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The Stasha ‘Tweed’ Dinghy uses Flax

The Stasha ‘Tweed’ special lightweight nesting dinghy.

The lightweight nesting dinghy Woodenwidget has been around now for a few and I used the prototype for three as my yacht’s tender. In many it’s the perfect dinghy for the Seacraft Dana. after all it was to fit on one! It is easy to stow and but more than that it is a little boat. It is a joy to row and it sails too. When the prototype was signs of wear I thought just putting a new skin on but in the end to do something a bit different. And so was born the ‘Tweed’

The biggest difference a standard Stasha and the ‘Tweed’ is the The standard Stasha uses a and lightweight heat shrink covering which is then The ‘Tweed’ uses a Flax woven in the UK. It is specially woven so it ‘drapes’ well and can conform to a surface such as a boat It is normally used with a bio that cures with but I did not try this method deciding to use resin instead. Not because I it is better or anything but simply I had been given a load from another job. If it used it would soon be of no use so by it I avoided buying something and it being wasted.

Close up of the at the bows. It wasn’t even to overlap the cloth leading to a tidy look. The fine was added to cover the join the cloth and the panel. This entirely necessary as the join was neat but it does lend a finished look and may even the bow panel from damage.

I be discussing using this later in this post but if interested here is the link to the where I bought the Flax It is the Hi-No twist fabric at a metre. The roll is 1.38 m so for the Stasha it meant laying it each section to get enough to cover in one piece.

Close up of the raw fabric before epoxy.

One of the about using epoxy is it is brittle and without modification lead to a fabric covering could be punctured too easily. In to make the epoxy a little you can add Benzyl Alcohol. About is plenty. It’s a simple and way to do it.

The test bed for the fabric. This is the after the first coat of As you can see the finish is very rough so sanding and further coats of

The fabric is 400 grams a square which makes it twice as as the Dacron before the epoxy is added so using epoxied is not a light option. However the Stasha proved to be so easy to and use on the boat that it wouldn’t be a problem if it was a bit heavier. Especially that the boat is in two halves so already easy to handle.

is how the fabric looks on the inside epoxy. The finish is much on the inside but far from flat and

The other difference between the Stasha and the ‘Tweed’ is that it is entirely of teak, not ash. this was wood left from another job and so it would be a not to use it. I didn’t know if it would be to bend the ribs using as it is a much stiffer wood ash and not known for its flexibility or bending but it wouldn’t hurt to try. If the came to the worst, I could have ash ribs and teak That would have ok.

Bending the teak ribs in planning, patience and lots of wood. The extra stiffness of makes this a very job. Ultimately successful Wood is an amazing material.

As it making the ribs bend was possible but required a lot of patience and pieces of wood as the breakage was high. In a couple of areas I was not to make ribs in one piece so had to two pieces together. This was no but did add time to the build. The orientation of the was crucial as well, the slightest run off and the would split. I soaked before hand for a number of and kept them wet while I was them into place on the back with the hot air gun. It a very long time to do the and the teak was so much stiffer the ribs would have a to force the stringers away the strong back. Ultimately I but it was not easy.

One of the wooden rings cut out two blades in the hole cutting This was then cut into 4 and to trim the plywood end grain.

difference is that every of plywood on the ‘Tweed’ has been with solid wood so there is no end grain showing. is a surprising amount of work, where the two sections join as the has rounded corners. The quickest way I found to do this is to use two blades in a saw and cut out a ring of wood. This is carefully split into 4 the grain orientated and then it is to the plywood. One of the things that so long with adding to plywood is the care that you when trimming it down

Here the plywood end grain is being glued on. They be planed down flush

The best approach here is to glue on a piece of trim is slightly wider than the When it has set, use a hot air gun on the lowest warm up the excess epoxy so it soft and scrape it off using a scraper. This is a very operation. The epoxy will off very easily with a heat and a little patience. the epoxy is removed it is time to down the trim flush the plywood. Remember that plywoods have a top veneer of a a mm or less. You cannot afford to cut it at all. So a very sharp plane is needed and also of care. Gradually plane the trim until it is flush. use a block and some 180 sandpaper to it up.

Gluing on the inner trim. is something the standard Stasha in its ending quest for weight never had. It adds a weight but gives a very look on the finished dinghy.

The great difference is the addition of trim pieces to cover up the stringers are glued into the end It adds a ‘finished’ look to the and also strengthens the glue These take a long to make and fit too as they need to be neatly made. The quickest way I was to make a cardboard template for piece.

The seat used to the varnish on the Stasha so now there are of wood that will unvarnished instead. The seat is now from slats of unvarnished rather than a single of plywood.

If you were thinking of a Stasha ‘Tweed’ then I warn you it’s a lot of work and it more skill than for a version which is very and fast to build. It will about 50% more. With and seat it weighs about 17 which is about 5 more the standard boat but as I said, it’s in two pieces not one section more than ten kilos.

from weighing a lot more it about three times to build and uses about litres of epoxy and two litres of

The end result is a lightweight but virtually hard nesting dinghy. It is extremely nice looking.

The fabric is almost two mm thick so a needs to be cut out of the exterior edges of the so that the fabric fits in the end.

Also, because of the thickness of the fabric it is necessary to a couple of mm from the sides of the panel on the rear section or it be too wide to nest without the varnish.

The varnished front with panels rebated a to allow for the thickness of the fabric. The Stasha uses much Dacron that doesn’t to be rebated.

Here’s how the fabric is The fabric is not wide enough on the to fit from one gunwale to the other but it is enough to cover from to back. I bought 4 metres of and didn’t have much over.

One of the great advantages of system is that you do not have to or panic. You will epoxy when you are happy with the fabric. It is worth taking time to get the fitting of the fabric because when it is epoxied and it is translucent and any kinks or jumps in the or weave of the fabric will be noticeable.

The fabric draped the framework, tensioned and stapled in

The fabric needs to be stretched before epoxying or it will sag the weight of the resin. The problem is, how to get the tight when it is such a weave. If you pull on one part, it the weave out of line. I used to hold the fabric tight. It a long time to pull it all while still keeping the straight along the keel. It a lot of putting staples in and then them out again as I tightened one side, then the other all the keeping tension fore and aft as This is quite tricky to do as you as much tension as you can get but without the weave apart or distorting or the weave out of line.

However is no rush so you can take as long as you to get the fabric laying right. I that the fabric lay well the entire front section if I the aft corners aft first. Then by the I got to the front, the fabric was able to the whole shape in one piece kinks or pleats. I was particularly that I managed to get the fabric to the bow section without having to cut any out.

To make working on the dinghy I varnished the entire framework the outer surfaces) with coats before fitting the Varnishing the framework is a complete in the arse, as is sanding between The plan was to do three coats on the and then two entire coats making 5 coats for the woodwork and 2 for the fabric.

This is what the section of the dinghy looks after its first coat of The colour is good but the finish is rough, far too rough for a boat. It need sanding smooth and epoxy then two coats of before it is finished.

The epoxy is on liberally. It is amazing how much the thick fabric will up. I did a test piece first to how to apply the epoxy. In the event it was forgiving and I had no drops of epoxy through the cloth despite a application. The ideal is to have epoxy to wet out the fabric but not so much you are weight for no reason. The trick to the folded corners to stick is to apply epoxy to the wood it first, then dab the fabric with more epoxy.

The on the outside after three of sanded epoxy.

Once the is set it needs to be sanded smooth. If you applied enough epoxy you find that even some quite violent (I used 60 grit on a random you won’t go through to the cloth. In a of places the cloth was visible but was OK as it needs another couple of each one sanded down Then the whole surface was down with 120, 180 and finally 240 grit. Then it a further two coats of varnish. The is needed as otherwise the epoxy has no UV

Almost finished varnishing. coats on the wood and one on the cloth. It receive one more coat all Note the trim around the where they fit into the panel. A small touch but a large difference to the looks. The used to glue in the ribs had dust blended into it to it making it very hard to see it.

The end is a thick yet slightly flexible and tough skin for the boat. It fantastic with the light through it. I am happy that I so long laying the cloth so the weave was even.


Not for the hearted. Sanding epoxy is a task and varnishing to that is also soul destroying. If you 120 plus hours spare all you need is a set of Stasha plans Woodenwidget.com and this article and you too can a splendid looking lightweight dinghy like the Stasha

View from the inside the light coming through.

EV100 Tiller pilot

Borrowed this pic from It shows the colour display and the EV 9 sensor.

Today I sea trialled the Tiller pilot and although I only so far tested it on a flat sea motor I have to say I am hugely It was a real joy to see the wake behind the which was straight as an arrow. is the first time I have this on Doolittle. In the same the TP30 would still the boat weaving slightly. else is good? The drive arm moves. This is a massive over the TP30 because one of the that always annoyed me was the of unnecessary movement it used to along with an annoying The EV100 hardly moves and when it does it is very The wireless remote is a fine I sat at the bows and happily changed with it. Obviously this is a comprehensive review but what I seen is very hopeful.

gone are the Gain and SeaState we’re used to. Replaced by a choice of three settings, Cruising and Performance. I tried all but I found that the Leisure held a near perfect only deviating a couple of In Performance mode the pilot was a more active and the course was to within one degree which is damned impressive. It will be to see how this works with and waves. At one point we had some to deal with and the boat was quite a lot yet despite that the never moved. That of thing would have the TP30 for sure

No longer do you to do a compass calibration by going in slow circles although you can if you If not, the unit just it itself automatically. You can lock the later so the pilot doesn’t try to do it Right from the start the was showing a compass reading seemed almost bang on to the ship’s compass. I wasn’t the compass to work straight out of the box such accuracy. There is a wizard which you need to run seatrials but that is all. All does is push the helm one way and ask you if it it the right way and if it did you press ‘continue’ and the pilot set up! In my case it didn’t the helm the right way as I have the arm on Stb where as it should be on port. You switch the polarity on the motor if you to swing it around but since it is so done in the display I did that.

The drive arm is the same one that have used for years. no longer offer the GP unit had a better (Swiss made) for longer life but you can still get standard drive arm modified. To do it has to go back to Raymarine. I was quite to do this until they me how much it would cost. A £1000. So I don’t think bother. Not quite sure how justify such an enormous sum the motor is gold plated and with diamonds.

The same old arm that Autohelm has sold for At least getting spares for it be easy enough.

I don’t how important it is but adjusted the rudder (the angle of the tiller one side to the other) which setting was 30 degrees. I reckoned it was about 33. I also adjusted the over time from the 4 sec to 5.4 seconds which is what I it at. This is all in the instructions. It probably have worked just on the default settings but I can play this at a later date and see if it any difference to anything. There are for Sail boats, fast motor boats etc and you can change the of the pilot by selecting a different of boat. But for now I have followed the to the letter and told the pilot it is a sailing boat.

The display is nice with a very colour screen. The interface is straightforward and simple to use. The has a few settings for viewing with colours, red for night time and of the screen can be dimmed as well. You to cut a big hole (about 3) to fit the display is a bit of a shame. I fitted the display in the instrument panel. When I Doolittle I asked Pacific to fit the engine panel as far to one side as I’m glad I did because there was enough room to fit the display to it. I also managed to fit the TWIST and two sockets, one for the new pilot and a 12 v supply also powers up the TP30 I shall keep for when/if the dies. Although they a 2 year guarantee which is to three years for free if you online. Not bad.

The installation was much easier by the fact the EV Unit (compass) can be placed above or below decks. I the lot (computer, EV Unit, wireless station etc) behind the panel in a space which is for nothing else. All the components are but putting them somewhere is always dry can’t hurt They say not to put it near anything so I was a little worried about the gas which isn’t too far away but I switch it on the compass doesn’t so I guess it’s ok.

The wiring up of the is not straightforward although Raymarine attempted to simplify the system colour coded connections. The comes from wanting to the wireless remote and an NMEA input to the pilot. Perhaps it is on my boat because I do not already a seatalk system, only a system (now owned by but not seatalk) so it requires some additions to make it all work.

The uses Raymarine’s latest the SeatalkNG system. The wireless is so one must buy a converter block It’s easy enough to up as the connections simply plug in to it. The is a bit more complicated as it first has to be to seatalk before it can work. also requires another to do that ($200). I wired it all up on the before installation to check it and also to get a better feel for how it together. It was quite shocking to see how wires, cables and connectors were.

At first I could not get the to work so I called Raymarine in the UK who extremely helpful and we soon why it wasn’t working. If you have not into a blue socket you fit the special blanks instead. I did this it all started working. So, not the system to wire up since you three power supplies, one for the NG one for the Seatalk connector and one for the computer. But it was all much easier by the fact I could stick it all in the same at the back of the boat. No need to the boat to feed wires impossibly small conduit!

Next I’ll have to up the NMEA Interface and feed the with that info. suggest that the pilot is fed speed info from the log or at the least SOG from the GPS. It the pilot to know what the boat is doing. It makes to me. Also the display can be programmed to any number of NMEA info, wind speed to depth so useful too.

Next a sea trial with and waves and then I want to try and get it to to the wind as well. I’ll this report when I done that but I’d like the to be clean before I do that and I didn’t haul last it most certainly isn’t. I even try one of the many steering that are built into the such as a figure of 8 or a cloverleaf because I can!

February 2014 | Posted in boats | Off

Foldavan lightweight folding caravan

The Woodenwidget ‘Foldavan’ caravan. Here it is in ‘Road’ At just 30 kilos it is easy to

For all of you out there who love bicycle but don’t like the discomfort or the that goes with it rejoice in the news that have just released the folding bicycle caravan. No struggling to find a flat free surface to pitch tent. You can stop practically in a caravan. If you’re thinking towing a caravan sounds hard work well again. The Foldavan’s pretty drop shape is aerodynamic and it weighs from 30 kilos. The also acts as a trailer and can 75 kilos with ease. To it really effortless, use an electric and put a larger, long-range battery in the

If it’s going to work in the world, a bicycle caravan to be small enough to be transported and yet big enough for real comfort. Yet it be too big or you won’t be able to get anywhere it. It would also be nice if it was to build, was aerodynamic and light so it was to tow. And wouldn’t it be great if you fit in a sailing dinghy and take camping as well. Well you may not this but the Foldavan does all and more.

In full ‘Camping’ the Foldavan offers extremely and spacious comfort for two. it is shown with both unzipped to take advantage of the weather.

You can’t buy a Foldavan but you can buy that will tell you how to one. The Foldavan has been to be easy to build and thanks to ingenious step by step instructions there is no reason why you make one for yourself and there is an reason for doing so apart saving money. You will a great sense of satisfaction building a Foldavan and you will in the pride that comes you tell your impressed on that you made it yourself. And you think about how you used to it in a tent you will smile all the

Not everyone is going to start biking holiday from home base so it is imperative the Foldavan can pack away enough so it can be easily carried to destination. The Foldavan compresses to 210 mm wide and will fit on most car racks. It may even fit inside estate cars. Another of this narrow ‘Stow is that your Foldavan can be stowed away somewhere without it getting in the way when not using it.

The Foldavan with off, compressed down to mode and lashed to a roof

On the road, the Foldavan opens to 60 cm. is about the same as the width of handlebars. If you can pass with bicycle you can probably pass the Foldavan. It has a low centre of gravity so it is to negotiate even quite terrain (especially when If it is windy you can unzip the sides to let the pass through and stop it getting blown over. a trailer you can carry a lot more than if you only had a bicycle. increases your comfort

When you arrive at your camp site it takes than three minutes to put the in ‘Camping Mode’, a full wide and over a metre of The thick mattress is in two pieces and extreme comfort and jealous from your neighbours. You can in places where you wouldn’t be to pitch a tent. You don’t to worry about stones you in the back, rough terrain, damp ground, sudden etc. If you would like a wider version you can even a Foldavan to be a wopping 1.2 metres

The Foldavan in ‘Stow’ mode. the wheels off it is just 21 cm wide.

The illustrated plans cost £30 and contain a wealth of information for the time builder or the experienced Lots of advice on where to the materials you need. How to work tools, advice on alternative options, how to finish your and lots more. Even if never made anything this in your life, if you are to have a go and have a few basic you can build yourself a Foldavan and it in any way you like. You could change the cover it in a camouflage fabric and use it as a or just to blend in to nature You could have a pink one or zebra stripes. You could do you own job on it. The choices are almost endless. The needed to build a Foldavan are all to find almost anywhere in the in varying qualities to suit budget. You could make a for next to nothing using timber and secondhand parts. It about 50 hours to build a

The Carbon Footprint of a Foldavan is because all the materials are easy to and can be sourced locally. As if this already fantastic enough will plant 5 trees on behalf when you buy plans. And if you buy the combo deal you save £10 and will plant ten trees on behalf. Plans can be bought on and downloaded in a matter or minutes at

The Foldavan in ‘Stow’ mode.

even room inside for a folding dinghy. This is the 6

Update 4/1/14

Some of the on various sites make reading but what is becoming is that many people are to dis the Foldavan as a toy. These have obviously not taken the to find out more which is a but there will always be even when the body of is overwhelming.

Many people to think that it’s to be easier to carry a tent. this is true but the beautiful about a Foldavan is that you need to find a suitable to pitch your tent on. is nothing worse that a or rough uneven surface for to get a good night’s sleep. a Foldavan opens up a whole of new environments that were unavailable to tents.

The advantages are Apart from the divine that having a full allows, you are less affected by or sudden rain and uneven or ground.

I suspect that the doubters that think it is to carry their stuff on a rather than tow something. may surprise these people is how easy it is to tow a trailer with the advantage that you need to or panniers on your bike means when you get set up at camp you can use an bike to get about and explore on.

comment that seems to be common is that it will over in the first bit of wind. first of all if it’s windy you won’t even want to a bike, let along tow a trailer but these cynics have not to either think about or look further. It’s simple. Just unzip the and the Foldavan is now extremely stable. 20% of the weight is above the base. It is a stable trailer.

I hear the comments about the Woodenwidget of dinghies. Because they are and made with fabric simply assume that must be unstable but I can tell you a well designed light can easily be much more than a badly designed one.

Obviously the Foldavan is for those people who want to a lot of stuff and be extremely comfy camping. Not everyone wants to it. The Foldavan is far from being a It is far more sensible and practical most people realise.

I am not discouraged. They used to the world was flat. Opinions once the cynics and doubters had their say. I do not know why are so dismissive of new ideas. It’s simple really. If you don’t something. Don’t buy it!

January 2014 | Posted in Bicycles. | Comments Off

Splinterbike Haibrid Bicycle

The Haibrid from Wooden frame, wheel and handlebars.

Recently I made a video to promote the Foldavan caravan and I thought it would be a idea to borrow a wooden so I got in touch with a few companies who them. I didn’t have luck but I kept trying. I came across the Haibrid by a very interesting fellow Michael Thompson who you may have of from his previous project, the a bicycle made entirely of which currently holds the speed record for an all wooden He kindly agreed to lend me his for a week.

Here you can clearly see the of craftsmanship that has gone the T section frame.

The Haibrid is a beast altogether. This edition is made from sourced American black and European birch wood and is an looking machine. Obviously a made completely from just isn’t practical for day use so the drive train is metal but the wheel rims and handlebars are of wood.

Even the detail on the handlebar ends is considered.

of the metal parts are made by Archer and they are very quality. I particularly liked the option on the rear brake. is an essential option for any bike it removes the chance of the bike over when you lean it something. The brakes are in the hubs helps add to the very clean of the Haibrid.

Sturmey Archer speed hub and brake. It has a very action.

There are three in the rear hub and the system is very I felt the bike could done with a tooth on the rear sprocket but this is that is easy enough to at some point.

The seat post and handlebar is pretty standard and the Haibrid has a Brooks titanium saddle finished with copper I found it a bit hard but a Brooks takes many weeks of use to comfy. The handlebar grips are made by Brooks and are leather a metal end. Very and nice to grip. No expense has spared on the gear on this it’s all top notch stuff.

rims and fat brown tyres is a look. Gives a comfy too.

The wheels are made of by August Wheelworks and are really something. Fitted with fat tyres for a very comfy they really look the There are many wooden out there but few have wooden It’s a nice touch.

As a builder and someone who works wood I can appreciate the work and that has gone into the Michael tells me that hours of development and testing into the Haibrid. I can well it. The frame is made with a of steam bending, vacuum and CNC machining.

What’s it like to I prefer to sit a little more but that is just a personal and in any case a change of handlebar sort that out. the geometry is good although the cross bar might not be to everyone’s Michael tells me he is working on a bike with a lower bar. It is a comfy bike to and very smooth. The brakes a bit unfeeling but effective for all that. changes are smooth and seamless.

All in all the is a very sweet bike. not particularly light but neither is it As one French mate said, an ‘honest’ weight. I would say sums it up about right. tells me the frame itself less than 3 kilos. The wheels are about 40% heavier metal rims.

This of exclusivity and craftsmanship doesn’t cheap, nor should it. Each takes 200 hours to hand and finish in a special UV lacquer. The of £6600 reflects that. is working on bikes using woods such as Brazilian Santos Rosewood and English Splendid.

Contact Michael at Splinterbike for more info or to your order!

January 2014 | Posted in Bicycles | Off

Woodenwidget launch the Fliptail 9

The Fliptail 9 (2.75m) Stable, and fun. Rows, sails and

This is the biggest boat Woodenwidget have ever It’s huge and it exists customers kept on asking for it so it is. Nine feet long or metres long. It’s a bit taller and a little bit wider the Fliptail 6 and 7 and it has a slightly more bow. It’s a nice and is already proving popular.

It about 23 kilos which is light for such a spacious It has three handles for carrying it so one or two people can carry it. It is practically the as the other Fliptail models but has an pair of floor and hoop otherwise there’s really not in it. The Fliptail 9 is also able to using a full Optimist unlike the other smaller which need the sail cut a little.

The Fliptail 9 rows, and motors and it does all three well indeed. With a tiny 4 stroke 2.5 hp engine it up on the plane very quickly and along at over ten knots. It well and because of its extra is quite quick. With an rig attached it also sails well and slips along in the of breezes.

Room for all the family. is the Fliptail 9 in sailing mode.

It is a bit complicated to make than the 6 or 7 foot versions as it is harder to get one lengths of wood to make the so it means joining shorter of wood together and this time to the build though not so really.

Plans are available for £35 and Woodenwidget will plant a for every set of plans sold The plans are very comprehensive and you through the entire process in an step by step way. is a mass of extra information and a load of Internet links to you find the materials and tools you

It takes about 50 hours to a Fliptail 9 and that includes (or painting) so why not have a go and build a family sized folding that weighs very and goes perfectly on the roof of your car?

The Fliptail 7 easily inside the Fliptail 9.


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