Down time

Way back when I had bought a bunch of rope stuff and carabiners and stuff, I had the intention of making my own kayaksailing ropework, contact/short tow lines what nots. I bought some splicing manuals, assortment of fids, a marlinspike/pocket knife, whipping twine, sailmakers needles, single braid dyneema line of differing diameters, doublebraided polyester lines and on and on..

This all happened 3..4..5 years ago.. and nothing happened, nothing at all! None of the above mentioned ropeworks ever materialized.

Then some time ago while I was looking for some lost item (I forget which?) I tripped over a vaguely familiar box. I opened the box and it took awhile for the cobwebs to clear as I realized that here I was looking at yet another well intentioned but lackadaisically motivated makings of project!

Well.. it was either going back to trying to find that other lost wahtever item or washing the stack-pile of dirty dishes… or maybe, just maybe re-start this rope project!??..?

Rope project it is! 😀

Two contact tow variants: eye-to eye the lines are 142 cm long, double braided polyester lilne.. this is the stuff they use on towlines. The one on the left has Kong Karabiners the other has.. some other kind of karabiners…

First I decided to give it a go at making a contact tow line. Those suckers cost between 32-40 euros a pop! And I had all the required stuff: 8mm line, carabiners, shackels. So it would be easy-peasy, eh?

Well.. not quite. There IS a multitude of pretty good online videos for free. But at first I did not have the patience to make much of diffrentiation between the terms ” single braided line or double braided line.. and if you were trying to use the instructions for a dyneema line on a polyester line.. then it might not work quite as well! No, you dont believe me? I got a bunch of popped blisters on my hands to prove it! 😉

After about a week of banging my head on the walls and thoring bits of ropes and tools over the house.. I slowly started figuring out these nuances, and then after about the 15th attempt of making a proper eyesplice, it actally WORKED!! Hallelujah! I’d only used up about 4 meter of line on this!

Stuff for kayak sailing:
closed loops of single braided dyneema 4mm, with assortment of fittings. mini blocks, a low friction ring

Turns out that while some of the single braided splicing stuff is mind boggling, But WHEN you strictly follow the instructional videos, working with dyneema IS somewhat easier!

The Internet is full of Instructionals of varying degrees of clarity, brevity. Some videos while show how to manufacture a said splice the maker also yammers on about the complete history of said splice. While most of the time this all is useful information, but when you want to learn how to make a particular splice you’re really just interested in how to make the darn splice! Below are a couple links to useful videos that helped me get started in this…

Now… I have to try to figure out something else to do, other than start washing that stack of dirty dishes… 😀

Modifying my Helinox camp chair

The Helinox camp chair is a brilliant piece of deluxe camping equipment that one cannot be without.. but for one little detail: use in sandy terrain! The spindly legs arent very good in soft/sandy conditions! They sink into the sand!

Enter the fyzzy yeller ball!  Drill a hole into the ball, insert ball in leg. Voila! El problemo solved!

Thanks Eiver!

Making a spare paddle

I’d been so busy making paddles for others that I’d forgotten my own needs completely!

My new Beaufort being the shortest kayak I own has as a result a shorter fore-deck than the others. Normally I have a spare paddle stowed on the fore deck for quick and easyish access, in case of sudden need. My preferred spare paddles have been Greenland Paddles (GP) normally about 206-210 cm long, blade width of some 90mm and a loom length (on a shouldered blade) of about 50cm.

My normal GP’s were a bit too wide and a tad too long to fit the fore deck of the Beaufort WITH sail installed. So I needed make a slightly smaller stick.

I would need the spare paddle for the upcoming coastal paddle which was to start off in about 2½ weeks so I would be busy yet.

After some head scratching and dry fitting I deiced to make a simple shoulderless GP 200cm long, loom = 40 cm and blade width 88mm.

I found a ready made paddle blank I’d made some years back. It was made from two strips of nordic pine (pinus sylvestris)  sapwood, with a touch of sapwood at one end. While heavier, approx 540 kg/m3 @ 18%, than the much raved Western Red Cedar (WRC) the benefit of the nordic pine is that it is easily available, cheap and alot stronger  AND harder wearing than WRC. Perfect choice for a spare paddle which will get its fair share of bangs and misuse.

Paddle outline cut and planed.
Paddle outline cut and planed.

After the outline is ready the side outline is pencilled in.
After the outline is ready the side outline is penciled in.

Then its just alot of ole elbow grease! Despite all the hype out there, my smartphone was of no help at this stage!! ;)
Then its just a lot of ole elbow grease to thin the paddle blades! Despite all the hype out there, my smartphone, internet or wifi was of no help at this stage!! 😉

The blade width is 88mm and the staright portion is 400mm long. Blade thickness at tip is approx 10mm
The blade width is 88mm and the straight portion is 400mm long. Blade thickness at tip is approx 10mm

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A minor disaster struck! A pitch pocket! right at the tip of the blade! Since this is a backup for meself, and I’m kinda in a rush and am not too picky.. I decided to continue…

.. I scraped and whittled out the excess pitch, then I made a batch of epoxy, tinted it into a reddish orange, kinda like what pitch looks like, and filled the pocket with said concoction.

After final shaping and sanding the paddle it was time to make required markings with pyrography pen . In addition to year of make and initials, I also like to burn the paddle dimensions. In this case: 200 (cm overall length) x 40 (cm loom length) x 88 (mm blade max width)

Here the paddle has a coat of wood oil and maybe 1 or 2 layers of Le Tonkinois Varnish.. still 2-3 more to go

Not the prettiest paddle out there, but it will make do, I’ve used worse and lived.

Since you’ve read this far its only fair to give some prize for the perseverance! 🙂

Paddle details:
  • length: 200 cm
  • blade max width: 88mm
  • loom length: 40 cm
  • Blade edge thickness 5mm
  • blade tip thickness 10mm
  • loom cross section = oval; width 28mm, thickness 32mm
  • Final weight: 1036 g

 

SUP paddle part II

Part II, continuation for blog post A new prototype: SUP paddle part I

To finally finish the SUP paddle pair I started building way back when.. I needed to do the most annoying bit: sanding and varnishing !!! Basicly its a simple chore, so simple that its easy to botch and then the end result looks cheap… so much for all that painstaking woodwork! 😉

So its time to confess. I’m probably a laziest sander I know and my varnishing skills are pretty poor, but in my defence I only make things that get banged up, scratched, misused, and usually at some point broken… so if the varnishing isn’t top-notch I suppose it doesnt matter much in the end? 😉

So the sanding. Yes, its booring. I won’t go into that other than despite its tediousness.. Its actually an important part of the process!! Don’t skip it! I start out usually with grit 80 -> 120-> 180-> 240 after that its time to varnish! Sometimes I start varnishing after 180. Sanding between every 2-3varnish layers I use 3m scotchbrite pads (or similar).

For the past 5 years or so I’ve mainly used the following method for varnishing my wooden paddles:

  1. Pre-impregnation with Hempel Wood Impreg oil
  2.  4-7 layers of varnish, Le Tonkinois Brand. Light sanding between every 2-3 layers
  3.  redo varnishing as needed, usually after each season

Varnish: Le Tonkinois. Impregnation oil : Hempel Wood impreg. Here pictured is an old can (leftovers) of Wood Impreg1 which has been discontinued and replaced by “Wood Impreg”.. Not sure what the difference is between the two.. probably the new version is “less toxic” or some such thing…?

This cocktail seems to work nicely. Le Tonkinois seems to hold on better than urethane-alkyd varnishes out there! ‘Le Tonk’ is more expensive, but on wooden paddles you don’t need that much! Varnishing approx 6 paddles with 4 coats I use slightly less than 0.5 liters of varnish!  One of the greatest things about ‘Le Tonk’ is that the paddle shaft doesnt feel slippery when wet, when it has been varnished with ‘Le Tonk’!

‘Le Tonk’ is an natural wood oil varnish.  Consists of linseed oil, Tung oil and some other ‘natural’ ingredients. It doesnt require hazmat suits, its quite easy to apply with brush, is durable, has  nice UV protection. Works nicely on paddles! It is my “go to” choice!

Le Tonkinois Varnish brings out the wood grains quite nicely! Here is the wallhange paddle with Walnut blade.
Le Tonkinois Varnish brings out the wood grains quite nicely! Here is the wallhange paddle with Walnut blade.

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The handle of the lighter paddle, pine version

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Pine paddle handle- sideview

The two paddles varnished x 4 layers : Pine paddle (on left) is 190 cm long and final weight is 966g. Probably slightly heavy, but hopefully usable? Walnut paddle (on right) is 180 cm long weight: 1105g = wallhanger.. well maybe I'll try it out after I built meself a SUP board? ;)
The two paddles varnished x 4 layers : Pine paddle (on left) is 190 cm long and final weight is 966g. Probably slightly heavy, but hopefully usable? Walnut paddle (on right) is 180 cm long weight: 1105g = wallhanger.. well maybe I’ll try it out after I build meself a SUP board? 😉

Modifiying the new camera..

I had an old packet of that wonder goo called Sugru, the best before date had passed by a coupla months ago and then some.. It was coloured black!

My new waterproof pocket camera, a Olympus Tough 860 was ok, but I had noticed that the gripping “handle” was abit on the small size. With wet fingers it wasnt very “shure” fitting..

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This is the itsy-bitsy teensy-weensy, gripping notch to hold onto the camera.. already have slipped and dropped the camera…

So.. I decided, what the hell.., might as well try it..

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Enter the magic of Sugru!!

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The new added grip! .. time will tell…?

Now I have a Sugru Customized camera.. As this is the third time during the past 3 months that I have used Sugru, I cannot  say anything about how well it works on the long term.. thus far shows lotsa promise!

The extended “Sugru ramp” feels a bit better gripping the camera and thus far hasn’t hindered any of the other functions. So its an improvement!

Laying out the Sugru was simple. Easy Peasy! Some thin rubber gloves to keep the fingers clean, a coupla small “spatulas” (ice-cream sticks) and a lead pencil to help shape and mold the “sugru ramp”. After that wait 24 hours and presto!

A new prototype: SUP paddle – Part I

A friend had taken up on Stand Up Paddling. After some time she asked if I could make her a wooden SUP paddle. I’d never made a wooden SUP paddle and was kinda bored or atleast looking for something different to tinker on , so I promised to try to make a paddle for her.

Making something out of bits of wood wasn’t a problem. The challenge in this case was the basic design, shape and dimensions. I had no clue. I’d tried SUPping  awhile ago in Portugal, but I was having such a fun time at the time that I didnt really pay any attention to the details of the paddle. Thank ze gods for the internet!

After googling for about 45 minutes, I more or less had some basic shaky idea what I was going to attempt.  Online, I found a basic template of a paddle blade shape (I’ve lost the link for the moment from where I found the template, sorry about that!) and some possible dimensions as well. Also I had a book (yeah, I know, such an ancient concept and with no wifi either!),  about canoe paddles!! So I was all set to go.@

The idea was to make a bent shaft paddle. My plan was to make the shaft from laminated strips. Partly for visual effetct and partly to make it .. well stronger. I fashioned a glue press with a 10 degree bend. The materials for the shaft were 3 strips of nordic pine sapwood @5.6mm thick and approx 40mm wide. Length at this stage was unknown so I built the shaft about 2300mm long. The remaining 2 strips I decided to use Mahogany of same dimensions. Mahogany may not be the smartest choice , as it is on the heavyish side.. but boy does it look great!

SUP paddle shaft in Glue Press. The shaft consists of 5 wood strips 5.6mm thick each. 3 strips of Nordic pine and two of mahogany. Glue used is Polyuretahne glue . Water spray bottle to ensure the glue ahrdenin process
SUP paddle shaft in Glue Press. The shaft consists of 5 wood strips 5.6mm thick each. 3 strips of Nordic pine and two of mahogany. Glue used is Polyurethane glue . Water spray bottle to ensure the glue hardening process.

To keep it all together, I decided to use single-component polyurethane glue made by Wurth. I’ve used it previously on a couple canoe and kayak paddles with good results. At the moment I dont trust it as much as 2-component epoxy, which I’ve used on several occasion previously, but I think it’ll do the job sufficiently. besides my finances were in the dumps.. polyurethane is soo much more cheaper than epoxy.

Polyurethane glue foams nicely when "drying". Due to this foaming tendency the press needs to be solid and no looseness can exists. otherwise the foam can push laminate startips apart!
Polyurethane glue foams nicely when “drying”. Due to this foaming tendency the press needs to be solid and no looseness can exists. otherwise the foam can push laminate strips apart – leaving pockets filled with foam, which arent structurally sound! Angle of the bend at the paddle thrat is 10 degrees.. a number I  settteld on after googling stuff online. I have no idea if it is suitable… Time will tell! Lotsa exprerimentation in what I do!

After some gluing, pressing, planing I had the shaft ready after which I glued the “cheek pieces” of the blade, ie. the parts that make up the majority of the paddle blade area. For my Prototype #1 which will probably end up being a wallhanger anyway I used some scrap pieces of walnut I had lying around.. yeah, I know. not smart choice = too heavy and probably not very durable in the longterm.. but I had a hankering to work on walnut and I was going for looks at this stage.

After the glue has dried, the shaft blank is removed from the press and planed to correct width, in this case its about 28mm
After the glue has dried, the shaft blank is removed from the press and planed to correct width, in this case its about 28mm. Next step is to glue the blade cheeks.

Prototype#2 is basicly the same as #1 but the blade cheeks are nordic pine-sapwood, and 100mm longer. Should be quite a bit ighter than the shorter walnut version.

The paddle blade cheeks being glued on. The blade template visible in the background
The paddle blade cheeks being glued on. The blade template visible in the background

The paddle blade outline has ben marked and the excess cut off. The blade cheek materil in nordic pine of relative "light" growth. ie. not so dense+heavy
The paddle blade outline has been marked and the excess cut off. The blade cheek material is nordic pine of relative “light” growth. ie. not so dense+heavy

The paddle blade outline has ben marked and the excess cut off. The blade cheek materil in nordic pine of relative "light" growth. ie. not so dense+heavy
Paddle face side

The handle knob has been glued on and paddle is at its final length, approx 195cm.
The handle knob has been glued on and shaped to its rough outline. Paddle is at its final length, approx 195cm. This is the lighter version made of NordicPIne/Mahogany

Walnut planes really nicely!, even with a slightly dull blade.
Walnut planes really nicely! Even with a slightly dull blade. Here am in the process of shaping the backside

Slowly geting there.. and the pile of shavings grow! Its hard to imagine that there is approximately 80 €uros worth of walnut in this picture!
Slowly getting there.. and the pile of shavings grow! Its hard to imagine that there is approximately 80 €uros worth of walnut in this picture!

A handy tool for concave planing
A handy tool for concave planing! I decided to make the powerface of the paddle blade concave. Not sure if it has effect and what it could be? looks cool, plus need to lighten the paddle every which way possible!

Concave section is begining to show
Concave section is begining to show

10 degree angle
10 degree angle, (and a pair of work shoes marked “Left” and” Right”, incase non-finnish speakers were wondering?) 😉

The paddles still need to be sanded down to their final size and shape and varnished and then at some date tested! Follow up posts will follow….

 

 

 

Some tent addons

I had some time to make a couple modifications on my tent. The Marmot Trailite 2P tent has served well the past 3 seasons and for the moment looks like it should well for the unforeseeable future. No fault there.

There are a couple additions that I have been hankering for quite sometime. These aren’t tent specific, just little addons to add versatility.

The first add on

Many a times along the rocky Finnish coast the ground is well, Hard! Granite tends to be that way. Even though the tent is self-supporting, it often needs to be anchored down, especially where its windy..  Short of having a diamond tipped drill bit and/or a power drill/jackhammer.. tying a tend down on a rock is next to impossible.

Many a times I’ve filled a plastic bag or an Ikea bag with rocks  to make anchors for the tent. Plastic bags don’t last that long and I don’t carry around 8 Ikea bags.. So clearly this wasn’t the solution to be.

A friend who had seen another friend using something that is apparently called in the mountain climbing circles a “parachute” ! A lightweight but sturdy fabric that can be  buried under snow and packed over with snow for guy lines for tents!!! These things aren’t very common in Finland, at least outdoors stores don’t advertise them at all.. so IF they were available in Finland, then I would surmise that a specialist product like the “parachute” would cost and arm and a leg plus your firstborn.

Bricks simulating rocks.. Rocks need to be BIG! Not sure if the fabric square is big enough (30 cm x 30cm)?
Bricks simulating rocks.. Rocks need to be BIG! Not sure if the fabric square is big enough (30 cm x 30cm)?

After seeing what these devices looked like I realized that they wouldn’t be too hard to fabricate ones self!

Here I must confess , despite initially planning to do the sewing work meself, I opted out to order the sewing work done by the seamstress students at the local vocational college. That was easy!

Following pictures hopefully are self explanatory:

Sturdy fabric squares (30 cm x30cm each). Tunnels for line sewn at two opposing sides of each square. 1 line /square, line length approx 150cm. 1 plastic snap shackle/square. I decided on 8 parachutes for my current tent..
Sturdy fabric squares (30 cm x30cm each). Tunnels for line sewn at two opposing sides of each square. 1 line /square, line length approx 150cm. 1 plastic snap shackle/square. I decided on 8 parachutes for my current tent..

Fabric used was some sort of nylon/cotton mix, workclotchs farbic, plenty sturdy, but might be a bit on the heavy sde, especially when it soaks up water. But beggars can't be choosers!
Fabric used was some sort of nylon/cotton mix, work cloths fabric, plenty sturdy, but might be a bit on the heavy sde, especially when it soaks up water. But beggars can’t be choosers!

To tie the line end together I decided to try the Reever hitch. It holds better than the typical square knot (on this slippery type of line) and is lower in profile, plus it was inneresting to learn to do! :)
To tie the line end together I decided to try the Reever hitch. It holds better than the typical square knot (on this slippery type of line) and is lower in profile, looks nice plus it was inneresting to learn to do! 🙂

After tying the line ends, I slid the knot into one of the tunnels.. to make appearances neat.
After tying the line ends, I slid the knot into one of the tunnels.. to make appearances neat.

The second add on

Keeping stuff organized in anyway at all inside a tent is /has and probably will always be mission impossible or the next best thing. Many a time I have wistfully gazed at neat and tidy tents at camp, usually someone else’s! What most of these neat tents had in common was a nifty organizer pocket hanging from the roof! Now just about most of the major brand names usually offer one of these organizer pocket doodads for the price of your second born…

Being  a stingy sort and once realizing I had some left over deck netting and some 2mm bungee cord I decided to make my own organizer pocket! Hah! That made me feel good for a bit! Time will tell how this mod works out?

Some stretchy deck netting, 2mm bungee cord and sgharp scissors!
Some stretchy deck netting, 2mm bungee cord and sharp scissors!

Voila! And there she is! Took less than 10 minutes to rig it up! Now its just a matter of testing how it works!
Voila! And there she is! Took less than 10 minutes to rig it up! Now its just a matter of testing how it works! A good place to store random items and dry those wet socks etc.

So.. If the above add ons work nicely this likely be the last post.. If they don’t then.. this likely be the last post on the subject matter! 😉