Saturday, December 1, 2012

Currach saved from fiery end!

Well after many shenanigans and various false hopes last night the currach went to some good people who live near the Fraser River down Tsawwassen direction. There was some scratching of heads but before too long Will and Jacob and myself had it strapped to their utility trailer and with all the ribs and other spare pieces safely ensconced, away they went,
Hopefully they will be able to figure out how it all goes together and we'll see it on the water next year sometime. Great to see it go to someone so I didn't have to chop it up, considering there is already about 500 dollars worth of wood gone into it it would have been a shame on a couple of levels to see it chopped.

After Christmas I hope to be up and running with a start to finish description of another currach build, this one will from the green shores of Ireland. I should be able to take the lessons learned building this one and do an even better 'how-to'. I know a couple of people on the other side that do video work so hopefully there will be more video of each step this time and that'll make it easier for woodworking novices to follow what's happening, till then....
Bon voyage...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Free half-built Currach anyone?

Well we have run out of visa options (thanks Canada) the flights are booked and we'll be home in three weeks ish so if anyone out there knows someone in the Vancouver area who has the space and would like a half-finished 21 foot row boat and nearly all the parts needed then tell them to get in touch as soon as possible cos it's getting chopped up for firewood by this weekend at the latest unless I hear something definite...
Save a currach!!

(This offer conveniently includes instructions on how to build a currach....)

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Just a wee post to explain the hiatus, while assembling the boat we broke another gunnel, got really pissed off with things breaking on it so we decided to take a break from it for a while.
Have also had a number or other things going on, workwise and healthwise for my lovely lady, there's also the small matter of trying to sort out a visa. Despite having been her for 5 years we are having a major problem with not only getting our new visa, but also even getting a reply from the immigration officer involved. There's a good possibility we'll have to leave Canada (possibly in a rush) in the next little while if something doesn't move forward.
If the currach doesn't get built here then I will certainly be building one in Ireland and I will have a lot more video of it if I do it there, either way this blog will eventually be a record of how to build a currach replete with plans so don't give up on it yet ... thanks for your patience.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Currachs are in the details...

Welll nothing too exciting to report at the moment ..have been attaching bits and getting ready for the final assembly.

There's a lot of details to be taken care of before the boat can come together.. all the silly stuff that you don't really think about when ya start building a currach .. and currachs are some of the simplest boats to build in a lot of ways cos they are quite forgiving.

So  what's left to do?

The upper gunnel has to come together. All the wedges of the thole pins have to be done.
The mortices for the ribs and the holes for the thole pins have to be made.
All the wedges have to be cut for the thole pins. Another breasthook has to be made.
The reinforcing gussets for the upper gunnel have to be made.
All the stringers have to be glued together.

We have had a lot of problems with the gunnels cracking when we are bending them. We cracked another one the other night cos I lost the thermometer and didn't know what temp the pipe was at. Looks like it was too low. Anyway instead of buying yet another one we decided to cut it in half and then soak them again and steam and bend the halves while cutting out the bit that cracked, this worked out pretty well and it's all bent up now waiting to be epoxied back together.
We always set this blog out to be a true record of trying to build a currach from scratch having never built a boat before. Hopefully people who are thinking of attempting this will be able to learn from our mistakes. God knows we have made plenty so far and I'm pretty sure there is more to come, they don't bother us though, both of us like working through them.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Scarf joints and stringers

Right so, once the gunnels are done (and we are getting closer I swear) we will move on to constructing the body of the boat that your feet rest on as you row. This consists of ribs and stringers. Ribs are exactly what you would think by the name and on our boat we are making both them and the stringers out of cedar. They will be running in the same direction as the seats and are steam bent into roughly half circular shape as you would have seen in much earlier posts.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

All clamped up and nowhere to go...

Original split

You may remember a couple of posts ago we had a bit of an auld problem with the prow splitting apart on the boat... this is not only before it has hit the water but before it has even been assembled!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Anatomy of Currachs: Tachtaí

I realise the rowing terms and seeing individual bits being made may not make a whole lot of sense so for those of us who like a visual aid here's a kind of infographic I did this morning to explain the constituent parts around where the oars go.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


These are know by various names, elbows or knees or God knows what else but we're just going to go by the Irish name which is tachtaí (phonetic: tocktee)

Rainy Day Post

Original joint glued and pegged
Just a quick little post. The joint we did at the prow of the boat split apart today.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thumbs are wicked handy...

Not broken but may have a chip floating around in there.. won't make the boat building go any faster that's for sure...

Now it starts to look like a boat...

Well, although my original estimate of having a boat in the water in a month has truly been shot down. For the last three weeks we really haven't been doing anything because of the previously mentioned hospital visits. We got going again at the weekend and did some assemblage last night.
It went really well and we got lots done.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Well there was a big gap between posts there due to Jacqui being taken to hospital but she's nearly better again so it's been back to building the boat again this weekend. Above is the result of the bending we did.
The mistakes we made on the first one were significant and taught us a lot about bending bigger bits of wood.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wood is Good

Well finally found some wood. Will be pickin it up tomorrow more than likely ... you would think that in this pine-filled country of Canada it would not be difficult to find someone close who would mill some 4X2 for the gunnels but it has been exasperating trying to find someone who can provide knot free quarter-sawn wood.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More benders...

Well we went steaming again today, plan was to get all the centre ribs bent today so that we're ready to change the form over to make the different shaped ones at either end during the week.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rib Bending

Right so, Oscar picked up some green clear cedar of various sizes. We cut an 2"x 8" piece into 3/8" strips approx 7' long. The bandsaw jammed up a couple of time due to the wet nature of the green wood. Thinking of getting a thinner blade for the table saw and using that instead.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Careful now....

Right so where do you start when ya want to build a Naomhóg?

Bhuel, we have a place to build it and I have all the tools that we need to get crackin so we are making a two-pronged attack on getting started.
We decided to start on both the wood and the steamer.

The (dodgy) Builders

So let's give ya a bit of background about the builders of this here boat (which may at various times be referred to as a canoe, currach and/or naomhóg)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This blog is going to be a record of how to build a traditional Irish boat called a currach. There are several different forms of this boat depending on which part of Ireland you want to venture to  and the differences between them are fairly well documented online so we will concentrate mostly on the one we have selected to build.
The Naomhóg, this is probably the best looking currach and of course we want a beautiful boat so that's the one we're going to build. They come in various lengths depending on how many rowers you want. We're going to go for a 3 rower boat which will come out at just over 20 feet in length. Personally I would prefer working in mm but I live in Vancouver, Canada and all the drawings I have from books are in inches so I will act like a local and use imperial.
This might sound a little vague in terms of measurements but I will be be putting up a SketchUp model for download with exact measurements on it and also a 3d image once we have completed the boat.

So, why bother writing about it? Surely there must be a ton of information on how to build a currach out there??
Well. no , not really. There is some information, there is a book written about 80 years ago and there are some pictures, but you have to go to a lot of different sources to get a complete picture and you still don't have a 'how-to' guide to building a currach.

There are of course still people in Ireland who build them and there are a couple of places that teach you how to do it but their online presence is pretty weak and plans are not freely available.

So the aim of this blog is to document, in a wholly open way, the good and the bad of attempting to build a naomhóg. To give the exact measurements, any templates needed and the types of wood suitable for building.