The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














John's Tool Crib
by John Cupp

Help In The Art Of Making The State Numbers and Names
For Your Boat Without Using Those Cheap Stickers
And Make Your Boat A Work Of Art At The Same Time!

I have always had trouble drawing free hand and nobody has ever confused my chicken scratch hand writing with calligraphy. It is very hard for me to even draw a straight line without some type of guide. So when it comes to putting names on my boats I was always forced into using the cheap self adhesive numbers and letters to put names and state license numbers onto my boat.

Now that has all changed. I can make custom designs, Carve names into nice laminated wooden plaques and put numbers right into custom license boards mounted to the fronts of my boats. There are a few different products that I use and they are not that expensive. I normally do not tell people where to shop for boat building tools but I got all of these from Hartville tools and they are easy to find on the internet, https://www.hartvilletool.com The first tool that I use you will need a Plunge Router to use it. Ryobi has one model at two horse power that does a very good job and it is inexpensive at most Home Depots.

The Tool I got from Hartville Tools is a Milescraft turnlock sign maker. It only costs $39.99 and you can make just about any type of sign with letters and numbers in two sizes of figures. They come in both 1 ½” and 2 ½” sizes and they can be made with wood from 4” to 12” wide and up to 36” in length. Now just having a name plate with no color is not that much fn So they also carry an epoxy type of inlay color called “INLACE” and it comes in a hundreds of colors It even in marble like tones with three or four different colors that are speckled into the INLACE that make people ask “how in the world did you do that”. The sign maker is so easy to use you will be making custom signs for all your friends. It is so simple to use and set up that even a novice can make signs that look as if a professional made them in minutes and the INLACE is two part epoxy with the dye added in very small amounts to make the color that you need. The signs are fantastic and if my digital camera were not at the shop now getting repaired I would show you the gold brick sign ( name for my Bolger Brick) done in gold metal flake!

I did not stop there I also got on of those new Spiro Crafters also from Hartville Tools. It works lie the old Spiro grafters of the 1960’s but you use a router with it and I makes intricate designs like stars and multi fluted circles and all sorts of other adornments that I like to put on my boats to make them look better. Again I am not much of an artist but the designs from a Spiro Crafter with the INLACE poured in, in different colors you can even make a compass rose design to place on the bow deck of your boat all in different colors. Now you don’t have to get giant router to use the Spiro Crafter and again Milescraft has made another custom tool that works extremely well for using with the Spiro Crafter. It is a plunge Router base for a Dremel tool or any other type of high speed rotary tool like the Dremel. The Spiro crafter actually has several bases that fit most big routers but believe me when I say it is over kill to use a big router. Like all their tools Milescraft’s Plunge router base is a high quality tool even if it is made from a good grade of plastic and I have used it for months thinking up new designs to put in the corner of cabin doors and on the edges of overhead beams in the cabins of boats. This is the most unique use of my Dremel tool that I have seen. By the way I also have a router table that I built with specifications from Dremel for the Dremel tool. Most everyone should have a Dremel tool, they are very useful and the only way to take varnish off some hidden parts of a boat before reapplying it. It is all fluff but you can customize the exterior or interior of your boat to make it a show piece and people will think you carved and inlayed all those designs for months instead of just minutes each. Well there goes my reputation!

Hartville sells all of these items for less than all the other stores I have shopped at. Also Hartville Tools has given me the best service of any internet tool store except perhaps Woodpeckers but Woodpeckers does not sell these items. Now you know where I like to shop for my tools but keep it a secret, shh! My wife is the artist in my family and what she has done with these tools pales my efforts completely. She is a Director and majored in college in Theater Arts and Literature. She has built many props that change from on set to another in shape and size using all different types of pulleys block and rigging. She can build wooden wonders and decorate them intricately freehand and she also loves these tools because they can make designs she has not dreamed of yet. I would say that is saying volumes..

I have found another use for the INLACE and namely the dye for the INLACE epoxy. Remember the knee building article just recently I Duckworks? Well I have buit laminate wood pieces with my Raka epoxy and used the dye in the epoxy I placed between each piece of wood. After planning the ends to get rid of the drips you have beautiful colored lines between each laminate wood piece and it also works with strip planking so not only your art work on your boat can look outstanding so can every laminate piece of wood also. The red cedar strip planking looks great with gold metal flake between each strip. The INLACE is non toxic and used with their two part epoxy can even be placed in plates and bowls for eating because it is safe and will not harm you. I would not try that with the Raka or West Systems epoxy you might not feel very well.

The INLACE will not chip or crack and is probably stronger than the wood. You must remove the oil from teak just like regular epoxy if you try inlays with the INLACE compound on teak or any other naturally oily wood. As you can tell I have a a great time using the sign maker, Spirocrafter and the INLACE. There are many router bits that can be used for these functions but RTFB first (read the frigging booklets). Make your boat stand out from al the others and I know there are very gifted carvers out there who can carve plying fish or whales or any other type of design you might want on your boat and put it in color. I have seen people spend a few thousand dollars more for a boat the same as the one next to it just because it had a carving on the cabin door. The small items are what sell a boat when you have a lot of competition. I hate selling boats but some of us trade up and your boats value will rise with little designs and custom name boards on it. I have been thinking of building a light dory and using red, white and blue thin stripes on the gunnels. It will take only a few moments on a router table to make three routed stripes 1/16th inch deep but the look will be fantastic in white oak and varnished up so they sparkle. INLACE works very well and is easy to keep in a groove. I have even used a cake decorator cloth to just lay out the colored stripes without making a huge mess.

The Milescraft sign maker kit also has individual numbers and letters you can buy as extras if you need them. I even made a few myself and they are not hard to make. The Spirocrafter had me going for days just thinking up new designs for it. It comes with a nice design booklet with lots of stock designs but there are many more you can think up on your own that will look fantastic. I figured out how to place a quarter of the design in each corner of a door then make the inside of the slice point out to the corner and it makes a very nice carving trick. You color and deign options go into the millions so if you have a creative mind these little wood working tools that are inexpensive might be just what your work of art boat needs.

Thinking too much in my tool crib,