I started today to replace some of the pieces I had brought back from my last visit that could not be salvaged, or at least I thought it would be more fun to build them from scratch. Those were the two benches on, port and starboard, respectively and the back for the bench at the stern. The benches were cracked and warped and they seem to be relatively straight forward to rebuild.
Next, I had to decide what material to use for the benches. I had a little book on woodworking and perusing that I felt that Mahogany would be a good choice. Nice furniture is always built from Mahogany and it seemed durable and still easy to work with. I recalled that the Home Depot had some different types of wood so I checked to see if they had any Mahogany...No such luck. They really are not a woodworkers shop, so OFF TO THE INTERWEBS!
A simple google search for "Find wood" got me to the nicely named site: woodfinder.com. I could have guessed there would be a site built for the sole purpose to find wood and I quickly learned that there were three shops around Denver that looked like they had woodworkers wood and some of them also had tools...Since I probably had to get some nice tools with this as well. I decided to check out the three stores.
The first two stores had some decent wood, but it was mostly focused on tools for woodworking but the third store (Frank Paxton) was a store dedicated to wood and exotic woods at that. It seems to mostly cater to the professionals but I found some really nice African Mahagony which I only later learned is not the same as Mahogany or "real" Mahogany. But it looked fine to me so I bought some pieces. One that was almost a foot wide and one that was about 6 inches. It was somewhat thicker than the original benches but I figured that would only make the benches more solid and stable so i went with it. But coming home I realized I had not checked the wood good enough because this:
I forgot to check if they were straight or not! I had already had it cut as well, so no way to return to the store...So, first lesson learned. I can't believe I did not check in the store since I am usually pretty good at that, but I guess finding an actual store that had Mahogany was just pretty exciting. But I had learned about boatbuilding and how they use steam and just water to shape the planks for the hulls so I looked around and found my trusty beer kettle which seemed large enough to steam the planks.
But, unfortunately, after an hour of steaming and a day of drying, the warp was just as prominent as before...Warp factor fail!
The benches measure about 44 x 15 inches so I had to find a way to glue the 12 inch and 6 inch pieces together, so it was time to buy some more tools! I had found the Woodcrafters store the more well stocked so I shlepped myself to Denver once more to check out my options. I had done some research and found that a Jointer would be able to create a smooth and straight edge on two pieces so checked out the jointer at the store. $800 dollars later I was the proud owner of a Powermatic Jointer!
The trip home with this massive, massive behemoth is another complete story, but suffice it to say it was a trip! The jointer has a nice and sharp blade and you move the piece of wood from the low (right) side to the high side (left) and it will nicely smooth the edge. The tricky part is to move the wood without stopping or pushing more on one side or the other, since almost invariably the last inch and a half or so always show a distinct dip in the edge. But eventually I figured out how to do it, most of the time, correctly and I was ready for the next step. But not before I bought some more tools!
To ensure the sides are properly glued together, I bought a set of 5 large glue clamps (Home Depot) and it basically works like a charm. The sides are nice and long and don't damage the wood and they are easily opened and closed. I let this sit for about a day or so and thus I had my first bench (well...sortof).
The one plank was not the only warped piece of wood and the end result was a bench with quite the height difference. But three hours and three sanding pads later I was able to smooth out the differences and I was ready for some more tool buying!
I had drawn the outline of the bench on the merged planks and started to use the planer to shave off lots "krullen" from the straight side. I was even able to put on the curved side of the bench with the planer as well, although a slightly smaller planer would probably worked a little better. (I see another tool buying trip coming on).
Aaaaaaaaaand then it was time for another mistake. The straight side of the benches has a slight angle on them so they fit nicely against the backs on the port and starboard side and without properly checking I started to put the angle on one of them and I realized too late that the two benches were of slightly different sizes and ofcourse I had put the wrong edge on the benches...Sigh...
Next up, I go to California to see how the pieces fit after I realized the mistake.