Contact me at: or by phone 204.878.2524

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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

Saturday 23 April 2011

Had to decide on what to use for floorboards. I should have planned out the floor placements based upon the length of available stock. Alas, what I had planned to use was just on the short side. Long enough, but just. Luckily, I had some other stock that was longer, and nicer, too.

It took awhile to plan out how to lay out the floorboards for best fit, etc. It took quite awhile, too, to cut and mill it. Imagine holding a 2" x 3", 15 foot long piece of Fir and feeding it into the bandsaw cutting off very precise 1/2" thick slices. I had no room for error and the long end sticking out from the saw is awkward and heavy!

I had to adjust the floors, too, to get everything to lay our just right. While I was at it, I adjusted my floor patterns so next time this will all go easier. I took notes of the floorboard dimensions for the same reason.

I've been asked to reproduce this Bill Brigden paddle. Bill was an absolute pragmatist. This paddles is a simple plate of fiberglass screwed to a Spruce paddle shaft with grip. I've repaired this particular paddle before, but its now time to make a replacement for long term use. The client really likes it, so who am I to argue?

Thursday 21 April 2011

The floors are sawn out of Mahogany and are epoxied in place. With the changing shapes of the boats interior, it is a real challenge to get a good fit everywhere and fitting took a lot of time.

Here you can also see the seat risers being epoxied in place. They are screwed to blocks which are bonded to the hull, this way the riser can be removed to facilitate future maintenance work. The spreaders are to apply clamping pressure, the short vertical sticks are to maintain proper positioning.

In order to not get epoxy smeared everywhere on the interior I placed packing tape around the glue area. Once the squeeze out is cleaned up, the tape is removed. I thought of this technique after the floors were epoxied in, I should have thought of it before!

The stern seat is supported on these blocks. Bars will rest on these and run athwartships.

And a small molding is put on along the edge of the sheerstrake. I used the small cut off from the rabbet of the outside gunnel. I will be using a canoe style outer gunnel which will cap the exposed edge of the plywood planking. The inside gunnel is installed with the screws visible, and the outer gunnel will be screwed to the inside gunnel spaced between these screws, effectively doubling up the number of fasteners for the inner gunnel.

Saturday 16 April 2011

It seemed to take forever to scrape the inside of the boat clean along the planking seams! But now, finally done, I can get on with the task of fitting the inside gunnels, the floors, and the rest of the interior trim.

Even though this is a glued lapstrake plywood boat, and the gunnels are often fixed using epoxy, I am going to fasten the gunnels on using only screws. I have worked on enough boats with glued on gunnels to know how much I hate not being able to remove them! So I give the sheerstrake a sealer coat of varnish, as well as the back and under side of the interior gunnel.

Then I set about the task of developing patterns for the floors. These tie the flat sections of the boats bottom together and give the floor boards something to rest on. In a traditionally built boat, one with ribs, the ribs themselves do that task. At this point the tops are still flat all the way across, I will be shaping them finer later. While a flat floor is nice, the "V" shape of the boat at the ends would cause the floor boards to rise significantly.

Here you can see the inner gunnels clamped in place awaiting screws, as well as the floors cut out, shaped to fit the changing shape of the boat interior, and epoxied in place. Next step is to screw the gunnels in place and start fitting the riser for the seat/thwarts.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Nothing like spring time puddle splashing for the young. A few shots of my youngest daughter in on of the "lakes" in the front yard.

The new rowboat is off of the mold! Looks like a boat, and a pretty one at that. The structure is actually very stable even without the gunnels and thwart/seats in. Time to clean up all the joints and surfaces, and to seal all of the plywood edges. Then I can make the interior parts.

Now I need to get the mold out of the way until I need it next. I am going to leave it together to avoid all of the work of setting it up again. The open structure is actually not all that heavy, but it is bulky.

One of the necessary steps is to build an internal strongback. Just setting up the stations required only that they be on the strongback. Taking them off means that there has to be something to keep everything together. Now, where to put it...?

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Planking on the rowboat is finished! At only one strake per side per day, max, it does take awhile, bu the hull is finished and now I can get onto the skeg, keel, outer bow stem, and bilge keels.

Then I can turn her over and start the interior work.

A view from the stem, prior to skeg and keel.

Skeg being fitted. the end grain of the end of it is being capped with another piece of the mahogany being used. It looks a little short as the keel is yet to go over it.

Keel being glued up with a scarph joint. While I have such a nice surface, I am gluing up the binding and purflings for the L-00 guitar, that is what all those clamps at the near eand are all about.

One more view looking towards the bow.

Few things make you think about summer than Strawberries! These were last seasons pickings put out to thaw and sprinkled with sugar for making freezer jam.