I found Brian’s youtube channel by chance and started taking interest. I didn’t specifically want a canoe, I was more interested in the build process than using the canoe itself. Living in Montreal during the Covid pandemic, I didn’t have much access to a workshop so I decided to build it in my two bedroom apartment. Living on the second floor, I took some measurements to make sure I could make the canoe fit through the door and down the balcony.
February 20th, 2022 – I bought the class and plan for the 66′ skin-on-frame canoe. I had really no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t source green wood, didn’t look at fabric or didn’t have a real plan. I just wanted to learn a little about steam bending, keep my hands and my mind busy.
February 24th and 25th, 2022 – Steam box – I went to the store and bought ¼” plywood to make my steam box. Start cutting the wood by hand with my cheap pull saw second on my mini homemade workbench I was hooked! I started celebrating my new hobby!
February 26th to March 3rd, 2022 – Test and investigation – I went to the store to look at wood and at pricing. I didn’t have access to green wood and after watching the Steam bending kiln-dried woods video and looking at pricing, I bought a plank of hickory and did some tests. I cut couple strips by hand and throw it in the bathtub with fabric softener to soak for a week or two.
March 13th, 2022 – Quick trip to my parents’ place – My parents have a homestead in the countryside. I made a stop at the store to buy some hickory boards. I started looking for planks longer than 13ft to make the gunwales. I found some hemlock boards roughly 14-15ft long. Hemlock is definitely not the best wood species for the gunwales but when it’s free…
I didn’t have much time so I ripped the hickory boards at ¼” thick and made way more than needed since I was pretty sure I was going to break a lot of them during the bending process. My goal was to make them a little bit smaller than ¼”, in average .248in on the caliper.
March 15-16-17th, 2022 – Back home – Coming back home, I moved the dining table setted up and saw horses in the dining room. I committed to having the dining room and part of the living room converted into a workshop for the next couple months.
I spent some time planing by hand the 3 planks for the gunwales. Definitely planing wood by hand takes a lot of time but it’s really satisfying!
March 18th, 2022 – Trying the steam box – I spent my Friday evening trying the steam box. I found an old kettle at the thrift store and used flexible tubing to connect to the steam box. The wood that I used was not quartersawn and I ended up breaking most of my test strips. I started soaking my newer strips that are almost quartersawn. I figured out it takes almost 2 weeks of soaking to achieve good results. I moved outside the bathtub when I needed to shower.
March 22nd to 27th, 2022 – Testing scarf joint for stringers – I had my keel piece in hemlock wood but I didn’t have any wood for the stringers. I bought some 1x3x8 framing lumber at the hardware store. I cutted a scarf joint to make 2 pieces roughly 15 ft long. I spent a significant amount of time working on the planks that will become the gunwales. Mainly using the hand planer to remove some thickness and square d up all the pieces to remove any twist in the final product.
April 7th, 2022 – Gunwales lamination – I don’t have many photos of the lamination process. I was a little stressed but everything went fine. I used gorilla glue for the lamination, it works great and the advice from Brian’s video is really good. I didn’t have enough clamps so I used rubber strips cut for bicycle tubes. It works fine but slows down the clamping process and definitely takes more time. If I had to do it again, I would buy at least a dozen more clamps. I wrapped the rubber strip on itself and twisted it over a length of 10 or 12 inches and finished it with one clamp to hold it in place.
I used the saw horses and a piece of 2×4 to set the sheer height. I used some weights to keep the piece in place.
April 9th, 2022 – Gunwales – I cleaned up the glue with a chisel when it was not completely dry. I used the hand planer to clean the remaining clean, square up the gunwales a little more and to get close to the final thickness. I saw the piece in two using the japanese pull saw. After cutting it in half, I used the hand planer once again to clean, square up and get the right thickness of my two gunwales.
April 11th – Stem – I used a 12” wide board of pine to make the stem. I chose the angle stem, trace it with the video’s instructions and cut it with the Japanese pull saw.
April 12th – Canoe rough shape – I attached the stem with and tied the gunwales with the artificial sinew. I did the mortises at this stage. I used a battery powered drill with a ¼” spade drill bit. I could fit 3 holes between the lines, then square up the mortise with a ¼” wood chisel. I had couple ribs for a previous steam bending test. It gives a rough idea of the canoe at this point.
April 21st – Rib length – I measured and cutted all my ribs for the canoe. Choosing the strip for the best application. Using the hand planer to get the right width since I didn’t planed the board before ripping the strips. I used a spokeshave and the hand planer to cut the corners of the ribs.
April 18th – Cutting the stringers – I spent a good part of the day cutting the stringers for the previously made 15ft long boards. A total of 6 cuts 15ft long on 2 different boards once again with the Japanese pull saw.
June – Canoe tied in sinew – I spent some time since April working on and off on the canoe. I bent some ribs form time to time but needed some time to soak them when a rib broke or when it was not like I wanted. I had some spare ribs stock ready but I broke a lot since I didn’t used perfect wood from the beginning. I’m still pretty happy with the result.
I used some shims when tying the sinew.
July – Canoe wood finish – When I had some time I applied the Corey’s Pine Tar Boat sauce on the frame to protect the wood. I let it sit to dry for a good 2 weeks. I’m pretty sure I could smell the citrus and pine smell for months.
August – Skin – The first week of August, I put the skin on top of the wood frame. I mainly used a soldering iron to cut the fabric. I also used a shaving blade with decent result and burnt fabric with a torch. I used the 840 Jr Ballistic Nylon from the skin boat store.
August – Urethane – I used the 2 part urethane with Venetian Red rare earth pigments from the skin boat store.
I put a large tarp under the canoe and mixed the batches. It’s a little bit stressful but the process is not hard. There’s some imperfection but nothing major. I would advice to make sure you have enough coating just next to the tape of the rub rails.
August 11th – First try in the water – I grab the canoe and softly dropped it from the balcony. I went for a first try in the water. The canoe track nicely and is not hard to maneuver. I’m very happy on how the canoe handle itself.
This was a great project! I was able to make it almost enterally by hand and in my dining room! Give it a try!
Thanks Brian and Liz!!
- Length of canoe : 13’6”
- Width of canoe: 28”
- Center depth: 10.92”
- Rib thickness: ¼”
- Depth to beam: 0.39
- Rib length to beam: 1.37
- Rocker: 1.875”
- Sheer: 6.625”
- Symmetrical, no thumblehome, angled stem
- Final weight: 36lbs
- Lee Valley – leevalley.com
- Langevin Forest – langevinforest.com
- The Skin Boat Store – shop.skinboats.com