The Canoe is DONE

I finally really finished the canoe today! I hadn’t coated the inside of the canoe until this week, but timing and weather made it happen. Our garage is full of stuff now so I decided to spray S3 wr-lpu outside. It worked fine, especially since I wasn’t shooting for a perfect finish. I sprayed 3 coats, put the seats back in, and shazam! It’s all fini. I think we’ll take it with us when we go visit my folks. Maybe we’ll do a float done the Columbia River.

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Canoe Trip From October

I finally uploaded photos from the canoe trip we did back in October. Grady, Emma May, my buddy Barry and I went for an overnight trip up Widgeon Creek. It was a lot of fun and we had great weather. The kids were nervous in the boat for about 5 minutes and then they settled in nicely. It was long before Emma May was helping to paddle using a plastic sword and Grady was shooting everything in sight with his Stormtrooper gun. You know, all the things that people usually do when going on canoe trips… Click on any of the photos below to go to the gallery.

The launch

Barry Trudeau

Black crowned night heron

The campsite

César’s Bark Canoe

César’s Bark Canoe is a fantastic NFB (National Film Board) film from 1971, produced by Bernard Gosselin. It captures César Newashish, a 67-year-old Attikamek of the Manawan Reserve north of Montreal, building a canoe solely from the materials from the forest, including birchbark, cedar splints, spruce roots and gum.

Freedom 15 Launch!

Last weekend the family and I launched the Freedom for the first time. It wasn’t quite “finished” in that I hadn’t varnished it yet, but I wanted to wait for the weather to cool a bit before spraying the urethane. And check out that paddle in some of the pictures!







Chipping at the Freedom

After I installed the decks, I concentrated on finishing the outwales, seat placement and thwarts. The outwale install was okay but I had a couple of issues. First, I had some gaps between the cedar hull and the ash outwales. This was just cosmetic near the top surface, and I filled them with epoxy + wood flour.

Each end of the outwales was screwed through the hull and into the deck. I used a fostner bit to counterbore the outwale. Using brass screws is tricky because they are soft and need a larger pre-drill so that it doesn’t bind before the threads catch into the deck. I used some birch dowel to fill the counterbores. I would have preferred walnut dowels but I didn’t know where to get any and I didn’t want to make them.

Next I worked on hanging the seats. I simply followed the guide from Canoecraft and didn’t come across anything unusual.

Before finishing the seats I had to replace the hardwood dowels in the corners of the caning with softwood. I shaped a bunch of tapered dowels from cedar using a Japanese rasp.

One big “oops” was when I realized that I had forgotten to remove the masking tape from underneath one of the outwales when I glued it to the hull. That meant that I had to cut and scrape a whole bunch of blue tape that was epoxied to the hull. Yuck.

For painters holes, and for attaching end ropes to the canoe, I decided to use bored dowel. I bought a 1″ birch dowel from Lee Valley. I then used a 1″ spade bit to drill through the hull. The area was wet out with thickened epoxy and the dowel was slid through the hole. Once set, I used a 1/2″ spade drill bit to bore through the dowel. The fit was pretty tight between the hull and the dowel and unfortunately on one side of the hull the fiberglass/wood was stressed and displaced when the dowel was inserted. I’m not sure if there will be any last effects, only time will tell.
painters hole

Finally I varnished all of the thwarts and gunwales. I was really pleased with how the decks and gunwales turned out. The thickened epoxy I used for gap filling between the outwales and hull was a non-issue. The varnish made the wrc turn a very dark brown, which really complements the lighter gunwales that sit on either side of it.

Decks Finished

After installing the inwales I turned my attention to the decks. As usual, I pretty much followed the words of wisdom found in Canoecraft. However, there are a few interesting bits to mention. First, I managed to find a nice piece of sapele at a local lumber store. There was about 1 board.ft sitting in a bin of scrap wood that they use for stacking lumber. I still had to pay for the wood, but at least I only needed to buy a small piece. It cost me $10.


I resorted to a few more sluggo special jigs for the deck glue-up and shaping:
shaping jigdeck glue-upcurve tracing

I had some problems screwing the decks into the inwales. First I predrilled with a 1/8″ bit for #8 screws. I got a couple of screws in, but then I broke one. Next I predrilled 1/8″ into the deck, and then 5/32″ through the inwale. I still broke a screw. Finally I settled on this pattern: start with a 3/8″ forstner bit for countersink, drill 5/32″ through the inwale and deck, then finally drill 3/16″ through the inwale.

I managed to shape the decks ok and the fit was pretty good for me. I had some Elmers wood filler that did an excellent job of filling gaps between the cherry and sapele:
wood filler
And used thickened epoxy for gaps between the decks and the inwales. Once it’s sanded I think it will look quite okay.
deck in place

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