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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

Friday 24 April 2009

I started a new project. I've wanted a thickness sander for quite awhile, but could never justify the cost for the amount of use that I would put it to. So, that left the option of making it myself. There are quite a few plans around for these DIY machines, and I was set to make one. That is, until I found this old Delta radial arm saw at the dump last fall.

I figures that it had a solid column with a perfectly good raising and lowering mechanism. So I had a bar made to hold the pillow blocks which will support a 6" diameter steel drum. Abrasive paper will be wrapped around the drum. You can see the steel shaft which is a little long just now.

Still need to set up the motor, make the dust collection shroud, mount the drum, and make a proper table. But it's a great start!

The filler is on the new Boreal. Now I just have to wait till its cured...but while I'm waiting I have the gunnels and trim to install, sand, and varnish.

And while the Boreal filler is setting up enough to work the trim, I go the keel and stem bands on the old Chestnut. I also finished the varnish on the trim and got the seats back in.

Saturday 18 April 2009

The new Boreal exterior sanded and treated with linseed oil. The Oil prevents the wood from drying out and getting brittle, and it reduces the amount of moisture that the wood can absorb.

The seats on this canoe are supported on risers rather than being bolted to the gunnels. This allows them to be set lower and reduces the number of holes that get drilled into the gunnels. An important aspect of the installation is to get the risers at the correct height, level, and parallel to each other.

Here is how the risers and seat go into the canoe.

Canvas went on Friday. I ran out of time to get the filler on as the phone kept ringing with inquiries and people showed up to discuss their canoes. A sure sign of Spring!

All done and ready for filler first thing Monday morning.

This Chestnut has the new gunnels on, and they are being sanded for varnish. The seats are removed to facilitate this, and to make it easier to sand and varnish them as well. First coat of paint is on and sanded. The keel has been straightened, cleaned of peeling paint, and epoxy coated prior to being reinstalled.

Friday 17 April 2009

Sometimes I feel like my guitar building is like crack cocaine, I always need my fix.

I prepared this mold a few months ago in anticipation of a new project.

Inspired by how the Ash bent for the guitars that I am building for my daughters, I tried the same technique again. Wet the Ash, wrap it in foil, let sit for about an hour, then unwrap it and hand bend it into the mold. Usually bending wood requires heat as well, but I bent this with no additional heat, all at room temperature.

This project will be able to sit like this until sometime in the future, there's no rush. I thought that I could use a neck that was already made, but I've decided to try something new so this project will require a different neck.

While the varnish work is proceeding on the new Boreal canoe, I've gotten the new gunnels onto the old Chestnut. Lots of clamps involved to keep things nicely aligned.

At the ends there is some up sweep in the sheer, so the wood needs a little coaxing.

This also came in. Apparently his grandchildren figured that a dogsled was built op to the strains of being pulled behind a snowmobile. So now some of the wood pieces need fixing.

Saturday 11 April 2009

The seats on the new Boreal canoe will be hand caned. This requires that a series of holes be drilled around the seat frame. 1/4" holes on a 3/4" centers. Each hole, on each face, requires a small camfer to relieve the corner to not stress the cane strand.

I've seen a lot of old seats with failed glue joints, so I always use epoxy along with the two dowels. You'll notice that one of the pieces is wider than the others. The front of each seat is 2" wide so that I can put a bevel on it, making it more comfortable to the paddler.

And, of course, the gunnels. To the casual eye they are just a couple of long sticks, but there is a lot of work in them. Cutting the wood, milling it to dimension, rabbeting the back to sit over the planking, rounding over the corners, pre-varnishing the back sides, sanding the bottom. And that's all before they get put on the canoe!

Well, back from a few days with my daughter at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon. Saw lots of horse shows...and the Super Dogs three times. How did THAT happen?

Back in the shop I got the planking all finished on the new canoe, picked out the little brass shards that result from driving in some of the tacks, sanded it all nice and smooth, and got the first coat of varnish done.

I also made the seat, thwarts, and gunnels.

Once the canoe has a couple more coats of varnish, I can clean up the outside of the canoe and get the canvas and filler on.

Starting to look like a canoe now!