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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
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Simple, cut 14 circles out of plywood and sand them smooth, then varnish.
Spent a good amount of time finishing the current batch of paddles. This is how the look at the end of Friday.
Friday, December 11, 2009
The I clamp on a mold that is prepared for each blade shape, and fill the void with epoxy thickened with milled cotton fiber. I pigment the epoxy blade because everyone knows that black goes well with everything...
A close up of the casting. After the mold is removed I am ready to shape the paddle blade. After the shaping is done, I cut a slot across the paddle tip, right down the middle of the blade, and insert a plate of fiberglass. This holds the whole tip together should the wood ever start to split.
One of these is for my other daughter, one for a niece, and one for a friend of my elder daughter and niece. So, four of the paddles that I am working on now are for young women who will be attending Manitoba Pioneer Camp next summer. My niece and the friend will be taking their "LIT" Leader In Training course. I am mighty impresses that they valued a good paddle enough to order one!
Here the paddles are cut to shape, the grips are roughed out, and the bulk of the wood on the tip is cut away ready for routing for the epoxy/fiberglass tip.
Here is what it looks like after the second coat of resin. It will need to be sanded again before varnish.
And a look at the first batch of paddles. One Birch, one Cherry, one Walnut, and one Cedar/Walnut. All good paddle woods.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The "C" bout is the one to start with. I'll do the lower bout next. Can't say when it will be done, but everything adds up!
Usually I make the paddles with a center shaft and laminated blade and grip pieces, but I have one order for a single piece "solid" paddle. When making a paddle like this it is important to cut the paddle over large, then let the wood "settle" prior to cutting it to final dimension.
Most of the paddle tips are routed for the epoxy tip.
One, however, is a cedar blade which requires a more durable edge treatment. Lately, I have taken to laminating thin hardwood strips around the perimeter. However, this one is having a black epoxy border. Later I will be applying 2 oz. fiberglass.
I prepare a plywood backer which has a cutout in the center to allow it to come in full contact with the shaped paddle edge. The plywood is covered with packing tape as a mold release so that the epoxy does not stick to it. Thickened epoxy is applied around the edge. When it is cured it will be shaped as the the paddle blade edge.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Some years ago the owner's sister had repaired theseats using nylon string and there was some sentimental value to this. Anyway, the owner decided late to have the seats re-caned, this being the thing that would really set off the restoration.
Here are the seats prior to removing the string.
The seats with base coats of varnish and the cane done. I have applied some stain to the seat on the left, and am just about to do the other seat. New cane on an old canoe makes the seats look too "new" and out of place. A little stain mellows them out.
Bow seat and the two thwarts ready to install. You can also see the refinished floor boards. They are just some spruce slats attached to some cross pieces, and held in place by a small piece of brass stem band that is screwed into the hull over the keel.
Stern seat installed. These seats were usually installed much higher than current taste would dictate, and its not my call to change it now without the directive to do so. You can see the finish on the trim really brings out the wood grain.
And the finish shot of the canoe all done. Be sure to look at the earlier post that shows the canoe before I started work on it for a before and after look.
I prepared a drawing, and in order to make the lines convincing and not cartoonish, I worked from some Lilies and other flowers that were on the kitchen table. Once I was satisfied, and go the thumbs up from my daughter, I took a tracing onto frosted Mylar, then used carbon paper to transfer it to the guitar. I used India ink to give the drawing a nice black line. I'll post a photo of that when I get some pictures of it finished.
Friday, November 13, 2009
He was gracious enough to write down his memories of that day. Here's is his story:
"In early June of 1964, after my first year at University, I got a summer a job at The Kildonan Canoe Company. I worked there for one eventful day - the day the building and all its contents burned to the ground. As it happens, because of "the butterfly effect", it was a key day in my life, as I will explain.
Although I really don't remember much about the company, little details stick in my mind from that day, like hearing Barbara Streisand sing "People", maybe when I was getting off the bus that day to go to work. And I bumped into an old friend while watching the blaze out on the street - the kid who had broken my arm, explained the facts of life to me, and nearly got me into all kinds of trouble eight years earlier.
The Kildonan Canoe Company was located just off
But I still had a job when the end of the day rolled around - 4PM or 5PM - and I had been asked to work overtime that evening. I was looking forward to a couple of extra dollars, when somebody called out "Fire!. A fire had broken out in the wall to the right of the big doors leading to the yard. I heard later that it was an electrical fire. My first thought was to get the boats and canoes out of the building (I had probably been watching too many movies), but the fellow I was working with knew better, and said to just get out of the building. Since the fire was so near the door, I don't know how much time we would have had to get the boats and canoes out of the building, had we tried.
The next thing I can remember is standing out on the corner by
I never got my overtime, and my $10 pay cheque for the day never arrived in the mail. But my Dad later picked up my cheque at Kildonan's new offices somewhere on or near
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sand down the first coat of paint...
The second coat looks a lot better. Only have to do this two more times...
I always knew that my brother in law was the Devil!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
This Kildonan had been in the same family since the 1930's, and was last re-canvassed about 30 years ago by Daryl Perry. Daryl is a Winnipeg craftsman who was building and restoring canoes during the late 1970's. During the early 1980's he switched over to building classical guitars
Sounds like a familiar story...
First, trim off the canvas.
Then repair the gunnels. One had a break, and the other had the rabbet lip worn out in a few places. I could have made new gunnels, but there is a charm in these old ones that cannot be replaced. They were in goo condition otherwise, and the repair work is almost invisible.