Sunday, August 10, 2008

Prepping the Bark

Weeks after harvesting the bark, it was time to prepare the stuff for the birchbark canoe build. This involved some pre-soaking before the coiled bark could be safely unrolled on the building bed. I brought down 5 of the largest rolls down to the lake and fastened them together with some nylon cord. I managed to find an old concrete anchor with a rusted chain in the shallows of the lake used this as a tie-down point. Bark is very bouyant of course, so within each roll, I used some stones by the shore to weigh them down and submerge them fully.

Dried bark rolls; Soaking in the lake

After this overnight soak, the bark was carefully unrolled onto the building bed for the messiest part of the process - cleaning. The outer layers of the bark need to be scraped to remove the accumulated moss, dead bark, and general detritus in order for proper stitching with spruce root. Using a dull, broken knife picked up at a flea market for pennies (which I intend to use for harvesting pine resin later) the bark was carefully cleaned. In some areas, this involved peeling the outer layers revealing the clean bark below.

The unrolled bark; Scraping clean; Final result

At this stage, the edges of the bark panels were squared up with a straight edge and utility blade. This is to ensure that there is a clean lap seam when stitched up. For a proper seam, Jim Miller mentions 2", so a the ruler was slipped between the panels to ensure I had this measurement.

Cleaning up the edges; 2" seam overlap

The plywood form was placed back on the bed and using a line rigged up on 2 nails exactly on the centreline, the form was perfectly aligned. Any free lying heavy stones I could find around the property were hauled up and placed on the form to weight it down and ensure it wouldn't move until the foldup of the bark...I'll save that for another post.

Lined up form; Weighted down with stone

No comments:

Post a Comment

Newer Posts Older Posts Home Page