Sunday, June 22, 2008

Future Improvements

The model canoe is finished and served as a fantastic building project into understanding the building process. Even though it isn't up to the standards of Ted Behne and his amazing museum quality models, I'm still happy with my humble boat despite its rougher lines.

In any event, the experience has me fantasizing about the full scale model. Working on the model has helped me understanding areas of improvement I would need to focus on to really build a worthy craft.

Here are some things I would do differently (some cosmetic, some structural)

1. Fresh Roots - the kit provided some roots that had obviously been through many boiling / drying cycles resulting in a darker colour. While I liked the darker tone as accents, the ease in which I collected my own roots and the quality of the splitting/lashing would make me want to harvest and use fresh roots as much as possible.

2. When I split the ribs from the provided rib stock, I ended up soaking the plank over night and splitting while it was wet as many books mention. One chapter in Gidmark's book mentions builder Jim Jerome favouring soaking the wood but letting it partially dry out to prevent fraying. While splitting the ribs, many of them ended up fraying and when fully dried, left an uneven texture that didn't smooth out even with sandpaper.

3. I'd probably use less gum on the inside (went a little overboard to ensure it wouldn't leak) as well as taping seam borders with masking tape to contain the sticky mess.

4. In this model, I was worried about tearing bark on the gores while stitching, so they were left unnecessarily wide. In fact after viewing more models and re-watching Jim Miller's DVD, the gore stitching looks cumbersome and bulkier in my model. Jim didn't even stich the gores on his model, just gummed up the seams while many of Ted's models don't have any sticky gum on the stitched gores them making them look "cleaner"

5. I should've made the thwarts from hardwood. I had plenty of birch, maple, cherry scraps on hand but got lazy and just used cedar. These got the job done of stretching apart the gunwales but also ended up splitting or cracking during the lashing process and look damaged.

6. In the full scale one, I think I'll make use of winter bark panels to etch out some designs.

In any event, this whole experience has been very rewarding personally and if any readers care to make their own model, hopefully my experiences can make your build a tad bit easier.

As an extra note, I've just noticed that Ted Behne will be at the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association's Annual Assembly, this year appropriately held Peterborough, Ontario (July 16-20th). He's there on the Saturday so I intend to head up there for the day and talk canoes with this fantastic builder first hand.

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