One more coat!


Appologies for the picture. It may not be clear at first but this is a panel I painted during our latest course, Paint & Varnish.

This course covers the different types of coverings and their uses. Also surface preperation, primers, undercoats, sealers, brushes, non-skid and masking off.

We are given panels that we must prep and paint with a top coat using techniques to help give a mirror finish. We also try some varnishing. I am currently using the techniques I learned to varnish the toolbox. This may take some time as its advised 8 coats should be applied.


We practiced applying non-skid too. This involved sprinkling silver sand on top of a wet coat of paint and then 5 coats on top of the sand, allowing time between coats for paint to dry. The non-skid is essential for painted decks where grip is required to stop crew slipping and falling in wet conditions.


Last but not least, we were shown how to mark out and mask off for a waterline. This is an important consideration when you come to apply anti fouling.



Course Correction


Well there was the opportunity to attend the ‘Rigging and Wire Splicing’ course last week so I jumped at the chance. During the 3 day course we covered the different types of wire rope and their uses. The same for the different splices and fittings. I very much enjoyed this course, the use of patterns and sequences really appealed to me and I felt I took to it quite well.

Our first splice was the ‘Liverpool Splice’, as seen in the picture above. Then we moved onto constructing a ‘grommet’ that was then turned into a kind of link/swivel. To end we then constructed the very difficult ‘Board of Trade’ splice.image

During the splicing we were also taught and appiled the process of worming, parcelling, serving and seizing. This was a great course, very interesting and informative. Loads of hands on experience and plenty of notes to take away. Another skill in my back pocket to take away and apply in the future.


Hello Stranger!


Hello everyone, sorry for the lack of updates. My own fault for using up all my data for the month. Anyway, as you can see here is the toolbox in all its glory. There are a few trays to go inside which I am currently making, varnishing which will come during the paint and varnish course. The rope handles will be done during the rope knots and splicing course. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the box progressed.

After the top and bottom were glued on, I had the job of cutting the lid. For this we use a tenon saw that Ian Cooke has setup for ripping along the grain. This old saw WILL NOT cut true. I think this might be deliberate in order to test us for planing the lid and box for a good fit. Once fitting the lid is hinged and the lid stop is also fitted. The lock is then installed and after the weather strips too. When the weather strips have been adjusted to fit the lid the catch is attached and the lids can lock. The next 20 minutes are then spent playing with the lock and key. At her that things really sped up! Because all of the timber had been planed while glue was setting it was all ready to fit. The tray runner went in, then the bottom rails and then the skirting. Getting there now. Finally a pair of handle were formed and fitted to the sides of the box.

Once the lid was fitted the remaining jobs seemed to fly past. I guess the monotony of cutting dovetails and planing timbers was over it was just a case of cutting and installing. It felt like you were doing a different job everyday and it all came together very quickly.

At the moment I’m making the tool trays that fit within the toolbox but work will have to come to a stop for a few days as I am taking a course in rigging and wire splicing. Ian is taking a weeks holiday next week too so we will be doing a few courses in that time. These will include; timber technology and machine regulations.

I’ll try not to leave it so long between updates in the future. Happy sailing!

The Glue Up!


As you can see here is the toolbox, glued up and left to set. The process was not what I thought it would be. Again Ian Cooke never fails to surprise and his methods, which are beautifully simple, prove their worth once again.

Here we go! Cascamite mixed and brush in hand, ready to start. With so many dovetails to apply with glue I was in full panic mode, desperately covering every surface as quickly as I could in the fear the joints would swell up to much to fit together. But all was well and after applying the glue the dovetails slipped together with no issues. I had it in my head that there would be dozens of clamps around the box holding it in place while the glue dries. Ian had other ideas and instructed me to gather only one clamp. I know by now not to question his methods. We clamped up the top edge of one end brought it tight. Then a brad was applied in the corners, in top and through the dovetails holding them dead. Once this was done to all the corners we checked for square, measuring the box diagonals. It wasn’t square but this was rectified but squeezing the longer diagonal until the lengths were equal. This can be seen in the picture above.

Exess glue cleaned off and left overnight to set. But work doesn’t stop there. With a lid stop, weather strips, bottom runners and tray runners to manufacture the Record No.4 plane was sharpened and put to work. Once the box is dry a plywood lid will be fitted inside the rebate, glued and left to set also. Watch this space!

The Box!


Ok, what you see here is the front, back and sides for the toolbox exercise, taped up and ready to glue. Getting to this stage though hasn’t been plain sailing.

When I received the timber for the box I cut it to the lengths required. Unfortunately one of the end pieces looked like it would be more at home on the bottom of a rocking chair rather than a toolbox, but this is the nature of the beast. Wood is a natural product and quite often doesn’t do straight lines. At this point I was left with a choice, carry on with the twisted piece and hope that the joints pull it straight and true or cut a new piece altogether. In the end I decided to keep the ugly duckling, but a swan it did not turn out. After days of cutting and trimming dovetails I was ready and tried the pieces together for a dry fit. The crooked end piece had managed to twist the whole box and it was rocking like a seesaw. Plan B. Cut a new end piece, cut all the sockets for the dovetails and fit the mitres, again! Once the fit was archived the top was rebated to accept the top lid piece.

And this is the product. Four pieces ready for glue, clamps and some persuasion  from Mr Mallet.



The dovetail excercises were very enjoyable. First a through dovetail, then a mitred dovetail and lapped dovetail with an internal shoulder to finish.

It’s been 12 years since I’ve done any sort of dovetail joint. So I was quite pleased with the results but there is certainly room for improvement. The quality did improve as I progressed through the excercises and have further improved with the tool box I am currently working on. The speed has also greatly increased as comfidence is gained.

More about the tool box soon!

Full Steam Ahead


Well after four weeks at the college I have managed to complete all the basic tasks. These include making a mallet, bench hook, oil stone box and selection of joints.

All these excercises are used to developed the handling and technique with the different hand tools. Whilst doing the excercises you begin to understand why it’s done a certain way. You also learn to follow plans and drawings.

The standard is very high and if it doesn’t pass the expert eyes of Ian Cooke, the task will be done again. It really teaches you to take care in your work and to make sure it’s done right first time. It’s very much based on getting the students ready for ‘real world’ applications.