Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stitching the laps and gores

Now that the gunwales and ends were done, all that remained in the seemingly endless stitching were the overlaps in the hull bark and the gores. Using the fresh roots collected and split earlier in the day, I started off working on the laps which would need a long piece of root to stitch all the way around.

At this stage, I moved to working on a table by the dock so that I could have quick access to the lake and soak the boat as needed. The ends were soaked and pegged into to position to create a bit of rocker. Then using a stitch outlined in John Lindman's articles on Canoe Building (Wilderness Ways v.6, Issues 2-4), I sewed all the way around from gunwale to gunwale. Basically the stitch calls for parallel set of holes with a single piece of root stitched horizontally on the outside and diagonally on the inside with the ends tucked under diagonal crossings.

Pegging the lapped bark into position; Outside stitch; Interior stitch

Working on the stitch meant meant constantly flipping the hull over and over. No problem on a 3-ft model but on a full scale canoe, this wouldn't be practical. I'd need to constantly be over and under the hull which would make stitching quite a chore. The solution would be to ensure a large enough piece of bark to at least cover the length of the hull.

Continuing the stitch under the hull

In the end the laps were tightly stitched to form a nice seam. Here are some shots of the completed lap seam.

The completed lap seams

After this was done, I could proceed to stitch up the gores. This stitch is basically the same as for the laps except they obviously didn't go all the way around the hull. Once one was done, I stitched the opposing gore.

Unstitched gores; A pair of stiched gores

By this time, I was quite tired of stitching and with the holiday weekend weather making a turn for the worse, I had come back home. Back on the city balcony I continued the gore stitching until I came to a problem. One of the gores had uneven, ripped bark and the stitching revealed a significant gap that I didn't think would seal with gumming. So I took a piece of scrap bark left over from the initial cleaning and cut it down to size to fit nicely between the inside stitches. When tightly pulled, this extra bark tightly seals the crack and will nicely serve as a suface for proper gumming.

Sealing a crack with extra bark re-inforcement

I realize that I've made the gore stitching a little wider than the scale dictates, but I was worried the bark may crack at the stitching holes so purposely left them a little farther apart. This will create wider gumming marks when the seams are sealed but I can live with that.

Stitched gores with fresh spruce root

With all the gores stitched, I've finally completed all the lashing! This has been the most time-consuming part so far, taking up at least as much time as all the other parts put together. The books say as much so I must be on pace with normal building times.

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