Wednesday, April 29, 2009

And cut off their tails with a carving knife...

This morning, I went down to check the mouse traps in our basement. We've caught 4 of the little peanut-butter eating beggars in the last two weeks. Before I even got near the traps, I could hear the scratching in one and watch it move around as if possessed. (by spirits, not mice) A quick inspection showed all three traps were tripped. I picked up the closest one and it felt light. Empty. I reset it and returned it to where it was. I picked up the one in the back, leaving the moving one for last. It too, felt light. I opened it to reset it and was greeted by a little gray tail lashing out. A bumper crop today! Two mice, bringing our total to six!

As is typically the case, the mice get turned out of the traps into glass jars for the kids to watch at breakfast. The first one was a small, very terrified mouse. (Random Thought : Can a mouse be a scaredy-cat?) The mouse barely moved, but was obviously paying rapt attention to everything that was going on.

"Scaredy Mouse"

The second mouse was a much larger mouse and much to our surprise it had no tail! We figured it must have run into the Farmer's wife of childhood verse:

Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?

One of DW's visitor's to her blog; AliBlahBlah suggested using the Farmer's wife's approach in a comment on DW's blog. I suggested to DW that maybe it's time for a cat. She responded that I was doing just fine. :-/

The larger, tail-less mouse (Instantly dubbed "Stubby" by DS and DD.) was bold and sat washing peanut butter out of it's fur with wild abandon. Nothing seemed to shake this mouse's resolve.


I let the two mice out in the brushpile where the others have been going. People keep telling me that I'm not taking them far enough away from the house. To be honest, I'm half tempted to put a little dot of nail polish on the mice to see if I'm just catching the same two mice over, and over, and over again.

"So tell me, do I know you from somewhere?"

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday

One of the more misunderstood stages of building a nicely shaped canoe is the fairing process. No matter which method that you use to strip your canoe, because you are building a curved shape with a collection of flat strips, you will need to fair the hull. By fairing, what I mean is to create a smooth, continuous shape around the canoe from gunnel to gunnel and from end to end. This is a very important process. When you apply fiberglass to the hull, any dips, bumps or unfair curves will stick out like a sore thumb.

The tools of the trade are in the picture above. They should be sharp. Hair shaving sharp. As one of my students used to say, "scary sharp". The soft cedar can tear easily if the tools aren't sharp. What we have are some low angle block planes, spokeshaves (flat and curved sole) and some home-made longboards. For most of the canoe, the block plane is the best tool for the job. If you have some "hollow" areas, the spokeshaves are the best choice because of their small footprint of the tool. The longboards come into use after the edge tools are done.

I have to issue a caution here. The temptation of the beginner is to take a random orbital sander and have at it. The problem here is that the random orbital sander is typically a 5" or 6" diameter disc. This is a fairly small area and most people wind up using the edge of the tool to try to fair the hull. The usual result is a rippled hull. As you look down the hull, you can see the ripple and the fiberglass and epoxy will magnify this effect.

I should also comment on conditions for the fairing process. There should be lots of light. Particularly light at a grazing angle to the hull so that it shows any lumps and bumps. If you can manage to do this outside in the sunlight, so much the better.

This stage happens after the outer stems have been bonded to the canoe and all of the nails and staples have been removed from the canoe. Take a bit of extra time to make sure that you've removed all of the staples and nails as hitting one with a cutting tool is a rude awakening and not too good for your nicely sharpened plane and spokeshave.

The first part of the process is to blend the stems into the hull shape. Basically, you are continuing the curves of the canoe that already exist. Keeping the heel of the block plane on the hull of the canoe as you run the cuting edge of the plane over the stem material is the easiest way to blend the stem into the hull shape. Once this is done, you will start to use a block plane at an angle to the strips. What you're trying to do is to work away the "corners" of the strips and the saw marks in the strips. Keep in mind that your strips are not that thick. Do not stand in one place. It is much faster to use the cutting tools to remove shavings than it is to sand it off, so use the plane and spokeshave as much as possible remove material. If you get tearing of the wood fibers, either work in another direction or re-sharpen your tools. Once the major tool marks have been removed and the hull is fairly smooth, you will move on to the longboards.

Longboards are simply that - long sanding boards without sharp corners. It's hard work. No doubt. You will sand along the lenght of the boat and up over the curves of the hull - a shallow diagonal angle. The sandpaper used is often a 40 or 60 grit belt from a belt sander. All you should have to do with the longboard is to remove any tool marks from the plane and spokeshave.

Once the longboarding is done, a quick, lighthanded sanding with 80 or 120 grit paper on a random orbital sander to take out the visible scratches from the longboard and you will be done. Resist the temptation to use the edge of the sanding disc to "clean up" any problems you may notice at this stage - revert to the longboard or plane as necessary. To ensure that you are done, take a damp cloth and make sure that there aren't any visible glue spots on the hull as they show up like a sore thumb when you apply epoxy and fiberglass.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Boatbuilding Al Fresco

My favorite times teaching are when the weather is warm enough (and dry enough) so that we can build canoes out doors. It's a whole lot more pleasant than building in the shop. When fairing and sanding the hulls, it's nice to be outside as the dust and noise are a bit less noticeable.

The other big advantage is that we're very close to the barn that we store the boats in. (That's the barn in the background.) We normally move the boats down to the shop and then back out to the barn. Let's just say that it was a very short move from the barn to the workspace.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A New Method?

One of my fellow woodworking students in the furniture making class that I take is also a paddler. She made a pair of Greenland paddles for both herself and her husband and would like to make a wooden boat, but is sensitive to the cedar we use to build canoes. We've been working to figure out a way for her to build a boat, but not use cedar.

Another thing I've been looking at is how I can offer other classes. One concern that I have is that it takes a long period of time and a some skill to build a cedar-strip canoe. I've been looking for a project that will be a bit less intensive and a bit less costly. I'm still looking to have the students build a light-weight, easy to handle boat, and skin-on-frame kayaks look like a decent option. Still, these types of kayaks can be relatively complex to build.

What I've found is Thomas Yost's website. Most of the boats that he builds are based on Greenland style and Aleut style kayaks. He covers folding aluminum and plastic frame kayaks, wood-framed non-folding kayaks and inflatable kayaks. In particular, I'm interested in his simplified non-folding wood framed boats. Here are a few pictures of his work - I particularly like the clear PVC skin because it shows the framing technique very nicely.

I'm not enthusiastic about three things which are part of his method:
  • Use of relatively expensive cedar (Which my friend is sensitive to...)
  • Use of PVC skinning materials and solvent cements
  • Lack of paddler "customization"
I've been reading a few other books on skin-on-frame boats by Starr, Cunningham and Morris. What I like about what I've seen in these books is the use of white pine for the major stringers. It's strong, light and low cost and most people aren't sensitive to it. It isn't very rot resistant, but these boats aren't left exposed to water for long periods of time and the wood of the frame can be coated with waterproof finishes.

These books also suggest the use of ballistic nylon (or dacron materials) very much like George Dyson does with his kayaks. I think that this looks like a better method than the PVC as it should be lighter, look more like a traditional skin and has fewer seams - one down the center of the deck. I also like the idea that I can use water-based polyurethane finishes to cover the nylon as opposed to noxious solvent based PVC adhesives. They also seem to be tighter skins than the PVC.

Last but not least is the customization for the paddler. Scale and balance in small canoes and kayaks is critical to the paddler. It is important that the boat 'fits' the user. While Thomas Yost offers some interesting designs, they're generic and may or may not fit the user. My hope is to incorporate the framing style and use of plywood cross-sections, but to offer a way to customize the size of the cross sections to the user.

Ultimately I'd like to be building and teaching more traditional skin-on-frame kayaks like the one shown below from Robert Morris' Brewery Creek Small Boat Shop. For now, I'm going to be satisfied with getting my friend on the water in a boat of her own manufacture.

I'm planning to start the process with a small model (1/3 scale) of one of Yost's 15' boats - the Sea Tour 15R - to get a good start on the build process. I'll be adding more posts on the subject as I progress.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Turn-Off Week

No, I'm not talking about things that you don't like, I'm talking about TV Turn Off Week which is from April 20th to the 26th. I was sitting in bed upstairs working on another blog post on my computer (...for tomorrow - I think you'll like it...) with the TV on as sort of background noise. My DW comes up from working at her computer downstairs and tells me that it is TV Turn Off Week.

I thought of reaching for the remote, but just looked at her while I tried to absorb the significance of what she'd just told me. So I'm working on my computer - that's not TV. Being the wise guy that I am, I was thinking like the chimp on the right.

Well, a little bit of research has shown me that it isn't just TV Turnoff Week any more, it's now just Turn-Off Week or Mental Detox Week - depends on where you look . The idea is to get you to be aware of how much screen-time on video and digital devices we all have.

We all probably have too much time in front of these things, but it's also really important to realize how important these devices are to our daily life, too. At work, I can really no longer do what I do without a computer and the many other digital devices that we use. Even in my boat-building endeavors, I use the computer for design, drafting, research and problem-solving. Without this machine, I couldn't share the things that I do in the way that I do.

But the "off" time is equally important - to spend time with people and grow relationships at home and at work. It also is important so that I can spend time working on all the projects that I've got going on!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Tech Tip Tuesday

When you've finished glassing the outside of the canoe, you need to be able to finish the inside of the canoe. To do this, you lift the canoe off of the forms that the canoe was built on. A couple of important points here:
  • Before trying to remove the boat from the forms, check for any areas that may be problems - glue, that forgotten staple or broken fastener. They will cause problems.
  • If you didn't do a good job of taping the forms or have torn the tape, you may have bonded the hull to the forms - be careful!
  • If your boat has tumblehome, you need to be remove the forms from the strongback and twist them to remove them.
  • Have a helper or two when you do this - you'll need it.
  • Have somewhere to put the canoe when it's off the forms.
Ideally, before you bonded the bottom panels of the football together, you did a preliminary sanding on the (nearly) flat panels. (See this post and this post...) It's easier to do before the boat is assembled. Trust me.

Now that you've gotten the canoe off the forms, you need to be able to hold it right side up. There are three good ways that I've used and like - some better than others. The most universal method is the carpet cradle. They're basically a saw-horse of sorts, but instead of having a horizontal member across the top, you've got a strip of carpet set up like a hammock for your canoe. In the picture below, we've raised them up (On some, well, I'm not sure what they are, but they were in our barn...) to get a better working height. The only thing I don't like about the carpet cradles is that it swings a bit. Not bad, but not ideal.

Another pretty low-cost way is to use the foam kayak blocks taped to some sawhorses. The nice part is that you can re-use these blocks for transporting a boat. This is a decent solution and requires a minimum of materials.The last method that I'll suggest is to take your forms that are about a third of the way in from either end of the canoe and trace them onto some plywood scrap. Make sure they are short - only about 1/2 to 2/3 of the height of the full form. Use sections of foam pipe insulation to pad the plywood as shown. The cradles are mounted to the strongback with some pieces of 2-by. This arrangement works well. On this particular day, my student was trying out the fabric cradles - she'd been working on the cradle below the week before.

All of the methods allow you to roll the boat towards you to work sanding and scraping the inside. The best, in my opinion are the second and third as they aren't moving around as you're trying to work.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I suppose that's what our mice must be thinking when the little door closes behind them. However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

We have mice that come in from the cold for the winter. They must think of our attic like snowbirds think of going to the Bahamas for the season. To be honest, I wouldn't mind them so much if they weren't so destructive. We often hear them scratching, skittering and creating a general ruckus overhead at meals and when we were in bed. One evening, it even sounded like there was a LARGE animal in the back of DD's closet with a big bag of potato chips.

They've got to go.

It is exceedingly difficult to get to them, however. We have an a small, but inaccessible, space above our kitchen table and a large attic space with a small hatch in the back of a closet which is equally hard to get to. Setting traps in these spaces is difficult or impossible and I really don't want to have to get up into these spaces to retrieve the traps on a regular basis. The mice do, however seem to transit though the basement on their way in and out of the house and I set my traps down there. It seems to be a good location.

I'll admit that I'm soft. I don't use snap-traps, glue traps (There was a great Graham Norton Show episode where he talked about catching a mouse on a glue trap only to discover this didn't kill the mouse. He decided to try to drown the mouse in a bucket only to happen to have a mouse rafting around the bucket with a free paw.) or poison to get rid of my mice. (I have this very strange and slightly melodramatic image of poisoned mice grabbing their little throats just before keeling over...) I use live-catch traps that are baited with peanut butter. They seem to enjoy the peanut butter, and it doesn't go bad like cheese.

I check the traps on a daily basis. This week was a good week. I got two mice. One, poor bedraggled mouse was so exhausted after we caught him, that he only wanted to curl up and go to sleep. My DW wrote about this mouse here. When I finally took the mouse out to the woods, he didn't want to get out of the jar that I'd put him in to show him to DS and DD. He finally wandered away, albeit very slowly. The second was full of energy and was literally bouncing up and down in the jar like a miniature kangaroo. At one point, the mouse was hanging upside down from the rim of the lid. This mouse was a bit quicker to leave the jar, but not much more. Here's a picture of the second mouse begging to be let out of the jar.

DW tells me that the mice I set free will just tell all thier friends and relatives about the wonderful hotel we're running with the chauffeur service and come back to partake in our hospitality. I let them go in the woods a fair distance from the house near a brush pile and the compost bin - mouse luxury apartments and smorgasbord.

Personally, I'd like to get a cat who was a mouser, but DW isn't really up to the idea of having another cat in the house. (She's been putting off an allergy test to find out if she's allergic to cats because she wants to keep the thought that she *might* be allergic to cats.) The last cat we had in the house was both pampered and lazy and really didn't have much interest in the mice. When I caught a mouse a few years ago, I put the mouse in a jar to show DS and DD ("Daddy, he's soooo cute - can we keep him?") it took me several tries to get the cat to even take notice of the small grey ball of fluff that was washing the peanut butter out of his fur in the jar. Perhaps a more poorly fed cat is required...

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Bunnyphoria : The euphoric feeling after eating an entire chocolate Easter bunny all by yourself. (Starting with the ears.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday

"Use your head for something besides a hat-rack!"

This particular admonition is seared into my brain. This pearl of wisdom was delivered ad nauseum by my father - particularly during the teenage years of both my brother and I. Basically, it's the "think before you do" argument and as I get older and have children of my own, I find myself delivering similar messages which also seem to be studiously ignored. I can only hope that in the future, these gems will be dredged up from my children's gray matter and put to use.

I've been working on a little project for quite some time. It is a new bookshelf unit for the living room that I designed. Stylistically, this piece of Shaker furniture was designed to match other pieces in the house that we already have. DW and I have decidedly different tastes in furniture and Shaker is modern and clean enough for her ("No twiddly bits!") and classic enough for me. In the picture below, the shelves (already finished) are installed and the door panels have been pre-dyed before assembly, which is why they appear to be a different color. Knobs, some sanding and finishing and the installation of lights are yet to go...

The bookshelf actually consists of three separate cases that are bolted together. To give you an idea of scale, the center unit is seven feet tall and the whole assembly is about nine feet wide. I had some help recently getting the center unit into the basement so that I could wrap up the woodworking and major assembly to prepare for finishing. The shelf was brought into the basement through our hatchway and put on the floor to the left of the posts. It was no mean feat. I was happy to get the case in and didn't quibble about its placement. It was later, once I was alone, that I realized that I didn't have enough space to assemble all three pieces where the center section lay. I also couldn't move it between the two posts in the picture without turning it.

I could hear my father's voice echoing in my head. "Use your head for something besides a hat-rack!"

So, I did.

The cardboard tube was in my garage. I'd gotten it to store rolled drawings, but decided it would better suit my needs cut into short lengths. They became rollers. I lined them up next to the case, tipped it onto its side and the rollers at the same time and rolled the case effortlessly into a good location. Simple and slick - no damage to the crown molding or quarter-round from sliding or dragging the piece on the floor. If you're working hard at something physically, you're probably not thinking hard enough.

I guess Red Green has it right, "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy!" (Who?)

Monday, April 13, 2009

You know what they say about rabbits...

Apparently it is true. When I left for work this morning, this is what I saw on the dining room table:

And when I returned, I saw this:

I didn't buy two dark chocolate rabbits.


Space-Time Continuum Sorta Thang.

I've reconsidered my stand on blaming the dryer for eating socks.

The washer gets off the hook, too.

I figure it is much more of a space-time continuum sort of thing. As I was folding laundry last night I discovered the fact that the socks both appear to exist, but seem to be unable to exist in the washer and dryer at the same time. There must really be some serious physics associated with this. I'm sure Einstein would be really proud of this new branch of theoretical sock physics.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Flavor of the Day

Yesterday, my flavor was changed to Mahogany. Swietina, to be exact. In class yesterday, a student and I milled some laminations for making his stems. I was covered again. Here are the stems in place on a Wee Lassie Two.

Here's another boat - a Wee Lassie. The bottom panels have been glued into place and the glue is curing.

Last but not least is the kayak. The two bottom panels are fitted. If you can't tell, it was a big day for the class with lots of 'milestone' work. They should be proud of what they've accomplished. If you can't tell, we also used LOTS of inner tubes. Good thing we've got lots of them!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I haz...

Tonight, my flavor is 'cedar'. I went up to a friend and former student's house to help him rip and mold some stock for a new canoe that he is building. He lives about a half-hour away in an area that was incredibly hard-hit by ice storms this past December. I hadn't been up to this area for a while and I was just stunned by the damage that I saw to the trees. It will take years to clean it up. I didn't think to take pictures at the time, I was too busy taking it all in, but areas looked like a bomb had gone off. People were cleaning up in their yards and there were large stacks of cordwood in many yards.

My friend is building a Solo Portage designed by Rob Macks of Laughing Loon. Ideally, he would have liked to build the canoe from Northern White Cedar. He managed to find some great sources for clear stock, but didn't find any that was long enough for his purposes as he didn't want to have to scarf the strips for this build - primarily for cosmetic reasons. Northern White Cedar is about 20% lighter than other Cedars and this boat will be portaged into remote lakes for fishing trips, so light weight is very important.

He finally chose to use a mix of Atlantic White Cedar and Western Red Cedar, but to cut the strips thinner - 3/16" instead of the 1/4" that I usually recommend my students use. This fellow is an above-average woodworker and his first build was a staple-less Wee Lassie Two that came out beautifully. The Atlantic White cedar was rough-cut stock, so we planed it down to thickness and then jointed it. The Western Red Cedar was planed and jointed and could be ripped as is.

The set-up that we used was a pair of Freud Diablo blades. Here's the gang sawing assembly set up on his saw from a previous post. Another view of a similar set up is here. Being able to cut two strips at a time really cuts the time down. Less than half the time of strip at a time. There were eight boards that were 16 feet long and six to eight inches wide. We got about 200 strips out of these boards.

After we got the strips cut, I was covered in sawdust. The zero-clearance insert works very well for its purpose, but prevents the dust collection system on the table saw from doing a very good job. For this reason, a good dust mask and eye protection are required equipment. Hearing protection and gloves are also not to be forgotten. My flavor of the day had arrived.

We then cleaned up the table saw and set up the router table. I've designed a router table that uses two Porter-Cable Model 690 routers to cut both the cove and bead on a strip at once. I taught my friend to set up the table. We did something that I haven't tried before, but looks like it will work fine. We used 1/8" radius cutters (used for 1/4" thick strips...) and centered them on the 3/16" thick strips. This produced strips that didn't have full radii, but that still nested very well. I left him to finish milling the strips on his own as it was nearly dinner time.

The router table with dust collection and feather boards.

A board serving as the router's outfeed table.

It was a pleasant day with good company. As we worked, we discussed tools and methods and I think that we both learned some new new things, which always makes for a great time. I'm looking forward to seeing his progress on this new canoe!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

An Assassin in Our Midst

DW is convinced that we have an assassin in the house.

I, on the other hand, am not convinced. As far as I am concerned, there are at least two suspects, perhaps more. With each passing week, there are more widows and orphans than there were the week before. A couple of times a week, in our bedroom, things look a lot like this:

The come into the world as twins, but suddenly cruel life intervenes and they are alone, truly alone in the world. DW figures that the washer is the killer, but I've been suspecting the dryer for a long time. Don't you think the one on the left looks a little "shifty"?

In the past week or so, DW had received a shipment that she had been longing for. New socks, knickers (underwear for you lot...) and assorted undergarments from Marks & Spencer. As long as DW has lived here in the US, she seems to have this attachment to Marks & Spencer's underwear and will not live without them. When we go to visit the UK, at least one shopping trip involves a stop at M&S to shop for underwear. A few weeks ago, an online friend pointed her in the direction of a special free shipping offer and she was in heaven. She ordered items for herself, DS and DD.

Last night, a load of laundry came upstairs to be sorted and put away. It included some of the newly arrived M&S booty. In particular, there were socks, for DS. DW claims to have dumped the brand new package of socks straight into the washing machine. When DW came upstairs, she was less than pleased to discover that one of the socks from the DS's new set was already missing! She cursed the washing machine to the last bearing and bolt.

I still maintain that it's actually the dryer.

To be honest, I sometimes wonder if the missing socks have actually gone to a better place. I can only hope.

Then again, after spending all this time wondering about the missing socks, it makes me question my sanity a bit. Perhaps a little self-help reading is in order.

Wordless Wednesday

The canoe : the original SUV

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday

After the outside of the hull has been fiberglassed, we take the hull off the forms (hopefully it didn't stick anywhere!) and create a cradle to hold the canoe while we work on the inside. I use the forms to create a "female" profile out of plywood that is a bit short so that no plywood bits stick up. We usually pick two patterns that are about a third of the way in from the ends. We then use a piece of foam pipe insulation to cushion the plywood and attach mounting blocks to put these patterns on the strongback. The pieces get slid in from either end until they hold the hull snugly in position. We mark the locations, remove the boat and screw the mounting blocks in place. I'll get a better picture of this simple set-up and post a picture. I prefer this to cradles made with carpet as work isn't happening on a swinging canoe.

Cleaning up the inside of the hull is usually my least favorite part of the building process. If you have done a good job on the hull building and glue clean-up as you build, it usually isn't too difficult. Getting the glue off requires some work 'tho. I used to use a curved cabinet scraper to remove most of the glue until I discovered the tool below:

It's a molding scraper from a company named Pacific Handy Cutter and is called a Pro-Prep Scraper. It works very well and holds an edge for a long, long time. While I don't often recommend specific tools, this is one that I will. It's available from a variety of stores including Hamilton Marine and The WoodenBoat Store. I prefer the scraper blade shown above, but I do modify it just a bit by rounding the sharp corners. This keeps it from gougeing the hull. After this, a bit of sanding with a random orbital sander and some 80 grit paper, finishing up in the ends by hand, and you're ready for more 'glass.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Details, details...

When we finally get the bottom of the canoe glued together, it is now time to pay attention to the stems. The picture above shows what we normally end up with after stripping. If we had taken pains to finish the stripping very carefully at the bow and stern, we could proceed to fairing and fiberglassing the hull. I like to have my students do one more step and to laminate an outer stem made from hardwood. I think it is a better-looking and more professional detail. I prefer hardwood here because this area - particularly the bow - bears the brunt of any impacts the boat might have. While the fiberglass and epoxy coating on the outside of the canoe is very flexible, and generally will spring back from an impact, the soft cedar of the hull (or stem material) will crush and not come back to it's original shape. This causes a delamination of the fiberglass and epoxy from the wood and generally requires a bit of repair. Hardwood stems tend not to crush as easily and provide for a more durable buffer.

The first thing I like to do is to find out where the end of the inner stems are located along the keel. You can either mark this position before you bond the football in place (note the pencil mark in the picture above - top right...) or you can come out from the line of staple holes at the station nearest the stem and mark a distance of about 1-1/2" towards the end of the canoe. The reason is that you are about to make a cut into the hull to accept the stem and you want to make sure you will be having the inner stem behind your cut. The inner stem hides this cut when you come through the hull, so it will not be seen from the interior. I like to cut down into the hull at an angle as shown above. (The reason is solely cosmetic. You could just cut straight down, but I think you'll like the detail shown in the last picture. ) I then stop cutting when I reach the inner stem. This cut is usually made with a chisel.

Another view - note the lighter colored wood of the stem.

This cut is then extended along the hull up towards the sheer line. I am trying to accomplish three things here. First, I want to have the width be fairly uniform (within about an 1/8" or so) when viewed from the end. I also want it to be a smooth, fair curve when viewed in profile. Last, but not least. I want the "flat" of the rabbet to be perpendicular to the main axis of the canoe so that the stem isn't twisted when it is laminated in place. The canoe shown in these pictures is a Wee Lassie II, designed by Mac McCarthy. I have a small problem with the way the bow and stern are designed, because the profile gives a section that is a bit wide at the bend. This leaves us with a hollow when trying to keep the width constant. This area gets filled with wood flour, epoxy and fumed silica made into a peanut butter consistancy. The stems are then laminated in place after the epoxy cures and is cleaned up. A bevel that matches the cut in the picture above is sanded into the end of a stack of thin strips. A hole is drilled for a small wire nail near the top of the curve to keep the stack of glue-slick strips from sliding. A cleat is installed under the strongback to wrap inner tubes around. With the pack of strips glued up, it is installed and the inner tubes hold the stem together while the glue cures. Note the spring clamp that was used to keep the strips from sliding side to side. Handy.

The picture below shows the end result when you're done fairing and glassing the hull - what you see is a neat little arrow-head detail that I think is pretty sharp-looking. It is particularly impressive when you have contrasting woods for the stem and the hull.