Friday, March 13, 2015

Wee two wooden strip canoe

If you like to waste time on woodworking, why not make something beautiful at the same time? On my bucket list, I have one item that I want to build something I can ride in or fly or drive, canoe fits the bill. Although I only have about 8 month of woodworking experience by then, I figure how hard can it be?

I bought the plan from Laughing Loon, you get a 1:1 template for all stations and a book on how to build it. It has many tricks.

The first step is to transfer the template onto a plywood. My daughter was quite excited when I told her I was building a canoe, she was doodling boats.

then I cut them out with a jig saw or bandsaw, two at a time, then sand it to line.

To align everything, I'm building a strong back with CDX ply for the sides, OSB for the top, and brace it on the bottom. It was put on my homemade sawhorse. You can see later it come quite handy that the top support piece can be swapped out.

the boat was designed for two person, I want to take my wife wand daughter, so I made the boat slightly longer by space stations 15inches apart instead of 13.5 inches.

With the help of laser (you can see a faint red line on the closest station, that's the laser) and string, it still took me couple hours to align every station properly, you want them to be dead center and have correct rocker.

Instead of mill strips myself, I bought them from it's actually cheaper to buy the milled strips than buy lumber locally and mill myself. To lower the shipping coats, I use 8' long strips. I bought around 1200 linear feet, they arrive ordered by color, I do find some strips the cove and beads are not centered, for those I ended up did quite a bit sanding after the stripping is done.

Here the first strip is on, I checked fairness before staple it to the stations. I did move stations 2 one inch towards the stern.

I'm building it staple-less, as I'm building it before or after work, so I put on two strips in the morning and two before dinner, and two before bed, so I have enough time for the glue to dry, and I don't need to worry about pulling out million staples after stripping. I do use staples to hold stubborn strips in place.


some people online suggested use cleat to hold the strips against the station, that worked quite well. The stripping went pretty smoothly for the first 10 or so strips.

As I get closer to the bottom of stern, it's getting harder to twist, so I have to wait for the glue to completely cure before putting on the next strip. I can only put in 1 strips in per day, and I get pretty frustrated, the stripping process almost came to a halt for 2 weeks. At that time, I worked on something else.

The twist is so bad, that I can't use a full length strip to close up the stern and bow. So I seal  the stern first with a very short strip, then fit in the rest. It looks awful at the time, but after the magic of power sanding, it actually look pretty good.

Once passed the stern, close up the foot ball shape is pretty easy, it only took me 2 days to strip the bottom. I alternated red and white cedar for some pattern, It turns out great.

After stripping, I did scraping and power sanding, 60 grit sand paper on ROS make it easier.

There was an opening on the tip of the bottom of the stern, because the angle is so sharp, I have to remove the stern form to close the hull. Thankfully, I did put ducktape on the stern station, it come off pretty easily.

Here I wet out the hull to raise the grain prepare for the final sanding. 120 then 220 grit.

At this point, the boat is free from the stations, I flipped the boat over to seal the inside, so seal coat on the out side will not drop the inside. I took down the strong back, as I don't have place to store it, I made some soft support from some scrap carpet, it holds the boat very well.

I scraped and sanded the inside. It's harder than the outside, I use ROS for the flat places, and hand send the rest. I have to have a lot 6 inch sand disk for a 5 inch ROS, but that's actually works very good for curves.

Then flip the boat back again, I only use two station #3 to hold it, now it's ready for epoxy.

seal coat on, the color of the wood is beautiful!!

while waiting on the epoxy, I set off to make panels for air tank and deck.

 That night I made the worst decision of the boat building. At around 8pm, the seal coat reaches a tackle free stage, so I figure I can do the glassing, but I was tired at that time, you should never do work while you are tied. The fibre glass I bought is some cheap one from Amazon, which doesn't wet out well, or maybe because the temperature in my shop is only 65, anyway, the after wet out, the fiber glass still have a whitish tone to it and lots of bubbles trapped under the cloth. At that point, I was too tired to do more fix (if there is any). But I know it will bug me forever, if I leave it like that, so at around 2AM. I took the fiber glass off, it may wasted couple hundred dollars, but better than leave it like that.

 fill the inside of stern
 sand back the epoxy to flat
 inner gunnels

 dry fit to glue the 1/8 walnut onto poplar to form the outer gunnels

Then I ordered some quality fiber glass, and System Three Clear coat epoxy. While waiting for those, I cut lumber for gunnels and paddles. The gunnel is make from walnut and poplar, that have a nice contrast. The paddle shaft is made from walnut and poplar as well, the blade is made from same cedar as the boat. I also sand the epoxy on the outside of the boat, man, those epoxy are hard.

Finally after a week of waiting, The low viscosity epoxy and a high quality 6oz fibre glass (from finally arrived. The fibre glass was rolled not folded. It's very important, it's glass after all, folding will break the fibre. I roll the fibre glass on to the boat one more time, align one side of the cloth with one side of the boat, and trim the excess on the other side, this way the trim-off is big enough to cover those two panels for air tank and deck.

The new resin felt much thinner. I heated up the shop and mixed up around 150g to wet out one panel as a test, This time I use the pump, because last time during wet out, it gets very messy to mix a new batch with the pourring and weighting. The new resin wet out the glass almost instantly, with the help of a squeegee, I bring the puddle of resin to every corner of the glass, let it soak for 2 mins, then gently squeegee out as much as I can.

I mix 4 pumps of resin and 2 pumps of hardener at a time, the pump is pretty consistent, it's about 30g per pump. And only use squeegee to spread the resin, each mix cover about 4-5 sqf. I wet out one patch then move on to the next, after next patch is done, I go back to the previous one to squeegee out the excessive resin. On the bow and stern, where the surface is almost vertical, I use a foam brush to help spread the resin.

This time the wet out is very successful. the cloth is totally invisible, I think the key point is to keep the resin thin, either by heat up the shop or buy special resin.

It took me about 2 hours to do the glassing on the hull and two panels.

The next day, I trim back the cloth at the stern and bow with a utility knife, and cut  a 3" wide strip of bi-axial fibre cloth as a reinforcement layer. it forms to the curve beautifully, no bumps, very smooth. I wet it out with Clear Coat epoxy and did a filler coat with ordinary epoxy. I only took about 300g of epoxy to do the filler coat. Again I did the filler coat with squeegee, applied as thin as I can.

I maybe little paranoid that the bow and stern is not strong enough. So I put on one more 1" strip, I mean why not.

After around 24 hours, I flipped the boat over to give the inside a seal coat, then it's time to glassing the inside.

It's said to be much more difficult then glassing the outside, I took one day off, and put my live cam on, so people follow along the build can see it in action.

Well it was definitely harder to glassing the inside than outside. When glassing the outside, you have gravity to help you form the cloth to the hull, on the inside, the gravity is against you. I used some spring clamps to hold the cloth in place, and heated the shop up to around 70F. I first rolled the epoxy on the bottom to help hold the cloth in place, then roll up the side, then use some brush to bring the epoxy to the end of stern and bow.

I do have two places that the glass lifted, it's about the size of thumbnail, I didn't bother to fix them, just epoxied over them. I did one more coat of epoxy on the inside.

I didn't use hardwood stern so to add some strength, I fitted a airpocket. This also ensures the boat stay afloat even if the canoe is filled with water. The water pocket panel is made from the same cedar strip on the boat. I epoxied on one side,  then sanded the panel to about 1/8 thick, so it's flexible enough to bend. I cut it roughly to shape on a band saw, I back beveled it then sand it carefully to seal perfectly to bow and stern.

In order to have a neat seal line around the airpocket, I masked out the panel only expose the out most 1/8. I also masked out on the hull. I mixed up some epoxy and thickened it with some wood flour and epoxy flour that I saved at sanding. To hold the panel in place, I clamped a stick at the end of the stern to hold the panel top, and use some heavy piece to push the bottom in.

After 24 hours, I cut a glass fiber cloth slightly bigger than the panel and glassed over it. to give it more strength and make sure it's air tight.

While waiting on the glue, I scratched the outter hull, prepare for fitting the outer gunnels.

The shop was a mess :)

I trimmed the outter gunnels and glued them on using epoxy. It used up all my clamps.

I already prepared the inner gunnel, now I just need to round the corner and glue it one. It's more difficult to bend then the outer gunnels, so I used all my clamps just to fit one side. I had a better understanding of the saying "you can not have enough clamps!".

I was initially want to install a deck panel made from cedar, but then decide I wanted some change, may be use some hardwood. I used some walnut and some padauk with Ash. The contrast look great. I flattened with my homemade jointer on one side, then planed it to about 1/2 inch thick.

I then cut out the rough shape and hand plane to fit exactly, then glued in. when I glued the deck in, I made it slightly higher then the gunnel, so latter I can plane/sand it flush with the gunnel. Since it's wood to wood glue, I used regular wood glue.

I applied one more epoxy coat on the outside, and added 2 more coats on the bare wood, the gunnels and decks. At this point it's waterproof, and with the gunnels fitted, it's pretty stiff already.

The next Saturday, I decided to put it in the pool to "test" it. Of cause it floats, we loaded it with 3 adults and one 3 years old, even without the yoke, it held up just fine. (I believe at the time, the epoxy is not even fully cured.) The canoe only weight 38.6 lbs, being so light, it is very sensible to weight shift, I still can say if it's stable or not, because I don't want to push it before all the yoke and varnish is done.

The yoke serves a carrying place also I made holes that I can put fishing poles in. I varnished it and use stainless steel bolt to attache it to the gunnel.

Here I'm glueing up the handle for the paddles, and shape them.

After sanding the paddle, I put one the first sealer coat and then glassing it. I but a epoxy soaked nylon strip around the edge of the paddle blade, to protect the delicate blade edge, the cedar edge is pretty soft. I have to say the paddle turned out great!

Test run in Shoreline Park, the boat feels very nimble, a little wobbly then I wanted. I guess because the boat is so light. That's my wife and me in the boat.

The boat sitting in my garage looks great, but I still need to figure out a place to store it.

I hang the boat from the ceiling of the garage.

The is about 1 year later, we tried the boat on lake Tahoe. She paddles beautifully.

Tape holder

Emma loves doing crafts, and tape if a tool she use a lot. I always want to make a cute tape holder for her. I prototyped with some ...