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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

Thursday 29 September 2011

I've been listening to my new speakers for awhile now. The sound is very articulate and transparent. They don't have the bass extension nor the "openness" of the previous Studio Reference Monitors, but the bass is very precise. It is also very present once the volume is put up a little to moderate levels.

These are the speakers which will go into my Clairtone Project G build.

I keep referring to these as "Deathstars", for obvious visual reasons.

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My friend Dave was the photographer for a recent local Dragonboat race. He sent along this photo of a Dragonboat paddle that I made awhile back. During the 1990's I was contracted to build a Dragonboat and about 200 paddles. Following that work, from time to time, I was contracted by individuals to make Dragonboat paddles. This is one of them.

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Tuesday 13 September 2011

There is a flange that runs around the mid-section of the speaker cabinet that will allow it to be mounted in the globe enclosure. I felt that it would be easiest to make the flange in two pieces and have it supported by a smaller flange.

After using epoxy to seal the wood grain so that the paint goes on nice and smooth, the surfaces are sanded and given the first two coats of paint. I will continue to work up the paint finish till I like how it looks. OK, so it will be mostly hidden inside of the globe, but I am thinking that the front globe screen may have a fairly open weave and be quite revealing of the cabinet within. It is far easier to make it look good now than later.

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Monday 12 September 2011

I have 2 new canoes to build, so with that in mind, its time to start making parts. I am starting with the gunnels. Here a pair of Fir inwales for a "Y" stern Boreal are getting their bend at the bow. Beside are a set of Walnut gunnels for a Cruiser, and a pair of one piece Oak gunnels for a Souris River Kevlar canoe. The bends work best if they have time to "Set" on the mold, so I like to get the gunnels and stems made up ahead of time.

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The Huron got picked up yesterday. The owner is doing their own painting which will save me some work time.

Now its time to start the next restoration.  This one is an old Kildonan canoe. After opening up the canvas I found a rare treat: one of the workers at the time of building actually wrote the build day. Not sure if you can make it out in the photo, but its July 1962.

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Its Autumn in Lorette. Across the road, this is how Dorge's Field looks now.

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You gotta love how some canoes are built. This particular one has a Kevlar structure but with a thickened resin core. Most of the time this works fairly well. The problem is when you hit something hard, like a rock, and the resin core fractures. It often delaminates internally and there is nothing holding the inner and outer laminate skins together, so its a soft, floppy spot.

To fix it one of the skins needs to be ground off, the fractured core picked out or ground out, refilled, and new skins laminated over top. Then it all needs to be sanded smooth and given a finish. At this point most people opt for a shot of spray paint that is a near match as this is much cheaper than going through the work of colour matching gelcoat and polishing it to a gloss that matches the hull.

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My speaker cabinets are coming along. I routed the front baffle in order to receive the driver, glued the front baffle onto the cabinet, and cut the bevels on the front edge.

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Another Huron canoe. This one was in pretty decent shape. In addition to the obvious work of recanvassing and varnishing, I had to repair the end of the stem and replace the decks. The outer gunnels needed some repair work, too.

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Another Brigden canoe in for a gunnel replacement. One of the nice things about working on Brigden canoes is that they are straighforward and easy to work on. That means no goofy construction without a mind for future repairs! This one dates from 1975. Not bad, really, for a 36 year old canoe.

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Some old fiberglass canoes are cheaper to repair than they are to replace. This one is branded as an "Equinox", and made in Winnipeg during the'70's-80's. Its nota great canoe, but serves its owners family well. It got caught in a pretty significant windstorm and some holes were worn into the hull laminate. Grind, grind, grind, some fiberglass and epoxy, sand, then paint. Now its ready for many more years of use.

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I've been having a run of composite canoes come in with broken or rotting gunnels.

Too many people treat wood gunnels on a canoe the same as they would aluminum gunnels. You can't. They need to be stored in a dry place and the finish needs to be kept up. This is not helped by canoe manufaturers who are hard pressed to make any money at canoe building and feel pressed to keep their retail prices low. So, to do that, they maybe get one coat of an oil finish on the outer surfaces of the wood. Canoe owners usually work with the assumption that that is enough.

Then the canoes come to me looking like this.

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The Project G globe is originally made of spun aluminum. I don't have access to a lathe substantial enough to spin a sheet of aluminum that would be about 3' in diameter required to produce the half dome of 18", so I will make mine of composite construction. First step is to make a pattern from which to make a mold. From the mold I will make my half globes.

There's a reason why most people just go to the store and buy this stuff...

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Got a start on the speakers for my Clairtone Project G reproduction. This cabinet will sit inside of the globe. It is octogonal in shape and will use the Mark Audio Alpair 12 driver.  Plans are from Dave at Planet 10 HiFi.

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Saturday 10 September 2011

A special treat about this trip to Banff was the walking tours of historic Banff. We chanced upon the event while visiting the Banff Springs Hotel for lunch (like we can afford to stay there!) On the cover of the tour brochure was a photo of a lutherie shop. I asked at every stop that we visited "Where is this place in this photo?". Finally we got an answer and had a lovely visit with the luthier who now makes his home in banff.

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I managed to grab a weeks' worht of holiday time with my wife and one of my daughters! We went to Banff and stayed with my wife's sister who lives and works in Banff. My daughter, my youngest, is really into horse riding so we booked her a 4 hour trail ride out of Lake Louise up to the Plain of Six Glaciers. She like it well enoug, but coming from an English saddle riding backround, she felt as though she was "just along for the ride".

We managed to take in a Stoney Pow Wow that was happening that week. Beautiful setting just outside of Banff on traditional grounds.

Lake Louise offers canoe rentals. One of the outtings that you can book is a voyageur canoe ride. Wood rib construction with a fiberglass skin. I couldn't get close enough to get a really good look at the canoe, but I could see enough.

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