Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Heart of oak

Well floor and walls at least. After a long spell of faffing around on minor jobs which seemed to take forever but showed no outward sign of progress we've made a quantum leap.
We've laid a solid oak floor and I'm well on the way to framing the cabin sides in some chunky European oak too. The oak actually comes from Russia though we bought it rather nearer to home - from Peak Oak. They're our 'local' supplier of oak flooring being half an hour up the road near Leek and run by cheery and helpful farmer turned oak specialist, Adrian Plant and his son.
It seems he also supplies Braidbar Boats with oak flooring so if he's good enough for them he'll do for us!
For the floor we used 160mm wide 'character grade' oak, which means it comes with enough knots and flaws to give it, er, character, using long 2m plus lengths to minimise the number of cross joints. Then I bought some knot-free 120mm 'prime grade' and got him to machine off the tongues and grooves to leave me 110mm wide and 20mm thick lengths that would be just the job for some chunky framing.
About eight hundred quid later we hauled the lot back to Harry, coated it in Osmo Polyxoil to seal it and started to fit it. Well first I decided to ask for some advice on how to fit it. And I wished I hadn't. Basically it turns out there are two schools of thought - one says "screw it down" and the other says "whatever you do, don't screw it down". Their choice is to glue it together and leave it floating on the sub-floor. To which the first school says "don't ever glue it together".
Finally I decided to take Adrian's advice and screw it down with blind screws through the tongues - using some remarkable new floorboard screws from Spax which he recommended. And boy, were they good: they cut their own way in without splitting the wood even an inch from the end of the tongue and so need no time consuming pilot hole drilling. A small, steeply angled countersunk head lets them be pulled right into the surface too. Brilliant!
The floor went down with little more than a couple of days and a couple of top coats of Polyxoil produced a superb waxy sheen.

And then we covered it all up again!
It had to be protected from the rest of the work so it's now hidden under sheets of hardboard and cardboard.
The framing has been slower going. Even with the big compound mitre saw I bought to do up a house and which is far too huge really for boat fitting. Trouble is that nothing is square on a boat. Even things that look square are just a degree or two out. And there's nothing more exasperating than cutting a ninety degree joint and discovering it should have been ninety two degrees - the resulting gap looks like a chasm.
But we're getting there.
Meanwhile poor old Vicky had been trying hard not to get frustrated and bored at being unable to join in the refitting work. Until she decided to prep and paint the side of Harry next to the bank. She's been working away sanding, painting, flatting back and re-coating again and it looks superb.
Or it did.
I went off to get the camera to photograph it, came back and discovered she was busy sanding it all down again to get ready for another coat. So no picture until next time!


Anonymous said...

A big step forward. Sounds like its been very hard work and no doubt a mix of frustration and pride. But perhaps a break and cruise on STAR is needed to refresh the batteries.

Sarah said...

'Character ' is a good description. Pete Boyce was selecting a piece of wood for Chertsey's new front cant. He looked at one rather knotty piece and said disdainfully, 'It's a bit decorative'.

AnneB said...

This oak flooring looks lovely. Yes it has a character indeed. I think you have made the right decision with nailing down the boards. I am not experienced in boat building, but the wood work looks great. Congratulations on your blog and your enthusiasm!