The Compass Inlay and the Art of Taking Your Time

20141120_110830Yesterday, I routed out 1/50″ of wood off the deck of my son’s Wood Duck Kayak in preparation for a compass inlay that he picked out.  The placement is on the highest portion of the deck just forward of the cockpit.  The deck at the point is steeply curved which will make using a router a little tricky. When someone looks at this boat, that will be the first place their eyes go and if I slip up with the knife or chisel, I probably won’t be able to hide it.  Rushing this task could solely ruin the appearance of this boat, so I took my time.

I started with finding a piece of scrap plywood and taping it in place over the spot I would be routing.  I did this to mimic the curve of the deck so the test would be the same as the real thing.  I then changed the blade in my razor to be sure it was sharp.  Next I took out my 1/2″ chisel and my sharpening stone and sharpened it to a razor sharp edge and buffed it to a mirror finish on the grinding wheel.  Then I got out my router and carefully set the depth of the bit to the same thickness as the inlay.

I used a sharpie to trace the oval shape of the inlay on the scrap and then made some cuts with the router to see how close I could comfortably get to the line without any tear-out on or over the line.  I chiseled out a portion of it to see how the wood reacts to the chisel and even tried out my Bahco Scraper to see how that would fair.  Satisfied with the test, I removed the scrap piece of plywood and started on the boat.

So here I am about an hour into a 30-minute task and I haven’t even made a cut yet.  I have prepared all of my tools and tested the process.  It is steps like these that make me love building boats.  Each new phase of the boat is like a puzzle that needs to be solved and solved with a reasonable amount of skill and patience.

I taped the inlay to the deck and began cutting a line around it with my trusty Lenox Razor Knife.  I cut shallow at first, but deeper with additional passes.  I removed the inlay and started cutting away the wood with my router.  Finally, I went back through with the Bahco Triangle scraper and Bahco 665 scraper.  Satisfied with the depth and consistency of the hole, I glued in the inlay and weighted it down for the cure.

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