Monday, July 14, 2008

Full Sized Building Bed

I've officially begun construction of the full-sized birchbark canoe, but am resigned to the fact that it was begun too late in the season and will not be finished by the end of my holiday time this summer. With the impending birth of my little one, 2 more paddle commissions in the works, and the fact that I'm spending weeks of free time scouting and legally harvesting the materials entirely on my own, this inevitably will need to be an ongoing project. The good news is that I've been planning the build in the heated garage at our winterized chalet up north so if all goes well and I get all the raw materials harvested now, the build can continue when the weather turns colder.

At any rate, I started the first step which is the construction of the building bed. The most expensive purchase for the build for so far has been the 2x10 boards from HomeDepot that will make up the structure (total = $60 CND). With some 3" deck screws I had on hand and some scrap 2x4s cut to appropriate width, the boards were secured together and mounted on sawhorses.

2x4 bases; 2x10s layed out on edge

Securing the boards; Up on Sawhorses

Using the plywood form from my model canoe as a guide, I marked out the centre, intermediate, and end-thwart lines directly onto the building bed adjusting to appropriate scale. Width dimensions were also taken and at these points, panel nails were tapped into place to serve as guides. Then, a long piece of thin cedar scrap was bent around these nails to form the natural curve of the hull which was sketched in pencil onto the bed. After repeating three more times, I was left with a sketch of the building frame in position. This isn't a necessary step and I'm sure many builders skip this entirely, but I found sketching the position on the bed useful for the model build when trying to ensure everything is aligned properly. The exact same process will be used when I build the frame as well, but I'll need to pick up some extra plywood for that part.

Setting pins; Flexible cedar batten; Marked out canoe frame

The spots where 1-1/4" dowel holes will be later drilled were marked every foot along the hull in addition to two extra holes at the ends resulting in 26 stake positions. Instead of adding unnecessary cost of purchasing 26, 3ft dowels, I intend to harvest the stakes from deadfall in the bush and shape them with an axe.

It's a modest start to the build, but I can already visualize the hull taking shape on this building bed soon.

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