Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lowering the mast

One of the things that Claudia insisted on when contemplating a loading mast, was that it had to be able to be lowered in a few minutes - just like Antoon aboard m.s. Nynke - and raised just as easily.
Here is the proof that I have, as always, listened to her every word.
Now we are ready to leave early next morning, out of Groningen to escape the fireworks.

(Time lapse film was inspired by Dylan Winter at - ;)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Fir thwarts for Kees

Kees, our steel dinghy, needed new thwarts to match his shiny new paint job.
Here we've planed and glued up a couple of fir planks.
If it stops blowing and doesn't freeze they won't get finished until next year, because we'll be off with the barge for the New Year. Hooray!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

There goes the kitchen

All carefully parcelled up and wrapped in tarps to keep it dry, the Schier kitchen sets off for Lauwersoog. There the trailer will be rolled onto the ferry and on the other side of the Waddenzee another towing hitch will be found to bring it to its new small home.
Once it has been installed we'll post more pictures.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Almost ready to bake bread.

Today the Stefano brothers ( delivered this granite countertop to finish the kitchen block we have been working on these last weeks. A nice piece of work with holes in the right places for the tap, sink and induction hob.
Now it all has to come to pieces and be carefully transported to the island of Schiermonnikoog, then put back together again and connected up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Upstairs in Beilen

Almost finished a set of cupboards and drawers upstair in Beilen.

Back tomorrow to place a light switch and some plug sockets.

I rather like the combination of painted wood and part finished planks, though when the painter has been back all will be shiny in white and blue.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Schier kitchen

While waiting for the paint to dry in Beilen we have started work on a small kitchen project that will end up in a little house on the island of Schiermonnikoog.

The cupboards are beech plywood and the doors, drawer fronts and left and right end panels are from an Ash tree that we bought for the interior of the Willem Johannes in 2010. I new that those last four planks were being saved for a good reason.

Next week the client is coming to do the varnishing work on the cupboards and solid wood and the Italian stone man, Giulio Stefano, is coming round to measure up for a granite worktop.

When finished the whole project will be packed up and transported accross the Waddenzee to the island, to be assembled and installed there. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A letter a day #letteraday

After way too long I've now got this carved nameboard project moving by challenging myself to do one letter a day and placing the day's letter on Twitter with the tag #letteraday.
The name of the barge, and thus what I am carving, is somewhat ironic. You'll have to wait and see.

Another row of boxes

Tomorrow we'll load these cupboards and drawers into the blue bus and take them South. Once painted we can place them and build another layer of shelves above them, under the sloping roof.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Another row

Claudia, queen of cupboards, has started work on the next row of six for a wall in the upstairs bedroom.
This is in the house where we recently placed the office furniture. The walnut office table will go in next Monday after its last coat of varnish is dry and hardened.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First wall finished

Last week we assembled the painted oak wall cupboards and trial fitted the walnut table top.
Now that has been glued up and delivered to the painter and we've started work on another shelf, cupboard and drawer unit in a room up under the roof.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mercedes Laser crane

I remember the moment when Em had grown big and strong enough that we could lift her Optimist into the back of the VW van together. Freedom.
The combi trailer/trolley offers a similar freedom but when we stack my Laser on top of hers that is gone. Usually there are plenty of strong sailors or parents around to help but I'm always happier if I know I can solve things alone.
So now we have a Laser crane on the back of the Merc van, capable of lifting a Laser and its stacking trolley high enough to roll another Laser on the trailer underneath.
Next stop Workum.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Just add water

Twenty something years of rain and condensation sneaking under the floor and into the plywood means trouble on this fibreglass motor boat.
I was asked to saw out the rotten bits so that the concrete ballast could be removed, then rebuild floor, galley and steering column.
I've done the sawing, but haven't reached solid wood yet upon which I can start to rebuild.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Karel is a 50's diuble ender, built of rivetted steel.
To make it possible for Willem de Vries to wire in a battery charger and inverter I've cut two small hatches in these teak panels.
Long live the Japanese saw.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy New Year

We've come to the end of our long, hot summer barge trip. Em has a new school diary, a new timetable and a new class. For some reason starting up after a summer break has always felt more like beginning a new year to me than fireworks and champagne on January 1st.
We have plenty to do and lots of new ideas after spending weeks together in the wheelhouse. Now it's time to put things in motion.
First up in the shop is three square meters of walnut table that belongs to the office furniture we put together before the holiday break. Our new year has begun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No smoke without fire

No doors without drawers.

Fusion carpentry

These doors are oak, tongue and groove and clamped not glued.
But the hinges are soft-closing and the clamps are screwed with hexagonal drive screws.
A nice mix of at least three centuries.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rain check

With the new roof extension, roofrack and front porch fitted it was time for a quick shower to test the waterproofing.
Mother nature obliged and we are happy to report all was dry on the inside.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A wall of oak

What started as a heap of parts and empty boxes is now coming together and we're beginning to see how the finished piece is going to look.
A lot of the small choices can only be made as you come across them during construction.
Like playing chess, this does require thinking a number of moves ahead.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Small grey box

To stop people calling anything a camper van, and inly having to pay a quarter of the road tax, the Dutch Tax people insist on there being a square metre of floor space with headroom of 1 metre 70. (for small Dutch people?)
Though the Mercedes is large and heavy, inside we were 12cm. short of the required height.
Solution; a square metre box on the roof. Good place to put a hatch for air and light, and it'll be hidden behind the roof rack anyway.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mast beer, not yet

Bouke and the 'Mark' are alongside 'Op Hoop van Zegen to get our winch working, and working safely. We now have a brake and ratchets on both drums.
Next job is to fit the pulleys into the foot of the mast so that we can winch the mast upright.
It is a Dutch tradition that the first time the mast stands is celebrated with 'Mast beer'. Should think so too as our mast has been horizontal for almost eighteen years. We're not there yet, though.

Surprisingly large

Putting the cupboard bodies together for the office furniture in Beilen, we were surprised by the size of them.
Not that we should have been as the wall at the end of the office is almost three by three metres.
Conclusion; houses are bigger and squarer than barges.

Friday, June 6, 2014


According to German carpenter friend Houke, this is how to pronounce the name of our newly aquired thickness planer, built in Germany by Bäuerle in 1978.
One heavy piece of German engineering being pulled by another from the same era.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Claudia dances on the table

Not strictly true, but sounds good.
Claudia spent a large part of the day on hands and knees, rough-cutting sheets of 18mm beech plywood for cupboards.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blinking table

Just a little live-edged maple table but to me it almost looks like it's blinking.
Or maybe it is asleep?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Plywood bus

Not only did the van have to be able to sleep the three of us, we have to be able to collect building material with it too.
Having taken the first oak planks, 3 and 4 metres long, to Beilen last week and now collected 9 and 18mm beech ply for the same project, it has passed the materials test with flying colours.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I had a book once

The post brought us this book as a reminder of last year's large project aboard Gina.
Not every project is big enough to warrant a book, but it's nice when clients take the time to collect all of the photo's together. It is fun to look back on a project in this way too. This one started in shorts and finished in the snow.
Thanks again, Suze and Wim.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

230 and 12

With a lot of help from the irreplaceable Edward at Ferguson Projects, the Mercedes van now has safe 230 volt and 12 volt systems that even I can understand.


On the Noorman a pulled-out stanchion had damaged the top plank and a new piece of teak had to be grafted in. The only way to be able to see what I was doing with hammer and chisels was to stand on my head in the side deck.
More ships' carpenters yoga.

Groove machine

The first 70 metres of oak planking for a well known bedroom in Beilen comes through the router table with a fresh connecting groove.

Monday, May 5, 2014

What did you do this weekend?

We spent a large part of the weekend looking up at the roof of the van, glueing in the battens that will hold the insulation up and to which the ceiling panels will be screwed.
Makes a change from woodwork on boats?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Things cooking in my kitchen

Maybe we'll have a fridge and be able to do the washing up in Medemblik next weekend.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2 cubic metres of German oak

For a marvelous cabinet project in Beilen we have bought 2 cubic metres of German oak.
To turn in into planks who better than a couple of 'Tischler' (German carpenters) and one large German saw. Thanks, Mario and Houke.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Now you see it, now you don't

The folding bench aboard the IJssel is varnished and installed, and works as advertised.
The right height to lean against while standing and sits a treat folded out with a couple of nice soft cushions.
Wish we were the ones taking her out for a spin tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Can I be a table?

Olive-heart Ash (sounds like a cowboy) leaning against the workshop wall.
This would make a fine table, but these planks are going to be bed boards.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Little pine cupboard

There used to be a small pine cupboard here, in the corner of the forward cabin aboard the tug IJssel. Now there is again.
Our next challenge is to stain it so that it looks as if this one has always been there.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Varnishing act

As a number of projects reach completion together a corner of the shop has become a paint shop.
Here the two parts of the folding bench for the tug IJssel flank a boom for the 16m2. The final coat on the IJssel's mast is dry and the mast is back aboard.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Getting warmer

Four weeks to go but we're getting there gently. Battens in and painted, insulation in and will be taped off today. Raised roof glued up and ready for epoxy and glass sheathing and the hatch arriving this afternoon.
Lots of real work too though, so we'll just keep going, step by step.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

When will I see you again

Having made the steering bench for the tug 'IJssel' and screwed it together I took it to the wheelhouse to check its fit.
I should have known not to make it at a right angle to the back panel of the house; this is a boat after all.
A little adjustment with a couple of wedges and I could measure the angle that looked right.
3 degrees - now I'm stuck with a song in my head for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Keep calm and carry on

A lot has happened in the last six weeks.
Right now we have the IJssel, a lovely little tug with a magnificent 2 cylinder Brons diesel, in front of the shop.
She came for a folding steering bench and a cupboard down below but the first job was to repair the mast that broke on being lowered for the bridges on the way through Groningen.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Job done, onto the next

That's what it says on the boxes of MaxFast screws we've been using and that's the way it is here.
Wrapped up one day early and right on the agreed price. Next.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Finishing up

Quite often the list of last little jobs has to be completed in a hurry before the next project begins, taking away the fun to be had in all the little finishing bits and pieces.
On the 'Gina' I've been enjoying myself, with enough time to pay attention to the details and happy that I can spend my working days playing with wood.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sawing a tenon

Em had designed a Harry Potter bookshelf for her woodwork class at school. But then it had to be made. Tenon and mortise, dark and light wood, she hadn't made it easy for herself.
Yes, you can bring it to the shop but I'm not going to do it for you, I said.
So she sawed her own tenons, drilled and chiselled the mortises, we glued the tricky bits together then she took it back to school to finish.
I'll post the finished work when she brings it home.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A tight corner

Being a ship's carpenter means you can skip the yoga classes.
Here I'm fitting and placing the last closing pieces under the stern deck aboard 'Gina'. Difficult parts to fit without the added excitement of being in a slippery sided three foot high space. Will look good when it's done though.
Having said which it'll probably look like it should and no one will think about how difficult it might have been to make.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Looking up at the ceiling in the old rear cabin aboard Gina (while Claudia does all the work).

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New bench

We have decided to try and get the Mercedes registered as camper instead of work van. We can then carry passengers in the rear of the vehicle.
The plan also involves a third bed for Em and a movable toilet (more on that later) as well as the ability to carry full sized sheets of plywood (122 x 244 cm.), Laser masts, booms and sails and finished kitchen cupboards.
Not an easy design brief but the first step has been taken this morning when we bought this bench seat. Fits as if it was made for the job. Back to work.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Back aboard Gina

Work table cleared and ready to start on the final round in the rear cabin aboard 'Gina'.

Monday, January 20, 2014

More small drawers

Another little chest of drawers on Claudia's workbench. This one will end up aboard 'Steady' later this month.