top of page
  • Alick Burt

Making a Sailing Rig for Wooden Canoes Part 1 The mast.

A while ago I read Todd Bradshaw's wonderful book “Canoe Rig the essence and the Art”

This is an absolutely stunning book and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in Canoe sailing and as many of you who may have this book may have already guessed I have become inspired to make a sailing rig to sell with my canoes!

There are many different types in the book but at present I have started making a mast and some lee boards and will proceed with a rudder and so on.

I started with cutting segments for the mast which is going to be made from 8 pieces of Cedar with a pine core at the base, boom area and top.I did a test run with an off cut to check I had the saw angle set correctly.

Then I planed up and cut out some pieces for the core.

Next four of the strips were carefully glued to the end cores one at a time letting the glue set each time. If you try and glue them all at once they slide all over the place and end up out of position!

Once the first four have set I was able to glue the rest in place with the centre core positioned where the boom will join the mast.

and at that stage I left it to set overnight.

Next day with the glue fully set I began to taper the mast foot to a square section. I am going to reduce this further when I make the foot itself and decide on its final size but for now I was just making it square.

Pic 1

After that I planned where the rest of the taper was going to be on the upper section and made a taper jig for the circular saw. Then it was a simple matter to work my way around the faces cutting them to a taper.

The next stage is to turn 8 facets into 16 and tis is best done using a plane as there really isn't much to take off and you can easily turn the plane around to avoid tears in the grain. I started with the area that is staying full size in diameter.

and then I moved onto the tapered end using a scrap of cornice to avoid denting the rounded surface.

I read in Tod Bradshaw's book that a good way to sand masts and spars is by spinning them in a lathe. The problem was my lathe is not long enough so then I hit upon an idea. Errm before I go much further “Don't Try this at Home Folks!”but it does work.

I put my tailstock in the jaws of a workmate which was lifted off the ground on four paint tins and clamped to battens which were clamped to the lathe bed. All was positioned level and then I also clamped a batten my wall cupboard ( I hope it's well fixed to the wall...)

You can see the set up here and after a test run I also made a steady using a bit of old drain pipe.

Next time after a bit more work on the mast I will move on to the Lee boards. Finally here is a little video I made of my sanding set up in action. Enjoy!

bottom of page