The Urban Oarsman & Son build a Canoe, part Twenty three…Final sanding of the hull and glueing on the brass keel strip.

This is the last chance to get the hull smooth.  I kill off an afternoon sanding the canoe.  (Again!)  When we brought the canoe out into the sunlight, you could see a few runs….We are trying for a good finish…

Power sanding with the 220 grit.

220 grit then 320 grit.

Power sanding with the 320 grit.

Looks the same as the 220 grit.

I finish with wet/dry sandpaper.

I wet sand the hull with a hand sanding block and 320 wet/dry sandpaper.

After the sanding, I give the hull a good rinse.  I am done with sanding.


Even though Ted Moore does not have a bass keel strip on his Hiawatha design, Paul decides that he wants to have one on his.  I look at many pictures of cedar strip canoes on line and none have a brass keel strip….I guess that Paul wants his canoe to stand out.

From Alaska Copper, I buy:  Three Half Oval Free Cutting Half Hard Yellow Brass Bars (minimum order).

From their catalogue:
Nominal Chemicals: Copper 61.5%, Zinc 35.4%, Lead 3.1%
Average Physical Properties: Tensile 45,000 psi (min), Yield 17,000 psi
Specifications: ASTM B 16, Temper H02 (1/2 Hard)
Size                 Lbs/Ft
1/8 x 1/2        .181

Paul will use 213″ of half oval at .181 pounds per foot= .181 x 12 x 213 = 3.21275 Lbs.

Paul’s canoe will exceed Ted Moore’s design weight.


Paul wants to use a few screws as possible, so we will use polyurethane goop to glue the keel strip on.  Four screws, one at the top of each stem and one at the bottom (on either side of the stem curve) to hold the strip on while the goop cures.

Lining up and planning out the keel strip.

The brass half oval comes in 12′ lengths.  We have two choices, a 12′ length in the middle with a (approx) 24″ piece at each stem or two strips from the stems, meeting in the middle.

The first choice will be the easiest, as any excess length will protrude at the stem and can be cut off.  The fit need not be as exact as using two pieces that meet in the middle.

Paul wants to have two strips, meeting in the middle for only one “seam”.

We measure and dry fit the keel strips.  I use a punch to start each screw hole.

Determining where the two stem screws will go.

You can see the first screw at the beginning of the curve.  Paul will now drill the top screw pilot hole.  Paul drills the second pilot hole 1/16″ too far away to draw the keel band tight.

Same “Drill” at the South end of the canoe stem band.

We dry fit the keel strips and then draw a pencil line on either side of the brass strip.

Drawing the pencil line.

We will use tape to mask the keel line.

Paul puts tape on the lines.

With the keel strips to one side, time to “Goop up”.

Paul makes a point of shooting goop into the screw pilot holes.

Paul runs a bead between the strips of tape from stem to stem.  Gloves are mandatory!

Bead of goop.

I use a Popsicle stick to spread out the goop bead.

Spreading the goop.

All gooped up and the keel strip is on.

How we did it:  I held the keel strip at an angle,  so Paul can easily screw in the top stem screw.  We slowly bend the keel strip down and Paul puts in the second stem screw.  We then lay the keel strip flat.

Paul and I do a lot of “eyeballing” to get the keel strip straight and use tape to hold the strip in place.

The fit is pretty good in the middle of the canoe.

Where the strips join.

A slight gap will allow for the expansion and contraction of the strip.  The goop says that it can accommodate +/- 35% movement.

We scrape off the excess with a putty knife and then use Varsol to clean up the rest of the  excess goop.  After we have cleaned up the excess, we tape the keel strip down every 10″ or so.  Time to let the goop dry…3 to 6 hours to be tack free, up to 7 days to cure completely.  We will remove the tape tomorrow afternoon, after 24 hrs of drying time.

All taped up.

The strip looks really straight….but, will the goop really stick the brass half oval to the epoxy coating on the hull?


I make up a test strip, using a left-over piece of hull and left-over brass half oval.


In a couple of days. we will try to pull the two apart.  The canoe should have a better bond, as it was sanded and washed with solvent.  With this tester, I just put down a bead of goop and set the brass strip onto it.  If we cannot pull the tester apart (or it is very hard to do) job done.  If we can pull the two pieces apart easily, we will consider that the goop is for bedding not bonding and drill the canoe’s keel strip and put in more screws to hold it on.   Time will tell.

All the best,



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The Urban Oarsman & Son build a Canoe, part Twenty two…..…Final shaping of the gunnels and glueing on the decks.

We are going to work outside to keep the dust down in the shop.  There is varnishing in our future. A perfect afternoon for working on the Canoe.  Warm, sunny with a little breeze to take the dust away.

We get ready to work on the gunnels.

We are going to take around ⅛” off of the gunnels.  This will give us a clean edge.  If the gunnels still look a little too thick, we will plane off another 1/16″ or so.  All eye-work.

Paul files off some epoxy “flash”.

I hold the canoe steady while Paul cleans the gunnel so the power planer will not hang-up on anything.

More eye-work.

Paul decides on two passes of the planer…about ⅛” of an inch.

Checking the outer gunnel thickness.  Paul is happy.

Paul now sands the shear-line, leveling the gunnels with the cedar hull strips.

Start with 50 grit belt.

We were pretty careful with aligning the gunnels and the shear-line.  Not a lot of sanding to do.

Dusty business.  Finish with the 120 belt.

After Paul finishes sanding a round-over onto the gunnels, I make a paper pattern for the decks.

Deck templates.

The two decks are not exactly the same.  I transfer the pattern to the 1″ thick S2S oak stock and use my bandsaw to cut it out.  I am going to Dado the two sides to fit the inside gunnels.

Cutting the Dados.  Slow and careful.

Paul has decided that he wants the decks to appear to be just over ⅛” thick.  I adjust the Dado blades accordingly.

Decks clamped on.

We line the dados with cloth and lots of epoxy.  We put the decks on with the canoe right-side up and then flip it upside-down so the epoxy drips will not run down the sides of the canoe.

Decks clamped on side view.

We leave the epoxy to cure overnight.

The next day I decide to weigh the canoe.  I take off all of the clamps and put in the seats and carrying yoke.


Scale reading:

Just under 50 lbs.  Canoe Craft design weight 48 to 50 lbs.  right on track.

If Paul wants the canoe to be lighter, we will plane off more of the outside gunnels.  Paul is happy for now.

I  sand off the epoxy flash with 100 grit and then give all the bare oak a going over with the 240 grit:

North Deck de-clamped, sanded and ready for epoxy coating

We feel that the deck is very substantial, as it is 1″ thick and epoxied to the gunnel tops and sides.

Time to epoxy the decks and gunnels.

Paul is at work so I roll on the epoxy coat.

Epoxy coating the decks.

I roll on an epoxy coat onto the decks and gunnels.  I now know what the canoe will look like when varnished.

South Deck done.

I roll out the epoxy for about ½ hour.  I will come back in an hour or so and chase any new bubbles.

Look’in good.

I will wait for the epoxy to cure and then put on another coat…Maybe tonight.  Should be done with the ‘Poxy then.





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The Urban Oarsman & Son build a Canoe, part Twenty one…Glueing on the outside gunnels.

Paul and I have tapered the outside gunnels and now we are going to epoxy them on.  The first step is to cut off the excess gunnel.

Cutting off the excess.

Having cut off the excess, we dry fit the gunnels and use a clamping jig to keep the gunnels aligned at the stems.

Dry fit of the gunnels.  I draw on “witness marks” for easier assembly after epoxying.

I have cut two wedges to be able to clamp the gunnels tight to the stem.  A third clamp keeps the gunnels on the same level as the top of the stem.  I will use wax paper to keep the clamping blocks from sticking.

Paul paints the gunnels with epoxy resin first, giving it some time to soak in.

With the hull sanded, We expect to get a good bond between the gunnels and the hull.  Paul paints the canoe at the shear-line with epoxy resin.

Ready to clamp on the gunnels.

We begin clamping.  Paul holds the gunnel in place while I clamp.  The goal is to get a little epoxy “squeeze-out”.  The 2½” clamps only fit near the stems where the gunnel is tapered.

Many Clamps later….

You can see a few runs.  We are going to turn the canoe over so the drips will not run down the hull…

Upside down.

At this point, Paul and I decide to give the canoe one more coat of epoxy…a finish coat to get rid of the “runs”.

Close-up of the stem clamps.

The two gunnels are aligned at the stems.

Rolling on the “Finish” coat.

Paul and I roll on the finish coat.  We go over the hull many times.  We are trying for a very “thin” coat.

Brushing out the bubbles.

We go over the hull with a brush, taking out (popping) any bubbles the rollers leave.  We go over the hull many times, looking for “holidays” (missed spots) or runs.

Finish coat done.

Now it is time to cure.

The next morning.

I take off all of the clamps to see what she looks like.

I flip the hull over to have a look.

Overhead shot.

Looks good!!!

I flip the hull back upside down and begin to fill any gaps between the hull and the gunnels.

Chasing bubbles.

Were ever there is a gap, I get some bubbles as the epoxy fills the gap.

Time to let the epoxy cure.

After chasing bubbles for half and hour….it is time to let the epoxy cure.

“Poxy curing.

Tonight when Paul gets home, we will round-over the gunnels, sand the shear-line flat, put on the decks and then give them all a final epoxy sealing coat.

Almost ready to go……42 lbs.

Attach the brass half-oval.

Varnishing is in the future.


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The Urban Oarsman & Son build a Canoe, part Twenty…………Weaving the Babiche pattern for the seats, tapering the outside gunnels and final outside hull sanding.

Paul has decided to weave a “Babiche” pattern on his canoe seats, using paracord instead of rawhide lacing.  He picks a “Blue Camo” paracord colour pattern.

I do some research on the internet and find a diagram on Mike Elliott’s (Author of “This Old Canoe”) web site.

Babiche weaving pattern from: 

Mike also describes how to weave a “Babiche” seat in his book, “This Old Canoe”, pages 83 to 89, using rawhide lacing.

I test out the pattern on the stern (smaller, 10 by 10 pattern) seat:

Stern seat laced up…only a few minor “goofs”.

I have made a few minor mistakes in the weave.

Seat mistakes.

Mistake #1- should have gone over the horizontal strand, not under.

Mistake #2- should have gone over, around the horizontal and diagonal strands and then under the horizontal strand, not over, as I did at #4 arrow.

Mistake #3- same mistake as #2.

Mistakes #5- should have gone around under and down the left verticals.

I think that I have learned something from this and try the larger bow seat.

Marking the seat.

There should be an equal number of strands going vertically and across the set.  I decide on twelve (one every inch) for across and every 2/3 inch for the vertical.  I use a pair of dividers to mark the seats.

Felt pen dot where the strands go.

With my strand locations marked, I begin to weave the seat.

First knot.

You only use three knots…a Hitch to start, a whole wack of Lark’s head knots and a few half-hitches to finish.  The pattern consists of three strands.  The horizontals, the vertical slanting to the right, and the verticals slanting to the left.  Basically you go across and then down and up again in a “V” shape:

Pulling the paracord through for the first horizontal strand.  Pull it tight!

I am using about seventy-five feet of paracord.  The stern seat (10 by 10) took almost sixty feet.  From across, you go down to the middle of the seat.  Pull the paracord tight after every Lark’s head.

Larks head know at the bottom of the “V”.

Then back up again to the top.

Lark’s head at the top of the “V”.

CHECK your work to the diagram!!!!  This is a five to six hour job and you do not want to have to un-weave very far to fix your mistakes!!!!

Second horizontal.

I have tucked the extra paracord from the first knot under the Lark’s head.

To the top rail then down.

It takes a while to train your eye to spot mistakes so check against the diagram after every pass.

Wide angle look at the “V” pattern.

The up-going to the left “V” arm go under the up-going to the right “V” arms and over the horizontals.  The up-going to the right “V” arms go over the up-going to the left “V” arms and under the horizontals.

As you progress, there is less paracord to pull through but more weaving to be done.

The real weaving is starting…

The weaving in the centre begins…

The Lark’s head knots do move a bit on the seat frame.  Put them back where they belong.  Remember to pull every strand as tight as you can.

Carrying on with the pattern.

Another problem begins. pulling the paracord through the weave begins to put a real “twist” into the cord.  I have to stop after every pass and shake the twist out.

After two movies in a Space network  “Avenger’s” movie marathon.

The next day I find my mistake……see the dot?  There are only eleven Lark’s heads on this side of the frame.

Should have gone up and aground then down….

I have already trimmed the paracord…it is now too short to fix this.  Paul will have to live with it.  Maybe I just will not tell him.

Time to do something I cannot mess up…Sanding the outside of the hull for glueing on the outside gunnels.

Starting to sand. #120 grit.

We were quite careful not to get any drips or runs in the final fill coat.  Time to sand the hull really smooth for the varnishing and glueing on of the gunnels.

East side of the canoe sanded.

I am going to finish with 240 grit.

Ready for the 240 grit.

The hull ends up pretty smooth.

The 240 grit sanding dust is a little finer….

I give the canoe a wash…she looks pretty good.  If I only had some 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper!

Ready for the gunnels and maybe some varnish.

Time to work on the gunnels.

On the Weekend, Sunday, we taper the outside gunnels.  The taper will be ¼”, the gunnel will go from 1″ wide in the middle to ¾” wide at the stems.

Tapering the gunnels.

We need four passes for the planer to get a ¼” taper.  We measure and put a planer mark every nine inches.  Paul planes the gunnel, and then smooths out the taper with the belt sander.

Where the planer starts a cut, there is a “hump”.  Paul sands the “hump” smooth.

We take the gunnel over for a “test-fit”

Test-fit West gunnel.

Paul eyeballs the fit to see if the taper is sufficient.  Does the gunnel look too wide?  Is he happy with it?

Paul likes the way it looks.  The outside gunnel is ⅛”  wider that the inside gunnel.

We clamp on the East gunnel.  Paul is happy.  The width of the gunnels fit his hand for carrying.  After we glue the gunnels on, we can still plane off a little if he then decides that they are too “thick”.

Gunnel test fit.

Paul will sand off the sharp edges after the gunnels are glued on.

We do not have enough time to epoxy the gunnels on.  The weather is supposed to be much hotter in a few days.  ‘Poxy evening!

Almost done!,








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The Urban Oarsman & Son build a Canoe, part nineteen…………Inside and Outside gunnels, Epoxy & cloth on the inside of the hull.

Paul has decided to “Scupper” the inside gunnels.  We cut up the 8′ oak plank to get 16′ lengths for the gunnels.  We will use a “half-clothespin” splice to get the length.

Making a scarphing jig.

With this jig, I will be able to get a consistent angle for the scarph.

The runners are the same with as the table slots.

I will have to cut a scarph in each end of the gunnel pieces and in the “half-clothespin” part.

Cutting the “half-clothespin” scarph piece.

Glueing up the pieces:

I used Titebond II glue.

A few photos of the glue-up:

Spread the glue.

Clamp the pieces.

Clamp o’mania.

All Clamped up:

I used the Shopsmith table and adjustable stands to get the two pieces level.

Carefully, we set the gunnel pieces aside to dry:

Set aside to dry.

While the glue sets, Paul and I use a cedar strip to mark the shear line.

Batten clamped in place.

Other end too!  A lot of “eyeballing” to get this right.

Other end.

Paul uses a sharpie to mark the line.

Inking in the line.

Finished line…We mark both sides.

Shear line looks pretty good.

I rough cut the shear line.

Rough cutting the shear line.

The canoe now really looks like a canoe!

Lookin’ good!

When the glue is dry, I rip the gunnels to trim the 1/2 clothespin splices:

Trimming the scarphs.

With the gunnel pieces a consistent width and height, we cut an outer and an inner one.

Setting up the Shopsmith for the inside gunnels.

Testing the width:

I have two gunnel strips.

Saw guard removed for clarity.

I end up with two outer gunnel strips, each about 7/8″ by 3/4″ and Three inner gunnel strips 1/2″ by 3/4″.

Paul and I cut one of the 1/2″ by 3/4″ into blocks and four 3′ long pieces for the bow and stern, where the inner gunnel is not scuppered.

The scuppers begin about 3′ from the stems.

Spreading the glue:


We cut blocks to glue to the inside of the inside gunnels:

Scupper blocks.

Time to glue them up:

We measure, evenly space the block and them glue them in.

We are using Titebond II.

Need a lot of clamps.

When the glue is dry, we test fit the inner gunnels into the hull before we put the epoxy and cloth in.

Dry fitting the inner gunnels.

Paul and I dry fit the inner gunnels, cutting them to get a close fit….

We use the Shopsmith Disk sander…

Shopsmith disk sander makes quick work of the fitting.

We are satisfied with a “Rough” fit, the dimensions will change once we put the epoxy and cloth on the inside.

We heat up the canoe using the heat lamps.  At the start, the hull is at 15 degrees.

We got the temperature up to 20 degrees Celsius.

Paul and I drape the cloth in the canoe and add resin.

We have to work quickly, We do 5 “Pumps” of resin/hardener at a time.

We do eight cups of resin/hardener.

As we did on the outside, we scrape off the excess resin to reveal the “weave”.

We reduce the heating in the garage and boatshop…trying to minimise the “off-gassing” and have the resin be drawn into the wood.

We put on the cargo tie-downs on.

Cargo tie-downs in.

We let the canoe cure overnight.  Weighs 37 lbs!  The next day we put on the first fill coat and glue on the inside gunnels while the resin is still “green”.

Dry fit West side first, then East side.

We dry fit both gunnels.


Paul fits the two gunnels.

Paul clamping for the dry fit.

When both gunnels fit, Paul mixes a batch of resin, and coats the gunnel blocks and then the top two inches of the East side of the hull.

We put in the East inner gunnel.

We have to clamp the gunnel at every scupper block.  We aim to see a little resin “squeeze out”.

One side clamped up, painting resin on the West side for the gunnel.

Dry fit photo of how we got the stems even with the gunnels:

Using a clamp to get the gunnels even, much the same way we used clamps to keep the hull strips even.

A lot of clamps.  Then finishing putting on the 1st fill coat.

Both gunnels clamped on, rolling on the first fill coat.  Note the wax paper at the stems.

After chasing bubbles and dry spots, it is time to walk away and let the epoxy cure:

West side.

Looks more and more like a canoe every day.

East side.

Time for tea…  Might be able to get another fill coat on today, if not then tomorrow.  The critical factor is insuring that the inner gunnel epoxy is cured enough so they do not come away from the hull.  It would be good to have the clamps out of the way for the second coat.

Well, Tonight’s the night!  The second fill coat

Clamps off West side of the canoe.

We take off all of the clamps.

Clamp off!

That clamp was on a little tight!

Damage caused by too tight a clamp…It will be covered by the outer gunnel.

We give the gunnels a quick sanding and vacuum the hull.

Quick sanding to remove clamp marks.

Paul and I remove all the green tape from the cargo tie-downs.

I brush resin into the scupper holes and he rolls out the hull.  We both roll out resin for half an hour, trying to get an even coat.  You can only do that for sooooo long.


Second fill coat on and rolled out.

Time for a cure.


The third fill coat went on just like the last one, but with more rolling out.






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Building the dolly for Gwragedd Annwn

I have had a lot of experience with launching dollies.  Aluminum tubing seems to work the best.  No rust problems.  Plastic axles for the wheels for the same reason.  Stainless Steel bolts/washers/nuts.  I have gotten more than ten years out of Redwing’s dolly, and it is still going strong.

Gwragedd Annwn is 14’6″ long, too long to use “Redwings” launching dolly.  At 225 pounds, (102 kg.) I can use the same basic design as “Redwings” dolly, using 1½” square aluminum tubing, and 1″ solid round bar as the axle.  This will be a basic “T” shaped dolly.  The most critical part is getting the balance of Gwragedd Annwn on the dolly right.  Too far forward of the axle and the dolly is heavy to lift.  Too far aft of the axle and the boat will tip the dolly backwards and fall off.


 The first step is to design the support brackets:

The Urban Oarsman builds a dolly for Gwragedd Annwn

These are the brackets for the axle, the bow mast and the hull side supports.  The stainless steel bolt positions are marked.  I head to the metal supermarket and buy enough aluminum bar for the axle, axle supports, the centre piece and the mast piece and enough aluminum ⅛” plate for the support brackets.

I measure Gwragedd Annwn to find where the balance point is.  This gives me the distance from the mast to the axle.

Using the plans as a template, with my jigsaw and a metal cutting blade, I cut out the support brackets and cut the square tubing to length.  I use a drill press for the ss bolt holes in the brackets.  I dry-fit the pieces together and drill all of the ss bolt holes through the aluminum bar.  Photo of the partly-assembled dolly:

Bow mast of the dolly.  The bottom of the mast is cut at an angle to match the ground.

Here the bow mast is clamped to the dolly frame, ready for drilling.

Rear axle, ready to put in the square tube supports.  I am using the support brackets as a template.

The plastic-hubbed wheels (no metal to rust) are on a 1″ diameter rod, which is in a 1¼” piece of square aluminum tubing which is in the 1½” diameter square aluminum tubing. The 1¼” tubing fits neatly into the 1½” tubing and the 1″ diameter rod fits neatly into the 1¼” tubing.  This assembly is “locked” by ss bolts going through all three pieces.  A cotter pin and washer (cut from the aluminum plate) secure the wheel on.

Only a few more pieces to assemble.  Note the cotter pin and washer.

After installing the axle supports, I put on the UHD plastic hull supports.

UHD plastic supports also know as “bread boards”.

I drill a 1″ hole at the top of the mast for a handle.  The handle is a piece of 1″ aluminum rod.  A bow ring holds the handle in place.  A plastic cap finishes the handle assembly off.

Mast assembly.

Time to go and try the dolly out.

The dolly as delivered to HSC.  The axle supports are bolted in and I have replaced the bread boards with some ½” UHD plastic sheeting.  I also cut off all of the protruding bolt ends flush with the nylon nuts.

Another view:

Ready to go!

Trying the dolly out:

Bringing Gwragedd Annwn onto her dolly for the first time.

After a few launches, I find that there are better ways to do some things:

First modification, covering the Axle assembly bolt caps.

Gwragedd Annwn snaps off one of the “V” shaped keel guides.  I design new ones:

New keel guides and axle joint bolt protector plate.

A few photos of Gwragedd Annwn with her dolly:

Gwragedd Annwn on her dolly, top of the ramp at the HSC.

Gwragedd Annwn on her dolly in her storage spot at HSC.  Ready to go rowing!

Going to Burnaby Lake, transferring from road trailer to dolly.  I had put Gwragedd Annwn on her road trailer backwards, hoping to make the transfer to the dolly easier.

Launching into Still Creek, going to Burnaby Lake.


Returning from Burnaby Lake.

Deer Lake afternoon launch.  The dolly is atop her hull.  Being backwards or forwards on her road trailer does not seem to make the transfer to the dolly any easier.

Launching into Deer Lake.  Notice how the bottom of the dolly mast digs into the sand.

Tight fit between the Deer Lake bollards!

Back home at HSC.

Over all the dolly has been a success.


Good rowing to you,



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The Urban Oarsman & Son build a Canoe, part eighteen…………. Varnishing the seats and carrying yoke, taking the hull off of the strongback/moulds, taking apart the strongback.

The seat frames and carrying yoke have been given a coat of epoxy resin.  We let them cure for several days.  I then give them a light sanding and begin varnishing.

First coat of varnish.

I put eye-hooks in one end and hang them in front of the radiant shop heater.  I hope for two coats a day.  Second coat later in the day:

Second coat of varnish.

In these last two pictures, You can see a batten clamped to the gunwale.  Paul and I are looking a shear lines for the canoe.

While the varnish dries,  I make up two canoe cradles to put the canoe before Paul and I take the canoe off of the strongback and moulds.

Canoe cradles

The cradles are made from four 2×4’s.  The feet are 20″ long, the legs are 28″ high and the cross braces are 28″ long.  The feet are rounded off as are the tops of the legs.  I just have to find some carpet for the tops.

Sketch of the Canoe Cradle plans.

Old bath mat as carpet, ready to take the hull off of the strongback/moulds.

We have undone the screws holding the bow and stern stem mould pieces in place.  Moulds #0, #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, & #6 are still in place.  Paul and I go around the canoe, pulling at the sides, trying to break the hot-melt glue connection to the moulds.  We then go to the bow and stern and lift the canoe off of the moulds and place her onto the cradles.  We then take off the bow and stern section mould pieces.

Hull off of the moulds.

Time to take the strongback/moulds apart and make room to work on the inside of the canoe.

We start taking the mould stations off of the strongback.

Another station mould out.

They all come out the same way…Two screws hold the station mould to the block, two screws hold the block to the strongback.

The paper in the canoe is to catch any varnish drips (Third coat of varnish).

All gone!

I put the moulds to the side.  I will probably keep them, although I do not have plans to make another canoe.  The blocks I will save for another boat building project.

Taking the strongback off of the sawhorses.

I will hang the strongback from the rafters.  For now, we put it with the unused strips to the side.

Ready to stow.

We now have to remove the hot-melt glue.  The next time I build, I will not use hot-melt glue.  I will use the ratchet straps at the station mould technique instead.  Because the canoe was inside the garage, there have been no wet/dry cycles and the glue is quite stuck to the cedar strips.

Hot-melt glue from the station moulds.

Pulling off the hot-melt glue.

I use pliers and a chisel to take the glue off…carefully!

Pliers.  The best technique seems to be use a chisel to lift the edge of the glue, grab that edge with pliers or (if big enough) your fingers and pull.

Between pulling off the hot-melt bits, I get some more varnishing in. (Coat five)

All the pictures of the varnish coats look more or less the same….Fifth coat:

Fifth coat of varnish.

I cannot sand the inside of the hull until the varnishing is done.  I end up doing seven coats.

I decide to weigh the hull:

Hull weight net thirty-five pounds.

Four ounce cloth and resin for the inside, inner and outer gunnels, decks, seats, carrying yoke and brass half oval for the keel.  On track for less than fifty pounds.


Next steps, Webbing the seats, sanding and epoxy/cloth for the inside.  Paul and I will have another “Poxy weekend” next week.  A week to get ready. Lots of sanding to do.


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The Urban Oarsman & Son build a Canoe, part seventeen…………. Seats and carrying yoke.

While the epoxy cures, between applications, I make up the canoe seats and carrying yoke.


With the price of wood these days (and yesterdays too) I always make up a cutting plan before I start to cut.  Helps me to not to have to go back and buy another plank especially because I had already bought the best one.

Cutting plan for the plank.  Stem strips, seat frames and carrying yoke.

Cutting plan for the plank.  Stem strips, seat frames and carrying yoke.

I start by taking the rest of the oak plank that was cut up for the stems and cut the seat frames and the pieces for the carrying yoke.  The yoke has to be glued up to make up the necessary width.

Glueing up the yoke.

I try to match up the grain for the yoke.  I set it aside.

I used the table saw feature on my Shopsmith to cut the tenons.  They are 1″ wide, with a ½” tenon.  I will make the mortises to fit.

Roughed out seat frames.  Tenons are cut into the seat side rails.  The seat transverse rails are all different sizes.

I am now going to use the Shopsmith drill press set-up to make the mortises into the transverse rails.  The seats will all be the same depth, 10″.  I centre the seats on the transverse rails…They are a little too long, so we can custom fit them to the canoe.

Shopsmith drill press set-up.

I will drill several closely-spaced holes for the mortise and then finish them off with a chisel.

Here we go….

I have eight mortises to drill.  I have to be sure that I get them all on the correct sides of the transverse rails.

Mortise rough-out.

I use some chisels to square-up the mortises.

I mark and test fit the rails.

Each tenon and mortise is marked so not only do I get the same tenon in each mortise, the side rail is always the same side up relative to the transverse rail.

Fitting together nicely.

In the books, depending on the author, some glue up the seats, some do not.  At this point we are not glueing them up.  You can see the caliper for mortise depth and some of the chisels I used.

Ready for sanding.

The carrying yoke glue is dry and I am ready to shape it.

Rough yoke and pattern.

I am using the pattern for the Chestnut Canoe Company Portage Yoke from the book “This Old Canoe, How to Restore Your Wood-Canvas Canoe ” by Mike Elliott.  ISBN 978-0-9948633-0-0, published by Kettle River Canoes, 7480 4th Street, P.O. Box 2324, Grand Forks, BC, Canada, V0H 1H0.  A really great book with a lot of practical information about Wood-Canvas canoes but also about seats, yokes and thwarts.  Again, a great book.

Pattern drawn on.

I cut the rough-out with my jig saw.

Staged picture of jig saw cutting out the pattern.

Rough yoke.

The next step is to set up my router jig.  I am using a ½” round-over bit.

Rounding over the carrying yoke and the seat rails.

Rounding over.

I run all of the pieces through the router.  I tape the seat pieces together to rout them, so I get the round-over on the outside of the pieces.

Only the inside and outside edges shaped.

Close-up what I mean by the inside and outside edges.  Where the mortise and tenon are, I did not rout that edge.

Detail photo.

I now turn to the carrying yoke.

I do not want to get any sawdust on the canoe, so I do all the sanding and shaping outside.

I use my angle grinder and a 24 grit flapper disk to carve out the shoulder depression.  It should be about a ½” deep.

Checking the thickness.

The smaller notch in the middle is for your seventh cervical vertebra.  A very important comfort consideration.

Portage yoke sanded and ready for final finishing.

I sand the seat frames.

Packing tape holds the seat frames together while I sand.

#80, then #120 then #220 grits…

Everything sanded and ready to go.

Paul decides to glue-up the seat frames.

Seat frames glued-up and squared.

Next step is giving everything a coat of epoxy.

Seat frames and Yoke coated with epoxy resin.

Note the heater in the background.  Shop temperature is 18 degrees celsuis.

Varnishing is next and then web-up the seats.  Paul is thinking of using para-cord to weave a seat.

See you on the water soon,



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The Urban Oarsman & Son build a Canoe, part sixteen ………….“Fill the weave, fill the weave”…………..

The initial epoxy & cloth coat is “cured”.  No longer sticky to the touch.  This is a “green” cure, the epoxy is still soft.  We will get a chemical and mechanical bond to the first coat.  I trim off all of the overhanging cloth.  We will put on another coat to begin to “fill the weave”.

Pie Pan.

We each mix up a ten-pump cup of resin, stir it two hundred times and pour it into a pie pan.  The greater area of the pie pan helps keep the resin from “Flashing-Off”, that is as the chemical reaction between the resin and the hardener happens it produces heat.  As the resin and hardener warm up, getting hotter, the reaction speeds up, producing more heat which again speeds up the reaction.  I have seen resin burst into flames from “Flashing-Off”.

Filling the weave.

Paul and I both roll on the resin.  These foam rollers do not seem to leave bubbles (Yea!).

Both sides coated.

What Paul and I have done is to roll on the epoxy, each of us following the other to get an even coat.  We probably spent more than half of our time just rolling the hull, trying to get the coat even over the entire hull..  The weave does seem to be more filled.


You can still see the weave in the upper right-hand part of the picture.

Fill coat one done.

We will leave the heat lamps on overnight.  Should be cured by tomorrow.

Hull temperature.

The next morning, Paul and I go to put on fill coat two.  The heat lamps have kept the hull temperature over 15 degrees Celsius.  Today we will put on the last of the cloth…Onto the stems.

Stem piece cloth needs to be trimmed.

While the resin is still soft, I use a utility knife to trim off the excess cloth on the stems.


I use a new blade and a sawing motion to trim off the resin & cloth to the stem.

Prepping the stems.

I cut off all of the overhanging cloth and fair the stem where the cloth ends.

Stem piece fiberglass cloth tape.

We measure and cut a piece of fiberglass cloth tape for the stem pieces.

Stem piece “poxied” in.

When we get a “green” cure, we will trim the stem fiberglass tape to fit.

Pie pan again.

Paul puts ten pumps of resin and hardener into a cup, mixes by stirring two hundred times with a tongue depressor and pours the epoxy into this pie pan.  The greater surface area of the pie pan helps keep the resin from getting too hot and “Flashing-Off”.

The idea here is to put a coat of epoxy resin evenly over the entire hull to “bury” the cloth so you cannot see the weave of the cloth.  When you go to sand the hull smooth, you do not want to sand into the cloth….only the resin.  If you sand into the cloth, you will see it as a white or grey area in the canoe.  Not pretty.  Because we are using rollers, which put on a thinner coat than brushes, Paul and I will be doing three fill coats.

Rolling out the resin.

One of the advantages of working in a colder shop is that the working time of the resin is quite long…over an hour.  We put Ten pumps on each side of the canoe.  Again, trying to keep the canoe even, we both roll out the resin on both sides, one following the other.  We finish with strokes following the lines of the planks.

Fill coat two done.

Another advantage of working in a cold shop is that there are no “bugs” to land on the wet epoxy.

Fill coat two done.

If the epoxy cures at the same rate today as it did yesterday, we should be able to get the final coat on this evening.

Well it is after supper and the canoe is “cured” enough to get the last coat on.

Stem cloth trimmed.

I trim the cloth on the stem pieces while Paul stirs the epoxy resin and hardener. The temperature of the hull is over 16 degrees Celsius.

Rolling the epoxy on.

Paul starts rolling the third epoxy coat on.  This coat seems more “bubbly” than the last one.

Filling the stem pieces of cloth.

You can see the bubbles in the resin on the canoe.

Rolling out the epoxy to get an even, thin coat.

Paul and I each put ten pumps of resin and hardener on each side of the canoe.  We then go over the canoe three times rolling out the resin, with the grain.

Resin roller, Paul.

After we have rolled out the resin three times, I go over the canoe with a brush, taking out all of the bubbles that remain.  Of course this leads to seeing a few “missed” spots,  We roll on more resin, and then use the brush to remove any bubbles.

The canoe looks good.

It looks like we have gotten out all of the bubbles and have a smooth, even coat.  We could keep doing this until the resin begins to set, but enough is enough.  This is good enough.

Enough is enough, time to let the resin set.

We will leave the heat lamps and the heaters on.  It will take four to eight days for the resin to cure completely.  Our ‘Poxy weekend is over.  Then we will take the canoe off of the moulds, and epoxy and cloth the inside.


Good rowing to you,



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The Urban Oarsman & Son build a Canoe, part fifteen……….. “Poxy day”

We have sanded the canoe to death.  All the curves look smooth and we are getting to the point where sanding the canoe any more will just put dips in the wood between the mould stations and between the harder and softer parts of the cedar strips.

Prepping the station moulds.

Paul and I remove all of the strap holders from the station moulds.  The cloth must be able to hang off of the canoe without any interference.

Last chance to fix any problems.

You can see our temperature gauge on top of the Canoe…16 degrees Celsius.  My garage is unheated.  We use five heat lamps and two heaters to warm the Canoe.  I have had “Off-Gassing” or bubble problems in the past…on bare wood, usually caused by a rise in hull temperate after the epoxy has been applied onto the boat.  I now only epoxy over bare wood when the temperature of the boat will not increase during the cure time.

Fiberglass cloth, 6oz.

Paul and I roll out the cloth on top of the Canoe.

Cloth draped over the Canoe.

We adjust the cloth, pulling it gently to the North, making sure that the cloth is smooth and even.  We use a paint brush to move the cloth…Our hands leave wrinkles.

Epoxy resin and hardener.

We cut the cloth at the stems.  We mix up five pumps of epoxy resin and five pumps of hardener into a cup.  Stir with a tongue depressor two hundred times.  Pour onto canoe.

Applying the resin.

In this picture, Paul is using a brush to apply the resin to the ends of the Canoe.  We do not have a  lot of pictures of putting the resin on.  We are not mixing up large batches of resin at a time into the cup…do not want to have a “Flash-Off” reaction.  Again, Paul pumps one resin and one hardener five times into a cup.  Using a tongue depressor, he stirs two hundred times.  He pours the resin onto the Canoe.  Using a plastic spreader,

Plastic spreader.

I spread the resin along the Canoe.  Paul puts the resin on and I spread it out using the Plastic spreader.  We apply about ten cups of five pumps of resin to wet-out all of the cloth on the canoe.

After scraping.

We are working in low temperatures.  We have a pot life of over an hour.  When we have gotten all of the cloth saturated, and given the resin time to soak into the cedar, we begin to scrape off the excess resin.  The goal is to see the weave of the cloth.

We go over the Canoe three times, scraping off the excess resin.

You do not want the cloth to “float” in the resin….You also do not want the cloth to be “starved” for resin because the wood has absorbed too much.

North stem, West side….Looking good.

You can keep doing the scraping until you go mad….or decide that it is good enough.

Looks good enough to us!

We are done by noon.  Time to let the epoxy cure…Then another coat, a “fill” coat.

The epoxy is “dry” to the touch by 7pm.  Time for that “fill” coat…….






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