A Boat on the Side

Tea for the Tillerman

Thought I’d like to show you how your tiller is made and what I do when I get home after a hard day on the winter’s resin.

 The sequence of Annette’s photos show the preparation and assembly of a Scintilla or Secret tiller, this one in Silky Oak and Red Cedar.

Firstly the timbers are selected – strength, beauty and complementary properties being the overriding criteria. They are cut into 50 x 10mm strips and tapered using the thicknesser.

 One full turn on my machine equates to 2 mm so the resulting five laminations measure 50mm at the stock and 40mm at the other end. When completed the tiller is also tapered sideways to similar dimensions. This is an important aspect of a good tiller. Without the tapered laminations they will never look right – they will always look too thick at the handle end.

The resin mix is tinted to the darker timber – the wood will darken with age, the tinted resin will not. We use various pigments such as red oxide, dark brown or yellow oxide to match specific timbers but our standard red/brown mix does most of them well. While it is only a glue line, details are important.


 The jig is one of dozens we use and as you can see it’s done a fair bit of work.

Packaging tape is used to prevent foul language. G-clamps are used first as they have the longest threads, various others are taken from two racks of them, one in the shop and one in the mezzanine where we do all the spars, beams and channels.









A good ooze of glue is vital, that way there are no unresined bits.

Next week – it’s like . . . planing and all that stuff – random!

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Follicle Fun

Some weeks ago I promised to reveal details of cleaning personal resin smears with ordinary household products with the emphasis on epoxy/hair/beard interface. The answer is common vinegar – cheap white for the hoi polloi, red wine or organic apple cider vinegar for superior boatbuilders. It’s smelly but it works well if you act quickly before the resin begins to cure, otherwise you’ll have to resort to the scissors, the razor or the wax pot for the ultimate in cranial Brazilian fashion statements.

Now for a word of caution here for the late night builders – most wives and girlfriends won’t mind a bit if you cuddle up with generous vinegar streaks still in your hair, they won’t mind sharing their pillow and generally appreciate their man for who he is, not how he smells. If he leaves the odd insignificant acetic acid stains where he lays his weary head mostly you’ll only get a mild retort along the lines of “Darling, I’ll happily wash the bed linen again because I know the boat means a lot to you.”

The Author’s Bedchamber Showing Audience Participation Seating

There are, however, always exceptions and some of them even object to partially cured resin smears on their, ahem, delicate bits. I know it’s hard to believe but it takes all sorts. In general then it’s best to make sure by first using a little thinners on your affected parts followed up by some vinegar and coarse laundry soap or nappisan. That way you can leap, shuffle or slide under the conjugal coverlet and enjoy another satisfying sleep after a hard day in the bilges.

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