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Cedar strip canoe - Disaster!

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Dandan

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Hi all,
I've recently dived headlong into a project to build a 17 foot cedar strip canoe with my dad, i'll post progress pictures shortly but I wanted to start off with a question. Looking ahead i'll need to source fibreglass matting and resin for coating the inside and outside of the canoe, can anyone recommend a company that I can source this from? I just want to speak to someone to make sure I'm getting the correct products for the job before I splash the cash, the resin selection flow charts i've found so far are far from clear!
Thanks as always!
 

Dandan

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Right then, here goes nothing!
I'd been watching a lot of wooden boat building videos on Youtube (damn that algorithm) and despite not having any connection to the world of seafaring whatsoever, I soon found myself measuring up my driveway to see how big of a Bristol pilot cutter I could fit on it. When my sensible side (her name is Lisa) kicked in, I decided I should start a little smaller and work my way up, and a canoe was about as small as I could picture.
My dad seemed interested in getting involved too, and I was very interested in his 21 foot long, mostly empty garage which would stop me having to entirely devote my workshop to the project for the forseeable.

Books were bought, the best by far being "Canoecraft" and we decided on a 17ft Redbird 2 person canoe.
The books include something called a table of offsets which in theory contains all the information you need to make the sectional templates (called stations) which you build the canoe around. The table however is quite mystifying to the uninitiated and most people will shell out around £100 for a set of full sized plans and instructions.
Now me being stubborn (and cheap) and an occasional engineer, I decided that the table was all I needed and if you could, in theory, make a canoe from this confusing mess of numbers, then I would.
There were a fair few headscratching moments, everything is in boatbuilding code, with stations, stems, sheers and buttock lines, not to mention the whole thing is written out in feet, inches and eighths (with a + denoting a sixteenth) whereas I live strictly in the metric world. (just dont ask me how tall I am, or what I weigh)
I got there eventually though, and with the aid of some computer wizardry, I managed to loft out all the stations



Putting this into CAD had another advantage, I was able to surface the stations to get a better look at what the canoe would look like and more importantly, to see if I had messed up with the table of offsets and put a big wibbly line down the side of the hull. This actually saved us from a big headache as I had entered the location of the keel wrong on one station, something we would not have spotted until we were laying strips on the canoe and it would have been too late.



Once I was happy with the stations, I used some of the money I saved on buying plans to get them CNC profile cut, it seemed like a hugely time consuming job that was wide open to errors, and the kind of thing that a flatbed CNC excels at. Thanks to the guys at Woodpecker CNC and Laser, a small local company who offered a great, fast service CNC and Laser cutting by WoodpeckerCNC on Etsy

 

Sideways

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Check out fyneboatkits here in the uk.
I haven't yet dived into this but I like the elegance of cedar strip kayaks and canoes so I'll be following your posts with interest.
 

Droogs

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Try these guys for supplies, they cover it all

 

MikeG.

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I love these things!

Have you thought about adding a rubbing strip down the keel line? I've seen so many damaged canoes and kayaks that would have been at least partly saved by having a rubbing strip.
 

Dandan

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I love these things!

Have you thought about adding a rubbing strip down the keel line? I've seen so many damaged canoes and kayaks that would have been at least partly saved by having a rubbing strip.
Hi Mike, yes the book describes making the canoe with or without a keel strip, the only difference is how you shape the underside end of the outer stem pieces so I reckon we will put one on to be safe!
 

Dandan

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Thanks for the resin suggestions, I will delve into those for sure!

Once we had the stations cut out, we built a frame for mounting the stations on, known as a strongback. We made ours from scrap pieces of ply because thats what we had going spare but it can be made of pretty much anything long and straight.





The stations get mounted on at 12 inch spacings, and held perpendicular to the strongback with a scrap batten pinned across what will be the keel (you build the shell of the canoe upside-down.) In this next picture we also added the topmost outer cedar strip so we could check that our stations gave us a nice fair curve along the canoe. This top edge is called the sheer line and the first cedar strip follows it for most of the boat, only veering away at the ends as the sheer curves up too sharply to make bending one strip to fit practical. Smaller strips will be used to fill this part in later.



Next we need to make the front and rear of the boat, called the stems. This is a piece of hardwood that gives us something to attach the cedar strips to, it comes in two parts, an inner which you glue the strips to, and an outer that gets put on afterwards, like a cover strip.
The stems are heavily curved so we steam bent them using three 6mm strips of elm per stem. (it's a wood I have a plentiful supply of so made sense) The elm has been drying for several decades and seemed quite brittle so I was doubtful that it was going to conform to such a tight radius, but an afternoon in a warm bath and 15 minutes in a steaming tube and you could have bent it into a circle! Here you can see the inner and outer being bent into shape at the same time, hence 6 strips of wood in total.



Once they dried overnight we glued them up, I would glue the inner, let it dry, then glue the outer over the inner to get the right shape while trying not to glue them together!


(Cameo appearance from my new workbench which I never did a build thread on)

We tidied up the inners and fitted them to the stations, these are then shaped into approximately a triangle shape in section, so the cedar strips sit flush with the side of the stem. This triangle shape varies along the stem's length as the boat shape changes, so its best to shape a little bit of it, glue some strips on, then shape more as you go along. I didn't get a close up of this, i've failed you all.

 

clogs

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Dan
u must ask what the shelf life of the resin is.....even a reputable company.....
Most of the cheaper stuff was good resin once but they filter and blend it from timed out resin......
this cheap stuff is usually is OK if u use it fast and for the likes of flower pots.....
In ur case spend the money and be safe....it's not cheap tho.....
 

Dandan

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Next up, cedar strips.
I don't know if it's just due to the current worldwide issues of which we will not speak, but I had a hell of a time finding clear cedar for this project!
Actually, it's not absolutely essential that the canoe is made of cedar, it's only chosen for it's light weight and flexible, workable nature. Because it gets coated on both sides in resin, it has nothing to do with it's water or rot resitant properties. You could make the boat from teak if it really took your fancy (and you wanted to get a hernia lifting it into the water), or pine, maybe even aluminium or probably acrylic, anything that you can make strips out of should work. That being said, cedar is very pretty and I wanted to stick with tradition, so the hunt for suitable wood continued.
After searching near and far for a supply, I eventually circled back round to my local supplier, Totton Timber, who are still not allowing customers on site and so everything must be ordered by phone and collected, something I wasn't comfortable doing when I wanted to select the specific timbers myself. After writing them off initially, I eventually had a chat with the GM and he was super helpful, sending me photos of the only long piece of cedar they had in stock, which turned out to be a beauty.
We ordered that piece, and when I emailed to thank him for the help, he told me he had ordered a further 10 planks, of which I would be able to select the clearest pieces to fulfill my requirements, now that's what I call service.

The planks were so long that I had to move my table saw outside to rip them down. With the help of some homemade feather board attachments and a brand new blade (thin to minimise waste) we were able to create 70 full-length strips measuring 6x20mm.





Above is 120 linear metres, and below is the remaining 275 linear metres:



Even with the thinner blade, the waste was really quite uncomfortable to think about, here's what approximately £70 of sawdust looks like...



And that's where i'm at, next we need to rout a cove and bead on all the strips...
 

Dandan

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Dan
u must ask what the shelf life of the resin is.....even a reputable company.....
Most of the cheaper stuff was good resin once but they filter and blend it from timed out resin......
this cheap stuff is usually is OK if u use it fast and for the likes of flower pots.....
In ur case spend the money and be safe....it's not cheap tho.....
Thanks Frank, I will make sure I ask the question, and will make sure i get something of suitable quality for my needs, it would be a real waste to cover all that wood in something that discolours or cracks or degrades in some way.
 

Droogs

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I take it you had no access to a bandsaw Dandan? Are you planning to have a decorative strip along the canoe at all?
 

custard

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I guess most of the timber machining is done now, but if you do need a bandsaw (or a drum sander for that matter) I'm at the western end of the Solent, so pretty close to you. Shout if you need any help.

Incidentally, I'll echo your comments about Totton Timber, certainly for softwoods they're a great local resource.
 

Dandan

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I take it you had no access to a bandsaw Dandan? Are you planning to have a decorative strip along the canoe at all?
I assume you are asking because a bandsaw would create a lot less waste? You know what, I was so focused on what I'd seen others do on YouTube that I never even considered it, I have a very good, large, floor standing bandsaw! Well it's too late now but at least I'll know for next time I guess!
We have some very pale white wood that we will use for a decorative strip, yes, nothing fancy, just a twin stripe.
 

Droogs

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:ROFLMAO: Been there and done that. Ah well. Looking forward to the rest of the build, i love these and would love to do one myself if I get the space
 

MikeG.

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Finding cedar here is no issue at all. Thorogoods have miles of the stuff, and it's beautiful clear straight-grained stuff, quarter sawn. I will be doing a cedar strip project in the next year or two, but it won't be a canoe. Thus I'm watching with interest, particularly the fibreglassing and finishing.
 

Bm101

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This is on my 'bucket list'. Watching closely. Looks fantastic.
 

Steve_Scott

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I’ve been toying with a build myself and have been chatting to the chap at Rutland woodworking Wooden Canoes: Wood Strip Canoes & Kayaks, UK Made.

One of the things he pointed out was many suppliers don’t supply the glass fabric wide enough to cover the canoe so hunt around in advance. If you give him a call he’ll be able to point you to his supplier.
 
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