Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Preparing the Bark

While I'm busy finalizing details of which canoe design to build, some quality time was spent preparing the most important part of the canoe...the bark. The kit came with 3 sheets of bark (2 summer barks & 1 panel of winter bark that I specifically requested). All three of the sheets had coiled into their natural state with the winter bark sample excessively so. In addition, they were quite covered in darkened layers of dead bark, moss, & debris. Before they could be used on the building bed, they would need to be flattened and cleaned.

Curved Bark Panels

To flatten the bark, I boiled 3 litres of water in our kitchen kettle and poured it into a bucket. While placing each panel of bark into the bucket, I would ladle the hot water onto both sides thoroughly saturating and softening the bark. In the pic below you can see one piece of bark in the steaming bucket. For the ladle, I used a Turkish Coffee pot (Cezve or Ibrik) which we have plenty of in our household...perfect size and use of this unique pot when not cooking up my preferred source of caffeine.

Soaking with boiling water

After soaking each piece, they were clamped onto the granite coutertop of our balcony table and weighted down with any heavy objects I could find...mostly the soil-filled pots and dead plants still littering our balcony.

Clamping and flattening bark

After a few hours the panels had effectivly been flattened while still retaining some moisture. I brought them indoors to begin the messy task of cleaning the debris and knarled layers of bark in order to ensure it was clean and would bend properly around the canoe form. I used a small folding knife to scrape and pick away at the layers ensuring not to pierce or otherwise damage the precious bark. The whole process was actually very soothing made more so by my evening dose of Bulleit Bourbon.

Cleaning the bark

Below are some shots of the progess though I didn't include the 3rd piece of bark:

Cleaning the dirty winter bark

Before & After shot of the main hull panel

Now that bark panels have been prepped the next step will be orienting the panels for laying out on the building bed. After spending some time doing this tonight, I realized that the main hull piece is in fact too short to make a one piece hull on my 3 foot model. I'll need to stitch additional pieces together to meet the required length. More on this in the future...topic of another post.

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