Building the gunwales

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.

Installing the seats

April 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today saw one of the last steps in the construction of the canoe — installing the seats. This is definitely one area in which you want to measure twice, cut once and to make plenty of allowance for adjustments. My initial measurements were made as follows:

The cardboard measures 10 inches from the bottom of the canoe while the adjustable cross-piece enables me to measure length. The masking tape on the gunwales marks the location of the front of the seat.

I`d had all kinds of notions of fancy seat hangers. In the end, I opted for simple lengths of ash that I had left over from ripping the gunwales. Because the hangers were pretty narrow, I opted to use stainless screws (rather than carriage bolts) and a dollop of dookie schmutz to fasten the seat to the hangers and the resulting assembly from the gunwales.

The final result appears as follows:

All that’s left now is varnishing. Almost three months to the day from starting this project, the canoe is almost done!

Installing bulkheads

April 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Installing bulkheads is something I’ve debated for a while. On the one hand, they represent more work, which is bad. On the other hand, they look good and they effectively hide the often less than attractive sanding and fiberglassing at the ends of the canoe.

Even though I did a lovely job at the ends, I’ve decided to exercise my modesty and keep my attention to detail a secret by hiding it behind a pair of bulkheads.

So here we go…

By some fluke, I had an empty case of beer, the cardboard of which I used to create a template. More on the template later.

By somewhat less of a fluke, I had a lot of scrap wood. I glued several of the longer strips together until they were as wide as the template referred to above.

Then I went to bed, because watching glue dry is second only to watching paint dry.

The next day, and without my having observed it, the glue had miraculously dried.

I decided that modesty had its limits and opted to do something that I’d read about. On a sheet of onionskin paper, I printed the Greybeard logo, because after all, how will Lady Gaga ever endorse the Greybeard brand if the logo is never “out there” (even if “out there” is some lake in Ontario)?

I digress though. I placed said logo beneath the fiberglass and applied the epoxy and presto, you get the result seen below.

Using the template, I cut out the bulkheads and with a bit of sanding and gentle persuasion put them in place. I then mixed up a batch of dookie schmutz — a term I believe coined by Nick Schade to describe the mixture of epoxy and wood flour — and applied it to the edges of the bulkhead, thereby permanently sealing in the perfection of my work at the ends of the canoe. By the way, using a gloved finger is the easiest way of applying the dookie.

And that’s not all! I also used said dookie schmutz to attach handles to the gunwales.

And now it’s time to make another empty case of beer, because you never know when you might need to make another template.

Installing the external gunwale and decks

March 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Canoe building factoid #6 — You go through a lot of latex gloves when building a canoe. I recommend buying them in bulk at Costco. The cashier may give you a funny look (buying 200 latex gloves at a go and all), but the sawdust on your ball cap and hardened epoxy on your jeans will bear testimony to the fact that you are not a proctologist.

A quick post to my legion of fans — is 3 a legion? — up to date. I spent some time torturing strips of ash to follow the outside contours of what is looking more and more like an almost finished canoe. It’s essentially the same process as installing the inner gunwale, but you don’t have to worry about length and such (although cutting the gunwale too short in either case is a sad situation). And you get to play with dozens and dozens of clamps. And you get to enunciate some new curse words.

The finished product, sans clamps, looks as follows:

In addition to the external gunwale, the bow and stern now feature decks made out of birds-eye maple.

canoe deck

And that’s it for now.

Installing the internal gunwale

March 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

I fashioned the gunwales out of strips of ash, approximately 7/8″ x 5/8″. I ran the strips through the router to soften the edges and then epoxied the joint with epoxy and wood flour.

Ash is a hardwood, so it’s no surprise that I needed every clamp in my collection to persuade it to go where I wanted it to go. Rather than screwing the gunwale to the canoe, I again used epoxy.

You’ll note that the yoke has also been installed at this point.

Next up: external gunwales and deck.

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