A goal without a plan is just a wish.
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
To build for real, it helps to build in your mind, first.
Working out the order of construction in your head(s) influences your choices of materials, tools and infrastructure (sheds, jigs, power supply, etc.). It streamlines and coordinates effort, promoting efficiency. It keeps the horse ahead of the cart.
Believe me, we need all the help we can get!
Here's a general order for upright construction:
- Set up the Worksite - Shed, workbench, building jig.
- Build (and assemble) the Deadflat - This makes a large, flat work surface.
- Build and frame the Bulkheads - We'd best know ahead-of-time how furniture will fit, down-the-road!
- Build and frame the Sides - Let's say, full length.
- Erect Bulkheads and Sides - Got an order pictured? A method??
- Complete the Bottom Ends - Vague, very vague... a solid plan required here.
- Build Furnishings, Room by Room - Line 'em up, knock 'em down.
- Deck the Hull - With blows and pucky, falalalalaaaa, fala, la, la.
- Build Superstructures - Trunk Cabins, Hatches, Tabernacles, etc..
- Finish - Putty 'n paint, to make 'er what she ain't.
- Detail Work - Handrails, Coamings, CapRails, Hardware.
- Launch - What's your exit strategy?
- Rig Aloft and Alow - Masts, Sails, Hardware aloft; Stove, Cushions, Bedding, etc., alow.
- Liquidate your Land Assets - Worksite, and whatever else you can part with.
- Sail over the Horizon - Bet we had this part in our heads from day one!
Straightforward, in many ways. The first six are those requiring the most thought. They're the big, heavy puzzle pieces that must all be made to fit together. After that, it's pretty much a down wind reach.
If short-handed, the Bottom and Sides can be built in a modular manner... this means in small, interlocking parts that can be positioned and assembled in manageable bits.
Finish can be a floating step, working as we go.
One of our mentors would end each work day with an hour of painting. He'd mark off where he was going to be gluing one piece to the next with a heavy hand, pressing an indent line into the plywood surface. Then he'd paint outside these lines and a little bit over the line. Next day - paint dry - he'd assemble and glue, using the indents to position his work.
By not deferring finish issues to the end, he was able to launch as soon as carpentry was complete. Taken in one go, Finish is a sizable and somewhat daunting task.
We've manage only a bit of this... it takes true organization, and a daily dedication to shop cleanliness that we have yet to achieve. But it's an option.
A clear picture in our mind(s), and at least one, workable solution in hand for each problem is strongly recommended before our first cut.
We can wing it, here and there, especially if there's no shortage of materials available, or if we have general experience with some particular aspect. But there's a danger in this... amazing how often some unlooked-for conflict will blindside us if we haven't pictured every detail.
Visualization aids - paper and pencil, mainly - are handy. I personally like a roll of butcher paper, and a block of quarter inch graph paper. There are a lot of balls to juggle, in boatbuilding. Cheat! Consider keeping a notebook of the latest and greatest solutions. What's fresh in the moment of victory may slip away in the next round.
One thing I find... when the elegant solution comes, you know it's right. If an approach feels awkward, keep at it... think out of the box... something will occur to you.
So this is what's been keeping me up nights. Ordering and reordering in my head. Copper Plate doesn't exactly simplify things.
But it's a winning battle!