Monday, April 14, 2008

Tech Tip Tuesday

After yesterday's post, it's probably a good time to talk about the methods that you can use to build a strip canoe. I want to talk a bit about how the strips are actually applied. It is a topic which most books seem to gloss over, but is at the heart of the process.

When building a cedar strip boat, you need to hold the strips in place on the forms while the glue that holds the strips together cures. You also need to keep them from moving on the forms and changing the shape of the boat that you're trying to build. In my class, we recommend that beginners hold the strips on the forms using staples. This, however is not as straightforward as it may seem.

You need to understand the terminology of the staples. They have two legs and a crown. The dimension that you see when you purchase a staple is the leg length. The crown is the segment that connects the two legs. For our application, we're looking for 1/2" crown width (or there about) At the bottom of the legs are the points or teeth. Chisel point teeth that cut the wood rather than crush and bruise the wood give better results. The thickness of the staple material varies from "lightweight" to "heavyweight" I like to use "heavyweight" staples as they provide more holding power. I also prefer stainless steel or monel staples to avoid putting rust stains on the boat if it your are building in a damp environment, or it gets wet somehow. On top of this, you need to be sure to be getting the right type of staples so that they work with your stapler. Never would have thought that there was so much to staples, did you?

There are many different types of staplers. Some are manual, some are electric and some are pnuematic. All will work. Manual ones are easier to deal with as you don' t get tangled up in the cords or hoses. Of the manual ones there are light and heavyweight staplers. Personally, I prefer the kind of stapler made by Powershot - it applies the lever's force over where the staple comes out which makes it easier to use.

Now that you have your staples and the stapler, you need to keep from getting the stapler all clogged up with glue. To do this you simply put a strip of masking tape on the bottom of your stapler. Easy. But, you also don't want to drive the staples so deep that the crown of the staple leaves a dent in the hull. To prevent making these dents you build up a stack of masking tape strips just adjacent to where the staples come out of the stapler. It will require some experimentation to get the required thickness. When the depth of the staples is right, the crown of the staple is just above the surface of the strip so that they are easy to remove later.

Staple length is also critical. I use 9/16" long staples at the forms and where the the strips meet the stems. If I need to keep the strips together between the forms, I use 1/4" staples so that I don't break through the cedar strips. The reason for this is that if you break through the back of the strips, little chips come out and make small craters on the inside of the hull.

When you're putting the staples into the strips, you want to put them in neat rows on the forms and minimize their use between the forms. These neat rows don't draw the eye so much as irregularly placed staples. Also, put the strips in the middle of the strip. You don't want to straddle the joints between the strips as it will prevent the strips from following the contour of the forms.

Next week? Staple-less.

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