Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Taking it Up a Notch

Since I started this hobby, a few people have jokingly asked when I'd move up to canoe building. Well that day has come...sort of. Yesterday I received my long awaited kit of materials from John Lindman at The Bark Canoe Store. How am I going to build an authentic birch bark canoe in a Toronto condo? Well, this one is a 3 ft scale model - but it's built with the exact same methodology as a full scale one. My intention is to learn these skills sufficiently to attempt a full sized 12-14 footer in the near future.

To that end, I've been reading voraciously on the topic of bark canoes. Some of the stuff I've gone through include: Bark Canoes: The Art and Obsession of Tappan Adney by John Jennings; Adney's Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America; David Gidmark's books (Building a Birchbark Canoe: The Algonquin Wabanaki Tciman, Birchbark Canoe: Living Among the Algonquins, The Indian crafts of William & Mary Commanda); John McPhee's Survival of the Bark Canoe; video study with Cesar's Bark Canoe as well as the outstanding Silvetip productions DVD of Jim Miller. Plenty of wisdom and detail within all these works makes the whole effort actually feel achievable.

Anway, the kit was well packaged and I was surpised to see that one part of the plywood framed box was meant to be the model's building bed, complete with drilled holes to fit 1/4" dowels as stakes for the inital building process. Unfortunately, this plywood piece had cracked nearly 1/3 down one end and warped a bit due to shipping trauma. I'm confident however that I can make a suitable building bed substitute with material on hand.

The packaging, Building bed plywood (top of box), Box Contents

Once laid out on the table, the contents became more obvious. They included an instruction booklet and John's own DVD (to add to the growing library) as well as all the materials necessary for the build: Cedar pieces for the gunnels, sheathing, ribs, thwarts; spuce root coils; pine rosin; 3 pieces of bark; 1/4" dowels for staking; clothes pines for clamping; round toothpicks for pegging; and a steel crooked knife for carving.

Materials all laid out

This is going to be a doozy of a project which I intend to post on whenever I need a distraction from the paddle work. Guess I may need to slightly modify the title of the blog now.

1 comment:

Mungo said...

That looks fascinating, can't wait to see how it turns out. My dad's been building museum-quality model ships for 40 years now, and was raised in a house with several ships always in the process of being built.

Hope you post pictures along the way!



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