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Project Log:  Sunday, October 28, 2012

I had a bit of trim work to finish off a the top edge of the engine room hatch beneath the companionway, to cover a gap there.  Nothing fancy here:  just a slim piece of trim that I cut to fit and attached to the top edge of the plywood panel as needed to cover the gap, without interfering with the removal of the hatch.

N0t sure where to turn next, I eventually ended up, in a roundabout way, deciding to work on preparing the stock for the ceiling (hull liner) in the forward cabin. My first thoughts for the ceiling were in a somewhat different direction, using something like cypress, but I was unable to get cypress through my regular supplier, so I'd postponed the ceiling decision and order while I reconsidered choices.  I wanted to use something different here, not more cherry, and I'd used cypress on an earlier project and had liked the look of the light wood.

Other light woods I might have used included species such as maple and ash, but I didn't want to use either of these.  Maple was too hard, making milling and sanding numerous strips tedious, and too bland for my liking.  Ash, with its heavy, oak-like grain, simply didn't float my boat, and I didn't like how yellow it became when varnished.  I couldn't easily get white cedar, and didn't want to use any other softwoods.

I'd recently accepted delivery of a rather large supply of Khaya, which I planned initially to use only for the cabin sole on this and another project.  However, it looked like I had such an ample amount that I decided to also use it for the ceiling.  So to begin, I went through my notes to determine what I needed for the two cabin soles I'd purchased the wood for, and set aside several boards for that purpose.  This left plenty of material for the ceiling, with some to spare, so I selected three boards that looked like they'd yield the amount of material I needed.  I'd mill the boards into two-inch planks, then resaw the planks in half to yield ceiling slats about 5/16" thick.

The boards were already surface and thickness-planed to 3/4", but still needed sanding to prepare for the milling work ahead.  I sanded both sides of each board, working through three grits (ending at 220) on my finishing sander.   One of the boards had a grain structure in the center that was full of loose flaps and tear-out, which the sander frequently caught and ripped out; this should have been a warning sign, but for the moment it was simply an irritation, and I figured I'd just work around any flaws in the final planks.

Next, I ripped the wide boards into two-inch wide planks.  This went smoothly for the most part, but one of the boards--the same one that I'd run into trouble with while sanding--featured intense internal pressures that began to release as I cut into the board.  This caused the board to twist, bend, and pinch the saw blade, making cutting a challenge.  It'd been a long time since I'd worked with any lumber that twisted and bent like this when sawn, though it wasn't the first time and I should have been more prepared for this possibility.

Fortunately, I needed only part of the boards' length for my ceiling slats; the planks were over 10' long, but I needed only 7' or less in length.  So I could cut the planks to the appropriate rough length and remove the most distorted parts of the boards; the usable short lengths would work out well in and around the deadlight surrounds that I'd built into the ceiling framing. 

Even so, I ended up with several short lengths of wood that I deemed completely unusable because of their tortured inner workings, so I threw them away rather than risk using them sometime later.

Next, I resawed the 3/4" thick planks into two thinner planks each. The cut sides of each plank would never be seen, so there was no need for me to sand those areas.  However, I did ease the top edges of each plank, using a hand block and sandpaper, to improve appearance and create a small v-groove between the planks to absorb any slight inconsistencies in their thickness once installed.


Afterwards, I solvent-washed all the planks to remove sanding dust, and set them aside for now.  This also gave an idea of the finished appearance of the planks:  similar in color to cherry, though with more variation from darker to lighter, and with a completely different grain pattern and structure that would set the ceiling apart from the remaining woodwork.  Before installation, I'd apply several coats of natural tung oil to the ceiling planks, a simple wipe-on finish that would be similar in appearance to the other interior brightwork, but much easier to apply to the numerous planks.


(Much later, in something approaching panic, I realized that I'd badly miscalculated how many planks I needed for the ceiling, and had milled only about half the material I needed.  However, with the numerous short cuts required to work around the deadlights, I might get farther with the material I already had than I expected, so before milling any more material I'd get going on the installation and see where I ended up.  Fortunately, I still had enough of the Khaya on hand when I needed more.)

To wrap up the day's work, I masked off the new companionway trim, and around the new trim on the engine room hatch, and applied a sealer coat of varnish to these areas, as well as the companionway ladder.



Total Time Today:  4.75 hours

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