Saturday, March 29, 2008


From a scrap piece of ash I cut the four seat hangers, drilled 1/4 inch holes through the length of them. I then drilled 1/4 inch holes through the gunwales taking care to be sure that they were as close to verticle as possible. The location of the holes in the gunwales is very important. If they are out of whack then your seat will not bolt in properly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Canoe Update

After removing all the wax from inside the canoe I sanded the inside of the hull to further remove the wax but to also roughen the surface so that the epoxy that we were about to apply would adhere. This is a prototype boat and Martin wants to try some new boat building techniques. On this boat we will attempt to vacuum bag the final layers of kevlar inside the hull. Vacuum bagging allows for a more even distribution of epoxy. With three layers of kevlar and one more layer of S-glass cut to shape, Martin and I apply the epoxy and completely saturate all the layers. Next we layer on a sheet of nylon which will keep the epoxy from sticking to the vacuum bag. Next comes a thick pad that will absorb the excess epoxy that will get squeezed out when the pump is turned on. A durable plastic film is layed over the whole works and sealed all the way around the work area with two sided tape. In the photo you can see all the layers already in the hull and the hose from the vacum pump in place. With a little fiddling we were able to achieve an air tight seal. After 3 or 4 hours the pump can be turned off and the epoxy is left to set over night.

It was a good day today! I was able to finally put the boat in the water and see how it paddles. I just couldn't wait any longer. Actually part of the purpose of paddling it today was to check the seat placement. Well, there isn't an actual hung seat yet, just a seat attached to a pot. But it is a good idea to paddle the boat before a seat is installed. This way you can find the location that will produce the best trim.

In the last photo, four more layers of kevlar are being added to the sides of the hull where the seat will be located to reduce the amount of flex. In total there are 5 layers of kevlar and two layers of S-glass on the bottom, producing a very durable yet somewhat flexible hull.

Check out the boats maiden voyage on Youtube. It paddles very nice, it's very stable and for a 17 foot canoe, very maneuverable.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I just couldn't wait!

It was such a nice day today and I just couldn't wait to get the boat on the water so we took it to the river for a test drive. The boat at this point weighs only 35 lbs. When we set it in the water and I went to step in the bottom oil caned up so Martin decided that it wasn't a good idea to paddle it today. I wouldn't want to put any creases in the hull. We'll lay up a few more layers of kevlar in the bottom, then it should be stiff enough. I guess I'll just have to weight a few more days.

Canoe Update

Work on the boat is progressing nicely. On Friday I started out the day by making a carrying yoke. The week before I had glued a piece of walnut to an ash plank. Martin had a template of a yoke so all I did was trace it out onto the wood. I then used a bandsaw to rough cut the shape. After a bit of sanding on the drum sander it was was ready for shaping. This is where the artistry and customizing happens. To rough in the contour I used an angle grinder with a chainsaw type of device attached. It is a rather menacing piece of equipment but is really works well for taking a lot of material off in a short amount of time. All that needs to be done now is to sand it to a smooth finish. I then turned my attention to the canoe. The whole outside of the hull was sanded down in preparation for another coat of epoxy. To finish off the day I applied the epoxy.

The following day Martin and I glued in place the deck plates making sure that everything is square and symmetrical. I then turned my attention to the thwarts. After taking careful measurements from the plug I clamped strips of wood from gunwale to gunwale to achieve the final shape of the gunwale line. I then figured out where the thwarts should be placed and took measurements to that I could make them.

I spent most of my time today sanding / cleaning the wax from the inside of the hull. The wax that we used to keep the kevlar from sticking the plug had to be removed before we can apply the extra layers of kevlar to the inside of the bottom to make it stiff. You can see in the photo the kevlar that has been cut to shape for the bottom. Kevlar is a nightmare to cut! The only thing that will cut it is a very sharp pare of scissors or a laser and since we don't have a laser the scissors made for a very stiff forearm.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Paddle update

Well work on the paddle has slowed some what but I was able to work on it today at lunch. To make the templates for both the blade and grip I first took accurate measurements from the paddle blank that I had glued together. I then, using CorelDraw, drew half of the shape of the blade and grip, paying close attention to achieving appealing curves. I then copied and mirrored it and printed it out on paper. This way I was able to create a perfectly symmetrical template. I cut out the shape then taped it to the paddle blank and traced around it.

Today I transfered the shape of the grip to the paddle blank and used a jig saw to rough in the shape. I then used a rasp and the crooked knife to shape the grip the rest of the way. It is important to take off equal amounts of material from either side, this way the grip will stay symmetrical.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Today Martin and I installed the gunwales, cut planks of walnut that will be used to make the deck plates and laminated a piece of walnut to and ash plank which will be used to make a carrying yoke.

Monday, March 10, 2008


By the time I arrived at the shop after work Martin had pulled, with some difficulty, the kevlar shell from the plug. It is nice to finally have a look at the boat right side up. Unfortunately, because of the unusual shape of the hull, we could not seal up the stems when laying up the kevlar. The gunwales are so much narrower than the hull at it's widest point so we left the stems separate in order to be able to flex the the sides outwards to clear the plug. In the second photo we have fashioned and inserted a foam stem. This one is sanded to shape. Layers of kevlar and S-glass will now be applied to make a seamless and rigid stem. The foam is only there to give the fabrics shape and can be removed afterward. To finish off the evening we clamped some temporary gunwales in place to check the final shape that the boat will have. We Then ripped some ash strips which will be formed into the final gunwale.


Today we started the day by applying four coats of wax to the outside of the mold that we just finished making. We then layed down two layers of kevlar and one layer of S-glass and cut it all to the right dimensions. Then we layed up the first layer of kevlar and coated it with epoxy and went for lunch to let it set a bit before we added the next layers. After returning from lunch we set the next layer of kevlar and S-glass on the boat and applied the epoxy. The epoxy was applied very think and allowed to soak into the fibres of the fabric. On the ends, three more layers of S-glass were applied. I do not intend on installing skid plates so the added S-glass will make these areas more durable and easier to fix if they get damaged.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Today was an easy day. I finished up the sanding by lightly touching up some of the high areas. When I was finished with that I cleaned the surface with a damp rag to get it ready for one final, thin, coat of epoxy. Martin and I quickly applied the epoxy then called it a day. Up to this point we've actually been building a plug or mold, not my boat. From here we will wax the mold that we just finished building and then we'll start laying up the kevlar that will make up my boat.

Friday, March 7, 2008


When it comes to a burned out area, about the only thing a person can do is carry your gear over, under, around the fallen trees. A person can bring a saw or axe to cut through some of the particularly tough stuff. I was looking through the Manitoba section of the Canadian Canoe Routes forum when I saw that Kyla and Dan had paddled on the South Seal. I emailed them for information about the route up-steam on the barrington River. They were kind enough to send me their trip notes as well as scans of the maps of the Barrington River, particularly the notes that they had made of the portages, rapids and campsites. Thanks again Kyla and Dan. Take a look at their amazing photos.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Expedition Update

When ever I have time I've been working on some of the expedition logistics. I spent a bunch of time this evening on my travel schedule. Here is what I came up with.

La Ronge to Island Falls 265 Km, 14 days
La Ronge to Pukatawagan 372 Km, 19 days
La Ronge to Leaf Rapids 568 Km, 28 days
Leaf Rapids to Chiupka Lk. 159 Km, 8 - 12 days
Chiupka LK to Hudson Bay 634 Km, 32 days

There has been a fire that passed through the Barrington River area (Chiupka Lake area). As a result there are a great deal of dead trees fallen over, making the job of portaging very, very, very difficult. This is why it may take up to two weeks to travel 159 km's. Kyla and Dan's trips notes have been most helpful for this area.

Canoe update

Work on the canoe continues. I've turned my attention to the outfitting of the boat. Today I glued together a seat frame. All it needs is to be varathaned and webbed. I've also been working on some mounting hardware for the removable yolk.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Canoe update

Here the epoxy is being spread out evenly over the surface of the hull. It was left to dry for 3 hours then it got another coat and after another 3 hours it got a third and final coat. The next photo shows the rough but glossy finish of the epoxy after it had dried for 2 days. And now it's time for MORE SANDING! It seems that there's more sanding in the construction of a canoe than any other stage. Ha ha oh well, it's all part of it.

Paddle update

I used a jigsaw to rough cut the profile of the blade. Like I said earlier, the blade is based on a Greyowl Paddles, Otter Tail. While this is a nice paddle I wanted to add a bit of a design element so I added a bit of a flare where the blade meets the shaft. It's not very clear in this photo but It's there. To shape and contour the paddle I used a Crooked knife, (a traditional style knife with a bent blade used by the fur traders) and a rasp.