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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 16 February 2011

Clairtone was a leading Canadian Hi-Fi company, originally based in Toronto, then in Nova Scotia. They operated through the late '50's till 1972. Their demise was a function of growing too big too fast and taking "advantage" of some appealing relocation support.

Anyway, their flagship console was the "Project G", which is still very desirable, G for globes,a nd only about 400 were ever made. I can't afford an original and I am tired of all sorts of components cluttering up my living room. What to do, what to do? I have decided to make my own. It will be very updated and function as a media center. Our new TV will be mounted on the wall directly above and behind this.

Learn more:!/group.php?gid=189723222231

The interior is revealed by sliding back the tambour lid. By coincidence, we have acquired an original Garrard Lab 80 turntable, the correct unit for the Project G!
The speakers used a 10" Wharfedale driver mounted on the face of the back hemisphere. The front was a double layer of spun aluminum, the interior was natural gray and was perforated with many holes. The exterior was black anodized aluminum and perforated with many, many holes!
You can see that the holes were of two different sizes, the interior shell have large holes while the exterior shell had very small holes. The overlay created an appealing pattern.

Now I have to decide how authentic I am going to be and what impact authenticity will have on the end result.

I have finally started towards making my Clairtone "Project G"!

I have joined the DIY Audio Forum: Lots of good information and good people there. My path has lead me to Dave at Planet 10: and Mark Audio drivers:

Step one is to develop the speakers. I have decided to use the Mark Audio Alpair 12 full range driver. The challenge is the enclosure. The Clairtone had 18" diameter spheres, but there is not design ready for a sphere of 18". Dave at Planet 10 is developing a series of plans for this driver and I am in with the beta development/testing group. I am going to build and test some enclosures that he designs and the designs will become part of his plans offerings.

So, anything that I build will need some sort of reference, a standard against which they are compared. Towards that end I have decided to start by building the Mark Audio Studio Reference Monitor for the Alpair 12 driver, plans for which can be found here:

The standard materials recommended are 3/4", 18mm Baltic Birch plywood as it is uniform in consistency and stiff for its weight. I am using cabinet grade Birch plywood here, even though it has an Aspen core. As I was originally just going to make some MDF boxes this is already a big step up.

Here are the panels cut and ready for assembly.

And I had to make a circle cutting fixture for my router to cut the hole for the driver. I didn't mind too much as it will be very useful for the guitar building! I made it big enough to use for the 18" globes for the Clairtone.

All is not fun and games n the canoe shop. Yes, real work is proceeding on the rowboat! I have transferred the drawings from the lofting table to paper, and I have made up the station molds and cut them to shape. Here they are set up on the strongback. For canoe building I usually use plywood or MDF for stations, but due to the size of these stations I opted for solid spruce lumber, more work but much lighter! And you get work access through the molds.

I have cut some nice 18' fir into skinny strips to apply to the outside of the stations as ribbands for lining the planks, and currently I am preparing the transom, stems, and keelson.

As this is a hybrid between the "Bailey" Whitehall and the Rangeley boat, I have taken to calling it the "Bailey-Rangeley". I'm open to options.

I'm slowly building a steel string guitar, a Gibson L-00 style guitar. I've pretty much stopped playing on steel strings in favour of nylon strings, but I have friends who come over and can't play without picks. I'm tired of having guitar picks put scrapes into my nylons string guitar tops, so I'm putting this together for them to wail on.

I wanted a nice vintage vibe for this guitar so I am going with a traditional herringbone rosette. Not sure if it is traditional to Gibson, but oh well. (Yes, I could look it up if I wanted to, but I wanted a herringbone rosette and that's all there is to it!)

The body of the guitar is Mahogany and the top is spruce.

Its funny, but emotionally I'm not really counting this guitar as a real guitar build...

I wish that I could claim the work done on this old 'cello as income! It would make my bank account happier. While this repair is saving my wife well over $1000 in repair bills, I'm not "earning" any money off of it and other work is not getting done, either. This is not a complaint, but a reality of work. Oh, well...

Anyway, in preparation to gluing the top, often referred to as the "table", back onto the rims, I needed clamps. Lots of clamps. And not just any old pipe clamp but what are called "spool clamps" which keep the pressure right over the rim so that you don't damage the top or the back of the instrument.

So I had to make these. Normally the plates are circles, but I made crescents so that the clamping pressure wold be over a wider area. This was a simple matter of saving some money, have you ever priced out 8" long 1/4" bolts?! I did, so I bought threaded rod instead and cut it into 8" sections. Even so, I would have had to make twice as many clamps if I used circles for pads.

Took me well over a full day to make all of the parts and to assemble these clamps. I can see why some people just buy them.

Cork lining on the faces in order to protect the old finish.

The old glue is scraped clean off of the rims. Over the years previous repairs have just added new glue to old till the glue bond was 1mm thick! One of the consequences of that build up is that the gluing surface area would keep getting smaller and smaller. When I took the top off it was apparent that not a whole lot of glue was keeping this thing together!

Traditionally, hot hide glue is used as it is reversible. This means that repair work done in the future is possible without destroying the woodwork, and that's important when the instrument will survive for hundreds of years!

The downfall of hot hide glue is that you have a very short working time before it starts to gel, maybe one minute if you are lucky! With such a long glue bead to apply, all the way around the rim of the 'cello, I didn't have much time to apply the glue and then to correctly position and clamp the top, so I decided to use fish glue. Fish glue is much the same as hide glue but has a much longer working time. The slower set up and drying time means that clamping time is longer, too, but so what? You just arrange your schedule accordingly.

All glued, and clamped, and enhancing the scenery of the canoe shop.