I started this project in late October as a way to take my mind off of all the stuff that’s been going on this year. I was going to take a week off of work and see if I might get it built in that time, but life got in the way and I’ve only been able to put in a little time now and then.
I’ve earned a living for forty-five years doing various types of woodworking in my small shop. The shop is well equipped, and I’ve adapted some of the steps to take advantage of the tools I have on hand.
I found a fairly straight 4×6 at the lumber yard to use for laminating the gunwales, and used a hand plane, a string and a level to true it up.
Ripping 3/4″ cedar for the gunwales. I was lucky to find a couple clear 1×12’s at a local discount lumber yard, hence the decision to build an 11′ 8″ canoe. Though I have a table saw, I don’t have room in my small shop to rip 12′ boards, so I’m doing it on a bandsaw.
Laminating the gunwales. 50 spring clamps.
I ran the laminated stock over a jointer planer and then through a planer to clean off the excess glue and true it up, then ripped that in two on the bandsaw and planed each of the gunwales to thickness with the planer.
Routing the rib mortises using an overarm router with an X-Y vice clamped to the table. Stepping on the pedal raises the table with the gunwale into the router bit.
Rounding the edges of the gunwales.
Assembling the deck.
With the deck lashed together and leveled on the beam I used for laminating the gunwales, I used a square to scribe a line for trimming the ends.
Scribing a line on the top of the gunwales, square to the center line of the canoe.
Squared off end of the gunwales, ready for the stem.
5/4 local white oak. Jointing the edge straight prior to ripping the ribs.
Here I’ve already ripped the ribs to thickness and run one edge over the jointer to make them straight and square. The saw is set up for ripping the width of the ribs.
Rounding over the edges of the ribs using a power feeder on a router table.
Milled rib, ready to bend.
Ribs cut to length and in order.
The gunwales with stems and keel, ready for the ribs. I put a spring clamp over each rib mortise, because when I was test bending a few ribs and inserting them into the the gunwale, the gunwale occasionally cracked. I found that I if I put more twist into the ribs as I was bending them, making the ends of the ribs parallel to the mortises, I no longer had the problem.
My steam box, hooked up to a wallpaper steamer. The oak I got for ribs, though not kiln dried, had been sitting in an open warehouse for years so it was pretty dry. Before bending the ribs I spread them out outside, under cover, so that they might soak up some moisture during a couple rainy winter weeks. I found that steaming each rib about ten minutes made them reasonably flexible.
Bending the ribs. I only broke one rib. I replaced a couple that didn’t have a good shape to them.
Bending the ribs. This is in my friend Mark’s shop. Once I got to this point in the construction, I didn’t have enough room to work in my own little shop. Nice to have room to move!
The ribs are all bent and the stringers are clamped into place.
Lashing the stringers to the ribs.
Spools of artificial sinew for lashing.
I’ve roughly sawn the ends of the stringers to length, trying the get the angles so that they fit well against the stem. Some fit better than others. Here I’ve taken a piece of course sanding belt and attached it with double-stick tape to a yardstick. Pushing the stringer against the sanding belt as I moved the yardstick back-and-forth shaved wood off of the stringer until I got a good fit.
Once the stringers all fit well I removed the stems so that I could trim the height of them to a little, to adjust the rocker.
The frame, almost finished. The keel still needs to be cut to length and shaped to blend in with the stem, and the temporary thwarts need to be removed.
The frame with a coat of oil finish, ready for the skin!
Nylon fabric draped over the frame. The fabric has been cut at the stem, and is ready for stiching.