Starting the Mast

Bird’s mouth what?  This sounded a little intimidating.  After reading several articles on how to build a hollow wooden mast, I decided to give it a go.  If I can build the mast, maybe I can build the boat.  This is a minimal way to begin without committing all the way.  And, I don’t have enough money right now for the kit anyway, so I decided to start with the mast.  After spending $100.00 on two sticks of wood, I began.  We don’t have Spruce locally available, but we do have vertical grain Douglas Fir.  I was fortunate enough to find 20′ long boards, so I purchased two 1 x 6 x 20′ boards.  This will save me the effort of scarfing.  The plans call for 8 staves 16 x 30 mm before tapering.  I first edged the boards on my jointer to create one flat side, then planed the thickness down from four quarter to 5/8″, I then ripped the boards into 1, 3/16″ staves.  I then cut the birds mouth into one side.

DSC00060Here’s what they looked like before cutting the taper.

I was concerned about attempting to create uniform tapers on the staves.  My dad suggested I build a jig to ensure uniformity.  My jig looked like this.

DSC00062The jig to hold the staves.

The bottom board is a 1 x 6 x 10′ pine board.  It accepts the stave and is sacrificial (the circular saw slightly cuts down into this board.  The middle board is also a 1 x 6 x 10′ pine board that acts a the fence for the stave to rest against.  These two boards are set at equal offsets from each end.  The far right board is a small off cut from the VG Douglas Fir I am using for the mast.  It is nailed through the middle board while taking the curve of the desired stave.  It is offset the distance of the circular saw blade and the outer edge of it’s base.  It holds the circular saw the proper distance to create the stave taper.


The jig with the cut tapered stave.

Hopefully this clarifies.  Here you see the cut stave (upper, narrow end of the stave).  The circular say ran along on the top of the upper 1 x 6 x 10′ pine board and was held securely by the far right side edge board, creating uniform tapers on each of the staves.  I nailed each stave to the jig with small finish nails that were removed after the cut was made.  I can re-use all this pine as cleating later on the boat.  I’m now ready to build a jig to hold the loose staves during glue up.


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