Tinkering School

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Day Three - Serious Progress

2014 Session A - MastersJoshua RothhaasComment

Tinkering School has some tried and true traditions. For example, we have always under-captioned the photos, but our new blog technology doesn't seem to like that, so in true tinkering spirit, we are making it work with what we have. Please enjoy the over-captions to follow. Similarly, we have always let the tinkerers choose their own camp names and used those in the blog. This has caused some confusion off and on over the years, particularly with the extended family. Unless critical to a story, we will try to use the more well-known family names this summer. "Do Not Step on the Deck" - this is how we start our second day; with a giant work-in-progress covering most of the boy's room floor. This is the deck of our gigantic boat - 8' by 12'. And, "We Will Make You Rebuild It". Not meant as a threat, just the pragmatic truth of the reality that if you break the deck there will be no boat - and Emma and Yoel are certainly not going to build it again.

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With breakfast behind us, and Josh headed north to get our long-promised trailer, we head back up to Barn One, site of so many Tinkering School memories for this cheerful crew of tinkerers.

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The "Plantoon" team, Gabriel, Miles, and Elijah, get back to working out the manufacturing process for the four pontoons that we need for the boat. These four identical pontoons will be arranged in two pairs to create two 16 foot hulls.

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Ben ponders the eight benches that he, Josh, and Yoel will have to build over the next 48 hours.

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Frannie makes a valiant effort to convince the paddle team, with Elizabeth, Evan, and Lauren, that the blade of the paddle should really be 18" tall.

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The mast socket that will be fastened to the deck (as pictured earlier) turns out to be a somewhat tricky design challenge.

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The paddle design requires us to cut a slot in the end of a 2x4. Gever decides that it's a tricky enough bit of cutting that he'll have to take the reins (much as he dislikes to do so).

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The cut is a success - hooray!

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The Plantoon team has discovered that the bottom of the pontoon is half an inch too big and must be evenly trimmed down in order to get a tight waterproof seal.

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While Liora finishes the design of the mast socket, the rest of the team, Megan, Serena, and Lauren, build the mast sleeve that will be fitted into the mast socket. It's complicated.

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Lauren and Serena get their weight behind the butts of their cordless screwdrivers in hopes to avoid having to pre-drill the 2x3's they are assembling.

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Frannie and Evan work out the details of the first paddle prototype.

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Josh is pitching in on the bench project, which with eight benches to be built, requires many identical cuts.

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The many hands of Tinkering School. The chopsaw is getting a workout today. As an aside, we played "Pancakes or Waffles", aka "The Sacrifice Game", tonight at dinner, and in the game, the chop saw was sacrificed to keep waffles in existence (only to lose waffles to lightbulbs later).

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Frannie puts her new Opinel pocket knife (the official pocket knife of Tinkering School 2014) to good use taking the sharp corners off of the paddle prototype.

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With full safety gear in place, Megan is ready to get up to productive mischief (not that she has ever done anything actually mischievous - that we know of - at Tinkering School).

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Elizabeth gets a helping hand from Gever as she cuts out the first paddle blade with the jigsaw.

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The deck team consults with Gever about how to handle a weak spot in an already installed sheet of plywood.

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Precision is everything on the pontoons, which have to have waterproof seams and withstand water pressure when the boat is fully loaded - with 17 tinkerers and collaborators. Elijah is up to the task (and "awesome" he says from behind the blog writers).

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Ben has been tireless in his bench-building efforts. The field of bench legs and other parts surround him in the back corner of the barn the bench making team has claimed for their own - conveniently located next to the chopsaw.

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The morning bustle starts in earnest- suddenly, there are busy tinkerers everywhere - the barn is bursting with activity.

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The deck team works with Gever in shoring up that weak spot.

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A scene from Wes Anderson's new movie, The Tinkerer's Dilemma.

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Your Daily Goat.

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The paddle team takes a break from the paddle to try out the new mini-bench on the front porch.

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Joey, the 14 year-old puppy, came to visit the shop, much to everyone's delight.

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As often happens at Tinkering School, the tough problems sometimes lead to decoration breaks. The pontoons are getting very well decorated.

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Because the pontoons (also known as hulls) are posing many complicated problems.

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Meanwhile, at the back of the barn, Ben builds benches.

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The steering team, Nova, Serena, Liora, Megan, and Lauren (who is pitching in on every team), has got a plan.

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Nova and Liora make the holes in the rudder plates

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The rudder team is working out the techniques for lacing the rudder plates together.

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Lauren (who happened to pitch in on the paddle team just as the paddle was being finished) proudly shows off the finished product (that Evan put sweat and blood into shaping).

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Two scraps of wood are stitched together to prototype the connection we'll need on the underwater seams of all four pontoons. That's a lot of wire twisting...

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All hands on deck- literally. It takes 17 Tinkerers (all of us) to move the deck for our boat out of it's place of origin.

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This deck is enormous, gargantuan, huge. IMG 9795

Many hands, light work- even when it weighs 500 pounds. We can make it levitate!

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Evan examines the placement of the deck - leaned against the house - an decides that it'll hold.

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Then it's back to the barn for an afternoon of building.

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Tinkerers at attention.

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Lauren demonstrates her talents with the tape measure by pulling Megan's safety goggles off her face from a distance of 38". Exactly. The origins of "measuring tape fishing" start here.

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Then Megan takes her safety goggles to the work for which they were destined - cutting out the pieces Liora designed for the base of the mast socket.

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Evan uses the jigsaw and a makeshift sawhorse to cut out the paddles for oars.

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The jigsaw sings as it's put to work - so many cuts to make - we like to think it enjoys its work.

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Portrait of a Collaborator: Josh, caught off guard.

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The pontoon team stops their work to teach the bench team how to make precision cuts with the circular saw, even loaning them the custom saw guide they've been using. The great thing about one big project is the amount of inter-team cooperation we've had - because we all have the same goals and plans in mind, the team structures are less rigid and people tend to flow from group to group.

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Not all ongoing tinkering projects are boat related. Nova, Megan and Lauren take a break from sails and rudders to build a wifi stand- to better bring the blog to our readers.

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Six benches down. Two to go. The bench team has progressed in leaps and bounds.

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End of day clean-up party! With all the progress of the day, we are excited to head up to dinner (and showers), happy in the knowledge that we are (pretty much) on schedule.

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As always, you can find full resolution images here.

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