In the last post I showed a photo where I plugged a knot-hole with a filler piece going across the grain of the mast. The more I thought about it over the last week, the more it bugged me. Having the “plug” go cross-grain to the mast was going to give me problems when I started shaping and sanding the mast. The cross-grain plug needed to be replaced.
It didn’t take that long to replace the plug, and I knew the effort would be time well spent. An oversized, new plug was first cut and then it was used to mark the new mortise. Some time spent with a back saw and a chisel quickly resulted in the mortise for the new plug. I spent more time waiting for the glue to dry than doing the actual work.
With the knot-hole issue solved, it’s time to finish shaping the mast. From the last post, I’ve already got the mast tapered and eight-sided. There’s a number of different ways to turn those eight sides into a round mast, and it’s pretty much the builder’s preference which way to go. A gentleman in Florida is building a very nice Penobscot 14, and he built a really nifty jig so that he could use his router to shape the mast. He shows the jig here: http://smallboatrestoration.blogspot.com/2017/06/st-jacques-log-21-jun-17-mast-and-sprit.html
I took a low-tech approach to shaping the mast – I used a spokeshave and a small block plane, and relied on my eye to tell me when the mast was round. I learned very quickly that the grain of the wood works better in one direction that the other; if I tried to cut the wrong way the wood would tend to splinter and gouge. I enjoy using both the plane and the spokeshave, they are both quiet tools that are a pleasure to work with in soft woods. And they have the added benefit of making lots of little curly-cue shavings that look nice in the driveway and the yard. Set the blades fine and shape the mast as well as you can. The better job you do with the hand tools, the easier the sanding will be. Once the mast was shaped, I sanded the mast with the jitterbug (palm sander) using 60 grit paper, followed by a light hand sanding with 120 grit.
Varnishing comes next. Here’s the mast with the first coat:
The repair at the knot-hole also came out looking pretty well. You can tell the repair was made, but from any distance, it won’t be too noticeable. The other benefit is that the repair is up near the head of the mast, so you’re going to have to look for it to see it.
I’ll give the mast another five coats of varnish before I call it done. A leather will be sewn on to the mast where the boom jaws rub against the mast. I “leather” the mast for two reasons: 1) the jaws on the boom will eventually gouge the leather, but it’s a whole lot easier to replace the leather than to repair a gouged mast, and 2) having the leather sewn on looks really cool, and that’s important. Finally, the tip of the mast will be painted white. Why? See the post I wrote titled “A little nonsense” here: https://alsboatsdotcom.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/sealing-the-hull-and-a-little-nonsense/