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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

Friday 28 October 2011

The rowing shell is done and looking very blue! It was amazing just how many fractures were put into this hull during transport, I still shake my head on wonder.

I tried a new paint, for me, on this boat. Based upon my satisfaction with using their enamel paint and varnish, I decided to try the Epiphanes Monourethane paint. I really liked the depth of gloss and how well the paint flowed out. However! I had a heck of a time keeping the dust in the shop from screwing it up! I did the best that I could, but always hope for better.

Dust is the bane of my work life.

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Ribs for two canoes milled and ready for tapers and round over.

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Spent a little time refining the surface of the pattern for my Project G globe mold. After coating it with fairing compounds I used a semi-circular sanding block (ie. a block cut to exactly the radius that I desired in the finished pattern), glued some sandpaper on it, and sanded away. Filled in the gaps, sanded some more. Filled in the remaining gaps, sanded some more. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Then I spray painted it gloss black and sanded that to find any remaining hollows. I'll be repeating this a couple more times.

But for now its looking pretty good!

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Thursday 27 October 2011

There was some pretty good fog this morning, I had to wait till this afternoon for it to clear enough for this photo. Earlier all the photo would have shown was grey, grey, grey.
Dorge's Field. October 27, 2011

Wednesday 19 October 2011

I'vre been milling ribs and planking for the last 3 or four days. Its a frustrating puzzle at times, trying to get the most yield and best cuts fro the wood available. White Cedar does not come into my shop in uniform dimensions, nor in uniform quality. There are a lot different sizes, some with knots, some with checking. It is disheartening to pick up a big piece of cedar only to examine it and find knots distributed all over it, or checks that go right through it, rendering the wood almost unuseable.

Occassionally, though, you get a piece like this!

3 1/2" thick, 17" wide, and almost 8' long of clear wood with no apparent checking. THIS is a high yield piece of wood. I got a lot of planking cut from this piece with almost zero waste. I hate wasting wood, it is disrespectful.

Not all of this pile was from the piece shown above, but a good portion was. This is the product of my cutting efforts, here shown rough sawn.

And here thicknessed to its final 5/32" dimension. Time now to group it by grain and colour type, and to clean up the shop.

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Dorge's Field. This is the first time that I've seen the straw bailed on this field.

Evening light.

Morning light.

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Sunday 16 October 2011

Stems are bent for three canoes: One double end Cruiser, one "Y" stern Boreal, and on "Y" stern NRC. I don't have the order for the NRC yet, but there is talk and its easier to bend the stems now than later. The little stems in the foreground are outer stems for the "Y" sterns. They provide the transitions from the keel to the transom.

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Friday 14 October 2011

Dorge's Field, October 1, 2011

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A very interesting canoe came into the shop last spring. This is an old Chestnut Bob's Special. OK, so while that may make it interesting enough, what really sets this canoe off for me is that it is the very first canoe restoration that I ever did, back in about 1987. It has some interesting construction details that I totally missed first time around. I wish that I had paid more attention to the shaping of the decks and the seat!

This is one of the trio of canoes that I stripped out last week. They are now ready for future work once the winter sets in. Meanwhile I am busy milling ribs and planking for two new canoe builds.

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Thought you'd like to see this variation of the typcial Peterborough bow decal. I need to figure out how to preserve this while cleaning up the varnish on the rest of the deck.

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The weather has been mighty fine here last week, so I grabbed the "opportunity" to strip the varnish out of three canoes. Varnish stripped is might stinky and the fumes hurt my head, so working with the big shop door open made the task less unpleasant. Stripping varnish is tedious, and any efficiencies that I have developed over the years has not made the job go faster, I just end up doing a better job in the same amount of time. This is a Peterborough Minetta half done.

In case you couldn't tell, the stripped out side is on the right!

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Thursday 13 October 2011

This 20' recreational rowing shell came in for some repair. It appears brand new yet has recieved mulitple fractures-at least 8 in shipping! All over the hull, not just in one area. I have no idea how this was accomplished.

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The 1962 Kildonan getting set up for canvassing.

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I went through a lot of screw piloting drill bits before I settled on this combination. The tapered drill bit is sold by Lee Valley, and the countersink is a Dimar.  It has carbide cutters and is made of two parts which clamp around the drill bit allowing it to be installed on any drill bit up to 1/4" diameter.

It is more expensive that some others, but lasts for years and years.  And it works!  Money well spent.

My friend Cam wants a new walnut paddle, but he wants it made all of a single piece of wood. No laminations anywhere. He puts a lot of kilometers under his canoe each season while guiding. So, while he not only needs a paddle that he'll be happy with, he needs a paddle that is up to the task. That means that the shaft has to have a minimum diameter of 1 1/8". His will be 1 3/16". The trouble is that most lumber is only available in 4/4 thickness, or 1" max. Ideally, I'd prefer to buy lumber that is 6/4 thickness, but that isn't being sold. So, I have to buy a great big piece of 8/4 Walnut.

Here you can see how the new paddle is being laid out on the stock. There is lots of wood left over and I need to be creative in how I use it so that it is not going into the scrap box. I was able to get woodout of this piece for one more laminated paddle, and some small pieces for other purposes. I don't scrap any wood until it is so small to use that the work of using it exceeds the value of the wood.

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Wednesday 12 October 2011

Gunnels for two canoes bent and waiting.

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Another Souris River canoe in for gunnel replacement. This is one of the older Prospector models and the gunnels were fabricated as a single piece with a slot cut along the length, allowing the hull canoe hull laminate to slip into it. The screws clamp it tight. At the stem end some undercutting is required to allow the gunnel ends to reach the end of the canoe.  For scale, the gunnel stock is about 1" square.  The original was more like 7/8" tall and 1 1/8" or 1 1/4" wide (I can't remember now).

I'm not sure why the gunnels were done this way.  I'm assuming that there was an expected time saving as only one piece per side was needing fitting, maybe easier to fabricate.  My experience fitting these gunnels is that one person working alone would have an easier time fitting a two piece gunnel as they are more flexible and easier to get started.  This style is much easier a a two person job as there really is no way to hold it into its curve while you get the first half installed.  Its very similar to fitting aluminum gunnels in this regard.

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The Kildonan's had this particular deck shape. Its usually made of Elm. This deck has the interior face undercut like the old Chestnut ones.

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I've been working on an old Kildonan canoe. This one is in pretty decent shape even though it has had some pretty wonky repair work done to the stem in the past. Its just a plastering of Bondo!

So the stem tip and the gunnel ends get the repair treatment, and the interior is sanded and it gets a coat of varnish. The last cant rib needs some repair work on the end, too.

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