Sweetwater Sport stitching question

 Hi - First time boat builder, here and am building a sweetwater sport from a complete kit. I got to the point where I am stitching the sides to the bottom panels. Both sides have 2 holes for the wire but the the bulkheads only have 1 hole (which is being used to connect it to the bottom panel). So do I have to drill additional holes or should 2 copper wires fit through the one hole in the bulkhead. Has anyone run into this before or have any thoughts? Thanks.

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RE: Sweetwater Sport stitching question

Hmmm... maybe I can help with this.

You ought need just one 18 ga. copper wire per stitch. Where side panels are to be drawn together, there will be a hole in each panel along their respective edges where a stitch will be placed. Same with bottom panel, where the first side panel is attached, one hole in each piece.

In both cases a stitch draws the edges together.

With bulkheads it's a little different. There'll be one hole in a bulkhead's edge and a pair of corresponding holes separated by maybe half an inch on the panel that will attach perpendicularly as you progress, forming a T-joint so to speak. A stitch is threaded through the bulkhead's single hole, then each end is threaded through a hole on either side of the bulkhead where it meets the panel it's to be T-joined to.

All these stitches have their free ends twisted together as panels and bulkheads are brought into alignment - a little here, a little there, not tightened hard all at once.

Once everything's stitched up there may be places where you want to drill holes of your own to add a stitch or two as necessary. No problem! Often a new builder gets too enthusiastic as their project begins to look like a boat. They'll tighten stitches too much too soon.

If you see gaps that look wrong, or panel ends that don't meet together evenly, you ought to go back and loosen some stitches then massage the panels to bring them into better position. Then go back and tighten some stitches, or even add one or two new if necessary. 


RE: Sweetwater Sport stitching question

   Thanks spclark. So I have 2 holes on the bottom panel and 2 holes on the side panel and the bulkhead is in-between both sets of the 2 holes. I'm trying to figure out if I stitch the bulkhead to the side panel, or the bottom panel or both panels. If both panels, then I think I need a second hole in the bulkhead.

RE: Sweetwater Sport stitching question

I'd have to be looking over your shoulder to be certain but (lacking a teleportation device) I'd hazard a guess that yes, a bulkhead is to be stitched to both the bottom panel as well as at least one – if not all – of the side panels it's to be bonded to.

Or if you can take a picture of the relevant area you're describing then manage to get it posted here for our review and consideration, that would also be of value.

18 ga wire is 0.048" diameter so the closest drill size is a #55 which measures 0.052", or 0.004" larger OD hence the larger-than-wire-size hole it'll make. #54 would work also, 0.055" dia. You want a larger hole 'cause smaller puts too much strain on the wire when it's time to draw the stitches tight.

As tiny as the pre-drilled holes are on these kit pieces it's entirely possible a bit may have broken during part fabrication, leaving a hole undrilled that got overlooked before your kit was packed.

Number drills smaller than 1/16" (0.0625") which is all of 'em from #53 to the smallest #80 (0.0135") won't chuck tight in most Jacobsen-type drill chucks, the kind with three jaws. You'll need what's called a 'pin vise' to hold one for use. I've found welders supply places (and some hardware stores that carry welding supplies) sell welding tip nozzle cleaning tools inside of which is a variety of Very Small Diameter drill bits, one or two of which are perfect for stich hole drilling. The tool itself sometimes can be chucked into a typical battery-powered drill to serve as a pin vise / small bit holder.

(Question: is a Sweetwater Sport a CLC product? I just went looking to see if I could download a building manual preview but that particular watercraft's not among the ones in the "Lookup Boat" tab over in the right margin of this web page. There's a bunch of Shearwater designs, two being Shearwater Sports... is that what you're building? Maybe why no one else has hazarded a guess about what you're confronted with if they think they're not familiar with a Sweetwater kit build?


RE: Sweetwater Sport stitching question

OK so I bought the study plans for a Shearwater Sport, I see it's got two bottom panels and just one side panel on each side, then the deck. Two watertight bulkheads get bonded to the bottom and side panels as well as the deck I'd guess.

There are also two pair of temporary forms to hold panels in proper position before the panels are stitched / bonded together, then those come out.

I'd look to see whether your bottom and side panels have holes in about the same place along their length for both permanent, water-tight bulkheads.

You may be mistaking holes intended for the temporary forms for holes to be used for those bulkheads. All the stitch holes for the permanent, water tight bulkheads should be in approximately the same place as measured from the panel ends on all your panels.

On my study plans those locations are indicated by dotted lines.


RE: Sweetwater Sport stitching question

Ok, I'm an idiot....yes it is a shearwater sport kayak by clc.  Here is a link to a photo (first time I've done this, so I hope it works) showing the 3 pieces of wood and how they come together.  Am I just not understanding the concept where these 3 pieces come together (at the rear permanent bulkhead)?  The photo shows the bulkhead with 1 hole, which is stitched to the bottom panel using both holes.  It also shows the 2 side panel holes (I just don't know how the wire goes through the bulkhead since I don't see a hole for it to go through).  Any thoughts would be appreciated.  Thanks.

RE: Sweetwater Sport stitching question

Don't beat yourself up bud, it's too easy to make a speling misteak here!

Once you've posted it, then maybe seen it  for yourself, you'll wish for an <edit> button that'd let you correct it....

Kudos on the pic BTW! I can SEE it, and YES I think that SINGLE hole in the corner of your bulkhead is INDEED intended to take a second stich to pull the side panel into place.

Also looks like the bottom of that panel will butt againts the overhanging bottom to form a hard chine where the transition from bottom to side takes place? If that's true be watchful how you place then tighten stitches between bottom and side panels. It's easy to push/pull things out of alignment when there's no 'chine log' (solid wood strip bonded to one panel to serve as reinforcement for a joint) present.

CLC does an outstanding job of bringing well engineered watercraft designs to its marketplace, that being us. Cut 'em a little slack for not 'splaining all the details in the manual about how kits are to be wired up before bonding. It's unusual I suspect to have a single hole in a bulkhead serve to anchor two stitches, but as both are at the corner of that bulkhead yet each ties a different panel in place I think it's an elegant solution. No need to drill another hole there!

RE: Sweetwater Sport stitching question

   Yes, indeed, I wish there was an edit button :-). This is by far the most complicated wood project I have taken on, but I give clc kudos to the plans/instructions. I didn't expect the to explain every little detail. I'm also glad they have the forum that I can ask questions. Thanks for all the help!

RE: Sweetwater Sport stitching question

Slip posted: Yes, indeed, I wish there was an edit button :-).

I'm with you there! 

This is by far the most complicated wood project I have taken on....

Next one will be easier!

I'm also glad they have the forum that I can ask questions.

Same here.

Thanks for all the help!

You're most welcome. As you proceed, please return with updates on your progress! We all learn from the work of others!

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