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Building “Joe” — 15’ ski boat — Stiletto


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Today’s progress. 


I know, it looks the same as last night.  Except that I installed the second layer of the sheer clamp (most outside stringer) and everything is now permanently glued and screwed together. 

We have some minus 15-20 degrees coming so I’m not sure what I’ll be doing on the boat for a few days... we’ll see. 

Meanwhile, I’m trying this approach with a small ceramic heater to help cure the epoxy glue applied during the last couple days. 

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On Super Bowl Sunday, my daughter (a long time musical theater director/teacher) sent out this little humorous video:



It was nearly 20 degrees below zero last night... but my new propane heater still lets me work in my garage... well, maybe I won’t epoxy for a while, but there’s plenty of other stuff I can do.


I’m planing and touching up all of the longitudinal members to align things for the side planking... and soon after (hopefully) the bottom planking... maybe this week?

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Writing this as the Super Bowl begins:

Kinda short on boat-building motivation today. (Does below-zero temps contribute to that?)  I’m planing/fairing the longitudinal members for the side and bottom planking. I might enjoy fairing less than sanding. ? Have I mentioned yet how much I appreciate my new Craftsman power planer???  ?


I knew I’d have a little problem to manage with the chine logs in the bow area forward of the last frame. I just could not twist them sufficiently when attaching them to the stem to make a flat surface for the planking at that point.  This picture is of the stem (bottom), chine (middle) and sheer (top.)  The chine needed to be twisted more on the right side of the photo. So, what to do?


When I made the chine/stem joints, I decided I would add a short “wedge” layer to the chines to make up for the insufficient twist.  So, today, I glued on a strip of 1/4 inch plywood to that forward section of the chines.  (It’s satisfying to use the 3 inch strips that I needed to cut off the full length plywood panels in order to fit them into my van... when I picked up my wood from B&B Yachts.)

I will even up the edges when the glue sets and use my planer to shape the wedge... sort of like making a scarf, I suppose.  I think 1/4 inch will be enough. 

I also glued in a third layer to the inside of the sheer clamp forward of frame 5 since most of the sheer clamp will be shaved off with the more extreme fairing needed in the bow area.  


I pulled the tarp over the newly glued bow area and placed a small space heater to help things cure.  Tomorrow, I can complete the fairing and start fitting/installing the side planking. ?. It will be a major shift in the build process. 

(OK, it was cool that the “Gronk” just made the first Brady-pass-touchdown of the game.)

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I’m a Happy Guy Today

I have the transom cap installed and have planed both chine logs and sheer clamps to receive side & bottom planking.  ?  The temps were around zero all day (-20 at night) but I could easily keep my garage at 50 or 60 while I worked by occasionally turning on my propane heater. 

The 1/4 inch ply strips that I attached to the chine were easily shaved to a nice wedge such that the side planking will seat to a flat surface as needed. 


So, having ALL the framing/fairing is finally complete, I decided to fit the first 8 foot piece of side planking. I used paper to make a template (a new process for me.)



I scissored out the template, placed it on a partial sheet of 1/4 ply to trace an outline, and cut it about a half inch or so outside the line.  Cutting 1/4 inch ply with a saber saw (and not really needing to be careful) went very quickly.  My router should be able to trim the excess quite easily after the panel is installed. 



See that little square notch in the ply?  I needed to cut that to clear the driver’s seat support in my van... another little thing that I wasn’t sure how it would work out. 

I was hoping that I could make the side planking meet for a butt joint right on frame 4 (I’ll also add some blocking to the joint area after I flip the boat.)  Since I had to cut 3 inches off the plywood sheets to fit it into my van, I wasn’t sure if things would work precisely.  Plus, having reduced the boat to 15 feet (from the plan’s 16 feet) I am able to make two ply pieces fit all the way from transom to bow without having to add a third piece.  I also checked the piece for fit on the other side.  Yup, it fits. Making the second piece will be a snap.  Things look like they are coming together quite nicely... as I had hoped. ?




So, I finish the day a very happy guy as I enter this next phase of the build. I might be able to install all of the side planking tomorrow and perhaps trim the excess ply in preparation for the bottom planking.  ??

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After doing a bunch of little things I installed the two aft side panels and cut out the forward two panels.  Tomorrow, I will make the butt joint of the two side halves fit a bit closer (Maybe shaving about an 1/8th inch or so is all that’s needed.)



And, I will make the bow joint fit together in an overlap joint.  That will take some time to get it the way I want. 


I’m glad that panels I cut for one side are fitting identically to the other; the hull is symmetrical. ?


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She’s looking good, Ted.  

One question.  Looks like the butt joint occurs at a frame member, so it’ll be screwed in place.  Do you intend to put a layer of fiberglass on the outside of this butt joint?  I don’t do butt joints often, but it seems like it is needed.  Maybe someone with more experience will weigh in on this subject.

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Side Planking is In / Now for the Bottom Planking

I missed working yesterday... two of three cars gave a bit of grief and we went for COVID injections.  But today is productive.  Outside temps aren’t getting above zero so far. 

I installed the front two pieces of the side planking this morning, making sure one side overlaps the other in the bow.



The butt joints in the middle of the side planking worked well on each side:



And now I begin fitting and installing the bottom planking.  I asked B&B Yachts to put scarfs onto four ends of three sheets of 9mm plywood that I bought from them. I REALLY did not want to make them.   (One scarf cut is visible in the photo.)



I knew I would need a little patch for a notch needed to get the plywood into my van (for the 1,200 mile trip home from  B&B Yachts.  No problem since it is right on the transom. 


The piece of plywood leaning on the wall will provide the two front pieces for bottom planking.  It is scarfed on both ends to provide good joints. ?


I got to use my chalk line (not a frequent thing) to mark the battens for screws.  (A bit faint... need to find my chalk bottle sometime. ?)

Installing the two 8 foot bottom pieces is the biggest single use of thickened epoxy (glue) in this build project... 40 pumps each of resin and hardener (LOTS of wood dust thickener.)  And at least 300 screws.  


While driving screws, I was recalling my high school boat build.  I had my dad’s 1/4” one-speed drill but it could only start screws... sort of. I needed to finish driving them by hand (I developed impressive forearms). My dad had an old shoulder drill the I sometimes used to drive screws into the boat... but my screws were all slotted and the bit constantly popped out to gouge the wood. Sure is nice having my current tools. ?

My dad’s shoulder drill was sort of like this:



Speaking of “gouging” I took a couple little gouges out of my fingers when the screw I was starting toppled. To keep from dripping red-stuff all over I went for a couple bandaids. I can NEVER seem to find anything other than kitty/dog bandaids or some other cartoon (an effect of having grandkids around... they look for reasons dig out a cute bandaid for an “ow-eee” when visiting. ?)


A true sign of a boat-builder at work... with grandkids. ?


So, the aft sections of the bottom planing are now installed and I will cut out the two bow area bottom planking pieces from a single pre-scarfed sheet of 9 mm plywood (using a paper template I made.)  The install will be tomorrow.  I will need to trim all of the pieces as needed. 

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I Have a Hull!!

Another sub zero day out there... but one in which I cut, fit, and installed the two bottom pieces into the bow.  So... I have a hull. ?



Ok, one goofy error... I cut out the second bow piece and checked the fit. I suddenly realized I had cut it with the scarf DOWNSIDE UP... aaaurgh!  ?

Well, I’ve always enjoyed working with wood because it can be very forgiving and “full of grace.”  I decided that I could go ahead and install the section it as is, mistake and all, and that I would be able to plane down a hump and fill in a low spot that might develop from the slightly mismatched scarf joint.  I’m confident I can make the hull-lines true and fair.  I planned to put fiberglass tape on all of the joints before fiberglassing the hull, and also tape the inside of the scarf joints. (I will reinforce the “mistake” scarf on the inside if I think it needs it.)



Ah well, this is the biggest error I’ve made and I don’t really rank it as a significant mistake to the Stiletto build. I’m happy to have reached this point a couple weeks before I had even planned to begin working in my garage.  ?


Now, I’ll take a day or two off to let the epoxy harden before preparing the hull for fiberglassing.  (And, I’ll be out of town a few days next week.)

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Ready for fiberglass - after some sanding

I lost some days this week with back spasms (from bending over so much installing the plywood?). Man, those are so debilitating. I looked ridiculously pathetic hobbling around a short walking-circuit in the house to try to keep the back muscles from seizing. (I know... too much information.)


But, I’m back at it.  I sanded my scarf error and added some filler in the “low spot”. The joint is now smooth and the lines flow well. I decided to not glass-tape the scarf and butt joints. I’ll reinforce them from the inside. 


When I put in the 700+ screws installing the plywood (yes, I decided to count them ?) I sunk the screws a little into the ply, meaning that I needed to fill all the holes:AD7E1008-44DB-44C4-9992-0D836A42F122.thumb.jpeg.59cd380b69ac24cbfe57dff8bad2e284.jpeg

My 38,000 btu Mr. Heater (above photo) has done a nice job bringing my garage to 50 or 60 degrees for epoxy work (and comfort) even with the sub-zero temps.


A look at the fixed scarf joint:



Tonight, I put fiberglass tape over the three longitudinal seams, with two layers on the keel.  Here are the seams now taped:


I’ll let the epoxy cure for a few days, then sand everything so that my son and I can glass the hull on Sunday.  Yup, he’s gotten to be effective at glassing large areas. 

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I'd suggest taping over the butt joints and repaired scarf on the outside too. Those dang things have a way of developing a little crack in the final finish if you don't. Build is lookin' GOOD! I love these little runabouts! Grew up with a few in my kid and teen years between 10ft and 16 ft.

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I had just decided to delay glassing the hull for a week or two.  I noticed today a slight dip in a section of bottom planking (about 5 feet in front of the transom) that I’d like to fill in. I had a similar spot in the hull of my CS15 that I was able to fill in and fair to true.  And, I guess that I’d like to do a number of other “finesse” things. 


My son (who will help me with fiberglassing the hull) only has a few days available in the next weeks and I was shooting for the day-after-tomorrow option... I’ll now go for the next one down the road. 


So, with that delay, and your advice about the joints, I will place a layer of tape over each joint before I cover everything with glass.  I’ll now have time to get things to a better place before fiberglassing the entire hull. 

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Ready to Glass the Bottom

Not a lot was done in the past couple days but I did sand everything sufficiently and cut two large pieces of cloth from the roll of fiberglass cloth that my dad brought home for me in 1968. From that roll I glassed the bottom and sides of my high school build, an 11 foot Glen-L TNT. 


By the way... as of March 1 (2021) the Glen L business owners are retired and Duckworks has been selected as the company to receive the Glen L plans and parts business.  (Announced just this week.)  I don’t know HOW MANY hours I spent over my life looking through their catalogues and boat descriptions... but it was always fun to do. 


I have carried that roll of fiberglass cloth ever since my TNT build in 1968, always expecting that I’d use it SOMEDAY on a Stiletto build.




I guess, as I’ve said before, if I have a life bucket-list, this build is it.  I believe the roll will have just enough cloth to glass everything I want to glass on this build.  It has been a 53 year wait... but at last it’s happening. ?


First piece is cut:


Oh, and I also ordered paint for the boat. I might go ahead and paint the outside of the hull before flipping it over. 


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To Glass... or Not To Glass (solo)

That is the question. 


I’m ready to glass the hull. I have four pieces cut out that will cover the bottom and sides, with an overlap along the keel and an overlap along about 75% of the side panels. 

What is on the roll above is what is now left from what my dad brought home for me in 1968 to glass my little 11 foot ski boat.  (I only needed less than 25 feet... I had no idea what was still in the roll.)  I’ve since carried that roll of fiberglass cloth around around with me through maybe a dozen moves and kept it in various garages and little storage spaces, waiting until I could built this Stiletto. 

Today , after cutting out the last of what I need for this build, this is what is left of that roll. I wrapped it back onto the cardboard tube. There is less than 4 feet of full-width glass. 

Doing this big fiberglassing job by myself feels intimidating. My two sons have both glassed several of their canoe builds and my oldest son did the lion’s share of glassing the Core Sound 15 that I built last year. Their time is limited with work and family realities, and I need to decide whether to just do it, or to wait until I can get their assistance (which usually means that THEY do it and I mix the epoxy ?.)




To glass, or not to glass: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous (and messy) boat-building endeavors.
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles by getting my sons to help
And by opposing solo fiberglassing of the hull to end them?

To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That fiberglass and epoxy are heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.

To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub (or at least there is no sanding)...

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear, (I’ll have to look up these words. ?)

To grunt and sweat under a weary life of solo fiberglassing in the garage, 
But that the dread of something... not finishing the boat,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller (or finished boat) returns,

It puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills (and tasks) we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience (and trepidation about solo fiberglassing such a large area) does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd!

(Hmmm... ? not sure how to turn these words for my little soliloquy... I’ll just leave ‘em. ?)


Ok, ENOUGH.  Either fiberglass the hull this weekend, now that everything is set, or wait until your one or both of your sons comes up to help.


We shall see what the WILL ends up doing. 

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My “ To Glass, or Not to Glass” soliloquy gave me whatever was needed for me to JUST DO IT today.  Two shifts of about 2 1/2 hours was what was needed... about 20 minutes per foot. 

My wife poked in to check progress and snap a shot as I’m progressing to the bow:


(I tried sitting on the bucket a couple times to ease the bend-over stress on the back... not really helpful.)

Half done... short break for a little lunch:






Next will be a couple fill-coats, sanding and paint.  I just got an email  (while writing this) indicating that my paint order won’t ship until March 12... I was hoping for a bit sooner but I will rearrange to do some other things over the next couple weeks. ?

And, at the end of my day I spotted this:


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