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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

Sunday 29 May 2011

Time for making some oars!

Spruce is nice but hard to get here, and if I can get it, its very expensive.  I chose to use Douglas Fir as its almost as light, might be stronger, available in good quality, and its affordable.

Big glue ups of wood!  You can see the rudder and leeboards sitting on top.

Once the oars are cut to shape, the first step of the spoon is cut.  There is still a lot of wood to take off, but with other tools than the bandsaw, which is what I've been using so far.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Finished the paint on the rowboat, got the deck together except for a few screws, making up the oar blanks, and made an 8 stave bird's mouth joint 12' hollow mast. Made patterns for the leeboards, rudder, and oar blades, etc. etc.  Just a little more varnish on some of the interior trim and I can get that all installed.

There are router bits now available to make these joints, but a table saw works just fine, too.  Due to the way that my little tablesaw is positioned with my work bench the blade won't tilt the full 45 degrees that it should, so I used this little carriage.  The wood itself is tilted at 45 degrees and is positioned exactly where it needs to be all the time.

The cuts look like this.

And this is how they go together.

The photo of the end of the spar looks a little loose as this is just the test fit before glue up.  This is the base of the mast, that hole will have an octagonal piece glued into it up to the partner.

And the mast all glued up.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Now the new boat is starting to look like what it will be when complete.  The second coat of white is on the hull and on Monday I will get the last coat on.  That will make one coat of primer and three coats of finish.  I am using Epiphanes #24, in case anyone is curious.

The last bits of hardware are starting to arrive now.  I just received the pintels and gudgeons, as well as the long stem band pieces.  I still need to receive the oarlocks and the sail.  I am sourcing out the leeboard hardware, and tomorrow I will have to order the last bits of wood to ensure that I have enough for the spars, leeboards, rudders, and oars.

I am also putting in another mast position forward of the one already in.

I took the opportunity of having to flip the boat over to get a shot of the interior with the finish coats of varnish.

Thursday 12 May 2011

Some info to add due to my website being down, my offerings of new canoe models:

Esprit:  13' length, 28" beam, 2.5" rocker.  This is a dedicated Freestyle canoe for smaller paddlers.

Red Fox: 14' length, 30 beam, 1.5" rocker.  A direct copy of an old Chestnut Fox (before they got fat!). This is a great all-round solo canoe and is one of my most popular canoes.

Swift Fox:  Same as the Red Fox but the stems are pulled out 6" at each end to make a finer entry/exit line and a 15' LOA

Pleasure: 16' length, 34" beam, 1.5" rocker, 12" center depth.  A great canoe for casual use, especially at the cottage.

Cruiser: Same as the Pleasure, but built 2" deeper.  The depth is the only limiter of the Pleasure for more ambitious excursions, and this is addressed with the Cruiser.  This particular example has a center seat added for solo paddling comfort.

Boreal:  16' length, 36" beam, 3" rocker, 15" center depth.  This canoe is my other most popular canoe.  If I had to have only one canoe, ever, this would be it as it matches perfectly my paddling interests.  This canoe is very capable in all kinds of water and can carry as much gear as you need.  During the summer of 2010 a Boreal was taken on a 60 day trip from northern Saskatchewan to Baker Lake, Nunavut, and was described as the best canoe on the trip.  Good for trips, or day paddled empty if you don't mind paying attention to your course corrections, and makes a great "Style" solo paddling canoe.

Kildonan "Timber Cruiser": 17'6" length, 39" beam (flared sides), 17" center depth.  The dimensions of this canoe would imply a real pig of a boat, but in reality it is a fine lined, easy paddling canoe.  The width comes from the combination of the flared sides and the depth.  This canoe can take a LOT of gear and still paddle well.

Legacy: 17'6" length, 36" beam, 1.5" rocker.  A variation of the Maine guide Canoe patterened after the 18'6" E.M. White guide canoe, just shorter, deeper, and with some rocker.

NRC "Northern Racing Canoe":  18'6", 36" beam, 20" center depth, "Y" stern, and built off of the Legacy mold.  These canoes are custom built for a series of races that are popular in northern Manitoba, especially in the communities of Cross Lake and Norway House.  The bow crew rows and the stern paddles, and the crew switch places during the race.  Many races are 30km per day for 3 days.  I have learned through my research that other races are set up this way, too.  The Adirondack boats are often raced this way, and there is a version in Finland called the "Shift Boat", raced the same way.

The L-00 now has all of the bindings glued on.  Scraping them flush is next.  Few things set off the guitar better than nice bindings and purfling, but it is easy for some builders to really overdo it.  I am not a fan of bling just for bling's sake on a guitar.  If you're going to over do it you really need to commit to it.

The work on the rowboat has been pretty intense lately, just so much to do!  I needed a little mental break, and I want to get this done and out of the shop before some tragedy befalls it.

 The neck is only in place temporarily right now, just to see how it is all going to look together, I still have to do the final fitting to ensure that it lines up precisely with the center line.  I'm liking it.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

I finally got the inside of the rowboat varnished four coats!  This is always and excruciating process as there are so many opportunities for things to go not so well.  No pictures of the interior, you'll have to wait.

Today I turned the boat back over and prepped...

 and primed the outside.

I have to get used to seeing the hull with colour on it.  One more coat of primer, a bunch of sanding, and then I can get the finish coats on.

THEN I can get the last coats of varnish on the trim and get all the pieces back together.

Friday 6 May 2011

It was suggested to me that I should show a photos of one of my guitars being built actually IN one of the boats that I am building.

So here goes.

Got all of the parts made, fitted, and sanded.  Some days it felt like it would never end!  Got the first coat of varnish on today.  Tomorrow I get to sand everything again and put on another coat of varnish.  And again on Monday.  And again on Tuesday.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Now is the time to make some decisions about the trim.  One of those decisions which really affects the character of the boat is the deck.  Large, small, wood, etc. all have to be considered.  In the end, for this boat, I chose to be influenced by the decks of traditional cedarstrip canoes built in the Peterborough style.

This style has single large panels of wood with the straight grain oriented to the gunnel and joined along he center.  This center seam is capped with a tapered piece of wood, and there is a subtle coaming over the end grain. Due to the size of these panels I decided to add some cross grain reinforcements...just in case.

This is the coaming being laminated.  I could have used steam bent wood, but it would take more time to get the steam box set up and up to steam than it would take to simply rip a few thin strips and glue them up.
Lots of clamps ensure that the clamping pressure is evenly distributed.


Main deck sections are installed.  The outer gunnels are also clamped in place at this point. 

An overview of the boat with the trim being installed.  There are a lot of pieces and the each need to be fabricated and fitted individually.

Rear seat slats in place.  The original Bailey Whitehall has the side slats very long and resting in the first thwart/bench seat.  I assume that is for sailing, it looks great that way but makes a much more complicated build.  Most boats have the stern seat slats of more or less equal length.  The solution that I decided to use gets the best of both worlds.