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  • Alick Burt

Peterborough's 10 and 11 How I make my Canoes. Part 2

In order to save people having to scroll down to read the later parts of this blog I have decided to split it into sections.In addition for most of this week I have been out of action with the flu so today which was my first day back my progress was still a little slow.

Last week I marked and cut the centre line on the first hull. This is achieved with the help of a simple jig to transfer the centreline from the stations on the mould to the top of the planking (on the bottom of the boat).

Then the line is cut out carefully whilst avoiding cutting into the stations and then the cut is trued up with a rebate plane checking periodically with a straight edge.

Next comes a tricky bit as the rest of the planking has to be carefully cut to fit and squeezed into position plank by plank. It is slow work as the angled cut at the end has to be shaped to fit on one end first. Then a mark is made at the middle of the plank to show where the other end should be fitted up to in order for it to fit when the plank is sprung into position with glue in the bead as before.

As work progresses the angle of each plank changes and the amount of twist required at the ends becomes less then just as you are thinking things are going to get easier you find the planks are getting shorter which means they are tighter and more awkward to spring into place. I completed the first hull to this stage just before I was struck down by the flu. You will notice I haven't quite finished and I have left these last planks as they are the trickiest of all and I wanted to have a clear head.

Today I worked on the second hull (notice the different pattern) in an effort to get it to the same stage but as I am in the final stage of shaking off my illness and didn't want to bring on a relapse I didn't quite make it still at least I made some progress and this is where I left it for now.

Next day I continued planking and closed both of the bottoms.This is tricky as the last planks have to be shaped to fit the space before being slid into position and held whilst the glue sets. I begin by placing the last two planks over the hole. You will notice they have been glued together and also the bead and cove have been removed so they will slip down into place.

The planks are held in position and marked from underneath.I have turned it over so you can see the line.

Then it is cut and planed to fit and glued in place with a prop to the ceiling and bungees to tighten up the hull.

The process is then repeated on the second hull.

and while they set I was able to start planking the corners.

and that was another day over.

Next day began with the removal of staples. There are over 400 on each boat I didn't count them!

I use a staple remover and I put the unsharpened edge of my scraper under it to prevent the wood getting bruised. Some of the staples will break if you pull them too hard or too quickly so it is good to take your time especially on the ones that are into the harder Ash stems at each end.

Five hours later with all staples removed the bow and stern need to be tidied up.

They are trimmed with a coping saw first.

Then the cut is shaped with a spokeshave.

Now comes one of the most satisfying parts of the process as the shape of the hull is now refined by careful spokeshaving of the flat areas on each plank edge. It is also important to note that this saves time that would otherwise be spent sanding and the result is a nice pile of shavings as opposed to a lot of sanding dust. I have yet to meet a woodworker who relishes sanding anything but I have met plenty who like making shavings!

Next day I continued spokeshaving both hulls all day. It is important to note that you are not cutting the whole width of each plank but just the areas that need it. The wood grain will try to tear at times and the trick to avoid this is to stop as soon as you feel it begin and work from the opposite direction. Working diagonally across the planks can also help as can using a scraper.

It is important to have sharp tools and for this reason I have two spokeshaves on the go so I don't have to stop and sharpen them part way through one side of a boat.

Here is the second hull after spokehaving.

The next stage in the process is to fill any gaps in the planking. Years ago before the invention of epoxy and fibreglass strip canoes were made that were purely coated with varnish and put on the water. The joints were so good they didn't leak but the construction required ribs and many more hours work than my boats. On my boats before glassing all the gaps must be filled as any air pockets will lead to nasty bubbles in the resin. The filler is a mixture of epoxy and sawdust so it has to be left to set overnight. First the dust is removed.

One problem with epoxy filler is that it can take a while to clean off the excess so on one hull I am trying the use of masking tape either side of each crack on the other I am just putting the filler on directly.

Once all the filler was applied I still had some time left so I marked out and cut the sheerlines.

A thin bit of timber is bent and clamped in place to use as a rule when marking the cut.

and here is one of them cut to a pleasing curve.

and that is where I shall leave it for today.

Next comes another round of scraping to clean up the filler.

Then I spokeshaved the stem edge in preparation for the brass keel strip which will be screwed to the flat surface.

Now comes the sanding which starts with 120 grit and an orbital sander. Some people like random orbit sanders but I am not a fan of them as I find them difficult to control particularly on compound curves like these hulls.

Then comes more filling though this time I am using a more user friendly filler that dries quickly. The holes I am now filling are smaller than the gaps I worked on earlier.

The hulls are then damped down to raise the grain. This prepares the timber for a final sand and also helps to remove any small dents.

The final sanding is done by hand to and this takes out any circular scratches left by the orbital sander.

finally the dust is cleaned off

The cloth is unrolled with great care over both hulls and as even your skin can catch the weave leaving a mark that will show gloves are worn.

As you can see the cloth is not very flat at this stage so next it is brushed down very carefully with a brush being careful not to snag it.The ends can also be gently tugged to help with this process.

This being at the end of another day I left them overnight and prepared myself for a long day of resin application which continues in Part 3.

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