Anything for a friend
The great thing about being retired is I don’t have to do anything that I don’t find interesting or particularly challenging. And, these days I’m apt to work on a project gratis just because it meets the interesting and/or challenging threshold. This freedom is a great luxury and I’m very happy to have it.
A friend of mine (recently retired) decided to get back into sailing. He picked up a nice little 28 footer. Upon seeing the boat, I suggested that he needed a carved sternboard to bear the boat’s name and that I would be happy to make it, just for the experience of doing a ribbon banner type of carving. Obviously, he thought it was a good idea.
We spiled (scribed) the line of the stern onto a pattern and realized that it was going to take a fair amount of material. Luckily, I remembered another friend saying that he had a mahogany plank that he was thinking about getting rid of. After a little “horse trading”, we came up with a 20 bdft (8/4) plank of absolutely clear mahogany. The stock had come out of a luthier’s shop and was just beautiful.
The first order of business was to cut the stern curve into the blank. Thank goodness for yet another friend who could get 13″ under his bandsaw guides. After rough sawing the surface was planed using an old Stanley 113. (Which I found worked best by keeping the plane parallel with the direction of travel while skewing the cut. Due to the curved surfaces, moving the plane diagonally changes the relationship between the curve of the work and that of the plane’s sole.) The waste pieces were saved and used as concave and convex “dollies”.
Mahogany works like “butter” with any sheering tool (provided the tool is sharp). The finish below is a product of planing with the 113.
I love to carve walnut. But I have to say that I had forgotten how wonderful it is to carve mahogany. The grain is consistent in both direction and density, which means crisp details and ease of tool re-direction.
We were both quite happy with the results. The letters and pin stripes will be painted a marine white after a couple of coats of spar varnish. Should be able to be read by the captain and crew of any boat “standing well off”. My friend insisted on paying me for my efforts. To which I replied, absolutely not. In this case, the work was the reward.
He did, however, convince me accept a canvas bag which I found contained several bottles of 15 year old Glenlivet. Hey! What are friends for?
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