent set of free plans is available from this link 

Super simple Shopsmith bandsaw fence

Today's project was a super simple and inexpensive fence for my bandsaw. I made it from douglas fir scraps, but any good quality 2x4 scraps cut square and true will do. The only expense was for the toggle clamp from Harbor Freight for $6, part number 96233. It hooks on one side of the table and clamps to the other.


How to improve Shopsmith Table Alignment

I have a ShopSmith 510 and I've never been completely satisfied with the way the tables align. The tables on the 510, as you may know, each have 1-1/16" ID table tubes attached to them. The tables connect together with 1.00" OD connector tubes. The 1/16" difference results in a lot of free play, which is supposed to go away when the jackscrews are tightened. Well, no matter how hard I tightened the jackscrews or adjusted the tables, they never aligned precisely. When sliding the rip fence across where two tables join, my rip fence would catch, and clamping the rip fence there, or on a floating or extension table, would throw the rip fence out of alignment.
Why, I wondered, does SS use 1" connector tubes? Seems like the tables would align better if they used 1-1/16" tubing to better fit inside the table tubes. Well, there's only one way to find out.
It didn't take long to find 1-1/16" tubes. Home Depot and Lowes carry schedule 40 3/4" black painted steel pipe, the kind used for natural gas, with an outside diameter of 1.05". Perfect! And at $20 for a 10-foot piece, it's not very expensive either, and not a big loss if things don't work out.
The pipe is available in galvanized or painted black. Both types measured 1.06-1.07" diameter which is a tiny bit too big to fit inside the table tubes. I chose the black painted pipe so I could remove the paint to return the pipe to its 1.05" unfinished diameter. It would be impossible to remove the coating on the galvanized pipe. Waxing the tube after removing the paint will help prevent it from rusting.
After removing the paint, I test fit the pipe in each table. It fit the floating tables and extension table perfectly but got hung up in the main table. I discovered some rust inside the table tube, so I wrapped some sandpaper around the original connector tube and cleaned out the rust. Then the pipe fit perfectly.
I cut the 10' pipe into 4 pieces. I sized one pair to fit the main table with two attached floating tables, and another pair sized to fit the main table connected to the extension table (or one floating table).  I use those configurations frequently  so they work out better than the original SS connector tube lengths for me.  I can also use all four at once to make a 5-foot table.
I'm amazed at the results. Now all my tables align perfectly. My rip fence slides from table to table without catching. The fence stays straight when positioned between tables, and keeps its alignment when positioned on the floating and extension tables. The top surfaces of all the tables align perfectly. An added bonus is the wall thickness of the pipe is double that of the SS connector tubes, so they are virtually impossible to bend and do not sag like the originals did.

Photo 1 shows the original SS tube alongside the new pipe, and how the tables now align perfectly.  See the gap between the tables?  That gap can be eliminated by grinding off the little "tabs" on the main table, which improves sliding the fence across tables even more.

Photo 2 shows the pipe diameter after removing the paint and waxing.
Photo 3 shows the type of pipe I purchased from Home Depot.