Woodworking on Uproar
30 July 2020
I have always enjoyed woodworking. Back in Milwaukee, I had a nice wood shop, especially in Whitefish Bay where the entire garage was set up for making kitchen cabinets, sleigh bed and other furniture projects.
On Uproar, opportunities for woodworking are limited. At least that's what I thought initially. I had an assortment of woodworking tools from the start. My tools were just a few, Japanese pull saws, block plane, chisels and sandpaper. But during a 3 day cold front storm in the Bahamas, I discovered some virgin, Southern Yellow Pine flooring in an abandoned fishing camp. I brought a few pieces back to Uproar and made a marking gauge. The smell and feel of that ancient pine was intoxicating.
Throughout our travels, I try to meet local woodworkers, see what they are making and ask about local woods. As you can imagine, the tropics have a wide assortment of interesting hardwoods. I would collect a few pieces more out of curiosity than having projects in mind.
St Lucia yielded some Spanish Cedar which I used for a magazine rack. Barbados had a dealer who specialized in Madeira Mahogany which became a cockpit table. In Carriacou Grenada, I acquired another nice piece of Mahogany to make the MAST Cruiser Racer trophy Lisa and I donated to our sailing club.
We then kept moving throughout the Caribbean and to Bermuda and back. Then on to Venezuela, Bonnaire, Colombia and Panama. If I had only known Vera Wood was grown in Colombia, I would have stocked up. This greenish wood has a waxy feel and smells like vanilla! There was not much time to engage in the wood hobby as we sailed thousands of miles in the South Pacific.
But a lengthy stay in Gambiers gave me the bug again. I met a French sailor who arrived in French Polynesia, many years ago, and never left. That's quite common around here. Robert was a woodworker and gave me some nice pieces of Rosewood, he considered scraps. Gambiers is in a very remote corner of FP but is also the home to over 100 pearl farms. Lisa started collecting pearls and I made a Rosewood box to keep them in.
When we arrived in Moorea, I learned about a sawmill that specialized in Mahogany. Their Mahogany is a descendant of the rare, Madeira Mahogany. I stocked up on a supply to build a cradle/dinghy for our soon-to-arrive grandchild. But it took the Covid 19 lockdown in Tahiti to get me really going on that project. There is nothing like confinement to help one concentrate on a project. I built the dinghy and framework in just one month. Using only hand tools made work difficult but I had not much else going on.
Lisa expressed an interest in making boxes. I showed Lisa, Kaia and Silke all how to make hand-cut dovetail joints. These ladies produced some nice work! Lisa has made about eight boxes to date and I have made about ten. We have collected some interesting woods from Tahiti, Raiatea and Huahine. To aid our work, I have continued to build tools. I find this very satisfying as it combines engineering with some art. There is nothing like the swish of a self-made plane shaving a board. I'll continue to make tools as needed or just for fun.
Tools pictured are: Smoothing plane, jointing plane, shoulder plane, marking gauge, dovetail gauge, sliding bevel gauge, magnetic ruler stop, marking knife, marking saw, groove router, square and three hammers. I'll bet I have the only black pearl inlaid hammer!