Sunday, October 04, 2009

Boatbuilding tools... The quest continues

Way back when I was building the very first Loose Moose, a Wharram Tiki 31 catamaran, the building site I was on had no electricity and while waiting to get a generator I simply lost patience and cut out all of the bulkheads and hull panels with a hand saw... The fact is it only took a couple of days and in hindsight if I'd had power for my tools most likely I'd only have saved a day. Power tools are neat but not always needful.

When we built the second Loose Moose I pretty much used a Skil circular saw and a cheap Black and Decker jig saw. For a table saw, I used a cheap table insert that turned my B&D Workmate into a table saw of sorts... All told, I think my investment in tools in those days was less than $200 but they got the job done.

With the last Loose Moose I was lucky in that the hanger I built it in had some decent stationary tools but  most of the work was still done with a simple circular saw, jig saw, power hand planer and router all of which fit into a smallish bag. Truth is you don't need much in the way of tools to build boats...

The one tool I do wish I had onboard "So It Goes" is a small table saw of some sort.  I want to build new hatches (the Lewmars do what Lewmars do so well...LEAK) and it would be so much easier if I was able to have a table saw... That old cheap Black and Decker insert for the Workmate would be just fine but as far as I can see, they don't make them anymore...

Which is why I was so interested in this newish tool kit by Power8 which is a jigsaw, circular saw and drill in a cool case that does double duty as a table saw, drill press and so on. What a NEAT idea!

For someone on a boat who needs some tools and does not have any, this is a pretty good solution and might be a great way to start out. On the other hand, for those of us with a lot of tools already, it's a bit more problematic. I already have trouble with space for tools and I can't see replacing my DeWalts anytime soon. The other thing about the Power8 is that  while not being too expensive ($365) as tools go these days, it is quite expensive when you realize that you can get a much better contracters saw like this Skil for around $100... Though where are you going to have room for even a contracters saw on a voyaging boat? So the Power8 does make quite a bit of sense but it is a compromise.

The point, I guess, is that tools are neat and they help but you can still get the job done with simple hand tools, simple power tools or whatever you have on hand... But I'll let you in on a little secret that I'm not sure I can live without the DeWalt Jig saw... It's that good!