3480Hrs – My First Gaff
Gaff is an Irish/English slang word for house, as in ‘fancy coming over to my gaff for a drink?’.
Today I’ve been working on the nautical type of gaff though, as in ‘a spar to which the head of a fore-and-aft sail is bent’.
First job was to double check the dimensions and outline I’d drawn out on my construction table and then, once I was happy, screwing some clamping blocks in place. I then dug out the lengths of Ash that I’d ordered up for the job.
In the plans the gaff jaws are covered in leather at the point where the jaws contact the mast. This is a traditional method that reduces chafe and, if the leather is well waxed, allows the gaffs to slide better on the mast and stay quiet when peaked up under sail.
I’ve decided to go a bit more high-tech and replace the leather with the same UHMW PVC I already used for keel strips and beam packers. So, before I did anything else I marked up the correct positions, cut some appropriate lengths and then rebated a rectangle in each jaw face so that the UHMW sat in nicely located with a few millimetres sitting proud like so;
The next stage was to see how well I could get the Ash to bend into shape, I followed the plan instructions and first ran a saw cut down the centre of the 1″ wide timber then put it in position and gradually started tightening the clamps. I was a tad apprehensive about it as I’d read some stories of folks having big problems with this, either with the wood cracking or breaking completely.
Pleasingly though the operation went smoothly for me and I was able to bend the wood to the shape of the jaws without problem.
Obviously this is only a dry run, now I know what I’m doing I need to protect the construction table with polythene and then epoxy glue everything into place. As temperatures are set to drop to freezing and below for the next few days final assembly will have to wait for a while though.
In between playing with the gaffs I also managed to get a couple of coats of primer on the rest of the forward mast case.
My back and wrist are still a bit tender so I’m taking it easy with regard to any heavy lifting. I’ll heed Chucks advice and be more careful in future.