Thursday, April 3, 2008

Splitting Spruce Roots

Next up in the list of things to do was to prepare the spruce roots that will eventually lash and bind the canoe together. The kit came with some coiled rough roots that needed to be split before using.

The process started with placing the coiled mass in boiling water for 30 minutes. During this step, the colour of the water turned into a dark tea colour and the whole kitchen smelled like a spruce forest after a good spring rain...wonderful!

Dry coiled spruce roots

Boiling away & freshening the air

Softened after a 30 minute boil

The splitting was quite easy after softening the roots. Each coil was unravelled and then a split started with a blade. The split was continued by hand and new coils formed. If the root was thick enough, it was quartered to remove the tough inner pulp but many of the thinner roots could only be split once.

Starting the split

Continuing by hand

Supply of split roots

I'm now left with more coils of split root which are being left to dry out thoroughly. Apparently they should be only be soaked right before use rather than be stored wet, as they can grow a fungal mold. I've been reading that roots that are collected from spruce in late fall/early winter tend to have a brown tea-like colouring while those harvested in warmer temperatures tend to have a pale cream colour. I kind of like the darker coloured roots supplied by the kit which should contrast nicely with the paler colour of the cedar used in constructing the gunwales...I'm getting nervous about that step.


Mungo said...

It's great to watch the canoe come to life - thanks for sharing it online.

As a side note, I noticed that Fenlander is busy working with birch bark too.



Murat said...

Thanks Mungo. Definitely will be taking plenty of pics in the weeks to come. Fenlander's bark harvest looks like thick quality winter bark, perfect for decorating by scraping out designs.

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