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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
P.O. Box 78, Grp 4, RR 2
Lorette, Manitoba
R0A 0Y0

Friday, September 25, 2009

A few more shots, just for fun. This guitar is captivating me, but its also an awful lot work! One of these days I'm going to build something nice and easy...

Oh, that missing fret is because I ran out of fret wire and it will have to wait till I can order some more.

So I got it into my head to do an inlay on the back of my new guitar. I was inspired by an intertwining grid from a viola da gamba built by Richard Meares. Yes, it was a lot more work, but some ideas just get into your head and demand to be attended to.

So, I attended to it.

Can you say miters?! So many tiny miters...

After the first session of stripping. Not perfect, but the second session got rid of most of the remainder.

So, while the fine weather was holding out, I decided to work ahead and strip out some more canoes. Working out of doors and using the pressure washer made this task almost pleasant.

These are the "before" shots.

So I stripped out this old Peterborough high end Champlain. This is a special canoe, the planking is perfect, you rarely see that.

And this Peterborough low end Champlain. This one is from Pioneer camp, and is my next project.

And this rare Peterborough Dart. This one is mine, and its a wreck, but its so rare that it is worth the effort. Three different colour coats of paint over the varnish to get off before I can do anything else, but if I don't at least start now it is too easy to keep putting off.

I wasn't going to strip the interior of this canoe. When I starting the varnish it came off too easily for just a surface preparation, but not so easily that I could clean it out thoroughly just by sanding.

So, the weather being nice, I got out the stripper and worked outside-the fumes are far less nasty that way! This also gave me the opportunity to use a little pressure washer that I have now. In the past when I have used high pressure water to clean out the active stripper, the pressure was too great and it could rip out softer wood. This little one works better, but it could use more power so that the pressure point is larger.

Its still a nasty job, but with the fine weather it was almost pleasant.

Before and after, but just the one end.

The finished result, sanded and ready for varnish

Finish varnish and onto the gunnel repair. Its important to clamp a sturdy piece of wood to the outside and fit in a straight piece of gunnel replacement wood for the interior repair. This allows the gunnel to take its proper bend. If you try and fit in the repair to the gunnel unsupported, you risk making an unfair curve, and it will be permanent.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This is a rare canoe for Manitoba, even if it is one of the most common wooden canoes in the United States! It is an Old Town "OTCA" (Old Town Canoe model A). If you look closely, you can see the long mahogany decks typical of this canoe.

The bottom shot shows just how old and frail the old canvas is.

Canvas off!

And onto the usual stem repairs...pretty soon I have to sand the interior and get that vanished. This canoe would have benefited from stripping the old varnish, now a deep chocolate brown, and re-varnishing. Due to budget constraints, the owner is single and in her '80's! that isn't going to happen during this restoration, nut will be left to future generations to undertake.

An old friend came back to me this week.

Canoe #5, the second canoe that I designed myself, built as a prototype with a friend who financed it, later sold it to a friend of his, who left it with his brother whose son was on the same swim team as my son, who got stuck with the canoe when his brother moved across the country, wanted to offload it, realized that I was the one who built it, emailed me to see if i would like it back...I said "Yes", of course!

Asymmetrical design, 13' solo canoe. Plywood and fiberglass construction. Fast and fun. I learned LOT from this canoe. Some elements were successful, others not so much. When learning something new, you have to overshoot the mark to discovered how far back to go.

On this one, mostly I learned how asymmetrical is the limit.

Here, you can see it beside the prototype of the Elan, a successful solo canoe, especially for Freestyle, and the fruits of this endeavour.

The motor is installed and the wiring complete on the thickness sander that I am building. It works! It didn't explode or anything nasty like that. The drum turns smoothly, I am happy that my efforts to install it well centered were successful. I think that I need to put a larger belt pulley on the shaft to slow it down some.

I still need to make a dust shield, true the drum, attach abrasive paper, and make a table. I haven't decided whether I will make a power feed table or simply hand feed on a sliding platform. As this will only be used for my guitar making materials, all shorter than 24", I am thinking that I will just make a hand feed table. I can always make a power feed later. Yeah, right!

Time to get some paint on that Huron canoe, now that the filler is cured. It is important to get the paint on thick enough to build up, and flat enough that future sanding is not a torturous amount of work. Spray works great, it you have a dedicated spray area. As I do not have that luxury, I have found that applying the paint with a foam roller gets it on thick and flat enough, and then a light tipping off with a foam brush removes the slight bit of roller texture that is left.

The tape on the gunnels is there to keep them clean, and to mask off a small section at the bottom of the gunnel where the paint is applied to seat the gunnel/hull seam.

First coat is done, and is set to dry. It takes at least 4 coats to get a really nice finish. Depends upon how picky you are.

Finally, the last of the summer's gelcoat repairs! This one is a Bluewater "Chippewa" model canoe that had gotten a lot of abrasion form wave action and rocks. I think that granite stones might be considered to be 1 grit! Anyway, there were about 5 of these spots that were worn down to the glass layers.

Some green gelcoat, let cure, lots of sanding (down to 2000 grit) and some marine wax polish and the repairs look better than the rest of the canoe.

While we are at it, the owner asked that I tend to the gunnels. Most canoes with wood trim have only an oil finish applied. This is a legitimate finish, and it is fast and easy to apply in the factory by non specialist workers, but it DOES need to be maintained regularly. New oil finish needs to be applied as it is not a long term durable finish.

For this canoe, I had to give the wood a pretty significant sanding to clean out the accumulated grime, then I applied one sealer coat of varnish and two coats of oil. The one coat of varnish helps to keep the grime from getting deep into the wood grain.

Here you can see the sanded and un-sanded portions.

And done!

The Hellman canoe with the smashed in stem. Apparently it took several strong guys to pull it out from where it had gotten shoved in the truck. Its pretty common for canoes to get damaged in transit.

First, the damaged stem material needs to be ground off.

Rebuilt with fiberglass, sanded, and then painted with the same green epoxy paint that is original Hellman sent the correct paint right away and were very accessible to answer questions about using their paint correctly.

All polished and ready to go. Its almost impossible to get an exact match, the paint batch can be different, the lighting, the sheen, all contribute to a slightly different look. It looks a much better match in real life than in the photo.

This is the little Evergreen "Envy" is an 11'8" kayak. Just a nice size for poking about paddling.

Here is the completed gelcoat repair. Not all whites are the same, so the gelcoat white that i was using was not an exact match for the original white. Close enough for this purpose, seeing as I waited at least 6 weeks for Evergreen to send the original colour gelcoat...