Another canoe build

April 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s something appealing about stripping — watching with growing excitement as an elegant form is revealed, lovingly shaping lengths of wood. The thumping music (I like to whistle while I work). The glue. The splinters. The sawdust.

It didn’t take me long after hanging the last canoe from the rafters (pending better paddling weather) to start daydreaming of the next canoe and how I would build it. I scoured the internet for canoe pictures — cedar strip porn. Ideas abounded.

I set up the forms on the strongback and positioned the first three strips. I was following a pattern that I’d used for the previous canoe. It was then that I decided to make things more complicated (as though building a simple canoe isn’t complicated enough). I decided to add an accent line that would follow the waterline.

It’s a great idea in theory — follow the waterline. Of course, that only applies when the boat is empty or populated on either end by individuals of the same weight. It won’t follow the waterline if I’m in it. I know what you’re asking yourself: “Is Greybeard fat?” Um… I may be an overachiever in the weight department, geared to marshaling my resources for the harsh winter that never comes. Though I’m okay with this, I didn’t think, before putting down the accent strip — all parallel to the waterline and all — that this strip would indicate just how well I had marshaled my resources over the years. In the teeter-totter that is the canoe, I’m forever on the earthbound side.

I hope that I’m wearing my PFD if this isn’t the case.

That being said, the accent strip was glued in and it was too late to change it. In the picture below, you see the accent strip (the first two strips on the top) and the three strips below that, until a few feet shy of the ends, follow the shear line. That leaves me four long triangles to fill in on either side and on the bow and stern.

stripping a cedar strip canoe

I cursed myself and my dumb idea when placing the first strips to fill in the triangles (third strip from top in the picture above). The process was finicky and required several (dozen) trips between the sander and the canoe to dry-fit the pieces. After a while, and not because I started to care less, the shaping became easier and less time consuming.

In terms of how I managed to shape the strips, I used my trusty belt sander and have so far avoided an inadvertent, self-inflicted manicure.

sanding cedar strips for canoe

For those of you who are interested in this kind of thing, I’m not using bead and cove strips for the sides of the boat. I’ll transition to bead and cove as I approach the bilge and then transition back to non-bead and cove for the bottom. At this point in the stripping process, the strips mount flush to one another without any work on my part. A rolling bevel may be necessary later, but for now the strips are going in as-is.

Although I prefer stapleless construction (as suggested by the unsightly blobs of hot melt glue in the first picture), I did staple the bottom-most strip and the accent strip. I stapled the latter because it was susceptible to moving as I filled in the triangular sections.

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