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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 26 February 2010

I sell canoe plans, and the most popular plans are for the Red Fox and the Elan solo canoes. The Red Fox is an old Chestnut canoe design called the Fox and the Elan is one of my own Free Style canoe designs.

Every now and then I get some reports back from home builders. Here is one of them from Australia. He didn't write much but he did send a photo.

And a video link:

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Time to get back to the bridge. The string holes are measured out on masking tape, as its much easier to see the marks.

A drill press is used to drill the holes. I am running the bridge along a fence to ensure that they all line up properly.

Masking tape is used to protect the soundboard finish from the sanding that is being done in the pace where the bridge will be glued. This location is VERY carefully identified.

The props that are inside of the guitar enable me to simply use these cam clamps to glue down the bridge. Without the props the soundboard would never be able to take the pressure. Of course, the better the fit the less clamping pressure is needed.

And this is how it looks.

I like side markers on my classical guitars. I don't have the training to navigate the entire fingerboard without them. I don't want too many of them, though, so just the 5th, 7th, and 10th fret get them.

The end of the fretwire is cut to allow it to overlap the fingerboard binding.

On this build I wanted to try epoxying the frets in place. The fingerboard face is first coated with wax, then the fret slots are filled with resin..

The frets are placed into the slots and clamped down.

As the fingerboard face was waxed the resin is easy to remove. The frets require only the basic dressing and we are good to go.

The back binding is glued on, too.

And it looks like this.

Lest anyone think that everything goes perfectly as planned, these are the pieces that didn't get onto the guitar.

The back binding at the heel can be done any number of ways. Torres often mitered them into an extension of the back that is glued over the heel. I forgot to leave the back long enough to do this, again, so I had to cut the miters into the binding and fit a piece of wood fit. I chose a piece that matches the back wood exactly.

And it looks like this.

The back is glued to the guitar, and its time to glue on the binding. Really, there is a guitar inside all of that rubber clamping!

These are some of the tools used to prepare the binding rebates.

This is the binding rebate ready to receive the binding, which on this guitar will be a simple walnut line.

The Bison bone worked out really well, the wall of the bone is nice and thick making it easier to get usable pieces from it.

I could have made much more, but for now I will content myself with making just as much as I need right now.

While the filler on the Bob's Special is curing, I return my attentions to the old Peterborough high end Champlain.

It is rare that the seats on an old canoe are in this good of condition, all I need to do is to sand and varnish them.

Which is a good thing because I need to make new outside gunnels.

Because this is all that is left of the old ones.

Here we are setting up to canvas.

The canoe in the canvas sling.

And closed in and filled.

Now we wait.
After two coats of varnish over the stain this is the result. Not too bad. The old wood is very variable in colour, some spots are much darker that others and I had to aim for a mid point with the stain. Nothing will hide the fact that this is new wood, but it doesn't have to go shouting "Look at me!".

From the outside after grinding and sanding the resin residue. There is still some resin staining of the wood, but that won't affect anything. There were a lot of loose tacks on this canoe and I had to go over every single one to drive them tighter, and added or replaced those that stayed lose. Very tedious, there are hundreds of tacks!

A coat if linseed oil not only helps waterproof the outside of the hull but it also keeps the wood from drying out excessively. The fiberglass has already taken its tole on the wood.

A nice shot of the original 1948 decks of this canoe. You can clearly see the camber on the top as well as the undercutting of the inboard edge typical of early Chestnuts.

The new ribs are all in and the planking is done. Now I need to sand the interior, stain the new wood so that it doesn't look TOO different from the old, and then varnish two coats. It could actually use more varnish, but two coats is what has been ordered.

The ends of the gunnels needed some repair work. They weren't rotten and falling apart...yet, but there was some splitting happening along the line of screws.

Friday 12 February 2010

New ribs in and the two fractured ribs repaired. Now I continue planking. The fiberglass on this canoe dried it out quite a bit and some of the broken planking was more broken than it would otherwise have been.

Such is life.

The Tornavoz is installed using a fillet of epoxy mixed with cotton fiber. Traditionally they would have a lip that is trapped against the soundboard by the circular wooden rosette reinforcing ring.

In order to glue the bridge later I have to brace the soundboard. Typically clamps are fitted in through the soundhole, but with the Tornavoz in place this will not be an option. Each prop has a string to pull it out with. It is essential to remember to secure the strings out at the soundhole in order to pull them!

Now the back can be glued on.

The copper has a nice glow when viewed through the soundhole.

I did some processing of the Bison bones. Step one is to cut it into smaller pieces, then into the slow cooker to boil off the meat residue and some of the marrow. After a good number of hours I cut it down into smaller pieces and boil out what is left.

After it dries I cut it down into even more manageable pieces. Now I study these pieces to see how to best further process them.

And this is the result. I have many more pieces that I can cut out of my bone supply, but for now I will content myself to my present needs of one tie block cap, one saddle, and one nut.

Now that all that old resin is off of the Bob's Special, it is time to get the new ribs bent. I'm nearing the end of my current White Cedar stock, I have stock left for narrow ribs and have some planking milled, but not much left that is suitable for 2 1/4" wide 65" long ribs. So I have to be careful with these ones!

Into the steambox they go.

After about 20 minutes of generous steaming they are ready to bend around the canoe to take the correct shape. They get bent at a section of the canoe that is just slightly smaller than where they will be installed to ensure a proper fit.

After they cool, the old broken ribs are removed and the new ones put in their place. At this point they are just clamped in place.

There is a lot of open space here where the planking is busted out, so a batten is clamped to cover a number of ribs to keep them all lined up.

Now I have two broken ribs to repair, the ribs to fasten with canoe tacks, and all that busted out planking to replace.

Sunday 7 February 2010

The saddles and nuts of a guitar are made of many materials, but bone is considered the standard for good guitars as it is hard and long lasting.

My neighbour raises Bison, I had asked for some bones next time they harvested an animal. I didn't expect two full legs, hoofs included, to show up on my doorstop last week.

Notice all the meat still attached?

For that I need a little help. Patou loves the fresh meat! Good thing because there's still lots left, but she's making progress.

I decided to use an ebony bound maple fingerboard for the new guitar. I liked the black binding on the natural maple, but it didn't "work" with the Rosewood bridge. So I stained it. At this point I have two coats of CA glue to build the surface finish. The fret is just sitting there to pre-visualize the end results.

The bridge as it looks now, with a little CA (cyanoacrilite) flooded on the fill any small pores.

Now I am ready to close the back, fret the fingerboard, glue on the fingerboard and bridge, binding, finishing, etc...

Oh, and I need to make the tuning pegs. For that I will need a lathe.
My DIT humidifier Mark III .

Not satisfied with commercial humidifier offerings, I decided to cobble together one out of basic plumbing and aquarium supplies. A deep Rubbermaid tub, 1/2" PVC pipe, an aquarium powerhead pump, and cleanable furnace air filters. Holes cut in the sides allow air from my room air filter to pass through to increase the evaporation. Works pretty good!