Jim Barry's Rowboat

A faux rowboat made by eye.

LOCATION: Gander, Newfoundland, CANADA

    I like to make "eyeball" projects--the ones you put together without a lot of measuring. Here's another one. I found this boat in a magazine, Country Sampler, I think. It can be left on the floor or mounted on the wall as a book shelf or whatever. I've seen similar versions as coffee tables, with a piece of plate glass on the top.
     I started with the bottom, using some scrap 1x5 strapping left over from some bygone project. I sketched in the arch for the bow and started cutting. Next I cut up a 2x8 for the middle and top "shelves." I cut the bottom or "stern" piece--where a motor would be mounted "if the thing could actually float"--out of a piece of 2x10 with a jig saw.
     Next came the sides, which flare out about 5 degrees to make it resemble a boat. I used 1/4" ply, which presented a bit of a problem when it came to bending. At that time I wasn't too familiar with steam techniques or kerf relief cuts. So, when all else fails...use brute force! Hey, it worked.
     Next came the "gunnels" of the boat, or "rails" called by some people. Again, not being proficient with steam bending, I only had 1x5 strapping to work with. I didn't feel like going out and buying more wood since to this point everything was made from scrap (trying to keep a theme going here). I finally figured out that I could rip the stuff in half, giving me 5/16 x 5 inch strapping that would bend easily. So, I put the two pieces back together and screwed them in place. Voila! I capped off the bow with a piece of roof flashing and a piece of pine for added insurance to hold it together.
     The paddles were fairly easy. The only piece of lumber I had to buy was a piece of 1x8. I sketched out what I thought looked like a paddle and started cuttin'. Then I rounded off the edges with a 1/2-in. roundover bit and the project was a done deal. A couple coats of paint and polyurethane and it was ready. The only thing I never thought about was shrinkage. The boat was made in my garage shop during the winter. Once the project got indoors, the pieces of strapping on the bottom shrank by 3/16 inch, leaving some pretty hefty gaps. But, hey, so what? I still think it looks good...but this boat definitely won't float.

...Jim Barry




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