Heritage Canoe Project: Day 11

Back again, I arrived anxious to see the canoe after Roger and Doug’s final painting earlier in the week.  The lads did an amazing job.  It was indeed gleaming, and really smooth.  I realized that, although it felt like I’ve been doing this project for ages, it really is only day 11 and thus less than 2 actual weeks of work.  Not very long after all, considering how close we are to completion.

shiny blue canoeToday was outer gunwale installation day.  Over a week ago Roger had cut the gunwales, routed them to fit snugly over the canvas, and clamped them onto custom-made jigs to mirror the severe bend they have to take. This is because the bow and stern have a huge upswing to them, not common for most canoes.

outer gunwhaleWe un-clamped the gunwales so I could sand, stain, and preserve them on the bottom and inside edges before they went on the canoe.  This took a lot of time, as the gunwales had to dry between applications.  Not to waste good working time, I was able to do more caning of the seats during the drying time.

attatch outer gunwhaleBy early afternoon, the gunwales were ready.  After clamping the first one to the canoe, installation began.  After pre-drilling and counter sinking holes every 3 ribs, brass screws were used to attached the outer and inner gunwales together, sandwiching the deck and ribs between them.  The challenge came when we got to the upswept bow and stern, where the large decks were located.  My job was to use brute strength to force and hold the gunwale in place while Roger prepared the holes and screwed it in.

hard work on outer gunwhaleNot being able to see what the screws were attaching to, they often ended up in soft wood which required different screws and longer lengths to ensure attachment.  The second gunwale was then similarly attached.  Thankfully, by the time we finished, all seemed to be holding together.

Once the clamps were removed we took the canoe outside for a major power sanding job, done by yours truly.  Since the exposed outer and inner gunwales were not yet finished, a lot of sanding was required to remove all stain and particularly preserver where it had dripped.  In addition, the leading edges of all 4 gunwales needed rounding and the outer gunwales had to be sanded down to match the level of the decks at the bow and stern.  As I said, a major sanding job.

sand gunwhalesJust as my hands began to feel numb, however, the power in Roger’s house went out.  Good timing, perhaps, as I did have to drive home soon and feeling the steering wheel does help.  So that was all I could do today, but I had still put in about 8 hours.

looks like a real canoe

I felt this was a really great day, particularly as the canoe is visibly taking great shape.  Tomorrow I will return to take on day 12.

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