Contact me at: or by phone 204.878.2524

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Lots of stuff goes on in this shop, located in Lorette, Manitoba.

Primarily it's the building and repair of classic wood & canvas canoes, and the making of premium canoe paddles. I also do custom boat building, composite fabrication, and special projects. A growing passion of mine is the making of classical guitars, I'll post about that, too.

I want to be able to share with my clients the progress of their commissioned work. Later I started thinking that there might be other people who are interested in what goes on inside a wooden canoe shop operated by an artist and a recovering teacher.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by email, phone, or by post. My mailing address is:

Red River Canoe & Paddle
24249 River Rd
Lorette, Manitoba
R5K 0Z6

Sunday 30 November 2008

I finished painting the canoe today. Its very blue.! I'll post pictures when I get back to work on Monday.

Meanwhile, I should start putting up a few photos and stories of 3 guitars that I am building.

I have the tops finished and the bracing complete. The sides are bent, and the backs are finished. The necks are almost finished, I just need to carve the heel and drill the holes for the tuning machines and cut the slots.

Two of them are for my daughters, and one for me. These are charming small classical guitars based very closely on the Antonio Torres SE117. I'll provide references for more info on Torres later, as well as post on my progress.

One of the girls, the older one, wanted a dragon circling the soundhole for the rosette. She had such confidence that I could actually do it. I knew that I could, but her faith is gratifying. Just in case anyone is wondering, that dragon is made of small pieces of wood inlaid in a background of epoxy. It is not a painted design, nor is it a decal. The green is a light stain that I applied as per the client's specifications.

My youngest is happy with a more traditional approach highlighting the natural beauty of the wood.

I'm really enjoying this project. I wish that I had more free time to work on them.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Like I need another project.

My wife was inspired a few years ago to buy this truck from my uncle in Saskatchewan. Its a Ford f-47 1 ton. probably a 1950 model.

I could do it, but it will cost me a lot of other projects that I would rather be working on. I don't know if I have it in me.
Today's view across the road.

Even though I haven't posted very recently, I have been busy getting the new canoe finished. There is so much to do, from making the outer gunnels, thwarts, seats and foot braces, keel, and stern outer stem, getting them on, sanding, varnishing, sanding, varnishing. You get the picture.

The interior looking forward. You can see the risers that support the seats, and the bottom braces to which the foot braces are secured. There is a series of holes along the bottom braces so that the foot braces can have their positions adjusted.

A view along the outside bottom showing the filler. It takes two to three weeks for the filler to dry thoroughly.

Seats, foot brace supports, and thwarts after first coat of varnish.
I'm installing the keel today, and continuing painting.

I've also been making some shelving for the eternal storage issues. I recently inherited some older tools, and a bunch of fasteners from my father-in-law, as he closed down his home shop to move into an apartment. Just when I had managed to deal with my own junk! More or less.

I also started making a room air filter. Air borne shop dust is a major issue, both for health and for work quality. I have an older furnace fan, and it will be mounted at the bottom of a 4' tall column with furnace air filters set at the top. I got the panels cut yesterday.

I've also returned to getting some progress made on my basement renovation. Every so often I need to make a major push, so I' taking two days off last week, and twod days off this week to push the project. I'm doing this at the same time as the painting is being done, so my shop time is limited anyway.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

An ancient Chestnut

While the filler is curing on the new canoe, it gives me a chance to get a few other things done.

First, I made the outwales, the keel, and the outer stem for the stern. I still have the transom cap and the seats to make, but that will go pretty easy.

I brought in on of the more interesting restoration jobs to come my way. Its taken awhile to get to this canoe, its been here almost 1 year! This is an early era Chestnut. I'm not sure of the exact date of its building, but I did see one almost exactly like it in the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough. That one dated form 1910.

For such an old canoe, this one is in really quite remarkable shape. Aside from some wear and tear on the gunwale ends, there are quite a few broken ribs, most are just fractures. I'll be using the back of the rib repair technique on all of these as I feel that for this canoe in particular, it is very important to preserve the original character as much as possible. new ribs, even when well matched to the old wood, still look like new wood.

These old Chestnuts have a particular treatment for the decks. While the deck sahpe is the classic heart shape found on many older Chestnuts, it is heavily crowned and undercut at the exposed edge. This crowning is carried over to the gunnels such that is presents a continuous sweep across, from outer gunnel to outer gunnel.

Even though the trim is weathered a uniform grey, I'm pretty sure that the decks are Maple and that the gunnels are Spruce.

So, I've gotten the gunnel and keel screws out so far. These old canoes had slot headed screws used in their construction. I hate slot headed screws-they are an abomination!

Tomorrows job is to remove the stems and the keel so that I can get the old canvas off. The risk now is that the air in the shop is drying rapidly as winter sets in. The planking is at risk of shrinking more than I'd like.

I really need to buy a humidifier...

I'll post some more detail photos of this interesting canoe as I continue to work on it. I'm also planning on documenting it for posterity. This will include taking the lines off it, lofting them up to full scale plans, and making proper drawings of all the trim details.

Friday 7 November 2008

There is a tremendous amount of detail work involved in getting a new canoe to the point where the canvas can go on, but canvassing is always a most dramatic stage. The canoe really looks transformed with its skin on.

I won't go into all the details of how to canvas as that's technical information that is pretty widely available.

There is still a plywood panel that goes over the canvas flaps on the transom.

The filler is also on now, 2 coats and hand rubbed to a smooth finish. The filler is a mix of silica, linseed oil, enamel, thinner, and a few other things. It takes at least 2 weeks, sometimes longer, to fully cure into a rock hard base for the paint. A builder can use other fillers, but each has its balance of advantages and disadvantages.

While the filler cures, it gives me time to prepare the outwales, keel, and seats. In a few days, the filler will be cured enough for me to start getting the trim installed. By the time that I get the trim sanded and varnished, the filler should be ready for paint. Then the canoe will complete and ready to go!

Sunday 2 November 2008

Time for another view of the field across the road. It's pretty tricky catching a lightning strike, but here's a way to do it if you have a digital camera: set it to video mode, get the lightning strike, then pull out the still. You'll amaze all your friends with your great photographic timing.

Finished the varnishing, got the seat risers and foot brace brackets completed and ready to install, and sanded and oiled the outside.

Tomorrow the risers and footbrace brackets get installed, and the canvas goes on. While the filler is curing, about 2-3 weeks, I'll be getting the seats and thwarts, as well as the keel, finished, and getting the outside gunnels on. Once that is all done, I'll be able to paint. It will be blue, and the owner wants it "shiny"!