Thursday, August 23, 2012

Brothers From Other Mothers

Arch Davis makes boats, teaches boatbuilding, and sells boat plans in Belfast, Maine.

I've built a fourteen foot skiff using methods nearly identical to those shown in the video. I never launched it.

I'd never met or heard of Arch Davis before, but I knew he was my brother from another mother when I saw his sawhorses there in the background in the video. I have waxed poetic about sawhorses before:

(From 2008: An Invitation Into A Disorderly Mind)

I'm not a blogger.

I hate the word. It's inelegant. The Internet is disorderly and inelegant, so it fits, but I more or less have never gotten the urge to be "a blogger." This might seem counterintuitive to those who read the URL for this page and see dot blogspot right in my name. Google named it, I didn't. Google couldn't even name themselves properly. Who should expect them to name others wisely? I tire of gibberish in great things.

Bloggers are other people. I am not casting aspersions. I'm just telling ya, is all. I confused a few people yesterday, because I put the raw feed from my head on the page. If you look at the picture I supplied, and read what I wrote, it's entirely coherent. But old friend AJ Lynch's observation:

Say that again but slower this time.

and new friend anonymous':

You want to share whatever you've been smokin'?

are entirely fair. They are cruising the Internet looking for people expressing themselves forthrightly. There's nothing more forthright than the Internet. I can't ever recall being told to Die In A Fire in real life, after all.

So I'm a little too obscurantist for the Intertunnel. I can't help it. I write essays here. It's different. I apologize unreservedly, in advance, for everything I'm ever going to say in the future.

Those were my wedding vows, by the way.

Perhaps I owe it to my audience to explain the idiosyncratic workings of my mind. Here goes.

See the picture at the top of the page? I saw it on our beloved Intertunnel yesterday. What's the first thing that comes into your mind when you see it? Wanna know what mine is? This:

Marilyn Monroe is sitting on a very old school sawhorse, one that I've made myself. I have never encountered another person still making them this way. I learned it from men, all dead now, for whom Marilyn Monroe was more than a Elton John retreaded song reference. My modern carpenter friends would never make sawhorses this way, as it is complicated and labor intensive compared to their designs. But I've used mine for 25 years and kept them outside for much of it. They don't even wiggle in the joints yet. I do, and I generally am kept indoors at night. There is no shame in the carpentry trade in buying pre-made sawhorses now, either, although the people I first learned carpentry from would have never spoken to you for the rest of your life if you brought one to work.

Oh, and Marilyn Monroe? She'd be camped out on my doorstep waiting for me to come home, if she was still alive. Girls like that are a dime a dozen. I'd have to send my wife out to shoo her away. But man, look at those legs.

They're 1x6 utility grade pine. Set the framing square at 24" on the blade and 4" on the tongue to get the angle right.


mgenrich said...


I'm not sure whether to thank or curse you for reawakening my dormant desire to build a boat. Thanks for shining a light on Arch -- his stuff looks great.


Deborah said...

One of the saddest events in my life was moving away from my "home" and leaving my father's sawhorses behind. They looked just like the ones you have, and he let me play with them and use them for anything I wanted.

But he died, and my mother needed to refocus her life, which meant going back to college. I guess she thought we would return to the family home (which she rented out for the next twenty years), but she never did.

But I bet some kid is still fooling with those sawhorses. They were made out of redwood, scrapped from old oilfield tanks.

Sixty Grit said...

I moved my saw horses today, had occasion to look at how I built them - compound angles where the legs meet the body, cross brace that runs between each pair of legs snugged up tight to the body board. I made them back in the '90s, and they wear many stories on their surface.

Then I look at how a boat is built and realize you can't row a sawhorse.

Thud said...

Building a sawhorse or a bench from scrapwood is always a pleasure, saving money and usefulness is a great combo.

Leatherneck said...

How interesting. Right now in my shop down on the river is a 12-foot rowboat that my son and I made in a contest. It took us 2 hours and 43 minutes, and we were the third team to finish. The boat sits on a pair of those sawhorses.
PS: the internet informs me that our new table is enroute from Gaithersburg for delivery today!

SippicanCottage said...

Hi mgenrich- I generally deserve cursing, so that's the way I'd go.

Hi Deborah- A redwood sawhorse would last forever. I bet someone is still horsing around with them. I think all the marks and other evidence of the work performed on them are like a testament to the men that owned them.

Hi 60#- Boats are kinda insane to make. No right angles.

Thud! The outfeed table on my table saw used to be the framing on a dreadful closet/vanity arrangement the former owners of my house had built, and I demolished. I love it because it's the opposite of waste.

We are brothers from other mothers.

Leatherneck- I'd love to see a picture of your boat. Send it along.

Our boat has been a kind of running gag in my family since I bought the plans twenty years ago. The longer it goes unlaunched, the funnier it seems.

Thanks for your table order. Everyone that ordered one from my Ready to Ship page this week is receiving them today, excepting one going to Arizona which will be delivered tomorrow. Enjoy!

Leatherneck said...

SUCCESS! FedEx did their job, and we just opened the package out here in the shop for happy hour. What a nice table! The first thing I noticed was the smell: I love oil finish for just that. Then we checked the details and hefted it, etc. Nice job, friend. Nice job. I'm thinking there was an hour or so labor just in wrapping it. Again, success: it arrived unscathed, even though the outer cardboard showed a few dings in transit. The table was untouched by the ruffians enroute.

So: success all around, right? you sold a few tables, we're happy as I'm sure your other customers are, and the transportation industry got a little revenue as well. It's friday night after a not-particularly thrilling week for me, and I unilaterally declare success.

PS: I'll send you pics of the boat contest if you'll give me an email--hounders at comcast dot net.

Leatherneck said...

For now, you can see the video of the Georgetown, SC Wooden Boat Show here:

Three parts of the competition: Time to complete: Quality/conformance to plans: time to row the boat you built across the Georgetown Harbor and bact twice, relay-style. Fun.

Note that each two-person team is confined to a 10' x 20' corral under the tent, with people watching and commenting. No stress.


Leslie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dat's a real nice sturdy lookin sawhorse. Who is Martin Monroe?