I believe repair and restoration work to be the best
training for woodworkers, regardless of what you are
making out of wood. You get to see which practices work,
which don’t, and which won’t over the long haul. Besides
learning which joinery lasts and which doesn’t, fixing
other peoples’ poor practices helps in preventing your
own and usually puts the future reparability of your
own work high on your priority list where it belongs.
Sorry folks, but if your work isn’t easily repairable,
you are merely doing expensive preparation and storage
of fuel for the next generation’s marshmallow roast. That may not bother you if it holds up long enough for
your purposes, but who knows? It may break your
granddaughter’s heart some day, if that’s the only
family piece she has.
For boat-builders, just wandering the yards to study
derelicts is useful. Picture your boat at that age and
state of neglect…because dollars to donuts it will be
both of those some day… paint gone, sheathings
perforated, and rainwater coming in unhindered. Will it
hold up even as well? What level of neglect will cause
it to become uneconomically repairable, and how quickly? Most importantly, what’s the difference in man-hours and
materials between a job good for a few years and a job
good indefinitely? In these days of better glues and
sealants, that difference isn’t much.
The first step on the path towards that marshmallow
roast, whether the boat is wood, glass or metal is
usually where metal meets wood in a hole…. how the
hardware is bedded. Drilling, threading and the
attendant torque, even when done by the best workman,
damage the wood fibers slightly, and damaged fibers are
where rot begins. Rainwater is the big killer because
mold and fungus love it…that hole has to be sealed, and
ideally, that sealant will remain effective even when
the fasteners loosen a bit over time with seasonal wood
movement and that condition goes uncorrected.
Basic hardware bedding involves protecting and sealing
the hole. Here, the screws were driven and the hardware
installed without any bedding, and then removed for the
holes to be coated generously with a paint poisonous to
mold and fungus… shown is red lead… and the paint allowed
to dry. Then the hardware is removed, the faying
surfaces coated with a marine sealant and reinstalled.
Also critical, but a separate subject, is sizing and
driving screws and fasteners… for here I’ll just mention
that the more damage to the threads, the quicker the
rot, and that while power drivers are great for running
fasteners up close, torqueing them down is a job best
done by hand. No machine clutch has the sensitivity of a
brace or a Yankee driver.
up the scale of effectiveness, screw holes are easily
bedded in epoxy…and in exceptionally soft wood like this
old-growth cedar, it is necessary for longevity. My
forbearers wouldn’t have used cedar here because it
won’t take a hinge… but with epoxy, I get to enjoy
cedar’s better longevity.