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Re: Starting to build my first boat

  • Caruk, Gord
    Jul 7, 2012 Expand Messages
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    Hi Chelsea.


    I’ve built 3 of these boats, and have experimented with steaming and soaking, using several available at the local Home Depot woods. Simply soaking oak strips works the best for me. I’ve managed 1” radius bends by simply soaking for 4 days and being patient with the wood. Start with the ribs needing lesser bends first (the ribs at the middle of the canoe) to develop your technique, and move on to the tougher ones (at the bow and stern) later.  


    I like soaking because it gives me lots of time (5+ mins) to work the wood. I found the steam technique locked my wood in a few seconds, and inevitably I wanted to tweak some bend a little more after that, so I stuck with soaking. I determine roughly where the bend(s) will be in the rib, and start bending the wood in my hands away from the frames, getting it pliable, and in a bend that is slightly tighter than will be needed. Then mount it into the frame, working the bend to just touch the stringer, then clamp. The stringer determines the shape, but is not there to apply any force to bend the rib. (You will see that it is easy to deform the stringer.) Patiently keep working your bend until the rib just touches the stringers, but doesn’t press into them. After a while, you’ll see, it doesn’t take long to bend and mount a rib. When the bends get tighter, you will probably snap a few, but just make up a few extra, and you’ll be fine. Don’t be afraid to wreck some developing your technique. Just toss them away and consider the couple dollars in waste to be an educational expense.


    I found that a day or two soaking was enough for most bends, and 4 days or so for the really tight ones. (The bow and stern ribs can be done in two pieces if necessary, but I have always been able to get them to bend.) I used two overlapping wallpaper trays with the end cut out and a plastic sheet liner for my soaking tray.



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