The last week was mainly a tale of 2 joints: scarphs and dovetails. We’ve been working on two types of scarph that could be used in a boat’s keel; the table scarph and the hooked scarph. These joints are used as they have longitudinal strength in compression and tension, which is essential for joints along the centreline of the boat. The table scarph is essentially a lipped scarph with a channel cut across it in which is fitted a small piece of wood of square section (called a table) which gives the joint it’s longitudinal strength. The table is craftily placed with the grain running across the joint, which has the advantage that if it gets wet, it expands along the channel, wedging itself even more firmly in. I found it harder to make the hooked scarph as it can’t be planed very easily in the rebated section above the hook, so it involved lots of chiselling, which is harder work and it looked less tidy when it was done; bearing the scars of a few near misses with the chisel.
I thought it would be plain sailing when it came to making dovetail joints as I’ve done a few before for various projects at home. Unfortunately, this previous experience doesn’t seem to have counted for much, I still spent hours on end fine tuning my tails so that they fitted together precisely enough. “I presume it goes in at a right angle” said Jon the tutor of one attempt; followed by “It’s quite a flexible joint”. I don’t think that was a compliment. Anyway, it’s all good preparation for the first big project, a mahogany tool chest. Hopefully I’ll be able to start on that in the next day or so. That will keep me busy for a few weeks.