Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Skin on Frame Canoe

 I started working at a canoe shop this spring, and while I was brushing up on the technical aspects of canoes to better be able to articulate the merits of various canoes with customers, I stumbled upon the skin on frame building style.  Naturally, I decided that I should make one.  I have a bad habit of losing steam partway through a project and never finishing it, but hopefully this is simple enough in the construction that I can keep chugging along to the end.  So far I've purchased 5 furring strips from the lumberyard, a couple of which I've ripped down into gunwales and a keelson.  I've "dry bent" the two ends by ripping many 1/8" strips and laminating them with glue around a simple plywood form.  I may do the same thing for the ribs, it may be easier for me than building a steam box and toying with that.

 Above you can see the gluing of the scarf joint that joins the keelson (the strip that runs down the center of the canoe) to one of the ends.  It's a simple 5" long lap joint.  After the glue is dry I will probably drill a couple of small dowels into it for reinforcement, and maybe whip the whole joint with cord.

Below is the selection of tools I used to make the scarf joint.  This project so far has required very few tools, which is good for beginning boat builders looking to avoid a huge investment right away.

This is my simple form.  It was originally a shelf inside one of those recycled canoe shelves made from the ends of busted canoes.  The shelf didn't fit right, so I rescued it from the trash and drilled a couple of holes.  I decided I was pleased with the curve, so simply used it as-is.  I'll make a different form for the ribs since this is for a 38" wide Old Town, and my boat is going to be 32" at the widest.

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