Saturday, April 3, 2021

about that new mizzen mast

I have received a lot of questions about the making of the new mizzen mast.  I did build a boat, but I am not a boatbuilder.  I did work with wood, but I am not a woodworker.  ( How I wish those two sentences were false modesty.  Believe me, they are not.). With that in mind I am reluctant to explain the process.  There are plenty of sites where you can get good quality information about the process for building a birds mouth mast.  Instead I will show some photographs I took along the way.  

First thing I did was dig out an old notebook to see if I had written down any specs from the first mizzen built about 15 years ago.  I was please to find the above.  

(This second mast was built at a boat shop with a lot of help from very, very experienced boatbuilders and some dedicated young students.  What amazes me today is that my Dad and two daughters built the first masts with no experience using a $90 table saw (picture a cheap circular saw mounted upside down in an aluminum stand) set up in the street to rip 16 and 20 foot pieces of wood into staves, cut the v notch and glue it all up on a hot July day.  I wish Dad was still around to remind him of what we accomplished that day.  I do remember we celebrated that afternoon with a couple bottles of Corona and a lime.)

Test cuts in cheap pine from the hardware
store to check measurements on both the
table saw and router with a 90 degree bit.

1x8x16 clear Douglas fir ripped in to
3/4 x 3/4 staves with the v notch

Dry fitting the staves.

The boat shop's cradle along with the 
dry-fitted mast and oak dowel.  The 
mast is hollow save for the bottom four
feet and the top two and one-half feet.

The dry fitted mast along with
part of the original.

Some wonderful, skilled and dedicated
students helped with the routing of the
v notch and first dry fitting of the mast.

Strakes laid on on glue day.

Tom at the boat shop saw the mast building as
a teaching opportunity for their students.  He is 
always looking for different skills for them to
develop.  Here they are spending epoxy, first clear
and then thickened, a process that needs
to be accomplished before the epoxy fires off.

Epoxied with dowel inserts at the top and the 
bottom, the strakes are pulled tight
 with hose clamps.

A day later, planing and sanding to shape.


Bringing the mast home
for final shaping and varnishing.

 First fitting in SPARTINA.  Too heavy
and a little to thick, so a couple more hours
sanding.  A slight curve in the mast which
is perfect for the designed rake of the mast.

Many thanks to Tom, the guys and the students at the shop.  Varnishing this weekend, hoping for a test sail Monday.


Tom said...

Great to see a step-by-step, thank you! Do you have any taper to the mizzen? If so, did you taper the staves themselves, or instead sanded/routed in the taper after glue-up?

MaryLou said...

I love that the original mizzen (and I guess from what you've said the boat too) was an intergenerational affair and now the new mizzen is too. I hope they'll get to see some photos of it in use.

Steve said...

MaryLou, good to hear from you. Girls will see photos and also see it in person, they always join me for a sail when they visit. Tom, no taper, straight mast, simple things for the simple minded.