Thursday, October 24, 2013

The John Welsford Weekend Part 2

The conversation went something like this.......

"Where did you say you were going for this course? " said my wife.

"Just outside Hamilton" says I.

"But that's nowhere near the sea, what's a boat builder doing there?" says she.

You may well ask why does, to be more correct a designer first and a boatbuilder second,live so far from the sea?

Well I guess that is for John to know and for us to wonder about, but more than likely it is through the necessity of being gamefully employed and that being a boat designer in a small country is a hard road to hoe.

Never mind, that apart John lives in a beautiful part of New Zealand, deep in the heart of one of the worlds most productive dairy regions, surrounded by lush green pastures and enormous heards of cows.

Last weekend three of us turned up at his country idyl for what was to be an extremely rewarding couple of days during which we would be moulded with the aid of John's immense knowledge (and patience)  into something resembling competent beginners in some of the techniques that go to make up the black art of wooden boat building, specifically that of epoxy and plywood.

Over the next couple of days we were shown the importance of buying quality tools and how to care for and sharpen them.

Which power tools were essential and those that would be nice to have if money were no object, out of interest John's favorite is his 20" band saw with which he can do miraculous things! He's also pretty good with planes, chisels and 'The Electric Spokeshave'....Angle grinder to you 😉

Confident now with the importance of good quality and sharp tools we were next initiated into the complex mysteries of Epoxy resins and powders and of course the overriding importance of health and safety  when using them.

Watching an expert in action is for me the best way to learn and after watching John display the various techniques of mixing glues and fillers and then glueing and jointing we students were let loose ourselves.

John's trusty bandsaw was soon in action cutting out several thin strips of scrap that were then shaped to produce wooden tools for mixing,applying,scraping,coving etc. it's learning this sort of thing that makes this type of course so worthwhile.

I should add that John is very flexible with the content of his courses and insists that you make him aware of any specific areas of interest and he will willingly oblige if at all possible.

By the end of the first day we had successfully learnt how to sheath a piece of ply with fibreglass cloth utilising not a brush as I had thought but with the use of a panel beaters squeegee, another valuable lesson learnt.

Another important and enjoyable aside to the teaching is the pleasure of spending time with like minded folk and to share their experiences and knowledge in the real pleasure that is small boat sailing and even more so if it is in a boat you have built yourself... a joy that hopefully will be mine one day!

Day two seemed to pass in a blurr but we were each  tasked with making a glue joint and then when dry coving it, taping it and finally shown the secret to hiding the tape to ply interface all using the multifaceted wooden tools whose different uses are many fold...even got to use 'The Electric Spokeshave' too!

First and foremost John is a small boat designer whose work is revered the world over and with good reason, his book pictured opposite should grace the  bookcase of anyone who has even a passing interest. It is a lively read interspersed with some great yarns that show John also has storytelling talents, I can't honestly say the same about his puns...groan!!

To round out the weekend we finished by learning how to read and understand a scale drawing then transfed the full sized frames to a plywood sheet. During which time we discovered that John is actually human and picked out a couple of small errors that did not produce fair lines!

By now it was time for us all to split to various parts of the North Island minds full of the newly learnt skills that will hopefully soon be put into practice.

All that's left to be said is thank you John for what was a memorable and truly worthwhile weekend.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever

François Vivier Naval Architect certainly has an eye for a pretty shape if ever I saw one!

Here is his delightful Jewel.

Monday, October 14, 2013

John Welsford Weekend

Really looking forward to spending the coming weekend at John Welsford's workshop where he will be showing lost causes like myself some of the finer points of boat building. Interestingly for a man who has many designs sailing on the oceans of the world, he chooses to live in the heart of New Zealand's dairy country just out side Hamilton!

I will be taking my camera so the next report should hold some interesting photographs, but just to whet the appetite here are a few showing off Johns beautiful work as a designer.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

No knead bread

Just amazed myself by producing a great artisan style loaf of bread....very simply anyone could do it.

Not only does it look good it is very tasty, with a nice chew and great crunch :)

Give it a go and astound your friends.