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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

Wednesday 22 September 2010

As the old freighter/racing canoe has been successful for its owner in races, I decided that it would be prudent to take the lines off of it for future reference.

I start by using masking tape to establish the centerline. On that I mark 12"intervals, then set perpendiculars.

I also ran a tight string over the keel/centerline and measured from that reference line to the bottom and to the gunnels. This measurements indicate the rocker and sheerline. While I was I at it I also measured the widths at each station.

Once that data is collected I plot it out on a large sheet of paper that is prepared with graph lines.

I then use this pointy stick thing to take the points of the curve of the hull at each station.

And transfer the points to the curve. The points are connected and establish the shape of the canoe hull. This is not an exact drawing of the canoe, as in a new canoe should not be built from these line, but it is close enough that I can refine it through the lofting process.

Thursday 2 September 2010

I have an interesting canoe in for some major work. This is what is being used for the canoe races in some of the northern communities, and this one is from Cross Lake. The owner tells me that this canoe is a champion canoe and has won the races several times, so it has already earned its restoration cost. He is restoring it for his sons to race with.

These canoes are customized freighter canoes that are pulled in to make them narrow, especially at the stern. The bottoms are pushed down to eliminate the hogged rocker line.

I'll be taking the lines off of this canoe for posterity.

You know the drill-while one project is waiting for the next step another is started.

Next in line is another Huron. Amazingly, this one is in really good condition. That would be on account of it sitting in church basement for the last few decades! This canoe is one of four that belonged to a Scout group that ran out of scouters. I was contacted to help find homes for them, and the purchaser of this canoe asked me to restore it. Very straightforward: remove the trim and canvas, sand and revarnish the interior, oil the exterior, canvas, fill, paint, re-trim, paint. Done!

Notice the Sears badge? You don't see those often.

"Loretta" in canvas and filler.

The viola da gamba project is moving along glacially. I made a bunch of kerfed lining.

And got it fitted and glued in. The rim set, called a garland in viol circles, is now complete and ready for the back, front, and neck to be fitted. I am still carving the scroll on the neck. It is a LOT of work, but it is progressing. I have the inlay on the back to do before I fit it, and I am still awaiting some fine Spruce for the front. I decided that all this work deserves a good soundboard!

Strictly speaking, this has little to do with my shop work, but it is interesting nonetheless. My son bought this 1963 Triumph Spitfire last week. He plans to proceed on it as a multi-year restoration project. You don't see many of the older Spitfires around, this is the first for me.

A little progress on my shop aquarium Natural Planted Tank experiment.

The water has cleared up nicely, even with no filter running at all! I put a little hang on back filter on Tuesday to generate some water movement and clear out some of the fine particulate that remains suspended in the water column, but the plants do all the water quality control.

I have about a half dozen freshwater shrimp and about 8 male guppies that I brought in from my outdoor "pond" tank.

The plants have grown even more since this photo was taken. I am impressed! This is the most planted tank success that I have ever had, and it is the easiest ever! I am a convert.

I came across a board of White Oak that was nicely quarter sawn, had good figure, and was 8/4 (8 quarters of an inch = 2") thick.

What to do, what to do?

Resaw it into guitar wood, THAT's what! I managed to get 7 sets of sides and six sets of backs. Now I put it away and wait till I have a project for it. Every luthier builds a stash of wood, the best way to do it without breaking the bank is to take advantage of opportunities when the present themselves.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

A nice long shot of the interior showing the floorboards nicely.

Close up of the floorboards, they're Basswood.

And a close up of brass clips which hold the floorboards in place. There are 8 of these per canoe, and two of the clips for this canoe were gone. So I had to make two more.

A few detail shots of the Peterborough Lake Queen.

The copper stem band. That's copper, not brass.

The refinished deck. The wood is flat sawn Spruce.

A close up of the builder's plate.

Center thwart, maple.

Re-caned seat. You'll notice that the builder's plate is on the stern deck.

The camp canoe with the first coats of varnish on, and some tools while I work on another project.

I find these little boxes ideal for holding all sorts of fasteners.

Spent some time out at MPC this summer working on the canoes that are out there. Here is a 16' Wabasca, known to campers as the "Jamie Thompson" because Jamie was responsible for Wabasca and had ties to camp. There are three of these canoes at camp.

This canoe had the paint finished and was in need of gunnels. I found a pair hiding away up in the rafters, so I got them on.

I had a fellow who wanted to learn a few things, so I put him to work!

Look up for the camera!

Done and ready for varnish. That will have to wait for another day as I ran out of time.

Here are a few photos of "Loretta" back in the day, sent by the owners.

Along the banks of the Red River.

Launching for the "canoe-a-thon".

Count the canoes!

Everything project is worked on in rotation and in its turn, so while I continue with other projects it is time to bring the next one in to get started.

This is "Loretta" another old "Huron" made canoe. Looking pretty rough.

Characteristic interior, not bad considering how rough the exterior is looking.

And the decks, especially, are looking rough.

With all of the varnishing done on the Peterborough Lake Queen, it is time to paint the name on. Jake & Kay are the names of the original owners, so that is the name. I took quite a bit of time to find a font and size that were fitting to the era of the canoe and the spirit of the restoration.

Step one is to print the text out full size and then tape it in place.

Step two is to use carbon paper behind the artwork and then trace out the lettering.

Step three is to use a nice sign painter's gold paint and fill in the lines.

Before I can replank the MPC canoe there are still several broken ribs to repair. For these I will use the back of the rib repair technique.

All planked up. In some spots there is still some of the original wood left!

And just one more, who could resist?

The new Esprit canoe is finished and delivered. Time for some photos!

Here she is sitting pretty on the dock.

Long shot of the interior. I love how all that Walnut works together.

And the new owner trying a cross post. Who says that new wooden canoes ar eonly bought by wealthy old people?! If you are familiar with Freestyle paddling, also known as Advanced Quietwater Paddling Technique, you will instantly notice that he has some work to do on his technique. He is new to this approach to paddling but is a good paddler and it will come. At this point he has had about 4 hours in the canoe. If you are not familiar with Freestyle paddling, then he's looking awesome!

A couple of nice long shots.

Four new ribs are bent over the canoe hull prior to installation.

They are then secured in their curve while getting the canoe ready for them.

Which includes removing the old broken ribs. They had to remain in place while bending because once removed there is not a whole lot of the canoe left!

And here they are all installed.

The old canoe is starting to regain some structural integrity. Now the work of reinstalling the removed planking can get started.