|This is the second canoe that i
have built. Because my first was such a success i couldn't wait to to get
cracking with the next one. I hoped that the final canoe this time would
not need an out-rigger to keep it stable. I also wanted a larger and wider
canoe that was not as deep as my last. Making a flatter bottom on this
canoe would mean that it would be more stable on the water.
Obviously it would be impossible write about everything that i did along the way because that would be a hell of a lot of writing, but i'll show you the basic concept.
The boat building methods you use will vary according to to materials you have chosen or the purpose of the canoe etc.
I worked to no plans when making this canoe. You have to just work with the materials you have to hand.
By the way, i am not a professional canoe builder! But it just goes to show what you can do with a bit of determination!
You will hear me talking about certain parts of the canoe in this article. This diagram will help those of you who are not familiar with canoe terms to identify what part i am talking about.
|Firstly I had to make the Gunnels. I had 4 pieces of wood
that were 0.5" x 1.5". I needed each Gunnel to be 1" wide so
I glued 2
pieces of wood together for each Gunnel. Gluing
the wood in this way would also give the boat a nice shape. I clamped the
2 pieces of wood together to achieve a strong and flush join.
If I had glued the wood whilst in a straight position I would have found it hard to bend later on. I made a temporary thwart for the centre to give the gunnels their shape.
Once the the glue had dried I took the clamps off and the thwart out. The separate gunnels had kept their shape nicely.
|The next job was to make the ends of the gunnels fit flush
together. I did this by using various straps and clamps to hold the gunnel
ends together whilst i used a Tenon saw to to shape the ends to the right
angle as shown in the diagram.
If you push the saw between the two ends repeatedly you eventually get reasonably flat surfaces. You have to be patient with this job! it can take quite a while.
|Once the ends were shaped it was time to fit the thwarts.
(Its not time to fix the ends together yet!)
Make sure the thwarts are perfectly aligned. The thwarts need to be strong as they help to Keep the boat in shape. I just used screws to fix them in place.
|Once the thwarts were fitted i then drilled wholes in the bottoms of the gunnels 3/8" wide. I drilled a whole every 4".I will later on fit the ribs into these wholes.|
|The next job is to make the stem pieces for the ends of
the canoe. I used 0.5" exterior ply wood to make these. I needed them to
be 1" thick so i cut two identical stem pieces and stuck them together
with external wood glue. (i cut the ply wood using an electric jigsaw. The
only power-tool i used in this whole project). I had to do this twice to
make a complete stem piece for each end.
|Complete stem pieces.|
|I made a single rib from willow to gauge the
depth of the canoe, i fitted this in the centre. I didn't want the canoe
to be any deeper than 12" in the centre.
Using trestles to put the canoe on whilst working on it makes life so much easier!
|You can see from this picture how the keel batten is
connected to the stem pieces with a simple joint. Screws were used to
permanently fix the pieces of wood together.
(the keel batten is a piece of wood that runs along the bottom of the boat just like a longitudinal. I used 1"x1" wood.)
I didn't cut the stem pieces level with the gunnels because later on i want to add Indian style ends to the canoe.
The keel batten needs to be bent slightly so that the canoe is deeper in the middle. This will enable your canoe to turn easier in the water.
When you are satisfied with the position of the parts you can fix them in place. (i used more screws.)
|It is time to start making more ribs. I used
Willow wands about 0.5" thick, i chose the lengths of willow that were as
straight and even as possible. I bent them to shape whilst still fresh and
green. To bend a rib like this you need to be careful and bend them
gradually because they are very brittle when freshly cut from the tree.
The shoots that appear around fallen willow trees are sometimes ideal.
You can kneel on the rib where you want to bend it and then lift the ends up to create a bend. Another good way to bend the wood is to bend it round the curve of a stem piece on your canoe. You might find that a lot of the ribs will break so its a good idea to collect more than you need.
When you have made the bends in the wood they will just spring back straight again when you let go. To keep them to the right shape you can fit them temporarily between the gunnels and clamp them in place. When the willow has dried you can remove the clamps and the ribs will have kept their new shape.
You want the bottom of the canoe to be reasonably flat so that it is stable. If the fresh ribs are bowed upwards too much then you could hang a couple of weights from the centre to pull the bottoms flatter.
When the willow wood dries for each rib you can cut the excess wood off the ends and carve the ends thinner so that they fit into the socket wholes in the gunnels.
|Keep making more ribs and keep on fitting them. This is a lengthy process but don't give up! I glued them in permanently later on when i was sure that they were in the correct position.|
|The next job was to make the Longitudinals. (the canoe was really taking shape by now!) I made the longitudinals from Willow wood too. I used long lengths of straight willow that i carved flat. I clamped the wood to the ribs and stems so that they take their new shape. When the wood dries they will not spring back to their previous shape.|
|I made 6 longitudinals in total. The bottom two longitudinals are round and they end about 3" past the last ribs.|
|When the longitudinals are dry you can now glue all the
ribs in permanently and tie the longitudinals permanently to the ribs
where the two cross each other. The ribs and longitudinals cross in a lot
of places so you have got a lot more work to be doing. I had to tie them in
over 100 places!
|the four longitudinals that extend to the stem pieces are screwed in place|
|You need to choose a very flat material to bind everything together with. I used the centre fibres out of tent guy line. If the binding material creates a lump it will be seen through the canvas. Tie the knots on the inside of the canoe.|
|I also carved some floorboards from willow and tied them in too.|
|Once i had tied everything in place the whole structure
felt very strong and rigid.
I began to work on a seat. I had some nice strong Beech wood and some ratchet straps. they worked nicely.
|You can use either of these kinds of joints to join the wood together.|
|This is the finished seat. the way it is constructed if easy to see from the pictures.|
|It is tacked on the underneath with Blue Tacks|
|If the ends of the seat were each attached to one rib this
would put considerable strain on these ribs. To overcome this problem the
seat is attached to a batten of wood on each side. Each batten is then
tied to six ribs so that your weight will be distributed over a larger
The ends of the seat are cut to the exact length and angle to fit the canoe. The front edge of the seat should be located at the centre of the canoe so that your weight is slightly to the back.
|The seat is attached to dowel pegs that are glued into the the edge battens but not the seat so that the seat can be removed. You will have the choice to kneel or sit in your canoe this way.|
|The last thing i did before attaching the canvas was to
make those Indian style ends.
I simply used some straight sections of wood for these and cut a curve in the top edge. I then had to cut the correct angles on either end so that they connect to the top of the stem and gunnels correctly. They were then permanently attached with screws.
|Now the fun part! I used 9.5oz canvas from
Make sure you buy canvas with plenty of extra length and width. Its better to have too much than not enough.
I didn't have much experience when it comes to stretching the canvas over the canoe so i asked a fellow friend canoe builder. He told me:
"You will have to split the canvas to do the stems. Put that
beautiful canoe frame upside down on some trestles, preferably tie the
frame to the trestle so it does not move too much. Fold your canvas along
the length to give yourself a centreline you can mark that with a marker
of some description, drape your canvas over the whole thing and put your
centreline on the keel, you can put a few tacks to hold the canvas in
place along the keel, start one end with a couple of tacks then go to the
other end, stretch the canvas and tack, then put a few tacks every foot or
so. Then from the middle of one side you can pull the canvas tight and
tack it along the gunnel, start in the middle, level with a tack on the
keel, so you can stretch the canvas without distorting it too much: like
that: tack 1 then 2 then 3 then 4 then 5, 1 being the middle. Make sense?
If you follow this you shouldn't go wrong! This guy knows what he's on about!
|All that was left to do was to paint the canvas and fit
some wood along the edge of the canoe to protect the canvas and tacks.
You should give the canoe two coats of undercoat and two coats of over coat. Just use enough paint to fill the weave of the canvas. Use paint suitable for wood and metal for indoor and external use. I also gave the canoe a light sanding with very fine sand paper after each undercoat.
The last job was to fit the wooden beading along the edge of the canoe to cover up the edge of the canvas. Use galvanised nails to attach this otherwise you may get rust stains in the future. With a bit of persuasion and help from my clamps the beading bent to the shape of the Indian style ends.
|The whole build took 52 days in total! An ideal summer
A massive thank you to Jojo over at www.Bushcraftuk.com For all your help!! You are a great man! drawn diagrams are by Jojo too! Without Jojo's advice I couldn't have built this beautiful canoe!
For more information about the canoe visit http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22518