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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

Monday 20 December 2010

Once all glue for the bridge is thoroughly set, I can put on an old set of strings and start the set up. This entails the correct string spacing and height at the nut, as well as the proper string height at the saddle. I will also be checking, levelling, and polishing the frets. These are all critical steps which determine the final playability of the instrument.

I do this while the guitar is still "in the white" as it is my final opportunity to make any final adjustments to the wood shaping, etc.

The fingerboard, of Ziricote, is completed and positioned for final gluing in place.

Once the glue is set final shaping of he neck can proceed.

As well as the exact positioning and glueing of the bridge.

It doesn't take much more time to make three bridges compared to setting up to make just one, so I made three. This will save me a lot of time on the next two builds. I will leave two of them at this stage and only complete the one for this instrument. The wood is Ziricote and the tie-block is bison bone.

The underside of the bridge has to be shaped to fit the dome of the soundboard exactly!

After some of the bulk waste is removed the surface is refined with lots of sanding.

Time for cutting the soundport. A template of the pattern is printed out on paper, the taped to the correct location. Good old carbon paper is then used to transfer the design. In this digital age I am sometimes surprised that this useful product is still available!

Removing the paper reveals the lines to cut to. The tape is simply representing the limits within which I can work.

No time to be feint of heart! Get a good sharp drill bit and get at it!

A lot of cutting and sanding later reveals the finished soundport. A soundport is a simple means of allowing some of the guitars sound projection to be directed towards the player and not all of it away.

I have a love-hate relationship with binding the guitar. I love how it really sets it off as complete, but I hate the stress of doing it. There are so many opportunities to screw up!

The miters have to be done with great care... order to look seamless.

On Remembrance Day, in the afternoon after attending local commemorative services, I struck down a 90 gallon aquarium in the house and reset it up as a Natural Planted Tank. I use most of the plants that were growing in the shop aquarium. They filled up the 90 nicely! The tanks is settling in nicely now, in the few weeks since this photo was taken the Amazon Sword plant on the left has been sending out new leaves that reach the surface of the the tank, and then some. As a reference, this tank is 22"deep. I've never had plants grow this well this easily!

The last task for the interior, before closing the box up with the back, is to apply two layers of fiberglass to the are where the soundport will go. The soundport will be cut to a failry intricate shape and I can't rely upon the wood to not break.

The interior face of the back is strengthened with a strip of cross grain spruce spanning the glue joint.

When the braces are all fitted to the back strip, and everything lines up just right, it is then time to glue the back tot he guitar body. Lots of go-bar sticks are used!

Once the back lining is glued in, the back braces can begin to be fitted and shaped. The back has a dome shape which is determined by the braces. It is important that the curve of each of the three back braces, the heel, and the sides, all correspond. Templates help in achieving the shape, but its final determination must be made using long sanding blocks.

Finally, the back is fitted using the actual guitar body as a guide.

After the lining boards all have the kerfs cut, then they are ripped into strips, and one corner is rounder over. These ones are being set up as "reverse kerf linings". This simply means that the uncut face is oriented away from the gluing surface instead of towards it.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Time to make the kerfed lining for the guitar. Its time consuming, so while I'm at it, I'll make lots more to have on hand for the next project.