HOW TO MAKE A TAPERED WOODEN MAST

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HOW TO MAKE A TAPERED WOODEN MAST

Postby seascout » Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:08 pm

Hi. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to properly taper the wooden mast of my Breeze Baby sailboat. Enclosed are diagrams of the plan.

One side of the mast is flat to accept the sail track. It is a hollow mast made up from four pieces of wood. Do I just glue up the four pieces and then taper the upper portion afterwards or do I taper some of the longitudinal sections before gluing?

Any suggestions?

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Postby pinoypiper » Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:48 pm

looks like it starts with a slab sided box mast, then shaped to suit. it says on your plans to only taper the fore side of the mast. this is for weight saving than anything else, I think. to get even mast strength all the way i'd have the fore member of the mast getting slightly thicker to the top. this would mean the top most section would be less hollow than the bottom.

The cross section of the mast in the plans shows the sides as rounded with a fairly big radius. looks like your in for heck of planing job. it would probably be easier to glue them up first before shaping. it also looks like the fore and aft members tapering off to almost nothing, these obviously need to be tapered before gluing.

another way is make a bird's mouth one. lncc would be the expert on this.

now I know why I went with an aluminum mast with no tracks. :D :P
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Postby lncc » Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:09 pm

I don't know if I'm an expert and I did "flunk" the first go at it, but I'm happy to give you my 2c on making a wood mast.

The picture below show two halves of the mast before final glue up. My mast has 7 segments while yours will have only 4 but I think you can just imagine as if it was 4.

Image

To taper the mast, I first formed the halves as if it was going to be a straight mast then I took a saw to the half that looks like a U and cut it where the mast is suppose to start tapering. I then planed (or sawed, don't really remember) the vertical sides down of the tapering piece to the taper I wanted. I did not touch the V half of the mast, the one with the luff groove that I believe should be straight.

Here is a picture of the lower half front portion which is straight.

Image
The pin joins the straight portion to the tapered portion and also serves as reinforce this area which is where the tangs attach.

Whala here is the upper part of the mast with the tapered front.

Image

One thing I should tell you Louie is that make sure you put a lot of good bracing if you are going to use lap joints. Unlike birdsmouth joints, lap joints are not self aligning. With these birds mouth joints, all we really had to do was to make sure all the staves where bound together well and the mast self aligned.

With the mast you want to build I'd do the following. Use 90 deg birdmouth joints so there is some self alignment. Taper the front only along the wider staves. The front piece seems like it should bend to the taper no problem. To do the tapering, use a saw to rough cut it to shape and then use a plane to get it to final shape.

If you like and have some way of getting the materials and finished mast to and from my place, you are welcome to built it there.
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Postby seascout » Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:27 am

Thanks Roy and Louis. By the way Louis, was your mast one long piece lengthwise or was your tapered section a separate piece which you glued together later on with the rest of the main mast?

Would it be possible to have a 2 piece wooden mast like your 2 piece aluminum mast Piper? Has anyone tried this yet? It would make trailering the boat and its mast a lot easier.

Louis, if you have a photo journal of your bird's mouth mast it would be helpful for everyone to see and study it for reference.

Thanks again guys.

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Postby pinoypiper » Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:58 am

Would it be possible to have a 2 piece wooden mast like your 2 piece aluminum mast Piper? Has anyone tried this yet? It would make trailering the boat and its mast a lot easier.


my mast is actually a three piece mast. :D I haven't heard of a collapsing wooden mast though. especiallally one with a track. i'm sure there's a way to go about it, but you'd need a really strong joint.
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Postby Biel » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:57 am

My mast is a two piece mast system, with a mast connector. Same principle as Piper's boat, and the same is employed on Laser dinghies. Purpose for such a design feature is to make it easier to stow and transport the dang thing. All I know is that this works for metal or aluminum masts, I do not know if a mast made of wood will have the strength.

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Postby lncc » Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:13 pm

Good question Louie about the wood. The mast was cut from a single 1"x12"x20' plank. These long planks are more expensive than the shorter lengths but the grain pattern is better.

Getting back to your question, yes, I cut the staves out of the 20' plank, formed the joints, glue the two halves, made the taper and all the internals, then glued the two halves. The staves of the two halves were not glued separately but rather together. To be able open it into two halves later, scotch tape was put on the joints where the mast was suppose to remain unglued. The joints were formed with some fancy router jig I made but I believe the joints can be done with a circular saw mounted beneath a piece of plywood. It can be quite fun thinking about the tooling. Make sure you consider the exceptional length of the wood.

If you ever happen to chance on the old board being up, a blow by blow account is there. I've checked now and again but no luck. There are lots of photos about the mast and its deceased predecessor in my Photobucket Account. Let me know if it is inaccessible.
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Postby lncc » Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:36 pm

Hi Louie, just too a closer look at your mast and that's not so small. The base is 3" in diameter and it is 16' long. The taper starts at 10' and it tapers to 1-1/2".

My mast is only 2-1/2" in diameter but it 18' 8" long (I think).

Rolly built a mast like this but I don't think he profiled it as much as your plans specify. You may want to ask him for his experience. As I mentioned the good thing about birdsmouth joints is that they are self aligning though they will take more work.
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Postby seascout » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:15 am

Thanks again for all the suggestions. Any problem or disadvantage if I do not taper the top portion of the mast aside from making it top heavy?

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Postby lncc » Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:50 am

As far as I've read Louie the reduced weight aloft is always the sited gain.
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Postby maligno101 » Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:49 am

Here's how I made my box mast. Just make sure you have an even flat surface. The corners were later rounded off. Size at the base is 4x4in and tapers to 2.5x2.5in at the top. The tapers were precut to make the planks easier to align during assembly. My mistake was I nailed the planks before rounding so the nails got in the way when I sanded off the corners with an angle grinder. Filler blocks were inserted in strategic places.

Tapering saves weight because you don't need as much strength at the upper end as on the lower. The reason for rounding off, aside from streamlining, is you also save on unnecessary weight of the corners. Saving weight everywhere you can on the boat is always desirable.

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Postby seascout » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:04 pm

Thanks Maligno. I was kinda thinking of doing it the way you actually made your mast. It's comforting to know that the method works.

Thanks again everyone.

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Postby wannabesailor » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:47 pm

maligno,

what kind wood did you use for your mast? i dont remember what it was, but it really looks classic on b'liss.....
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Postby maligno101 » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:03 am

They call it tanguile in the lumberyard. I think it's red lauan which is also called Philippine mahogany though it now comes from Indonesia or Malaysia. When wood is epoxy-coated then varnished, somehow it becomes elegant even if the piece is made from wood of different colors. I used to think you needed to match plank colors or to stain them as you would when making furniture.
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Wooden Mast

Postby Josh » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:49 am

I found this other method of constructing a wooden mast at Duckworks. It looks like a pretty solid one. They only suggest not to use epoxy but instead Recorcenol (phenolic) glues. Here's the link.. lots of photos.

http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/06/how ... /index.htm
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