Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Final

This is the completion of my 1/10-scale model of the 15-shaku ayubune. This began with the cutting of the beams. I made the smallest beam at the bow, called the tsunatsuke, 1.5-sun square. The other two main beams I made 3-sun wide and 2.5-sun thick. I didn’t have any sugi of the necessary thickness, so I had to use two pieces glued together. I put the seam on the side of the beam in hopes that would make it less visible.

I used the beams as a guide to help me size the cutouts in the hull, which I cut with my Japanese Hishika, Super Fine Cut Saw, that I got from Zootoyz. It worked really well for this.

I found a supplier with the exact same saw in the U.S., but the cost for the saw was more than what Zootoyz charges, even when you add the international shipping. The one thing with this saw is that it cuts so easily, you have to be careful not to cut too much. For the final trimming of the notches, I used a scalpel.

First, I notched out the hull for the bow platform, called the omoteamaose, and the stern platform, called the tomoamaose. These were the easiest to deal with, since they are at the ends of the boat. So, I dealt with these first.

It was simple enough to add the omoteamase using a 3mm wood. I pre-cut the piece to roughly the correct size by inserting the piece into place and tracing out the extents in pencil. I could then glue the piece into place and sand away any excess using a large sanding block.

Next, I wanted to add the tomoamaose, stern platform, but I needed to add a piece that fits across the tomo first. This piece is hard to see in my photos, but I made this with a slight V-shape on the bottom edge, it’s 7-sun high in the center and 6-sun high at the sides. I sanded the top of the piece flush with the notch, then I added a piece of 3mm wood to fit across the notch and over the currently nameless transom piece.

Next, I dealt with the beams, beginning with the small one at the bow, the tsunatsuke. I cut the notch for it 3-sun aft of the omoteamaose. The notch is the width of the beam, 1.5-sun, and half the depth, or .75-sun.

I fit the beam into the notch and then marked the edges of the hull onto the beam. I cut just under half-way through using the Hishika saw, then used a scalpel to carefully shave away wood until the beam fit properly into place.

Photo actually taken after the stern funabari was in place and the hull was marked for nail mortises.

For the main beams, the funabari, I cut the notches to a depth of half the beam thickness, as it turned out, the seam from the 2-layer thick beams I made served as a perfect marker. With the notch cut, I could then trim the beam so that it fit tightly and cleanly. Again, the 2-layer beams worked out very nicely. Cutting half-way through, I could then pry the excess piece loose, which popped off nicely, requiring just a little cleanup.

On the real boat, the ends of the beam form dovetail fasteners that fit into the hull planking. I didn’t do this, though maybe I should have at least tried. Once it fit correctly, I glued the aft beam into place, then trimmed off the excess by cutting, again with the Japanese saw. While the saw is not a flush-cut type, it does cut very close and cuts very cleanly. It only took a few passes with a sanding block to finish up the joint.

The forward funabari was a little more complicated as it’s actually part of a 3-piece assembly, including a floor beam (I don’t know the name of these piece), and a vertical connecting piece called a tatematsu. Unfortunately, I don’t have any images of the construction process, but I basically made the tatematsu from a 1-sun thick piece of wood about 5-sun wide at the base and 3-sun wide at the top. I notched the floor beam and the underside of the funabari to fit the tatematsu properly using my smallest Japanese chisels.

The finished forward beam assembly.

Finally, I finished up the model by trimming out the mortises and adding wire nails where needed. For the nails, I cut steel straight pins into short pieces, filed one end flat, and treated them with some stuff from Caswell Plating that works great for blackening stainless steel. I drilled all the holes for the pins, which have a blunt end, and pushed them into place. Only friction is holding them into place.

Finally, I cut out the mortises using 1.5mm and 3mm straight carving chisels, completing the model.

The basic model is now complete. I may add a few accessories to the model, but probably nothing more than a bamboo pole, which was used to propel the boat, and a small, round bailer that looks something like a tiny wooden bucket with a handle sticking out one side.

For displaying models of this type, because it’s an open boat, I can’t fasten the hull down to anything, plus I want people to be able to see the mortise details on the bottom, so I will just find a nice contrasting display board to set it on.

I plan to add the model to my next Japanese boat models display, which I have been showing in the window of Union Bank’s community room in Japantown, San Francisco. I’ve only had one such display this year, as I wanted a new model or two, and this should do the job nicely. Ω

 

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Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Part 5

Progress continues with my 1/10-scale model of the 15-shaku boat used on the Hozu river, northwest of Kyoto. I’m 6 months into the build, but I have certainly not spent a great deal of time in actual construction. Mostly, I’ve been contemplating how I was going to accomplish each task of the build. Things are progressing quickly now.

Ayubune model with former clamped to the baseboard fixture

With the new fixture holding things in place, I taped a piece of cardstock into place to trace the shape of the hull planking. I rough marked the outlines of the bottom, bow plank, and transom on it. The planking will be cut oversized, so getting the exact shape isn’t really necessary, except to make sure that the wood I cut is large enough, but not too wasteful of my limited wood supply.

Next, I cut four straight strips of 3mm sugi on my table saw about 1 shaku wide and 16.5 shaku long. There are two hull planks on each side of the boat, but unlike many other wasen designs, the planks fit flush together, so the sides of the boat are perfectly flat. So I glued up the planks into two side-by-side pairs.

When the glue was dry, I traced the pattern outlines onto the planking in pencil and then cut them out a little oversized to allow for errors in measurement. The main issue here was that I wanted the row of mortises, which I will later cut into the hull planks, to be fairly level with the hull bottom and also low enough so that the plugs stay well below the top edge of the shaped plank.

In this photo of an Ayubune, you can see the row of mortises in the upper plank on the right side of the boat. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

With the hull planks rough-cut, I marked out locations for the nail mortises. I set these 7 sun apart, 1 sun from the plank seam. The mortises are trapezoidal, like the ones I cut for the shiki, or bottom, and 3 sun long.

Locations and extents of the mortises were marked first.

The full outlines of each mortise was then drawn.

Both sides are shown here. The one in front has had the mortises cut. I will cut these a little deeper so that the plugs will seat better.

Plugs shaped and inserted using the method explained in a previous post.

Showing some of the plugs glued into place. The tools used in cutting the mortises are above.

The plugs, trimmed and cleaned up.

When all the mortises were cut, plugged, and everything was dry and cleaned up, it was time to glue the hull planks into place. The first thing to do was to test fit them into place to make sure I didn’t screw anything up and that everything will fit correctly. This required that I remove the former from the base, though there were probably ways I could have come up with to hold the planks against the former while it was on the base. As it was, I ended up using spring clamps and rubber bands.

I had to pre-bend the planks to minimize the number of bands and clamps needed. This was a little iffy, since I used Titebond to glue the mortise plugs and to glue the planks together. Original Titebond is not waterproof and it’s not particularly water resistant, but I like to use it as it’s easy to clean up.

Also, before gluing the planks into place, I realized that the bow of my model was too wide and needed to be narrowed, so I sanded it down before proceeding. During the process, it popped loose from the model, but this only made it easier to shape. Afterwards, I glued it back into place.

It took a little while before I was confident that the alignment of the planks would be okay, but then I went ahead and glued up the planks.

Once the glue was dry, I could remove the former. I had a few issues where I didn’t have a good glue joint, so I had to re-glue some seams. At this stage, it’s a little delicate, so a little care has to taken with the model.

Next, I’ll be trimming away excess and adding details.

Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Part 4

Something I didn’t mention last time was that I had cut a paper pattern for the shiki and rubber-cemented it to the assembled . I then cut the wood to the pattern. Since the plans I have show the lines to the inside of the planking, I left the pice a little long at the aft end, as the bottom extends slightly beyond the transom.

Shiki with pattern, and cut to shape, with extension at the aft end

The final pieces are ready for assembly. As on the real boat, the hull planks will be shaped in place. Note that I also cut mortises for the bow plank, which I’m told is called the omote no tate ita. I’m going to have to find the kanji to make sure I know what this really means. The same goes for the transom, or tomo no tate ita, but in other regions is called the todate.

Pieces these parts together in their proper angles presented a challenge. Especially since the hull planks need to be shaped in place on the boat. The real boatbuilders built the boats upright, and used wedges, iron dogs (like big staples), clamps and posts to push and hold things into place.

My traditional boatbuilder’s workshop diorama, showing a bekabune under construction

As a model builder, the best solution was to build this model on a mold, though without gluing or drilling into the model, it would be a challenge to hold everything in place.

I started with a longitudinal pattern, which would give me the angles for the bow and stern planks, as well as the proper curve of the shiki. I marked the only two station lines on the drawings and cut the cross-wise formers to shape based on the patterns I drew earlier.

A scroll saw and bench sander made quick work of the MDF particle board formers, and the station formers were cut up and glued into place. In the meantime, since the bottom has a slight curve to it, I wet the wood a little and used a fixture I made for holding it into place as the wood dried. It was important not to get the wood too wet, just damp, to keep it from dissolving the wood glue, as I only used original Titebond, not one of the more water resistant versions.

In order to hold the transom piece into place, I had to come up with some kind of notched piece that I pinned into place on the centerline former. At the bow, a simple clamp held it into place. The pieces were glue together and held on the temporary former with rubber bands as the glue dried.

Once dried, the tricky part began, as I had to hold a piece of card stock into place well enough for me to trace a rough outline for the hull planks on it. Not being blessed with 4 hands, I decided to try making a fixture to hold the assembly into place.

The base fixture is a simple board with a clamp that’s designed to hold the former securely. It’s nothing more than two pieces of MDF with a small piece at one side that’s the thickness of the centerline former, all glued together and down to a baseboard.

The clamp and the former are drilled through so that I can run a clamping screw through them. I drew registration marks on the pieces to make alignment easier.

The bottom assembly could now be held somewhat securely, allowing me to work on it and transport it without damage.

IMG_5362

Ayubune model with former clamped to the baseboard fixture

The next step will be to make the hull planks.

 

Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Part 3

My illustration of the ayubune, based on plan drawing by Douglas Brooks (with his permission). Position and size of details shown here are only approximate.

Counting up all the major planks, transom, and beams, this Ayubune model will be made up of only 17 pieces:

  • Shiki (bottom) – 3 pieces
  • Omote no tate ita (bow plank)
  • Todate (transom)
  • Tana (hull planks) – 4 pieces, 2 on each side
  • Omoteamaose (bow platform)
  • Tsunatsuke (lit. rope attachment) – Bow beam
  • Omote no funabari (forward beam) – 3 pieces
  • Tomo no funabari (aft beam)
  • Tomoamaose (stern platform)
  • Transom Strake

In addition to these, I made patterns in paper for obtaining the proper angle for the lay of the hull planking. I have yet to decide at this point just how I’m going to fix the hull planks to that angle. But, there’s time before that needs to be deal with.

My second illustration of the ayubune. I’ve labeled most of the parts here, but haven’t been able to get the names of all of them yet.

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Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Part 2

The ayubune is not my first Japanese boat scratch build attempt. The first was the Urayasu bekabune, a boat designed for working among the seaweed nets of Tokyo Bay. But, being unaccustomed to scratch building Japanese traditional boats, I was wresting with a few construction problems and a couple errors, so I set it aside. Then, I found the ayubune on Douglas Brooks’s blog.

The ayubune is a very simple design. There is no cutwater, the side are flush, making for a very simple shape, and there few details beyond the hull and beams. This seemed to be an ideal subject to start with.

Mr. Brooks recorded 3 sizes of ayubune in Japan, a 24-shaku, 18-shaku and a 15-shaku boat. I noted that he built at least 3 of the 15-shaku boats and posted photos and notes on their construction. At a traditional 1/10 scale, the 15-shaku boat would be just about 15″ long, which seemed like a good size.

Large, 24-shaku fiberglass ayubune usee to give river tours to tourists on the Hozu river.

15-shaku ayubune on which my drawings are patterned. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

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From Douglas Brooks – The Cormorant Fishing Boat is Done

I got an email this morning from American boatbuilder Douglas Brooks, who has been in Japan, studying and constructing an Ukaibune, or a traditional river fishing boat used by the cormorant fishermen of Gifu prefecture.

Photo of completed Ukaibune courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

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Douglas Brook at the Sabani Races in Okinawa

If you haven’t been following his blog, now is a good time to check in on blog.doublasbrooks.com to get an update on his efforts to study the construction of an Ukaibune, or Cormorant fishing boat.

The ukaibune with the last of the hull planks going on. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

But for the moment, at least as far as his blog updates are concerned, Mr. Brooks is taking a break from work and visiting Okinawa to see the sabani races.

Sabani are semi-dugout boats with thick cedar hull planking. While traditional Japanese boats have been disappearing, the sabani made a resurgence due to the interest of wooden boat sailing enthusiasts.

Okinawan sabani. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

Mr. Brooks studied the construction of this traditional Okinawan boat through an apprenticeship back in 2009/2010. You can read about the boat and the apprenticeship in detail in his book on Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding. There is also a nice write up on the sabani on his website.

Sabani racing in the beautiful waters of Okinawa. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

Mr. Brooks is only taking a 1-week break, so I imagine we’ll see an update on his blog soon about the ukaibune project. I don’t imagine it will be long before we see the completed boat engaged in cormorant fishing on the Nagara-gawa.

Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale

There are a lot of potential wasen subjects to model, but good plans are difficult to come by. Also, when decent drawings are found, it’s often difficult to find or to understand the details of the subject. I’ve been toying with a lot of different possible model building subjects, but would usually run into some issue that kept me from pursuing it further.

Recently, I sort of re-discovered a subject that I seem to have overlooked before. It is a boat that Douglas Brooks wrote about in past blogs from about 3 years ago, when he was building a boat in Kameoka, Japan, which is about 16 miles west of Kyoto. There, he built a Hozugawa Ayubune, a type of simple fishing boat that was used on the Hozu river.

15 shaku Ayubune built by Douglas Brooks in Kameoka, Japan, in 2014. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

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Douglas Brook in Gifu Prefecture to Build Ukaibune

I got an email from Douglas Brooks while on his flight to Japan last week to build an Ukaibune, a boat used by cormorant fishermen in Gifu prefecture. I also saw that he recently  posted his first blog entries from Japan, as he begins work on the new project.

Douglas Brooks’s recently completed Ayubune

I saw from Internet posts elsewhere that he is going to be working with someone from Tri-Coastal Marine to take measurements for CAD work. I don’t know any details beyond that, though I’ve been trying to look into this further as the company is local to the San Francisco Bay Area.

The cormorant fishing boats are big, and they are someone complex in shape and structure compared to other Japanese river boats. But the would certainly be interesting models.

An Ukaibune, a boat used in Gifu prefecture for cormorant fishing.

Here’s a link to Douglas Brooks’s first post from Japan this trip: http://blog.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/2017/05/now-in-gifu-japan.html

Check out the great photos of the 15-shaku (15 foot) Hozu river Ayubune that he built for a client just before he left for Japan. This particular boat has some extra “bling” in the form of small copper plates that were never used on the real riverboats.

An Interview with Boat Builder Douglas Brooks

American boatbuilder Douglas Brooks has been working hard to study and document the craft of traditional Japanese boat building. He’s off again to Japan this month to study the construction of the cormorant fishing boats of Gifu prefecture.

An interview with him was just appeared on the Merchant & Makers website: http://www.merchantandmakers.com/the-craft-of-japanese-wooden-boatbuilding-with-douglas-brooks/

For more information on Douglas Brooks, visit his website at: http://www.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com