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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By the way, I use Gorilla Glue for this part. It reacts nicely with the damp wood and gives a good bond.
November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
In an effort to appeal to a new demographic (to which my wife also belongs), I will compose this post along the lines of the cooking shows that seem to fascinate her beyond all reason.
The ingredients that we will be using in this episode are several pieces of delectable maple. Specifically, per deck, two triangles of birdseye maple and a strip of standard quartersawn maple joined using our friend, dookie schmutz. Beautiful.
Admittedly, the ingredients don’t look like much now, but wait!
After trimming and sanding the decks down, prepare a small amount of dookie schmutz (2 parts epoxy resin to 1 part hardener and one or more pinches of sawdust). The mixture should have a consistency of peanut butter. Mix thoroughly. Give it a whiff. Mmm. Smells great.
Now, with a spatula (or any piece of scrap wood you have lying around), spread the dookie schmutz on the edges of the deck. You don’t have to be too neat here. Just have fun! Yum!
(You will note the scribbles all over the deck. These helped to guide my sanding to ensure a good fit. They’ll be sanded off later.)
(At this point, you might be tempted to lick your fingers. Don’t. Not only is it unhygienic, but you probably have dookie schmutz all over them and your tongue will likely cleave to the roof of your mouth.) Now we’re ready to put the deck in the
oven bow or stern. Mmm. Look at that!
With clamps, secure the deck in place and wait until the next day (or more) depending on the ambient temperature of the
kitchen workshop before removing the clamps and sanding the area.
November 21, 2011 § 2 Comments
After a summer of fun and frivolity and canoeing and a less fun autumn of knocking some items off the honey-do list, it was time to return to my beloved stripper. Yes, she waited patiently for me in the garage, neglected for far too many months. I was glad to get back to her.
At any rate, when I left the build, I had fiberglassed the hull and had sanded most of it inside and out. It was time now to start putting things together. The last canoe had a solid ash internal gunwale. For this boat, I decided to construct a scuppered gunwale. Why scuppers? For one, I like the look of them. As well, they provide drainage and convenient tie-down points and the end result is lighter than a solid gunwale of the same width.
I started by scarfing two 10′ lengths of ash, roughly half an inch thick. Then I set up an ugly but functional jig to create 3 inch long blocks out of 1/4 inch thick ash. The “C” clamp in the picture below acted as my stopper.
The drill press enabled me to have a nice concave shape at the ends of the blocks.
Then I epoxied the blocks along the length of the gunwale as follows, leaving roughly two feet on either end without blocks:
Then I had a beer in the sunshine with my trusty helper. And then a couple more after which we decided (wisely) to put the tools away, because boat-building and booze is second only to boating and booze in the annals of really bad ideas.
Installing the gunwales is a finicky business and you want to be stone cold sober when you do it. You want a nice join at the ends where the two gunwales meet, and you want to make sure that you don’t cut the gunwales too short. It’s remarkable what bending and twisting the gunwales does to what you thought was a perfect measurement.
At any rate, the gunwales went in without too much in the way of trauma, and after dry-fitting them, it was time to epoxy them into position. I think I mentioned that you can never have enough clamps when building a canoe; I think I used every one I had when mounting the gunwales to the hull.
June 15, 2011 § Leave a comment
Someone recently asked how the ends are fiberglassed, so I thought I’d dedicate a post to that.
When I glass the hull, I cut back the cloth so that it follows the curve of the bow and stern but doesn’t quite go around. When the fiberglass has dried, I sand down the jagged ends so that the fiberglass is smooth where it meets the external stem.
To cover the bow and stern, I use the excess cloth that I trimmed off when I initially covered the canoe. I apply some epoxy to the area that I want to cover and position the cloth. The epoxy helps keep the cloth from sliding off the boat while I fiddle around with placement.
When the cloth is in place, I apply epoxy with a brush. I normally cut a slit in the cloth as I follow the curve to keep the cloth from bunching.
From this point, it’s just a case of wetting out the cloth and ensuring that it lies flat against the surface.
I then add a second, narrower strip over the first for added protection.
The end result looks a little Frankenstein-ish, but sanding the layers when they are dry renders the seams invisible.
June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
I haven’t updated the blog since finishing the stripping because… well… sanding isn’t that interesting. That said, I was careful to sand away any glue lines between the strips because these invariably appear as white lines and look gross. I also filled any gaps between strips with epoxy and sanding dust. Bigger gaps (there were a few) were filled with cedar splinters and epoxy.
But at last, with the sanding done, it was fiberglassing time. With the exception of a few hiccups, the glassing went well and I’m happy with the results.
June 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
The last strip is always a bittersweet affair. There’s the endless shaping and dry-fitting until the last sliver of a strip finally slips into the tapered opening in the hull. It’s a rush when the final strip goes in, but this rush is tempered by the knowledge that what follows is an eternity of sanding (and the stink-eye from the spouse who attributes any speck of dust in the house and every sneeze of the kids and wheeze of the dog to the dust generated in the workshop… never mind that everything — EVERYTHING — happens to be pollinating right now. It’s the dust!).
But I digress.
The picture below shows the herringbone pattern that I used to fill in the hull.
And finally the hull itself, waiting for the outer stems and, of course, the sander. And the stink-eye.
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
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:
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).