Part III of the Canoe Building Saga


Well, it’s finished! Yes…it floats!

Well, lets see where we were…agh yes I had just glassed the inside. Well I trimmed the excess glass as I did for the outside. I did the 2 recommended coats instead of the three the outside got, But unfortunately I laid it on too think and missed the textured finish intended.

It was around this time (or in fact some weeks before) I had picked up all my timber from am old guy I knew from my days at Whitford Church. He had a shed full of nice Sheoak, great grain and various lengths. He cut it all and thined it to size – Thanks Ken!

I played with the gunnel lengths against the side and in doing so discovered that this Sheoak is a bit brittle. I snapped a length. Well, I had multiple lengths as they were not long enough to go the full 16ft. So a knew I had to join (and now steam bend) them.

But after shaping them and cutting the scupper holes into the inwales It seemed more flexible and indeed, when it came to fitting them the bent nicely with no cracking. (I stll steam bents the outwales) I tapered them at the ends so there are nice lines and used resin and lots of clamps! I was careful to clean up the excess as I knew how hard dried resin was to get rid off! Once I took off the clamps, I was getting excited. In fact it was this fittings process that sent me into the worst obsessive stage of the whole project. It was deeply satisfying seeing this wood shaped, sanded and watching the grain come out in it. It was also great plaining the actual shear line of the canoe down to meet the top of the gunnel. I wake up at 3am thinking about building boats!

Whilst the gunnels were doing their drying thing I gave the thwart carving a go. I tried downloading plans as I wanted a yolked thwart. But nothing seemed easy…until I put a cake tin and coffee cup on a piece of paper, traced out a design, then just doubled it over so it was a perfect mirror. I spent ages getting the shape and used the router table (free hand) to trim the edges. In fact I forgot to mention how the router ripped into some of the scupper holes…I need some serious repairs done…and repending for bad language in the shed! I must say, the thwart is my highlight. It came up a treat, really nice.

I started on the 2 little decks. I had decided this simple task would be my first attempt at laminating. It worked! In fact I chose not to round the decks as the guy on the DVD does. I just kept it plain, but the effect of the strip of ask down the middle looks sweet.

As I am just using webbing (like seat belt straps) I just made plain seats with right angles. I did not drill a big enough hole into the end grain on one of them and it split. A quick trip to Ken’s to grab some more (no such thing as a quick visit to Ken!) and I was home again giving it another go. Later the other seat that I made first was to crack in my hand, effected by the same mistake. It had set (resin) so I could not pull it apart even though one join was loose as a result of the crack. I made a resin brace…lets home it holds!

They look and feel great, it was good to use the router here to round all the edges. I like router 🙂

Couple of challenges around this point;

1) The decks did not just neatly slide into place. I think I should have been more careful making up my little cardboard templates. It took ages and in the end I just left it to the thickened epoxy resin to fill my gaps. They do look nice still.

2) The seats were hard to hang. I am still thinking something is wrong about the whole seat thing. I have this bad feeling that in its maiden voyage if something will go wrong it will that the seats snap or something like this.

I made little spacer blocks that the seat bolts slide through. They took a while, were fiddly, but kind of fun.

Once the seats were fitted, the bolts drilled into the gunnels and counter sunk, I then did the same for the thwart. But before I set where the thwart was to go Mikaela and I stood either side of the boat and lifted it by the thwart to determine where the boat balanced. It was not meant to balance perfectly, but rather tip to the rear a little, this is so when you are carrying the boat on your shoulder by yourself, the front lifts up a little to be able to see. I counter sunk the bolts then buried them all in some of my tinted resin. When it was dry I sanded it all back to the gunnels.

I then pulled all the fittings off, seats and thwart, to get ready for the big paint.

The varnish was long winded. I sanded, then varnished, then sanded the varnished. I did this 3 times on the inside and 6 times on the outside. The fittings all got three each. The outside hull gets beat up pretty bad so 6 coats are needed.

Oh by the way I finally tracked down brass strip. Half round brass strip is rare in Australia. I ordered some from the UK but they failed to contact me about price. I emailed twice, but they failed me, and lost my business…not so bad as I ended up finding some in Henderson, so off I go for a long drive…and it turned out to be the wrong stuff! So I will get the strip from the UK when I can afford it.

The other thing I picked up was some neat fonted signs for the front. I decided to coat over them with a couple of layers of varnish just to protect the sign writing – she is called Bonnie Doon.

The varnish ran, plus when I tried to re-coat I did so before the previous coat was properly dry and it blistered (see pic).

I was running too late to care, so I will come back and do another few coats later. I had to launch on the 1st of Oct at our family holiday in Walpole. But I had no paddles!

I was impressed with how a very rough paddle together, I am definitely wanting to make some more.

The paddle still a little wet, we loaded Bonnie onto the car and headed to Walpole – it’s LAUNCH DAY!

Check it out here –

She floats! Thanks for the good times…now the adventures begin!

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5 thoughts on “Part III of the Canoe Building Saga

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