“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
–Abraham Lincoln

Here we are in March 2014, and I actually bought the plans back in 2012. So what’s taken so long? Well, the main problem was trying to get some important paying work out of the door, followed by a fatwa on the domestic front which resulted in much of last year making our kitchen.

screencap30But that’s not the whole story. I always intended to do as much of the work as possible on our CNC machine, which in turn means that everything has to be modelled in detail on the computer before I can start anything for real. In some ways this is very frustrating, but it has some enormous advantages. The most obvious advantage is time – the speed with which you can do things on the CNC machine far outweighs the time spent up-front – but it is also more accurate. Not only that, but I can for example have the edges of each bulkhead, along with its framing, all faired in before it is even put on the building jig.  Components like the centreboards and rudder are also much easier to make, and can have very precise foil sections.

To work through the entire build, albeit in virtual space, is an enormous eye-opener. Practically every piece of wood I have modelled has thrown up questions about how I would make it, what material would be suited, and how it fits in with other components. A build sequence also begins to emerge, and I can experiment with assembling in different ways – for example how much structure will I erect on the building jig, and in what order, and how much will I leave until turn-over.

screencap22It has been like doing an entire dry run or scale model, but without having had to use any materials. I have also been able to experiment with different motors, tanks, batteries etc, which are all very easy to model and then play with to see where and how I can fit them in. Having ‘virtually’ made the boat already, I am now so familiar with it that it holds far fewer fears for me than it did in paper form.

The modelling is now complete, and only now requires a final check over, followed by pulling the whole thing apart into assemblies, for example bulkheads with all their associated solid framing. The next step will be to program the actual machining.

Here is a sequence of screen captures that approximates to the sequence in which the boat will be built (please note these screen captures were taken in January, so some bits were still yet to be modelled):

Setting out lines

Creating ‘master surfaces’


Possible selection of components to assemble on building jig

Chine, sheer and aprons added

Planking done

Further framing added

Deck and cockpit complete

Coachroof added

And some masts

Nearly there…

One thought on “CAD-CAM

  1. Hello there. This is a beautiful web site for a beautiful boat. I have a set of plans (#5) purchased a few years ago, and Haiku could be my next boat after completion of the current project (a Seaclipper 20 plywood trimaran designed by Marples and Brown)- I’ll follow your progress! Fair winds!

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