Starting the football

May 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

There comes a point when it’s no longer possible to affix strips to the internal stem. Stripping the resulting opening — the football — can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Many builders strip one half of the football, cut the excess along a straight line, and then finish the other half. It’s a nice effect when done well, but falls apart if the two halves don’t match each other perfectly.

I’ve opted for a different method for the following reasons:

  • Cutting a straight line gives me the willies
  • Matching wood between the halves is more difficult if you lack the foresight and planning required (as I do)

Instead, I’ve opted to run two strips along the centerline and then fill the halves using a herringbone pattern.

The advantages are:

  • The two strips form the straight line that I want
  • It’s easier to match grain and color by working on one half of the canoe and then the other

cedar strip canoe sides

Running the two center strips requires some careful beveling as the hull at the ends have a pronounced angle. Towards the middle of the football beveling is less of an issue as the bottom of the canoe is relatively flat.

Here are a couple of other notes on running the center strips:

  • Clamping the strips together here is overkill. More likely than not, the pressure of the clamp will prevent the strips from lying flat against the forms. I’ve found that taping the strips together with masking tape is more than sufficient to hold them together until the glue dries.
  • It is crucial that you measure the distance between the edge of the football and the center strips at each form. Any discrepancy between the halves will be accentuated as you fill them in, particularly if you’re planning on using strips of different colors as accents.
  • Although I have opted for stapleless construction, this is one place (among a few others) where I do tack the strips to the forms. It is easy to alter the position of the strips when filling the football, so securing them is a good idea.

Here’s a picture of the football with the center strips in place:

centerline of football

Now for an admission of fallibility…

You’ll notice that the center strips don’t align perfectly with the strips in front in the picture above. On measuring the distance between the sides and the centerline, I noticed a small discrepancy (less than 1/8th of an inch) between the sides. Fudging the strips (as above) corrects the discrepancy. Fortunately, the external stem will cover and disguise the adjustment.

On another note: After stripping the canoe with bead and cove strips to more easily navigate the curve of the bilge, I’ve transitioned back to square edged strips. I’ve found that using bead and cove strips when filling the football tends to damage the cove, particularly if you’re fiddling around with adjustments and dry-fitting the strip multiple times. Running a rolling bevel for this part of the build is less aggravating (for me, at least).

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