Building Confidence

Volume 14 Issue 11
ISSN 1923-7162

Welcome to Dave's Shop Talk's Home Improvement Newsletter, with a Little Sabot Story, a Tip of the Month and a home remodeling article, both from our website at

Tip of the Month

Drill holes for nails near the ends of boards to prevent their splitting.

And a Bonus Tip:

Before drywalling over the cavity holding a pipe chase, place fiberglass insulation and extra pieces of drywall around the pipe to soften the noise of water coming down the pipe. This applies to heating pipes, also.

Ask Dave!

I thought you might be interested in a true story I wrote for the Historian of our local squadron of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron.

The Little Sabot Story

My story starts May 18, 1968 in a small Northern village in British Columbia, Canada, called Stewart. My wife of seven months, Frances, who grew up in the large city of Midland, Texas, accompanied me to this hamlet where we were to discover that the cumulative snowfall for the year measured more than 65 feet. I was to begin work as a carpenter in heavy construction on the buildings of Granduc Copper Mine. (See photo.)

We arrived at the dock between Stewart, BC and Hyder, Alaska on a rainy afternoon that May. We watched as the longshoremen unloaded our old pickup off the Northland Prince, an odd looking vessel, half passenger quarters and half freight. Then off to the King Edward Hotel to register for a couple of weeks while our brand new mobile home made its way up the coast on a barge from Vancouver, BC.

Six months later in mid-winter without TV to pass the time we needed a hobby to keep us from getting bushed in our trailer. "Let's build a little sailboat", I suggested to Frances. I wrote to Glen-L Plans in California who had a catalogue of boat plans. We purchased plans for an 8 foot long sabot sailboat, the 8-Ball. We had a 1966, 14 foot Hourston Glascraft which we brought with us. Boating was not new to me since I lived on the West Coast all my life. Dad took us fishing as kids in Horseshoe Bay renting inboard motor boats from Sewells Marina. I had never been in a sailboat though.

We moved the sofa in the living room of the 12' wide trailer, put down polyethylene to protect the flooring, borrowed a Skilsaw from the tool crib at the mine and began to build the jig for our sailboat. We ordered all the marine plywood and fastenings from Prince Rupert. They arrived on the Northland Prince a couple of weeks later. Since I was working 9 hours a days 6 days a week, the sailboat was slow to mature.

By early Spring we had our sabot finished. We ordered the sail and stainless steel hardware from Glen-L. In the meantime to keep ourselves busy I ordered a quart of marine paint from Prince Rupert. Wanting to do a special job of building our boat, I chose a high quality hull paint in bright red. We had the little boat upside down on two sawhorses, getting ready for paint. Our local native buddy, Bobo, a youngster of maybe 6 years old was keeping an eye on us. As you probably know, a sabot sailboat has a dagger board or centerboard instead of a keel. This dagger board is retractable into a centerboard trunk inside the boat. I didn't have the dagger board installed yet, but the slot was quite evident on the upside down hull. Little Bobo came right up to me and said, "It's going to sink". I asked him why he thought that, as he turned around and walked away, muttering, "It's got a hole in it". Well, I had confidence in my designer and carried on. We installed the centerboard and painted the hull, inside and out with that expensive red paint. I constructed the tall mast, according to the drawings and built a small boom, as well. Finally, the sail and rigging arrived. It didn't take long to have it ship-shape and ready for its maiden voyage.

The weather was warming up quite nicely, including a bit of a breeze. My father was the Construction Superintendent on the job, spending most of his Sundays with Frances and myself. I asked Dad if he could go in the Hourston while Frances and I went for a ride in the sabot. Since I never sailed before, I thought I may be blown down the Portland Canal to the sea, never to be seen again. Dad was our insurance. He took along my Super 8 movie camera and took some home movies. My Dad was a very clever individual who realized that going the opposite way in the power boat while filming us going the other way in the sailboat seemed to make us look like we were travelling 90 miles per hour. The home movies turned out great. The sail showed a little ruffle as the wind blew us along. I was even able to relax a bit-sailing is not that difficult, it seemed to run itself. I happened to look up and saw a line of Stewart residents standing along the bank watching this episode in their bay on a Sunny Sunday. I don't think any of them had ever seen a little 8 foot sabot sailboat sailing around in their harbor being chased by a 14 foot power boat before. We were a legend in our own time.

Fast forward to Shawnigan Lake about 30 years later. My young grandson, Jesse was staying with us. He was walking around outside and spotted my old sabot sailboat standing up against a tree. "Can we go for a ride in your boat, Papa?" "Sorry Jesse," I replied, "See how the transom is rotted away, I need to fix it first." "I'll help you", the 5 year old answered excitedly. I brought the little sabot inside out of the cold, damp outdoors and repaired the damage. Of course, little Jesse had to go back home disappointed only to return a couple weeks later to help me paint the repairs I had done on the little sabot.

Remember that red paint that I originally covered the hull with? Well, unknown to me at that time, I used marine antifouling bottom paint, which remained soft. Every time I brushed up against the hull or touched it I had remnants of red paint on my clothes, on my hands and everything I touched in the meantime. I had to sand that antifouling paint completely off my little sabot and used instead some high gloss white marine enamel. So, when Jesse returned for a painting party I had learned my lesson and used some more of the marine enamel not expensive bottom paint. Years later, Jesse asked to use our old sabot down at the lake for fishing with a friend. He bought an electric motor, I supplied a battery and he and his friend enjoyed the new generation sabot.

We gave our second daughter, Jacqui, our little sabot. She lives in Tsawwassen and loves to crab. We will go over to the mainland in a few days to show her how to sail a little sabot. Our eldest daughter was in the womb when Frances first stepped into our little sabot, in Stewart. I gave her son a ride in it on Shawnigan Lake while he was staying with us during a week or so one summer. Jesse is the son of our youngest daughter, so our little sabot has been around over 47 years being enjoyed by my family and passed on to another generation, complete with original sail, mast and boom and hardware.

I hope Jacqui and her family will enjoy their Sabot as much as I enjoyed building and sailing it.

Dave Osborne

Photo of grandson of Dave rowing a sabot boat with his grandmother.

My Grandson, Sheldon, giving his Grandma, on his Dad's side, her first ever boat ride. What's better than giving your Grandma her first ride in a boat?

Photo of grandson rowing a sabot boat.

Giving your girlfriend a ride!

Photo of Dave preparing his sabot boat.

Dave rigging the Sabot

Photo of Dave and his step-son in the sabot boat.

Heading out to deep water, Dave with Mario.

Photo of sabot boat with sail.

Ready to start Sailing.

Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Remodeling 14: How to Install an Arch in an Opening

Here is a sketch that may help explain the framing detail for a rounded corner or arch:

Drawing of framing a rounded corner in a doorway opening.

Cut out the desired curve from a piece of 3/4" plywood with a jig saw, etc. You need two such pieces for each side or four for both sides.

Nail the plywood curve flush to the edge of the framing on each side of the 2x4 wall, between the header and the cripple.

Nail or screw the drywall on the face of the wall first. Cut the shape of the drywall out with a drywall saw, following the plywood edge as your guide.

Depending on the radius of the curve you can either dampen the drywall that is 4 1/2" wide to bend over the plywood curves, or cut slits in the back of it, about 1" apart and bend it into the curve while screwing it in place. Try to get the drywall tight into the curve to get an even, balanced curve. It may not be perfectly smooth, this can be done with the mud later. For the corner bead, use plastic bead that is already slit around the sides and nail it in place, adjusting the curve in and out a bit to make it a smooth curve. The smoother the bead is the better the curve will look with the mud on it.

When applying the mud use a wide enough drywall knife to span both plastic beads and use them as a guide, 6" knife should do. When sanding use sandpaper without a holder so it will curve around nicely. Sanding sponges work well here, too.

The thing to watch is the accuracy of the plastic trim installation since these are the edges you will follow when applying the mud and sanding it off. They act as guides. Take the time to put the plastic bead on to form a nice curve, square across the wall with the bead on the other side.

Mud up the curve and wall as normal, at least two layers with a third as skim coat to touch up here and there.

Wow! A curved doorway that wasn't that hard after all.

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I hope you enjoyed the Newsletter this month and that your summer was a good one.

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(Ask Dave) (About Dave)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


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