Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tech Tip Tuesday

This past weekend was boat-building mayhem in class - that's the best way to describe it. We have boats in all stages of build - one canoe is ready for trim, another ready to be 'glassed on the inside, the kayak's deck is ready for 'glass and we're finishing up stems and putting on the first strips on all the other canoes.

There are many ways to build a cedar strip canoe. You can buy kits of pre-cut cedar strips and forms, set up your strongback and start building. Or, you can do it like we do and start from scratch. I will admit that starting from "scratch" as we do is a bit intimidating for new builders and takes a bit longer, but when my students have completed a canoe, they have an intimate understanding of the process and I'm convinced that with a few questions and some effort that they could build a canoe on their own.

The other thing is that we take extra time to make the canoes unique. Each one is an expression of the builder's individual tastes - and I encourage this as it makes the boat special to that person.

This can be frustrating to beginners as there is a fair amount of prep work before you actually start stripping the canoe. I try to break things down into small, but achievable goals to give people a sense of accomplishment:
  • Strip cutting and molding
  • Feature strips
  • Pattern copying and strongback set-up
  • Stem lamination and shaping
  • Fairing and sanding
  • Fiberglassing
  • Trim & Varinsh
All in all, I think that the builders find that it is worth it in the end. Here's a work in progress to show the beauty - note the Peruvian Walnut stems, the Walnut and Basswood feature strip and Western Red Cedar hull taking shape. I also think that they're beautiful in all stages of the building process!

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