Beginning in January of 2014, I was part of a group build
of a Cedar Strip Canoe. This is Part Three of a photo album documenting
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PLEASE NOTE: To respect people's privacy, I have
blurred the faces in most of these photos. The exception is
people I know who have given permission.
This is what we've been working towards! Tonight we glassed the
outside of the hull.
And more importantly, I remembered to bring a camera that works. Even
better, I brought a photographer! (My son injured his hand, so I
nominated him as photographer for the evening, and he took a ton of
This greeted us when we arrived, a roll of fibreglass cloth draped
over the canoe. It is just wide enough to hang about 2" past the
gunnels at the widest point. We rolled it out, centred it, and
smoothed it down. NO WRINKLES ALLOWED!
One little non-standard touch was this. Albert cut a long oval piece
which we slipped under the cloth at both ends. This gives us a
double-thickness just under the bow and stern where you are likely to
"ground" the canoe when you hit shore.
And we're off with the first pouring of resin. We mixed it in small
3-4 cup batches and poured it on and spread it with those spreaders.
And yes, we ALL wore gloves (right after this photo), and old clothes,
and had paper on the floor to catch the drips.
We had two people spreading and one pouring, most of the evening. At
first we just spread it out and let it soak through. The resin is
basically liquid glue, so we want it to soak through the cloth and
into the wood. The fibreglass cloth provides the strength. Later we
went over everything several times. It requires a light touch, as you
want to spread it and get rid of any air bubbles, but you DON'T want
o push so hard that the resin is UNDER the cloth, it needs to be IN
the cloth also.
The lower sections and the ends are trickier. We need to work quickly,
with small amounts of resin.
Doesn't it make the cedar look gorgeous?
At the lower edges we had to work carefully to ensure it was full
adhered and there was resin everywhere, right to the edge of the
Here, most of the body is finished, just touching up and then working on the ends
The ends required some care.
We trimmed the fabric ends so they were
maybe 2" longer than the canoe, following the curve of the end, and
then cut up the centre.
Then we poured epoxy on one side and worked it in...
...and folded over the cloth. Look close and you can see in the top
section of the photo the cloth is embedded in epoxy, and the lower
section still needs to be glued.
Close-up of the top section. It looks kind of rough at first, but
give us time to get it all done right!!
Almost finished for the evening. Look at all the drips on the paper we laid on the floor.
In this photo, if you look closely, you can just see in the foreground the slight bump in
the cloth from where we put that elongated oval piece of fiberglass under the cloth as extra
Here you can see how the sides are now complete all the way down to the gunnels.
Here's a tip that my buddy picked up from a professional boat-building
company. This is NOT in the Ted Moores book! It is tough to finish the
ends. You risk pushing the resin away from the cloth. We wrapped the
ends in a strip of plastic wrap (the boat company used a different
product, but essentially the same thing) and this helps get rid of the
air bubbles while not pushing away the resin from the stem. It's hard
to explain, but it looks great. Once dry we just peel off the plastic.
And that is it for the night. This was a longer weekday evening -- just
over 2hrs in total. Next time we will be doing the second coat.
So the ends of the canoe under the plastic wrap were not exactly smooth...
My task was therefore to do some light light light sanding. I was
using 320 grit in my ROS and I was checking with my fingers every two
seconds or so. The goal here is not to get perfectly smooth, but to
take off the high points. I probably was being excessively paranoid
with the grit choice. 80 or 120 would have been fine.
Meanwhile, the other guys broke out the scotchbrite pads and started
working over the canoe. Believe me, there were plenty of "Wax on, Wax
They also loosened the station molds a bit, and I missed this totally
as I was working on the ends the whole time, so I'm not even sure what
they did here. Oh yeah, as you can see along the bottom, we also
trimmed off the excess fibreglass cloth which was extending below the
Here was another big reveal as we lifted the canoe off of the form for
the first time ever.
Houston, we have liftoff!
Here it is. The end molds are still in there. They're mostly held by
friction, but also maybe by a bit of glue squeeze-through.
A bit of carefully applied persuasion and the ends of the forms were
A look inside one of the ends.
Here is another look. I was trying to get a picture of how thin the
sides are, but it is difficult to see in the image. The whole thing
was incredibly light at this point. We have several more pounds of
fibreglass + resin to apply to it, as well as the seats, thwart, and
The inside was pretty rough, as expected, but not bad. You can see a
few dark brown horizontal stripes in the top third of this photo.
Those are places where the resin soaked right through a gap or crack
to the inside, which is precisely what it is supposed to do, filling
and bonding as it does.
Then it was time to pop it back onto the form loosely
And some more "wax on wax off" with the scotchbrite pads. We're
trying to take the gloss off the resin, before we apply the second
We used a roller to wipe this on thin, and had the whole thing coated in about 15 minutes.
Last shot of the day. More sanding next time!
These first few shots sort of belong with the last day of work. Here
is what the canoe looked like after the second coat of epoxy dried.
Oops. Yeah, a few runs here and there. I started to do some sanding.
It all needs to be sanded smooth eventually.
But then Albert showed up and had me stop. Yeah, it needs to happen,
but there is a better use of our time. The epoxy will still harden
more as it cures, and it is actually easier to sand when it is harder.
So we turned our attention elsewhere, which is to the interior. We set
things up to sand the inside. We also took down the station molds as
we don't need them anymore.
Time to pull out the 50 grit 6" ROS again and get busy. It's a noisy,
dusty, arm-wearying job (from the vibrations), but it needs to be
Meanwhile I worked on some scarf joints.
The gunnel (gunwale) is made up of two pieces, the part on the inside
of the cedar canoe shell is the inwale, and the part on the outside of
the cedar shell is the outwale. Unfortunately we did not have an easy
source of 16ft (plus) boards, so we have to make do with 10ft ash. So
we needed to make the boards longer.
Where is that board stretcher?
We set up the miter saw to take a 6-degree cut, and cut the ends of the pieces
And then I glued up the scarf joints. This project is full of firsts
for me, first scarf joints I've ever done. And they will need to bend
too, when they are fitted in place! We have seven-inch long joints,
which is what the book recommends for a good strong joint. Hopefully
Here I have the inwales glued and clamped in place
After those two, I moved on and did the same with the two outwales.
The strongback makes a nice long flat surface for this clamping
See the step stool in the foreground? I added that for climbing over
the strongback -- the pieces are so long that I can't really get
around them at the ends.
A final look at the canoe. We probably aren't half done the sanding,
but that was all we got done today.
Here we are at the start of the evening... I was away the previous
week and therefore missed out on a whole lot of sanding. I also did
not get any pictures of that work. At this point, most of the inside
of the canoe has been rough-sanded.
Here is a look inside one of the ends. You can see the rougher
(darker) wood in tight near the bow/stern where we can’t get that
close with the sander. So we’ll have to hand scrape + sand that tight
I took a turn on the 40-grit sander. Powerful, but vibrates a lot and
is hard on my hands. (I admit, I’m an office worker by day!)
40 grit is VERY rough, so the main thing to keep in mind is always
keep the sander in motion. I worked about 15 minutes before Albert
showed up and took over.
He took the canoe outside and worked on getting all the inside sanding
done. One of the nice things about being outside is the fresh air and
space makes the dust much less an issue. It also is more public, so
folks who are at church for other activities will stop by and chat,
which is nice.
Meanwhile, my sons and I worked on re-doing the gunnels.
Full disclosure time: I had been alone the night that I first
glued up the scarf joints on the gunnels. I had misunderstood
my friend's instructions and used wood glue instead of epoxy.
Upon discovering the mistake we pondered briefly whether to
just chance it. In the end we decided that we should not take a
chance, so I cut the joints open and redid them using epoxy (fully
waterproof!) this time.
Fortunately, we still had the plywood jig that we used for making the
6-degree scarf cuts. So after some quick re-work (you can refer to
the previous photos, I'm not posting a bunch of the same type)
we clamped the fixed gunnels.
One extra bonus was that I got to re-orient the cuts. Now that I
had done it once and understood the mechanics of it, I was careful to
lay out all the scarf joints so that the LONG part of the joint faced
the sides rather than the top. In that way there is only a short line
on the top of the gunnel to show where the joint is, and the long line
is on the sides more out of view.
Back outside there are almost done. Note the pile of sawdust!
Oops. After we put the canoe up on the rack for the night I happened
to look up inside it and saw this. Yup, that is light shining through.
Those are very bright lights and they’re very close to the canoe hull
(maybe 2ft above them), so it’s not like this is a hole, but the cedar
is getting a bit thin in those 3 spots. We’ll be careful with more
sanding, and the inner layer of fibreglass will take care of it!
Next time we will be finish-sanding the interior with 100 grit, and
then after that (I think) it’s on to glassing the inside.
My son was having fun with the camera… Here is a closeup of the top of
one of the stems. We’ll have to clean this up when we install the
inwales and outwales and deck. On the inside of the boat you can see
the cedar strips. Next standing tall is the pale pine of the inner
stem. On the front is the rounded cherry outer stem. And wrapped
around all of it is the fibreglass cloth and resin.
The weather was dry after a day with scattered rain, so we took the
canoe outside in it’s cradles.
At this point the canoe is incredibly light.
So it was all about sanding today. Sanding, sanding, and more
sanding. We went over the inside, sanding it to 120grit.
There were three of us going at it most of the evening.
Every now and then I would pause to vacuum out the dust. This gives us
a better view, and also speeds the sanding since the grit gets in the
way and inhibits progress.
Later on, we flipped it and got to work on the outside. You
may recall that we had left this a few weeks back with some drips here
and there. Now that the outside was well hardened, it was a quick
process to sand those down.
Here is a closeup of one of the ends. Right in the middle of the photo
is one of the spots where we plugged a screw hole. You can se the
slightly darker colour of the wood.
And at the end of the evening we cleaned off the dust...
...And tucked it away until next week.
I don't think I've mentioned it yet... once we got the canoe off the
forms and off of the strongback, the process of putting it away for
the evening on those racks became totally easy. As I mentioned
earlier, the canoe is light as a feather currently, so what was a 6
person hard job, is now something that one person can easily do.