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The DreadNot
Short photo essay of my son and daughter's 2000 entry into the Merrimack Library Cardboard boat Race..

The DreadNot is a cardboard boat shaped like an acoustic guitar.  Jennifer is an avid, and accomplished guitarist and she jumped at this idea when I first mentioned it to her over the winter.  With her brother Joe's interest piqued, it was clear that the two of them would crew this boat.

Also, Jennifer and I receive our guitar lessons from Harvey's Music on the Oval in Milford, New Hampshire.  Jason (owner) was thrilled when asked if he would like to sponsor Jean's boat for the boat race.   Thank you Jason!  I hope you enjoyed this as much as we did!

The design was simple and the construction was fairly basic, with only some clever tricks used to get the look we wanted.  Most of what makes this boat look so sharp were the little details, like the oversized pick you can see in the strings on the neck in the photo above.

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Hull Construction

Thumbnail Description
P8040022.jpg (18061 bytes) Joey and Jen begin by cutting out a pattern for the bottom of the guitar with about 6 inches of overlap.  This overlap area is used to cut out tabs that will be folded up and glued onto the sides.  The pattern for this was drawn from a sketch where we calculated the size of the arcs and their center location then used a large compass to sketch out the basic pattern on the cardboard
P8040023.jpg (18979 bytes) Joey scores the pattern with a screw driver then begins folding up the many tabs for the next step
p8040026.jpg (13908 bytes) Jen tears off tape as Joe glues the tabs to the inside of the wall section, using the tape to hold the tabs in place till they dry.  Note the lamp.  This was the only light we had, working mostly nights in a barn without electricity.
P8040027.jpg (22921 bytes) The first layer of the main hull is near complete and the guitar shape is already clearly defined.  The kids loved this aspect of this design.
P8040029.jpg (12700 bytes) Taking several days to complete, the preliminary hull is complete as Joe and Jen pose for a well deserved picture and rest.
P8040030.jpg (24018 bytes) Here, a second layer of double layer corrugated cardboard is applied to the outer wall of the guitar.  The tape is to hold it tight to the inner wall till the adhesive dries.  Joe appears to be saying "I am so SICK of cardboard!"
P8060021.jpg (20155 bytes) ...and he finally snaps! Armed with a glue gun, he goes in search of small prey to attach to the barn...
P8060022.jpg (15626 bytes) Here we have placed a layer of 2 inch thick corrugated cardboard slats into the bottom of the guitar to provide necessary floor strength.
P8060023.jpg (25520 bytes) Joe and Jen position themselves near where they will be sitting during the race to make sure that they really will have enough room.
P8060024.jpg (20343 bytes) Looking much cleaner with another layer of flooring to hide the slats underneath.  Later on a thick bead of glue is place at the floor/wall joint to waterproof this joint.
P8110030.jpg (20500 bytes) If you've read the section on the Merrimack Belle construction, you've seen this step before.  Here Joe uses a power saw to cut off the top 2 inches of the wall to produce a smooth edge for the top of the guitar.
P8110031.jpg (16486 bytes) Jen shows one of the seam plugs used to reinforce certain seams for strength.
P8110032.jpg (14377 bytes) Here the seam plug is in place, effectively protecting that weak point in the boat.
P8110034.jpg (18529 bytes) Here, Joe touches up some areas where the floor wasn't sitting properly on the slats underneath.
P8140003.jpg (22816 bytes) Here they flip the boat over and seal up any holes or punctures that resulted from earlier construction.  Note the tears in the underside from removing all of the duct tape.


Neck Construction

P8140008.jpg (22339 bytes) Here, they are using the hull as a work surface as they take two layers of cardboard, cut into the shape of the flat part of the neck, and use bags of fertilizer to hold it flat till it dries.
P8150010.jpg (29104 bytes) Jen holds up the neck after we've attached the backbone giving it more of it's shape.
P8150011.jpg (25296 bytes) Tape and glue and more waiting as this backbone has to be firmly dry before we continue.  Jean's guitar gives a great view of scale in this picture.
P8150014.jpg (25711 bytes) We wanted to see how it was all coming along so we moved the parts out to the yard and Jen held the neck section up to the body with her guitar showing scale.
P8200043.jpg (19973 bytes) Here, the box portion of the end of the neck is built up.
P8200044.jpg (12999 bytes) Jen has just finished shaping these sheets of cardboard, which will act as the under belly of the neck.  Behind her you can see the darkness through the open barn doors.  We worked well into the nights making this boat
P8200045.jpg (22415 bytes) Here I am attaching one of the belly sections to the neck
P8200046.jpg (13288 bytes) Attaching the second/final belly section, you can see how the first belly section was modified to fit into the bent neck end.


Final Assembly

P8220004.jpg (21924 bytes) Jen begins the long process of sealing up every square inch of this boat, inside and out!  First the floor and inner walls with white.
P8220005.jpg (15588 bytes) And she's a blur of motion as she finishes her first coat!
P8220006.jpg (20857 bytes) Now the exterior.  Two coats of primer to begin
P8220007.jpg (17371 bytes) Looking good! primer on, now for more color!
P8250012.jpg (19588 bytes) But, as that dries, we can continue work on the neck, which as received its first coat of primer.  Here we are building up the throat with large chunks of cardboard blocks
P8250014.jpg (26273 bytes) An overall shot of our workshop.   That's me in the background working the neck.  Near the left you can see the inverted form of Big Red waiting for its turn for refurbishment
P8250015.jpg (17433 bytes) Here the neck throat is built up waiting for some trimming before applying paper maché
P8260017.jpg (23817 bytes) Looking good with its first few layers.
P8260018.jpg (24011 bytes) Here you can see the large surface area we will have for gluing the neck to the body of the guitar.
P8290012.jpg (16136 bytes) Here we have the primer applied, ready for color
P9010002.jpg (29397 bytes) Now she's looking good!  the first coat of dark brown on the neck
P8260016.jpg (21891 bytes) Here, Jen applies the first of several coats of oil based brown paint on the guitar body.
P8260019.jpg (22775 bytes) Finish and looking great with a high gloss finish.
P8270024.jpg (25165 bytes) Here, they've attached the face of the guitar to the body (note the acoustic hole cut in the center), using bags of lawn food to hold it flat against the body till the adhesive dries
P8290013.jpg (26664 bytes) Here, we've cut away the center section of the face to allow for a place for the kids to sit while rowing
P9010003.jpg (27198 bytes) The finished body, ready for the neck
P9010007.jpg (28300 bytes) Here, the neck is attached to the body for a newspaper photo.
P9010010.jpg (27055 bytes) Jen gets into rowing position with the fore and aft face sections glued in place.  And there's Big Red... aahhhhhh
P9010011.jpg (28017 bytes) More paint and touch up here.
P9010012.jpg (17537 bytes) Again with additional touch up and flattening things out that started moving because the glue wan't completely set.
P9020013.jpg (26801 bytes) Looking good and ready for detailing.  Note that I've begun working on refurbishing Big Red with main center support
P9020014.jpg (25755 bytes) I work on Big Red as Jen takes a break.  Here you can see we've taped up the edges of the center section of the face (this is removable just before the race) and the bridge has been attached.
P9020018.jpg (32328 bytes) Propped up on its side, Jen and Joe and I begin the task of detailing and touching up paint on the underside.
P9020019.jpg (29010 bytes) Here I am working on the pick guard (you can see the sheet of cardboard we cut it out of, just to my right)
P9020020.jpg (16911 bytes) Here the pick guard gets a coat of metallic paint
P9040010.jpg (30373 bytes) Jen applies the frets using small cans to hold them flat till they dry
P9040011.jpg (10893 bytes) it had to happen, you realize that, don't you?  I put the bridge on backwards and had to rip it up and glue it back...
P9040015.jpg (28459 bytes) Here, the frets are in place as are the tuning knobs
P9040017.jpg (16925 bytes) Here, we've finished the bridge.   You can see our paper sketch of the guitar there on the paper.  We also have the faux wood rings around the acoustic hole.
P9040019.jpg (20496 bytes) Here we are installing the strings with the bridge nails (big wood beads)
P9040020.jpg (25605 bytes) Jen wanted a decal with the guitar name on it. This is what we came up with.
P9040021.jpg (25124 bytes) Here you can see we've attached the pick guard to the face (half on the one section and half on the removable section
P9050003.jpg (28497 bytes) Jen puts on the finishing touches as we wait for the strings glue to dry.
P9050004.jpg (24303 bytes) Here, most of the strings have been attached to the tuning knobs.
P9050006.jpg (36681 bytes) And a finished product!  I doubt Jen or Joe ever figured it would come out looking this nice.  We even included touches like leaving long tails of string on the tuning knobs like you would see on a real guitar.  While driving this across town I had someone stop me and comment that they weren't sure if that was a "very big guitar or a very small pick up truck"... I love it!

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