The finished product

July 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

Over the weekend I took the latest canoe out for a test paddle and I was reminded how long it has been since I’ve updated the blog. I left off in November in the process of fabricating the inner gunwales. Rather than describe the process of attaching them (which I described for an earlier build), I’d like this post to discuss some of the tricks I employed with this build.

As for many builders, glassing the inside of the hull is a challenge. The fiberglass moves around, pulls this way and that, and generally misbehaves. As a result, the final result often contains those dreaded air bubbles. For the worst of these, I used a small drill bit and (by hand!) drilled an opening into the bubble. Then, with a syringe, I injected epoxy.


inject
Installing the seats is always a nerve wracking process (for me at least). You have to trim the lengths of the main cross pieces and repeatedly test the placement of the seat. In the last builds, this process has scratched the inside of the hull, which at this point will have been varnished. For this build, I used felt pads on the ends of the seat supports (the kind used for furniture) so that I could dry-fit the seats without scratching the hull to bits.

felt pad

Finally, I’ll leave you with a couple of pics of the finished product. I’m especially happy with how the bottom of the hull turned out.

hull1

hull2

And her’s a side view (with my first ever build in the background).

side

The next build, which should be starting in September or so, will be a kayak.

What’s for scupper?

November 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s hard to believe that I’ve done little with this blog or the build-in-progress for over a year. Ah, well, that’s about to change because circumstance has dictated the need for some wood and fiberglass therapy. When I left off, I was in the process of filling the football. Since then, the canoe has been fiberglassed moderately successfully (only a few air bubbles), and the external gunwales have been attached.

I’ve done the inner gunwales differently in the past. For one boat, the inner gunwale had no scuppers, for another, I used a 1/4″ strip of cedar with 1/4″ blocks every 3 inches or so. For this one, I decided to use another technique designed to justify the acquisition of a drill press. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here it is:

scuppers2

It looks a bit rough, but with a bit of sanding, the suppers came out brilliantly.

This time around, I employed some actual planning and forethought to mark down where the yoke and seats would be attached. If these points occurred where a scupper would be positioned, I simply left the scupper out. In other words, the gunwale has sections where the 3″ scupper – no scupper spacing is broken. I’ll show a picture in the next post. I thought it would look goofy, but it ended up looking more like the builder exercised actual planning and forethought.

Filling the football

March 3, 2013 § 3 Comments

Just a quick post to show how I’m filling the football. Instead of running alternating light and dark cedar strips parallel to the centerline, this time I’m running alternating light and dark strips both along the centerline and the edge of the football to form a continuous dark line that decreases as the football grows smaller. I’ll post a picture when I’m done (it’s hard to explain), but the picture below shows the progress thus far.

bottom

Ready for some football

February 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

At long last the canoe is at the point of the build called the football. At this point it’s advisable to measure from the edges of the strips to the center of the forms to make sure that everything built up evenly. If something is off, this is the time to adjust for it. Fortunately, this build treated me well and everything was even.

football2

Many builders choose to fill one half of the football with arcing strips, cut along the center line and then fill the other half. The method I prefer, partly because I can’t trust myself to cut a straight line, is to run a pair of strips down the center line and then fill the halves. In the past I’ve used this technique to alternate light and dark strips that run the length of the football. To people who haven’t seen me in a canoe, I call these racing stripes. This time, I’ll try something a little different. Less racing. More zen. Stay tuned.

The following picture shows the pair of strips run along the center line and the use of bungee cords to keep the strips tight against the forms.

center_strip

Progress thus far

February 18, 2013 § 3 Comments

The picture below contains a couple of items that I want to touch on.

The first is the inset of the bird, done in a darker cedar than the surrounding strips. Besides being an attractive feature, the inset effectively integrates joints into an overall design. The fact that grain and color don’t match (a concern when joining strips) becomes desirable. In this way, I’ve been able to do most of the sides of the canoe without obsessing about how good the joins look.

The picture below also shows the use of 1/4″ dowels to protect the coves of the strips when clamping, and the use of both clamps and bungee cords to press the strips together. As the stripping continues, the clamps eventually become too short (or the curve of the hull makes their use impossible). At this point, I use bungees and either wind them around the assembled strips or hook them from the newly-installed strip to the base of the strongback.

side

Inner Stem Mohawk

January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

I know that I said that I wouldn’t overdo the posts this time around, but forming the inner stem is always a momentous occasion. Your forms are in place and you’re finally building.

The last few times, I was able to use three standard 1/4″ strips to make the inner stem. This time, I was rewarded by the sound of cracking wood as I bent the strips over the form. Deciding that I didn’t want to hear that sound again, I planed four strips a little thinner and then (as last time) soaked them in the tub in hot water for over an hour.

This time, the strips bent well and the end result was a beautiful inner stem mohawk shown below.

inner stem

By the way, I use Gorilla Glue for this part. It reacts nicely with the damp wood and gives a good bond.

Aligning the forms

January 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

After some time away from boat building, it was time to reassemble the strongback and get another build underway. For this build, I won’t give a strip-by-strip account, especially if I’ve already posted on a topic, but I will post on things that I’m doing a little differently this time around.

For this build, I’ve decided to clean up the strongback a little by including a better shelf, which comes in handy for clamps and tools. The shelf is held supported by 1×4 stock into which the forms are screwed. Note the right angles to ensure that the forms are straight.

shelf

The shot below shows the forms in place with a string stretched between the end forms to ensure that everything is straight.

string2

The string shows you if the forms are centered, but it won’t show you if the forms are off in other ways. For instance, if you traced the outline of the form onto the plywood a little shy and cut the form a little shy as well, then the form may not be as wide as it should be. While this deviation won’t be obvious just by looking at it, it will certainly become evident when you start stripping the canoe. One quick test is to take a 36+ inch length of cedar and run it along each form. If, for example, you hold the strip against forms 1 and 4, it should touch strips 2 and 3. There should be no gap and the curve of the strip should be smooth. It’s a very easy test and it gives you the peace of mind that the strips will run smoothly when you begin to build.

levelling 1

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