Making the Mast Spars

This step looks impressive and is impressive from the casual observer, but really it’s not that complicated.  Just take your time and follow the right sequencing.

And then when something goes wrong…take a deep breath and figure out how to fix it.  Boat building is really about problem solving, like life and relationships in our life.  The key is in learning how to fix it.


Practice on scraps to get the Bird’s Mouth cut adjusted correctly.  Notice the top cut is too long and the bottom cut is a tad too short (you can see the sliver of wood left in the bottom of the V in you look carefully).


The cut length is good, but the angle needs to be narrowed a bit.  I narrowed the cut from 45 deg. to 44 deg.  and it fit perfectly.


Did I mention obstacles?  This spar broke right over a knot in the wood.  I’m grateful it broke now as opposed to later in the build.  I hardly noticed the knot, but while flexing the spars, I heard the wood begin to break.  This sound lead me to the problem.  With a little pressure it gave way.


And, my replacement Spruce stock contained a split right down the center of the board.  Now what?  Head scratching…


So, I had to open up my own bag of tricks.  With the left over broken pieces in my hands, I decided to scarf them to produce a full length stave.  Now it’s long enough and I’ve used up the left overs.

Once cured, I’ll taper the staves to spec and get ready for epoxy.

It Begins Again…Well, Maybe

After thinking long and hard about building another Scamp, I’ve decided to take the first step.


But, why build another Scamp?

Simply stated, I can’t find another small sailboat I like better.  Scamp has so much going for it.  I want to see if I can improve from my first build.

Are you just going to build it and then get disgruntled and sell it like last time?

I sure hope not.  My goal is to build another boat and then spend time getting to know her and teaching my kids to sail.  I really want to hold this one.

Why not just buy VG Doug Fir for the spars?

Sitka Spruce is approximately 15% lighter than Doug Fir and not much money.  In fact the difference between buying 38 board feet of Doug Fir and Sitka was less than $60.  With this small price differential, Spruce becomes the clear winner.  I want the mast as light as I can get it.  Yet, I’m not tempted by carbon fiber, I like wood.

So does this mean I’m committing to build another Scamp?

Not exactly.  I’m much more comfortable stating I’m committing to building the spars.  I’ll take it that far and see how I feel.  I’ve lost interest before in projects and found them laying around the corner of the wood shop, so I’m taking this opportunity one step at a time.  I’ll build the spars and if that goes well, I’ll consider moving toward the foils.  I’m all about baby steps and small commitments.  Remember, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass”.

How will I build my spars differently from last time?

  1. 15% lighter, according to internet wood species data.
  2. More hand planing of the mast.  Last time I left it quite chunky  This time I will remove more material, rendering the mast even lighter.
  3. I’ll use a line to secure the block at the top of the mast as opposed to hard attachment, like Jason did with Argo.
  4. I plan to orient the mast block on the aft side of the mast for better halyard alignment (still playing with this).
  5. I’ll take the time to add leather wraps to all contact points.
  6. I’ll slightly oversize the boom (vertically).
  7. I’ll white tip all spar ends for a more historic look.


Parting shot…like my new hair cut?

This is my dad, who I love very much.  He is 79 years old and can still out work me.  We made the SLC trip together to pick up the spruce.  We had a lot of time to discuss building ideas.  He’s a great designer and engineer.  It’s a huge blessing to have him in my life.  Now let’s fire up the planer and make some wood chips.