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Building my first strip canoe

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  • Building my first strip canoe

    I finally got going tonight on my late winter project which has now become an early spring project. I am attempting to build a Wee Lassie II as described in Mac McCarthy's book Featherweight Boatbuilding. Stripperguy was kind enough to answer many questions that I had back in December when I first decided to build a canoe, and I will undoubtedly have more questions as I proceedx. I cut two small dead aspen trees in late December when we had a crust on top of the snow and dragged them to the mill by hand since I couldn't get to the woods with a tractor. I cut them into boards, cut some of the boards into strips and put the strips up by the ceiling of the shop to dry and be out of the way. Tonight I got them down and ran them through the router table to put the bead and cove on the edges of the strips. It took about 2.5 hours to bead and cove all of the strips, and a lot of them broke at knots in the process and will have to be spliced. I took a picture of the router table after I was done and had cleaned up a bit, as it was pretty well covered in dust and chips during the operation. I also traced the patterns that I got from Feather Canoes onto large sheets of paper so that I can cut them out and still have the original plan to refer to if I get mixed up. Tomorrow night I hope to cut out the forms and assemble them onto the strongback.
    Zach
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Congrats on your beginning. What a great project! Please keep us informed of your progress.
    Never Argue With An Idiot. They Will Drag You Down To Their Level And Beat You With Experience.

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    • #3
      Your probably going to need more strips, mine took 24 14' long strips per side just for the hull.

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      • #4
        Your probably going to need more strips, mine took 24 14' long strips per side just for the hull.
        Thanks, that is helpful to know how many you used. I have about 70-80 strips worth in that pile on the floor, so it sounds like I should be okay as long as I don't mess up too many. Tonight I cut out the patterns, traced them onto the plywood, cut the forms out on the bandsaw and sanded the bumps smooth with the disc sander on the Shopsmith(which is new to me, I got it for the larger lathe capacity, disc sander and line boring functions and like it a lot). The two 12' 2x6s that were on the floor partially under the strips in yesterday's photo became the strongback, and instead of sawhorse type legs I just set it temporarily on top of the long skinny workbench that normally sits right by the bandsaw and the drill press and then moved the bench over a couple of feet so I can squeak past all the way around the canoe. I used deck screws to fasten the forms to the cleats and the cleats to the strongback. The cleats are scraps of 2x4 from when I built the sugarhouse a couple of years ago that I found in the woodpile while tending the fire in the evaporator and the plywood is all 3/4" salvaged from here and there. I am a cheapskate. The keel line (can it be called that when there is no keel?) looks fairly straight with the forms positioned as they are, but I will likely need to do some fidgeting to get everything centered properly. I made a centerline on each form with a square before tracing the paper patterns, and I snapped a chalk line down the top of the strongback to try to keep everything straight. It looks like tomorrow night I will check alignment and put tape on the forms to keep the glue from sticking and put small nails into each form at the sheer line. Then I should be ready to start putting on strips, I think.
        Attached Files

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        • #5
          Zach,

          Looks good, quick work! Be sure to check all the forms for alignment using a string line, and especially be sure that the stem forms are plumb. You don't want a twisted stem...

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          • #6
            Looks like a good start. You might want to cut some holes in the bow and stern forms so you can clamp your inner and outter stems to it. And ditto on the string line, keep it on while your stripping, and check it once every few strips cause the form can move.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the advice, I put a string on it tonight. I am not using stems, I thought I would try stripperguy's method of making a fillet of thickened epoxy in that area. Last night I had only secured the stem forms to the #6 forms and not to the strongback, so tonight I started by adjusting some forms and fastening the stems, then I marked the sheer line on the forms and put in nails partway at those marks, put on masking tape, fitted the sheer strips on both sides so I could make sure everything looked symmetrical and then started up what will be the port side with strips. Working with strips was certainly different, I got more glue on my fingers than I usually do when working in the shop. The most exciting moment was when I had just put glue on a 12' strip with a knot near the middle and was lifting it into position when it broke at the knot and half of it fell on the floor. Fortunately the floor was pretty clean not too much debris got in the glue. I visited a local thrift shop yesterday and found a steam iron and a church-key which I can use respectively to pop out the dents I make and to remove the staples. You can see my trusty glue bottle on the table in the second photo, I think I will look for something with a smaller tip next time I am in town so I can apply glue more efficiently in the cove on the strips.
              Attached Files

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              • #8
                I built the same boat. You may want to cut/ drill some holes in the forms to facilitate using clamps. The strips tend to take on a mind of their own and do just the opposite of what you want, especially at the curve of the forms.

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                • #9
                  Hello Zack,

                  Just wanted to let you know I am following your thread. I have searched and read most of Mike's, but am really looking for a first time builders perspective.
                  I am planning on a Rob Roy build for my son a bit into the year. I have some chores that must be done first.
                  Looking forward to your progress.

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                  • #10
                    Bluequill, thanks for the advice. So far I have been able to get the strips to follow the forms with staples, but I have had some difficulty convincing them to tighten up to each other between forms in places, especially in the "football" area where the curve is fairly tight. On the side of the strip that is under compression they seem to want to make a wave rather than stay straight, but the wave seems to remain in the last strip and the earlier ones seem to settle down as more strips are added beyond them. The handscrew in the second photo is there to bend the up part of the wave on the last couple of strips down while the glue dries. Bringing the up part down seems to also bring the down parts on either side of it up at the same time. The first photo shows what I did Friday night, on Saturday I got the afternoon off work since we're still waiting for the snow to melt to be able to do outside jobs, so I was able to put in about 6 hours between the afternoon and evening. I ran into my first major unexpected snag when I realized that the stem forms were too thick and that towards the bottom of the boat the strips were not going to meet unless they stuck out a foot or so in a sort of narwhal-like shape which was not part of the design. I removed the staples from the stem forms and #6 forms on each end and bent the strip assemblies away from the stem forms far enough so I could get in there with the angle grinder and the Kutzall disc and bevel the outside edge down to about 1/4" from 3/4". I just followed the lines of the plies in the plywood to keep it straight. Now it looks like everything should be able to line up a bit better. I cut the strips at the ends using Stripperguy's method with a handsaw on both forms to set the correct angle and began alternating adding strips on the other side with adding strips in the football. This was to give more time for the glue to dry since I was using masking tape to pull the strips up tight into the curves and had to wait for the glue to set before removing it. In a few places I forgot the tape and there are some bits of it between the strips, but it blends in with the aspen pretty well and the cross section of a strip of tape is not very big, so I hope they will not be too noticeable. On cedar I am sure it would show, but it would also be easier to see where it was and remove it in the first place. I took a couple of strip scraps and cut notches in them so I could put a strip in them cove side up to apply the glue, and that made it a lot easier. I also dug around in my empty containers collection and found an empty rennet bottle which has a flip-up square spout with about a 1/16" hole which is perfect for applying glue in the cove. One of the corners of the spout can ride along the bottom of the cove and the bead of glue is just about the right size. The bottle has to be refilled after every 5 or 6 strips but it is well worth it as it is much faster than the mustard bottle which has a spout bigger than the size of the cove on the strips. There are a lot of spots on this hull that are not as good as I would like them to be, but I do seem to be getting a little better as I go along. I think I will have lots of things to hope to do better on my next build.
                    Zach
                    Attached Files

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Tonight's progress was limited, I was running over to the sugar house every half hour to add more wood to the evaporator. Tomorrow evening should be more focused. I trimmed the center line as best I could, I do not have a small trim saw such as Stripperguy uses in his builds so I used a knife. I marked the stem form tops and the first couple of forms with a ruler and then used small finish nails and a chalk line to mark the flatter middle section all at once. I trimmed as close to the line as I could manage and then took a straight piece 30" long of 1x1 cherry strip that was going to(and may still) become some blocks in a banjo rim and cut a 120 grit PSA sanding disc into strips which I stuck to the strip. This worked well to sand the line straight and made it a lot better than the original knife cut line. There are a couple of divots but they are less than 1/4" long and do not come all the way through to the outside. The lines are looking a little less fair than I would like as I get to the curve with the strips on this side, it looks like there is a bit of a straight line instead of a curve between the three center forms here but I think it will get better as I get toward the middle. You can see it in the picture. It is only in the last couple of strips that it became noticeable. I am not sure if I did not get the middle form centered on the 2x6 or if I didn't cut the curve right, but I will try to figure it out once the hull is off the forms
                      Zach
                      Attached Files

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                      • #12
                        Zach
                        Thanks for doing this. You're making some real progress here. I haven't been able to
                        keep up as much as I would like-my work is taking off now. Do you have any plan to show her off at the Lake Harris Brew fest in May? Sure would like to see you there to get some pointers. I'd like to pick your knowledge about a git-box project as well-I'd hope
                        you'd bring an instrument or two for us to see.
                        Bill
                        "a hotdog at the park is way better than roast beef at the ritz" ... humphrey bogart

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                        • #13
                          Zach,

                          You're moving right along...kind of fun, isn't it?
                          If the sides are not quite symmetric, you may still be able to loosen the offending forms and knock them around a bit. As you already know, the wood is pretty flexible in that plane. Once the outside is glassed, you can't alter the shape much side to side.
                          Also, watch when you're stripping the transition from stem to keel. There's an awkward spot where the strips go around the stem, some hulls are more awkward than others...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Darnedsox, thank you, but I won't be able to make it to Lake Harris. I intend as I usually do to get up to the Adirondacks for a week in August. If you're ever over this way just drop me a line and I will be glad to see you, I am usually here. Stripperguy, thank you for the as always helpful advice. I am indeed enjoying the process. I didn't end up moving the forms because it seemed like the sheer line was pretty symmetrical there and I didn't want to throw it off, but I did shim a few strips about 1/8" on that form around the curve so that they stayed more convex and looked more smoothly bent. I see now that I messed up a bit when trimming the ends of the strips on the first side. I held the cutting edge of the saw parallel to the strongback instead of parallel to the line of travel of the strips, which come down to the tip of the stems. At the sheer everything is fine but I am getting a bit of a gap as I get up toward the curve. I will fill in the gap with some spare strip bits and then I will probably trim it back a bit extra and add a strip or two of cherry on the outside around the vicinity of the stem forms and shape it to be nice and streamlined. I can bend the cherry to shape and then glue it on, and I don't think it will add much weight. It should both hide the messy area and provide a bit more dent resistance to the stems, I think. Tomorrow night the fun begins as I try to fit the remaining strips into their spaces and cut them to fit tightly.
                            Zach
                            Attached Files

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Tonight I got 6 strips in. The stems were not too bad, and fitting the bottom strips has not been as difficult as I had feared, just time consuming. The keel line is a bit lumpy at present but once sanded it should straighten out again, I think. I held each strip in place and drew a line with a pencil, then cut the strip with the bandsaw to the line. Beveling seemed to go pretty easily with a block plane and a knife, the knife removed material faster but the block plane made a straighter edge. According to my best guess I have 5 more strips to put in tomorrow night and I will work on the vertical part of the stems. On the bow I will be able to pinch the whole stem together with some clamps, so that will be easier than I had thought. The stern still does look like I will need to fill the gap a bit and then cover with an outer stem. Friday night I am planning to move the canoe/strongback assembly to the kitchen of the farmhouse across the driveway from the barn where we live. I am planning some machinations involving a hand truck and some straps to get it there. There is no heat over there at present but when I need it for the fiberglass I can either scrounge up some dry wood for the stove(normally we have plenty of extra but this year I have emptied both woodsheds to keep the boiler going) or buy some kerosene and use the salamander. We are finally expecting some warmer and more springlike weather starting tomorrow.
                              Zach
                              Attached Files

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