Saturday, February 25, 2017

Another Ontario Paddle Maker: David B of Red Hill Woods

Had the pleasure of meeting another custom paddle maker yesterday during a quick visit to the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show. Dave Borsellino of Red Hill Woods had a very eye-catching display of his paddles and other wood working items. Here are some of the samples from his website.





With the standard fare of commercial paddles being sold at various booths it was great to see a woodworker with a passion for custom designs. Apart from his paddle creations, Dave also makes wooden bows of various styles and woods, hand-made arrows made of sitka spruce and the accompanying leather craft as well. Most impressive!



For those in the Toronto area, the show continues until 5pm Sunday (February 26, 2017). If you can't make it and wish to learn more about Red Hill Woods, here is the link to their contact form.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

1860s Woodland paddle update

Here's an update regarding a beautiful antique paddle dated to circa 1860...

 
WOODLANDS CANOE (Ottawa?) PADDLE 
circa 1860
74 x 6 1/2 in.
Estimate : $500 - $700
Realized : $1,600
Maple
Traces of red and grey paint.
Engraved and stained decoration of top of grip


Originally listed as sold on the Stair Auctioneers and Appraisers auction site (May 23, 2009 Past Auction catalogue), the paddle appears to have been resold though Antique Associates at West Townsend, Inc. Scrolling down the AAAWT's Native American Folk Art page the identical paddle, previously listed as "Woodlands Canoe (Ottawa?)", has now been identified as "Probably Maine, Likely Penobscot".


Woodlands Indian Canoe Paddle
Length 74-1/4"
Probably Maine, Likely Penobscot, Circa 1860
Chip, notch and scratch carved decoration, ridged; birch, thinning red stain - SOLD


This paddle has been also been featured in a dated exhibition catalog. Pleasing the spirits : a catalogue of a collection of American Indian art  by Ewing, Douglas C (1982) described this paddle on page 384, plate 473. Both the exhibition catalog and the previous Stair listing showcase a delicate etchings on one side of the grip face - a triangular etchings with a linear motif culminating in a round pattern encircling a diamond motif. Tiny round notches occur along the sides of the grip at approximately the half way point where the grip scallops down to the shaft.




The new listing has closeups of the grip but only showcase the upper portion...


Fortunately, the listing also includes the decoration on the other side, previously undocumented to the best of my knowledge. This pattern features some scrolls at the top with chip carved notches carved in a border pattern.






Friday, February 17, 2017

Historic Paddle Illustration: National Maritime Museum Mi'kmaq paddle

The  National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London has an historic illustration in its collection that might be relevant to those with an interest in traditional paddle designs.

Dated to 1750, it is thought to be the earliest accurate representation of a Mi'kmaq birchbark canoe. Included in the scale drawing is a pole gripped paddle with recurved shoulders and a pointed tip.

Description Scale 1:19.2.
A plan showing the body plan, sheer lines, and longitudinal plan for an 18ft bark canoe brought back to England for Lord Anson by Captain Henry Barnsley of HMS America (1749), in November 1750. The plan includes the outline of one of the paddles.
Date made 1750
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London



Additional information on the backstory of this remarkable illustration is provided by an excerpt from Adney & Chappelle.
"The early English settlers of New England and New York were acquainted with the canoe forms of eastern Indians such as the Micmac, Malecite, Abnaki, and the Iroquois. Surviving records, however, show no detailed description of these canoes by an English writer and no illustration until about 1750. At this time a bark canoe, apparently Micmac, was brought from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to England and delivered to Lord Anson who had it placed in the Boat House of the Chatham Dockyard. There it was measured and a scale drawing was made by Admiralty draftsmen; the drawing is now in the Admiralty Collection of Draughts, in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. A redrawing of this plan appears opposite. It probably represents a war canoe, since a narrow, sharp-ended canoe is shown. The bottom, neither flat nor fully round, is a rounded V-shape; this may indicate a canoe intended for coastal waters. Other drawings, of a later date, showing crude plans of canoes, exist in Europe but none yet found appear as carefully drawn as the Admiralty plan, a scale drawing, which seems to be both the earliest and the most accurate 18th-century representation of a tribal type of American Indian bark canoe."
Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America, p12 



Adney documented that Mi'kmaq and other Wabanaki canoes were well known for their elaborate ornamentation of winter bark. Shame that that the original Admiralty draftsmen didn't document if any such decoration existed on the canoe or the paddle, but that's not surprising since their obvious purpose would've been documented the lines of the hull.

For anyone interested in recreating this unique paddle shape, offsets for this paddle design can be found in Graham Warren's 100 Canoe Paddle Designs book.



Monday, February 13, 2017

Next Major Canoe Gear Project: Convertible Wall / Baker Tent - Part 2

The Wall tent project has come along nicely (see part 1).  After attaching the poly tarp panels to the canvas roof some time was spent developing the internal frame.

The key to any wall tent frame are the steel angle joints that help support the poles at the right angles for the canvas structure to be relatively tight and taut. After contacting some different wall tent companies, I was told that because of the unique dimensions of of my tent, the standard joints for most wall tents would not work. Most are based on a 120 degree at the peak and my tent would need a different angle. The cost of customized production and shipping were just going to be too high.

A much cheaper (but lower quality) option was found on Amazon.ca - a 3 way pipe fitting which I figured could be rigged for this project. It had the extra bonus of being adjustable in case my angle calculations were wrong.

32mm (1 1/4")  ID Adjustable Angle 3 Way Pipe Clamp Fitting

The fitting adjusts with a 6mm Hex key wrench and clamps down on a 1-1/4" diameter pipe. Turns out that most closet poles are roughly this diameter so it would work. Robin L used a pine closet poles of various lengths for his internal frame the longest of which is 6 feet. These can fit  neatly into the bottom of a canoe, but I wanted to make my version more compact so settled on using maximum 3 foot long pieces that could be easily stored and handled on a portage.

After some experimentation with scrap materials at home, I ended up using a combination of metal closet rods and  wooden dowels to make the free standing frame. They would be cut into a variety of lengths (between 1 to 3ft) to fit the requirements, but I liked the system because the solid dowels can nest into the hollow metal poles for easier storage.

When laid out on the work table, it looks like a disasterous overload of poles...




But after nesting, the poles are much more contained and manageable.

Poles nested and collected for storage


To pack them for a relatively easy carry, I ended up using another piece of heavy duty fire and water resistant treated tarp. The original, dark brown 6x8  tarp was on a super cheap closeout sale (cheaper than ordering fabric) and it was cut up to make a pack (another background project). I used the remnant piece (42" x 66" ) by laying the poles in the centre, folding in the sides and rolling to form a simple bundle.


For now it is secured with paracord but I might get fancy and make a leather roll carrier with straps and such. The good thing about this system, is that when the brown tarp is unrolled it is the perfect width (3-1/2) feet and sufficient length to be a groundcloth for half the tent so the material is not dead weight but multipurpose.

It also turns out that the adjustable angle clamps for the frame do wiggle a bit even when tightened to the max. But this was solved with some 4" L shaped metal  braces (bent in a vice to match the necessary angles) and some velcro straps and hose clamps I had on hand. The whole setup looks very amateurish but it is quite sturdy and barely moves. Here is the completed tent frame over the work station...

Wall Tent internal frame 


As mentioned earlier, the angle connectors can be adjusted.  This allows one side of the roof to be lifted up to serve as a 6' high canopy converting the wall tent into campfire tent mode. In a way, the cheapness of the angle joint clamps kind of worked here. All I do is remove the velcro straps supporting the homemade brace on the centre ridge and extend the out the poles that are nested inside the two side legs of the tent. The structure then morphs into this...

Baker / Campfire Tent frame setup


As a tent run, the completed shelter was thrown onto the frame and it fits nice and tightly. All my measuring and remeasuring seems to have worked. Here you can see the front side of the tent with the poly panel on the left and the removable canvas door on the right. I've attached this door using heavy duty snaps set into a 3" flap along the top edges. The doors also close with snaps but not visible is how the poly material extends 6" past the canvas edge on the interior of the tent to form an overlap.




Here's a view from the other side which shows the poly back wall and canvas front wall with a bit of the internal sod cloths folded in. When the pole legs are placed on the turned in sod flaps there is considerable tension and minimal sag with the canvas roof.  The remaining door hasn't been attached yet.



With the tent still on the frame, the side was brought up to form the canopy. It would be much less awkward if two people did this at both ends simultaneously, but I managed doing this alone. For the photo below, the canvas door was removed and the 3 foot canvas side wall rolled up and secured to a crossbar of the frame. In this mode, the canopy is 7foot wide by 4.5 feet deep.


With the pool table / ping pong table taking up so much internal space, I couldn't really get any clear shots of the interior. Also being in the basement means the tent can't be staked down. Once the ground thaws out in the backyard, it'll be setup there with a few lines from the side grommets which should tighten up the structure even more.

Still of few details to be worked out, but I also plan to take it to a nearby park so it can setup using a ridge line between some trees. If successful, this external ridge setup will require six, 3ft poles to support the sides when in wall tent mode. Those same poles can be reused to form the 6 foot canopy poles when in Baker Tent setup so carrying all the poles for the full frame won't be necessary

More pics and details in another post.



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Woodland Themed Northwest Coast Paddle

Blog contributor Thomas P has submitted pictures of an antique that resembles Northwest Coast paddles in design. It is a relatively short one at just 52 inches long.



The paddle features a curious notched grip. Difficult to see how this would be practical so it might have been some type of artistic flair from the paddle maker.



The two sides of the blade feature woodland-themed artwork. One side is decorated with an etching a bull moose head...

...the other features a deer climbing over a fallen log.

Many thanks for the submission. If you missed it the first time it was posted, Thomas provided photos for another unique paddle -  a late 1800s Penobscot Paddle decorated with memories of an Allegash River trip. Read that by clicking HERE.



Monday, February 6, 2017

Marilynn Dwyer-Mason's Paddle Art

For a little bit of fun canoeing art, check out the online gallery of  Marilynn Dwyer-Mason. Her work often features outdoor adventures and classic camping scenes with the human participants replaced with wildlife.  Here are a few examples with a paddle related theme...


A whimsical bear-sonification of the classic American Gothic.



Tippy Canoe
This bear family is ready to paddle around the lake and do a little fishing along the way.



Running the Rapids
Two bears brave the rapids in a classic canoe. 




A family of bears paddles home on a serene lake




Thursday, February 2, 2017

Next Major Canoe Gear Project: Convertible Wall / Baker Tent - Part 1

With winter in full swing, I've dove into another gear related project for future trips - a new shelter for shoulder season usage.

First off, I'd like to give credit to the inspiration source for this new project. Robin L (operator of CanoeTripping.net) has often posted pics and outstanding tripping videos featuring his customized canvas hot tent. The shelter started off as an 8'x10' but Robin felt it was too big and heavy for solo use so he cut it up and re-stitched it to a 6' x 7' with a reduced height of 54 inches.

Original 8x10 hot tent
Photo Credit: Robin L

Instead of using the standard steel pipe for an internal frame, he ended substituting with more weight manageable pine closet rods...


Photo Credit: Robin L


An old nylon tarp serves to fully waterproof the roof and with a small wood stove, he is comfortably setup for chilly temps of early or late season paddling.


Photo Credit: Robin L
Image Source Link

Inside his tent looks super comfortable with the cot, wool blanket, stove and other accessories.

Photo Credit: Robin L


The setup looked so good that I've decided to try and make a custom homemade version. Not sure if it will be a success but it will at least serve as a prototype of sorts for a future decision to go with a proper tent maker.

As a sidenote, I've also liked the idea of the classic Baker or Campfire tent (popularized by Bill Mason) which is essentially half of a wall tent.

Baker Tent Plans


After many sketches and ideas bouncing in my head, a decision was made to make a sort of hybrid shelter that could be a fully enclosed wall tent along with an option to convert to a Baker with open side and canopy. That way, I'd have one tent that could be multipurpose.

To meet these needs, the planned dimensions were to be 7' x 7' x 6' high with 3' side walls. It helped that we have a small 7ft ping-pong table in the basement that served as a work station. Once again  I would be using a Canadian-made drop cloth (12' x 14') that is unlike any others I've seen in stores. The weave is tighter in a twill pattern rather than an open cross weave more commonly seen with other brands. It is also heavier so a full tent at this size would be quite a load.

Canadian Made Bennett Brand Twill Woven Drop Cloth


Other wall tent pics on the internet showed that some folks suspend their tent from a ridgeline and use side supports to prop up the walls. I wanted this flexibility built in too so copied the idea of grommets on a ridge flap as well as side flaps or eaves. This way if the full pole frame is too heavy for a trip, there is a lighter weight option using  a few side poles.


Canvas Tent suspended with ratchet strap
Photo Credit: DamnYak 


Also noticed that many other DIY canvas tents sometimes have sidewalls from nylon or other material to reduce weight while preserving the breathable canvas roof in order to limit condensation. So to save some weight, one back wall, two side panels and a single removable door were to be made from a polyethylene tarp. I ended up with a heavier duty 12x12 weave of polyethylene tarp from Amazon that again seemed better than the supply at local stores. I had calculated that a 10x20 tarp would be sufficient for the material needed and provide some leftover in case of a mistake.

Poly Tarp for the side walls

Don't have a sewing machine so the only option was to attempt to use heavy duty fabric adhesive tapes. Before proceeded with the main build, I attached a piece of canvas onto a sample of the poly tarp using a flat felled seam


Image Credit:


I ended up using a combination of both peel and stick and iron on adhesive tapes and found that the heat activated tape helped to fuse the plastic poly to the canvas really well. The seam felt very strong and did not come apart after much tension and stretching. I left the test sample outdoors for a week where it was soaked with rained, frozen overnight, thawed out during the day and even buried in a little bit of snow we've had. Then I threw it into the washing machine. The seam kept holding strong so that gave me the confidence to proceed.

Before doing anything on the main tent, I washed the massive 12'x14' dropcloth multiple times in hot water and dried it using high heat. In the end, it shrunk 6" in width and 9" in length. The new length worked out so that when I accounted for the various seams allowances, side eaves, and a top ridge flap of grommets, the canvas tarp would cover the roof and one side wall without having to cut any fabric lengthwise.

Then work began on the poly tarp back wall and side panels.  Here is a photo of one of the side panels after cutting. The vertical flap in the foreground is a two inch folded flap were the ground grommets would be installed for pegging in the ground. The remaining 12" sod cloth in front will fold back into the tent preventing drafts and openings on uneven ground.


Working on a side panel


Here the rectangular back wall piece from the poly tarp is being cut and shaped. White Gorilla tape was used around the cut perimeter edges


After these parts were cut out, I began the process of attaching the pieces. The flat felled seam required a lot a repositioning and flipping over to get right but everything worked out in the end. Below the rear canvas roof is being attached to the poly back wall.




Mentioned earlier that 3 of the side panels were to be made from poly tarp. The remaining door would be from left over drop cloth material. This is where I plan to eventually put a stove jack for when a future wood stove is in the tent.

More pics and discussion of the internal frame in a subsequent post.




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