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  • Alick Burt

Building a Wood Canvas Canoe - Part 2

To begin with I continued planking. I found it helped if I wetted the planks well and left them overnight to soak and for some pieces I even steamed the ends a little where the twisting and bending was at its greatest. I also found the tacks weren’t quite driving home tightly as I would have liked and there is some bouncing of the ribs against the form. but it is easily remedied later on at clenching stage.

Tacking planks to ribs on Wood Canvas Canoe
Wood Canvas Canoe planks and ribs

At the bow and stern, I also had another problem that was not mentioned in books or forums although a passing mention was made of some builders having it and they have different approaches to getting around it. It seems I had ended up with some gaps between the planks where they diverged at the end of the hull.

Diverging planks and split plank near keel line
The sharp turn of the keeline was just too tight!

None of the books I have read show this happening. Anyway I continued planking whilst trying to think of a solution which I shall come to later. I also replaced the split section at the top of the picture! Once the planking gets to the point where it runs out of metal backing on the form and is a plank or two from the sheer-line, it is almost time to remove the hull from the form. Before that the tacks are punched in and the hull damped down with warm water then left overnight. The plastic is on there to stop it drying out before the wood has a chance to swell.

Wood Canvas Canoe planking almost done and soon to be removed from mould
Hull damped down and covered with plastic.

This wetting allows the dents made by the hammer to swell back up before sanding. Unlike the strip built canoes I make, wood canvas canoes do not require a great deal of sanding on the outside as the hull is covered with canvas. The purpose of sanding is purely as a fairing operation to smooth the contours to shape. I begin with my fairing board working across the planks to knock off the high edges and then I go over it all again with my orbital sander taking care not to make any flat spots.

Shaping a wooden canoe hull to a fair curve
Fairing board used to sand outside of Wood Canvas Canoe hull

Sanding of the bow and stern is not complete as these planks are still loose and of course the sheer planks have yet to be fitted.

Sanding of Wood Canvas Canoe hull around bilge.
Some sanding is also done with an orbital sander.

Before we can proceed any further the hull has to be removed from the form.The clamps are removed from the gunwales and I was quite surprised by the amount of spring back that the hull exhibited. You can see this from this picture I took from under the gunwale edge.

When cramps are removed the inwale springs back off the jig
View under gunwales as the hull springs back a little.

This is normal and as you will also notice the ends of the planks are not yet tacked to the stems. This enables the hull to be removed from the form.

Once removed, the hull is placed upright on trestles and you get to see the skeletal insides in all their glory! That’s where I shall leave it for now and next time join me when the gunwales and stems will be joined together.


wood canvas canoe hull removed from mould
Hull removed from mould

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