New Canoe Build

August 27, 2017 § Leave a comment

Now that the weather is growing cooler, it’s a perfect time to start a new build!

Much of the weekend was spent on prep work — setting up the forms, ripping strips, and fashioning the internal stems.

After an embarrassing mishap with the router last year (the finger has recovered), I decided to invest in some safety hardware to keep my digits away from spinning metal. To that end, I purchased some board buddies to keep the boards down and tight against the fence, and my fingers clear.

I have to tell you, they worked like a charm and I was able to make quick work of (hopefully) enough boards for the canoe. As well, because there is so much variability within the same board, I made sure to keep adjacent strips together.


For the internal stems, I used some left-over cedar strips from another build. I floated them in the bathtub in hot water for several hours to make the strips more pliable (I really have to rig up a steaming device).

Next steps: beveling the stems and starting the build!

On scarfing

February 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have the facilities to deal with 16′ strips, so I have to make them out of shorter strips. Enter the scarf joint.

This is the preferred joining method. Our friends at Wikipedia have this picture:

I’ve used a block plane to scarf the strips in the past, but then discovered the following method (which combines scarfing with the possibility of a manicure). I usually use two hands, but one is holding the camera.

canoe building: belt sander

I have a little mark on the base of the belt sander to indicate the length and a block to achieve the desired angle. In this way, all of my scarfs are exactly the same. Because I’ve been so picky about keeping the strips together, I end up scarfing the same end of neighboring strips, and this ensures that the grain and color will be more or less the same and will make the joint less evident.

When I’ve scarfed two cedar strips, I glue and clamp the scarfed ends using little clamps that I thought were pretty useless before I realized that they could be used for scarfing. I now know what with canoe building, there’s no such thing as a useless clamp.

canoe building: scarf joints

Making the strips

February 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

The most tedious part of the entire canoe building project has to be making the strips. If I had a lot of dough, I would have bought 17′ strips as a special order from the lumber yard. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of dough, nor do I have a workspace where I can easily accommodate such long strips.

So I settled for 10′ planks of select western red cedar (WRC). Beautiful stuff. But it had to be ripped. So I recruited a friend to share in the dust (my children being easily bored/afraid of rapidly-spinning saw blades) and got to work.

First, the tools of the trade. The table saw, of course, and the respirator.

canoe building: making cedar strips

There was dust flying all over the place (note the sawdust on the floor), so it’s foolish not to think some of it won’t end up in your lungs if you’re not suitably protected.

After ripping strips for hours and hours, the strips were ready for routing. I’ve decided to do bead and cove for most of the canoe. I’ll use a rolling bevel for the floor of the canoe (also known as the football). More on that later.

I was careful to maintain the sequence of the strips as they came off the board. Not only did this enable me to take the following pretty cool picture…

canoe building: cedar strips

…but it will also enable me to join strips that come from the same board and the same relative position of the board (given that the characteristics of the strip can change depending on where it comes from on the board).

On to the router.

canoe building: bead and cover router bits

I do the bead first because the cove is delicate and I’m likely to bash it up as I manhandle the strips in the narrow confines of my workspace. Note that the router is attached to a shop vac to keep the mess to a minimum. After I bead a batch of strips, I bundle them up and set them aside and move on to the next bundle. When all the strips have a bead, I then change the router bit and do it all over again with the cove bit.

At the end, I have strips that look like this…

canoe building: bead and cove strips

… and I’m happy because this means that I can put away my table saw and router and start thinking now about stripping the boat!

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