Weekend Woodwork

What a joy to be working with wood outside in the warm sunshine. OK so it was actually only 3 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like minus three and the damp ground was leeching warmth through my knees as I worked, but the inch and a half razor sharp chisel that Mike gave me, sliced smoothly through the oak like a hot axe through butter, and the smell of the tannins wafted up to my cold, sniffing nostrils.

After tracing around the original mast step, I had roughed the shape out of a hunk of Oak with a chainsaw, less poetic perhaps, but it certainly got the job done quickly, then taking if not my life, then certainly the fate of my shins in my hands, I set to with an adze to clean up my frankly a very dodgy saw line. I’m really not a traditional methods purist, but whilst appreciating the convenience and speed of modern tools (hence the chainsaw) there is certainly something about a sharp blade and a piece of wood connecting that is so satisfying it is worth the extra time and effort, worth learning how to angle the blade just right to get a neat scallop of wood. Perhaps too, there is a deeper connection, a connection to the generations of boat builders who have hand built boats outside in all weathers with few tools and just the skill of their hands, a keen eye and a keen blade.

Of course if you’d handed me an electric planer or better still a bandsaw beefy enough to do the job I’d have dropped the adze (carefully) like a shot, but then I wouldn’t have had that sunny, memory tucked away in my head to pull out on a tedious screen staring work day. I wouldn’t have the thunk thunk thunk of the adze and the ring of the blade in my ear to counteract the click click click of my Mac keyboard. At my desk I never see the flutter of a hopeful Robin, ever watchful for the outdoor worker in case there are worms in the offing and there is certainly not the high piping call of a buzzard drifting on the wind. It’s what weekend are made for.

Oak from Wealden Oak Marsh Green
Marking out the shape of the mast step
Despite my nerves, the chainsaw made short work of the 8x6 baulk of oak
Despite my nerves, the chainsaw made short work of the 8×6 baulk of oak
A sharp chisel is such a pleasure to use.... Thanks Mike!
A sharp chisel is such a pleasure to use…. Thanks Mike!
Cleaning up the sawn shape with a razor sharp adze was easier than I thought
Cleaning up the sawn shape with a razor sharp adze was easier than I thought


Though the wind chill was just that, chilling, the sun was warm, so warm in fact that the boat was sweating!

Sweaty Flamingo!
Sweaty Flamingo!

On closer inspection and a quick sniff the cause was revealed. There has obviously been a leaky diesel tank at some point and the wood must be soaked in the stuff. The heat and the low angle of the sun was heating up the planks, bringing it to the surface. Hopefully it will all evaporate before it is time to paint!

With Tracy off visiting her mother in Dorset for the weekend, Friday was the only day for boat work and the rest of the weekend passed in a blur of; Den building, Dog training, clambering a circuit of the house without touching the floor, “Can we have a Movie night daddy? With all the lights off?!” and “Can we have pancakes for breakfast?”

Nigella's American Pancake recipe is a firm favourite for Sundays
Nigella’s American Pancake recipe is a firm favourite for Sundays

A birthday on Saturday at a friends brought to my ears a phrase I never thought I’d hear at a 9 year old’s party….. “OK everyone, make sure all your guns are unloaded before you go!”

Happy Days!


2 thoughts on “Weekend Woodwork”

  1. Thanks SRL I’m wondering whether writing in front of the wood burning stove with a large Whiskey and Ginger had anything to do with the quality of the post…


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