Curach frame building

The curach project is underway. Yesterday Edward, Ian and I spent a terrific day working together at Sprint Mill to build the frame from spruce. A local carpenter had machined the pieces to size for us and Edward’s son kindly cut the curved shoulder pieces with his bandsaw though in future we could easily do that with a turning saw.

As this is our first curach there was plenty of time spent scratching heads, discussing details and double, triple-checking measurements. There’s pleasure in the making so no need to hurry and the day flew past. It’s a very simple construction with bolted lap joints though getting the angle between the shoulders and the gunwales took some thought. The next one will be easier and we’re definitely planning a ‘next one’.
comparing old with new boring the couple holes
After lunch we took a trip over to Edward’s woods to make the most of the daylight and with Paul & Kirsten’s help cut 50 hazel rods 6ft long and ‘light & fine’ for the hull ribs, called ‘couples’. This will give us a few extra for while we’re learning to bend them into place.
cutting hazel rods bringing home the couples

Back in the workshop we used a string line to check the alignment of the frame, kerfing the joints in the bow for the fine adjustment.

fine tuning the frame

Rightly pleased with our day’s work we settled by the fire for a celebratory drink. Ian brought out the ‘tasting kit’ and led us through a sampling of some excellent Islay malts. If only every day was like this.
a fine end to the day

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About Steve Tomlin

I am a greenwood worker and scythe teacher. I carve spoons and bowls, make chairs and more from locally sourced greenwood. Alongside that I teach folk how to mow with a scythe.
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3 Responses to Curach frame building

  1. Rob says:

    A great start to a fascinating project, Steve.

    Which species of spruce are you using?

    • Steve Tomlin says:

      hi Rob,
      The short answer is ‘I don’t know.’ We went to Jewsons but the guy at the counter didn’t know what species he was selling; in fact he knows it only as ‘white wood’ and was a bit perplexed when I asked for spruce. It would be great to use timber harvested and milled locally but that’s for the future.
      Steve

      • Rob says:

        If Jewsons are anything like B&Q, my money would be on Norway spruce, Picea abies, Christmas tree timber. I queried B&Q once and had to go way up their hierarchy to find anyone who had a clue.
        I believe Norway spruce was a traditional choice for making solid spars for working boats, so it’s got maritime history.
        Cheers, Rob.

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