Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stitching Side Panels & Setting Inwales

My pieces of bark were of insufficient quality and width to form a complete one piece hull, so additional pieces of secondary bark needed to be stitched into place forming long side panels. After examining the bark pieces, I used a block of wood (left-over laminate piece from paddlemaking) to draw a horizontal line between intermediate thwarts. The damaged bark above this line was cut with a razor knife and the panel bark properly placed into position to match the intended depth of the boat. These pieces were a bit lighter than darkened winter bark of the main hull which I'm hoping will give the canoe a nice aesthetic look when completed.

Marking out the panel cut

To form the stitch, a old Phillips head screwdriver was filed down to form a sharpened triangular point to serve as an awl. The wetted bark was carefully pierced in 3/4" intervals and the hole temporarily pegged with cedar bits until lashing with root. After about 5-7 pegs, I'd take them out and begin the saddle stitch with pieces of soaked root, tying off the shorted ends before continuing on with a new piece. This gives the exterior the appearance that the stitch is made with a single piece; in reality the inner side of the panel (eventually hidden under sheathing) shows the various lengths.

Pegging & stitching; View of inside panel

I severely underestimated the time it would take to do the running saddle stitch. I assumed maybe an hour a side, but it took me nearly 5 hours with much needed breaks to do both sides of the canoe.

With this part done, I could move on to setting the inwales. This involved cutting up some "height sticks" that would serve to support the inwales at the appropriate measurements. I made some from extra pine staves and marked the height (in inches) appropriately on the back to ensure I didn't mix them up. After loosening the support stakes and stretching out the bark, the inwales were softened with boiling water, placed into position and weighted down with rocks.

Putting the the inwale assembly

Setting on height sticks; weighted down with rock

Up next, I have to carve some outwales so that the even more time consuming process of pegging and lashing the gunwales together can begin.


Anonymous said...

Looks great, very rustic, keep up the good work. I posted a couple more pics of a birchbark conoe on my flicker site.

Murat said...

Thanks for posting the canoe pics and the extra info to my question. I'll try to track down the builder. I especially like the beaver etching at the bow. The improvised seats hanging from the gunwales are different too.

SchreiberBike said...

Just ran into your blog. An exciting project which I will continue to follow.

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