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Deben 5-tonner by vaddoc - FINISHED - Scale 1:10 - a Whisstock yard design

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Thanks Michael, I am following silently your restoration project and keeping an eye for when you ll pick up that skipjack!

Carl, the Valejo polyurethane varnishes are great. Being able to leave the very dusty garage and work in the house is a big advantage and they should be much cheaper than rattle cans.


I finished varnishing the hull, the polyurethane varnish needs to be treated like paint, thinned heavily and trusting the varnish, not trying to repair any problem areas. I used gloss above the waterline, I am very happy with the result. There are a couple of problems and one more coat bellow the waterline would sort it out but I will leave it as is. Considering how unforgiving close up photos are and the size of the hull, I am happy.










The next photo does not do justice to the colour, it is really much nicer.



With this completed, I started work on the cockpit. I played around with card templates and I made a very sturdy laminated floor. I realised that the first thing to make would be the actual floor, as the rest would be built around it. Well, any serious boat needs to have gratings so here it goes!


I tried to make it the proper way but failed miserably. I then tried another way, cheating a bit, and this worked better. I have a ton of maple so I decided to go with it, not sure if it will combine well with cherry but I don't want to use any of my diminishing cherry and pear stock.




This piece was actually discarded but shows how the pieces look when sliced




Then added one on top of the other




And the grating is ready for sanding and final shaping and finishing




I think it is acceptable for a first try! It only took a week to make...


A word about the little proxxon table saw, I think it is fantastic and I have been using it heavily. i should have bought it ages ago.


Off now for summer vacation, best wishes to everyone!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Back from summer vacations, with a bit of tan and two now very wild children that need to be tamed. Took a week before I could find a scrap of time to open the garage.


I did a bit of cleaning and a bit of maintenance. My home made disk sander needed some attention so I repositioned the drill, squared everything off and changed the sandpaper. Works much better now.







I have two large work benches, this is the one with my power tools. A drill press joins in from time to time.




 I also brought back a couple of pieces from an apricot tree my father had cut down. It was badly damaged by bugs and I could salvage only a little.






It seems a lovely wood and I would love to use it. I have no tools to mill it with though. I tried using what I had, very hard wood, gave out a very nice fruity smell when sanded. I managed to produce 3 strips with much effort!






I would like to make the blocks and dead eyes out of this but I cannot mill it, I may keep it for use in future years. My dad has some other fruit trees (lemon, plum, peach, orange etc) and occasionally they get damaged so I may be able to get some more rare fruit timber in the future,. There is also a large cedar that looks like it is failing.


Back to the boat, progress is very slow. I need to do some metal work before I continue (tabernacle, chain plates etc) so I need to learn silver soldering first. The cockpit is giving me lots of trouble as to make the benches and coamings needs some skill. I also am not at all sure how the rigging will be set up and how the lines will course towards the cockpit. 


I bought some more stuff and I ve been educating myself, this journey has a long way to go!

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Just another quick update, I did some more work on the cockpit, it slowly starts to shape. The bench tops are a single piece of cherry, I am thinking of lightly scoring them with a knife to give the impression of being made by several planks. I ll test this to see how it looks.


The plywood subframe loosely fitted



Small wood pieces glued to fix in place



Then cardboard patterns are made



Cherry tops ready, seem to fit well.


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Thanks John!


I did a bit more work, the cockpit is coming along fine but its structure is becoming really complex. The sides are not straight but slightly curved so every bench back/coaming will be laminated from 2 plywood sheets and a cherry sheet on each side. There will be other pieces covering the top and some more at the ends towards the cabin, then strips where the coammings meet the deck. More L shaped supports must be glued, the surfaces to be sanded, tung oil applied, glued in place...days and weeks but in the meantime, some more photos.


















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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Michael and Druxey!


Little progress to show, but I have been doing a lot of work in the background. 


I ve been experimenting with soldering, pickling etc. I read a lot and had some success with my initial tries with silver soldering. I think however that quite a lot of metalwork could be done with soft soldering.

I also have been researching the gaff rigging, ended up buying a book. I find the gaff topsail particularly confusing and Deben has a very high mast with a substantial topsail.

The mast will be 75 cm from the cabin roof and will taper for the last 29 cm, from 16 mm to a diameter of 10 mm. This is a lot of wood to take off and the Beech dowel I ll use is too hard and too big to attach to a drill. It took me a couple of days but I made a jig to allow me to taper the mast, keeping it straight. It actually worked beautifully! The two strips at the side dive to leave 3 mm of dowel exposed. The dark bits is copper sheet to protect the wooden strips from the aggressive sander.











The next photo show how the dowel was progressively shaped.








Still needs a lot of hand sanding but I am happy with the result.




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Hi Vaddoc


good start with the mast, & another inventive technique that you've thought up yourself - I enjoy seeing how you tackle things. If I can give some gentle advice at this point - to keep taking it slowly on the mast, it's surprisingly easy to lose track of where you need to remove wood & do it in the wrong spot. It might be worth considering marking vertical axes in pencil to give you 4 reference lines. 

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Hi Vaddoc I would be inclined to remove the top end of the mast so that you could work either a small hand plane or a longitudinal sanding stick to slowly work down the final shape. Another thought to add to what Mark said would be to use a centre finder on the base of the mast and mark off the diagonals so as to keep track of the rotations as you sand off the longitudinal lines. I have found it useful to lay the mast in a v groove with a stop at the top end that is only as high as the centre line of the mast.



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My advice would be:

  • Start with square section stock. (Four-sided.)
  • Taper this as required using a plane/sand paper.
  • Make a spar gauge of a suitable size for the spar.
  • In use, the gauge marks lines on the square stock, enabling you to...
  • ...Accurately plane/sand to eight-sided.
  • Take off the ridges to aim for sixteen-sided.
  • Hand sand to finish.

Perfectly round spars, tapered as you want them, every time!



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Dear all

thank you for your excellent advice, I do not however own a hand plane. I would very much like a Veritas set and a proper sharpening jig but these things are expensive. In any case, I managed to secure the base of the dowel on my hand drill and span the mast on 80 grit sand paper. Despite being close to a meter in length, it worked well. It is now smooth, with a progressive taper and perfectly straight. I would have liked to taper even more and take off another mm or two from the tip but it will be too hard work so I ll probably leave it.


I 've been reading a lot about gaff rigging and bought a book which already has been very helpful, I would like to try and properly rig the boat. 




Now, I have been experimenting with silver soldering but could not really make it work. I realised that the problem was the torch. At the scale I work at, the metal pieces are large and my proxxon torch just cannot get the metal hot enough. So I bought a much larger one which does not have the precision and refinement of the proxxon, but is hugely powerful.






The pieces got properly hot under the massive flame and the results were excellent. I made the tabernacle from 1 mm brass sheet, the base is concave to fit to the cabin roof.






The stone slate I use actually cracked form the intense heat! It also melted the thick brass wire I used to hold things in place.




Pickling in a mixture of acid and hydrogen peroxide removed the scale. It was supposed to restore the brass colour by removing the surface copper deposits but it didn't. It does not matter though as it will be painted to resemble stainless steel.




The solder really flowed very well. I use hard and then easy solder and all went well.




Too much solder though!





I decided to take a break and return to the woodwork. I glued the pieces for the cabin door, it does not really give the impression of a door but maybe when it is complete it will look better. 




I then started to attach the rest of the cabin trim. It actually went on much easier than I expected. 




A lot more to do but so far so good.




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If you need to hold pieces in place while silver soldering, use soft iron wire. A jeweller taught me that trick. Another trick to protect a joint already soldered close to another is to coat the joint you wish to protect with a paste of yellow ochre powder and water.


Anyway, nicely done!

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Thank you all for the good wards. Druxey, very useful tips!


I did a bit more work, I made again one of the benches as it was not a good fit. I also added more panels to the doors, I think it looks better and there are still pieces that have not had Tung oil on. I also installed more bits to the cabin and started replacing the screws with treenails.


Regarding the treenails, things did not go as planned. For some reason my cherry piece stopped producing treenails like before. The needle drills constantly burn and clog. I had to use pine so the treenails are white. Also, for some reason I can no longer produce 0.6 mm diameter but only 1 mm. they are a bit out of scale but I do not think it matters a lot. Either way, I have accepted that due to current life circumstances some compromises will need to be made to allow me to keep on building. At some point I will fix this issue but I do not rely want to invest time in this so I ll use the treenails I already have.


I also finished the steps, I am not sure if it is really a good idea but I invested time making it and in the end of the day something is needed as the companionway doors are quite high.


A few pictures, really difficult to get good ones due to the size of the boat. The hatches are not glued on yet.

















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Good suggestion Mark, I thought about it but in the end I just sanded everything and applied Tung oil! It darkened the nails a bit, it stands out less. I think I ll leave it as is and carry on with the rest of the building...


After the Tung oil went on, things look better. My 3 year old daughter saw the cabin and said "look daddy, this is a door!" so it probably looks like one! I ll put brass hinges and two knobs and then the top hatch and it should look ok I think.








I continued work on the cockpit, I laminated and installed the side plywood panels. Cherry veneers will be added on both sides and then a top bit like a gunwale. I had also prepared the aft panels but following the installation of the sides they do not fit properly so I need to make them again. The screws will be removed and replaced with treenails.






I realised that I do not have enough clamps! Not very original but I really need to get some more. Also, at some point I need to start thinking about the rudder.




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9 hours ago, vaddoc said:

I realised that I do not have enough clamps! Not very original but I really need to get some more.

You do. I've had those black ones, and they have the tendency to break when they are under a lot of strain, so you run the risk running out of clamps with what you have anyway

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Spot on Carl!


Lawrence, I run the drill press at the highest speed. I have a pair of excellent (and expensive) Knipex side cutters. The raised surface easilt sands away, especially if the nails are made of softwood and the boat timber from something harder.


You can very easily make 0.6 mm wide, probably smaller if you wish. I make a few hundreds each time I sit down to it. I now use them all the time as structural nails



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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Patrick, good to hear from you again!


Between work, family and a wisdom tooth extraction that went pear shaped, I managed to do very little work. Still, I made the cabin top hand rails. Turned out to be one of the most enjoyable tasks! I wanted to use pear but somehow, I only realised the wood I was using was cherry after the rails were finished. A splash of Tung oil and they are ready to be installed and then varnished.









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  • 2 weeks later...

It's been approx 400 tablets since the day of the tooth extraction and I am happy to report it has now settled! I found a bit of time to work on the boat and made some progress.


First, I continued work on the cockpit. It was quite annoying to discover that a piece I had previously prepared with significant labour had gone missing. Also, a couple of other pieces did not fit anymore. All these had to be redone.


I screwed the side plywood panels, then replaced the screws with tree nails, sanded the surface and then glued the cherry veneers on top. Thankfully I did not made a mess. Lots of springs and clamps were used.








Then the back panels went on the same way. The fit of the bottom vertical panels is bad but I did not notice it when I put it together and of course now it cannot be repaired. I ll need to display the boat on the starboard side...






The benches look scratched but they are not, in any case Il sand them again and re apply Tung oil and then oil based varnish.


The portholes I bought arrived, they are very nice and I do not think I could have made anything close myself. I also bought a step drill as I will need to open 12.5 mm holes in the side panels of the cabin.




Drilling such holes in the cabin that has taken me 12 months to make is a bit frightening! The first one came out fine but this drill needs to be used with extreme care as it is very aggressive. Pilot holes are needed. I dry fitted the first porthole and really liked the result. I think that the oiled wood and the shiny brass is a beautiful combination! When all 5 pertholes (per side) come on, it should look ok. I may need to add something on the inside of the glass to make it non-transparent, we will see though.





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Many thanks to all for your comments! I did not mention that all my tests using the Fearsome Step Drill ended up with the destruction of the test piece. But I thought I had enough training and took a leap of faith. Well, end's well, all well!


I made some more progress and interesting things happened. 


I had taped off the edges of the cabin roof and the tape has been there for some time. I did not consider that masking tape gets stronger the more it is left. When I removed it, it lifted the polyurethane varnish! These areas had a rugged edge and also a much paler colour as the Valejo polyurethane varnish seems to have a tint. However, this was sorted very easily, to the credit of Valejo which really is a top company. I sanded the raised edges of the varnish layer with 600 grit and simply applied two more coats of varnish. The cabin top now looks like this incident never took place!




I continued work on the cockpit, I glued the external panels and then shaped and fitted the top covers. These are screwed and I will replace the screws with tree nails.








I also did some work with the rigging. I am thinking of using two large solid pieces of timber (not sure how they are called) to offset the chainplates. They actually came out fine and I will install them after the mast goes on.






I also finished the hand rails. My main problem was how to secure them on the cabin top, and I wanted to also have a slight curve which would apply some pressure as they are two rather stiff pieces of timber. I do not have tree nails long or strong enough. I thought of using brass wire and CA glue but I am concerned it would come off with the extreme variations in temperature. Finishing would also be a problem. I thought of using 1 mm screws and countersinking the head but the screws I have are mild steel and easily deform. This would happen for sure and with the countersinking it would be impossible to remove the bad screws. The solution was to get stainless steel screws which are much stronger. They seem indeed to be stainless steel as they are non-magnetic whereas the normal ones are. So here it goes:


Holes drilled and then countersinking




Then screwed on the cabin top with the help of the Admiral. Looks good I think! I still need to plug the holes and  apply two coats of enamel varnish but I am happy.









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