Let’s strip!

February 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

stripper  [strip-er] -noun       A small watercraft constructed of strips of wood, usually cedar.

This is the part of canoe building that I find the most fun. Stripping.

I start by running a strip down the sheerline. I’ve decided to not use staples for this build, with one notable exception. The first strip is the one that subsequent strips will rest against. For this reason, it needs to be firm and unmovable. For this strip, I’ve decided to use brad nails to attach it to the form. Because most of this strip will be covered by the gunwale, I”ll have very few holes to contend with.

canoe building: first strip

Why brad nails instead of staples? Because brads leave one hole instead of two.

What’s the big deal about staples? Well, I cringe about putting holes in the face of the strip. I know there are a lot of ways to hide the fact that there were holes — steaming them closed, putty, toothpicks, the underestimated power of prayer — but they’re easier to deal with if they’re not there. Essentially, I’m lazy. No staples to pull, no holes to deal with.

What’s with all the goofy plastic wrapped blocks? I guess they do look goofy, but here’s the deal. I shoot the brad through a plastic wrapped waste strip so that I can more easily find the nail to extract it when I’m done stripping. The spacer block pulls away easily, leaving 1/4″ of nail sticking out. The plastic is so that the inevitable glue drips don’t glue the spacer to the strip. That would really look goofy.

Why do you have waste strips already? Didn’t you just start stripping? I prefer not to talk about it.

By the way, my eldest boy held the first strips for me when I nailed them in. He didn’t snarl at me when I pulled him away from the computer to help me out, nor did he say, “Gee dad, I’ve misunderstood your fascination with canoe building, like, forever. I get it now.” He just helped me and went away.

Maybe one day I’ll explain to him that this is one way I can spend a lot of time with a stripper without getting in trouble.

By the way #2: notice all of the clamps in the picture above. If you think you have enough, you don’t. Buy more.

Getting back to business: I followed the sheerline until I got about three stations from the ends. At this point, I let the strips hang naturally and had a look. I just didn’t want to follow the sheerline all the way as this makes the canoe look a little like a banana (unless, of course, you want a canoe shaped a little like a banana, in which case you’ll go ahead and follow the sheerline).

When I was happy with how the strip fell, I nailed it in place, measured its position and then nailed the other three ends in the same position.

Where the upsweep is the greatest (indicated by the triangle below), I’ll fill in the area with shorter strips.

canoe building: cedar strip at bow

You’ll notice that my picture-taking has gotten ahead of itself. I have two strips where I had one strip previously. I guess I got excited.

Speaking of which, it’s time to add a few more….

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