So, back to that canoe I’m building…

Haven’t posted on it in awhile. Mostly because I haven’t made progress on it for awhile. Not for lack of trying.

I started out with some nice pieces of curly maple which I planned to use as the decks. I messed around with them for ages until I got something I liked. Then one of them developed a check that started spreading. It wasn’t going to be salvageable. Since the decks tie the ends of the boat together they’re pretty important structurally. The eye bolts that go in there take all the strain of the boat being snugged down on top of a vehicle or being lined through rapids. Not a place you want to have a split.

So I scrapped those and got a couple more pieces. Those I messed up in shaping and the fit ended up being too sloppy. Into the wood stove they go.

Having used up my supply of seasoned curly maple, I was in a bit of a pickle. Then I came across some cedar cutoffs that were almost the right shape. I reasoned that if I made them thicker and had the excess go below the inwhales inside the boat I could keep the flush look I wanted, have enough wood to back the bolts and tie the ends together, and save some grams in the process.

So cedar it became.


Each deck piece had a knot in it, and I tried to make it a feature by centring it and having the flowing grain around them sort of match the lines of the boat. Sort of looks like ripples I think. That’s what I’m telling myself. And you folks reading. It’s ripples.

So after getting them (carefully and slowly this time) fit to their respective recesses, I had to mortise in the shape of the inwhales on the bottoms. The inwhales are half cut away under the decks, to account for the thickness of the original maple decks. So there’s a sort of double step thing happening in the underside of each deck.

I thought I had taken a picture of this, but I can’t find it anywhere. I’ll update this post if I come across it later.


This is what the top looks like after dry fitting. It’s almost flush. I left it here so that I could sand it all flush after the blobs of epoxy were all over it. No need to sand things twice. Hate sanding, I do.



So¬† I waited a couple weeks after my brass hardware to arrive. Then upon its appearance I made up a router template to cut a mortise which it will fit in exactly. No room for wiggling. That is a piece of scrap that is the same thickness as my decks if you’re wondering. I didn’t use that scabby a piece for the real thing. It took five iterations with additional layers of tape shims on the template to get it dialed in to the point where I had to press the pad eye into its socket.

The hole for the bolt is a slightly loose fit by the way. Only the long oval is snug. The bolt hole needs to be sealed with epoxy during the bedding process so water can’t penetrate the decks that way when the boat is stored upside down.


Here’s the real deck, with hardware dry fit. You can see the underside of the deck has already been sealed with epoxy. When it gets installed with epoxy, I don’t want to have any nooks or crannies of unsealed wood. The top surface will get sealed after it’s sanded flush with the gunwhales. Then the brass eye will be coated in paste wax and bedded with epoxy as well. Once the epoxy starts to set, the bolt gets pulled out (paste wax lets it release cleanly) so that it’s not a permanent fixture. But the hole is sealed and a perfect fit for the bolt. Water can seep in there and won’t rot the wood. At least not for many decades hopefully.


Glued in.

Sealed with epoxy.

Cleaned up.


You can see between the last two photos that I got the gunwhales trimmed and rounded off. I put a small triangle of wood in the gap before the stem and brought the radius of the gunwhales to just touch the tip of that triangle.

Having things sanded smooth and clean here now lets you see the end grain of the laminated inner and outer stems. Overmolded decks, which are pretty common would hide those construction details. I’m sure lots prefer that, but I like being able to see the structural elements peeking through.