A Birdsmouth Mast for Skat
by Dave Burdecki (Bink)  binksboats@yahoo.com 


Well...I heard there was some sort of end-of-season football game yesterday...but I had real work to do.  John O'Neil and I (ok, mostly John} made a beautiful octagonal 14 foot bird's mouth mast for the Skat.  John wrote a couple of articles about the technique in Boatbuilding and since he lives nearby I begged and whined until he agreed to show me how its done.  

John O'Neil & the Spruce board

Cutting the strips

I bought a 16 foot 1"X12" spruce board.  I needed a mast 3 inches at the base, so the circumference was ...well, this calculator doesn't have pi on it, so take my word that the circumference divided by 8 plus the width of the kerfs came out to an 11 1/2 inch wide board with about an inch leftover.  
We cut the staves on the table saw then ran them through again to take off the rough side that would be on the inside of the mast.  This was not strictly necessary, but since that side was going to be epoxied we went with caution.  We set the blade at 45 degrees and cut a 90 degree bird's mouth along one side of the staves by running each one through the saw twice, once forward, then flipped and run through again.  

Strips cut

Cutting the taper

Just to be extra fancy, we cut the taper on the table saw.  The stick is straight for 9 feet then tapers for 5 feet to the top.  The taper is from 3 inches to 1 1/2 inches.  We cut a 1 1/2 inch wedge from a 5 foot board and used the board as a guide on the saw.  Starting the cut at the 9 foot mark it worked like a champ!  
Now came the part that everyone dreads...epoxying the slippery staves and assembling them into a rounded mast.  What a letdown!  It was too fast and easy.  I slathered while John mixed.  After 3 sides of each stave were coated we used a bottle that was 1 1/2 inches in diameter (the inside of the mast at the bottom) and rolled the ends of the staves around it.  We fastened them together with a large hose clamp and then used waxed twine to clamp up the rest of the mast.

A perfectly straight mast

He rolled the mast while I walked the spool up the mast.  The whole thing fell into shape as if by magic!  Another clamp at the top and it was all over.  We had a perfectly octagonal and straight mast.  After it sets I'll start planing the ridges off and sanding it round.  I took some pics which you can see here.  The whole thing took about 5 hours with lots of breaks.  Most of the time is in setting the table saw and running test cuts.