Monday, October 1, 2018

Shop Updates 10-1-2018

Okay, okay I know it has been waaaaaay to long since the last update.  A lot of you have emailed wondering when the next Shop Talk update will be and we thank you for your interest.  We make updates a little more regularly on Facebook and Instagram so if you're looking for a quick fix of wooden canoe pictures you can always check those venues.

The shop this past year was just about the busiest year Emily and I have had in almost 20 years of building and restoring canoes and boats together.  Actually, who I am kidding? It was the busiest year evah! (as they say in New England).  We are now feeling like we can come up for air.  As I look through all the shop pictures from the past year I am reminded what awesome projects we had going on and what awesome customers we had.

The shop has had it's yearly scrub down.  We stop work for a week or two, clean the heck out of every nook and cranny, take a lumber and material inventory, hit the road and stock up on the finest lumber available for all those new projects we are ready to start. It takes a lot of work visiting all those sawmills and lumber yards and buying logs and having them sawn into canoe lumber, but once the steamer is fired up and that first piece of wood is steam bent around a jig all that time spent away racing around like a rabbet suddenly becomes worth it.

Speaking of rabbets, let's start with the transom of the 18' custom built Forest Laker. This is what the finished transom rabbit looks like before it is installed on the hull (first picture).

The rabbet, or rebate if you're on the other side of the pond, is the groove cut along the circumference of the transom.  The three sided mortise receives the inner keel. When the transom is hung on the boat, the rabbet will receive the aft edge of the last rib making a nice tight seamless fit. What makes this rabbet so fun to cut is that the angle is not constant, but changes from the center line to the sheer. This is to compensate for rocker and tumble-home.

Prior to cutting the rabbet, the transom is glued up and flattened, jointed, with hand planes. Here, Dylan levels the transom dead flat.

Once flattened, the transom is planed to thickness and smoothed as seen here.  After final surface smoothing, the transom pattern is cut out, faired, and the rabbet is cut.

Now that you seen the transom being made in almost reverse order, here is a look at building the Forest Laker from the beginning.

First order of business is bending the inner stem.

The inner keel is planed smooth

The inner keel is then dadoed to receive the inner stem.  A hand router is used to precisely adjust the depth of the dado.

The inner stem and keel are joined together

 Bending ribs on the form

The ribs are all bent and left to cool and dry overnight.

Planking begins

 At 18' and 42 inched wide...a lot of planking and brass tacks.

Shaping one of the garboards

 The hull is planked up and ready to be lifted of the form.

Lifting the hull off the form never gets old.

Layout of the seats and the long deck in the bow.

Remember the transom? Here is a look at it before and after installation.

Once the interior has been varnished the hull is canvassed.

Installing the outer gunwales, keel and outer stem.

The long bow deck trimmed with a coaming.

Rub rails being installed.

Final dress coat of varnish and paint.

Time to put on the custom made hardware

All done!

Don't forget the oars. Dylan making the spoon oars for the Forest Laker.


Here's one your not likely to see any time soon. A seldomly seen square stern canoe by Herbert Newbert of Newbert and Wallace.

What's interesting about the Herbert Newbert boat is that it is wood canvas construction, but the planks are shaped from patterns so there is no goring.  What's also interesting is that the planks vary in thickness from 1/4 thick garboards and broad planks, tapering to 1/8 thick at the turn, and then increasing to 3/16 thickness at the sheer. Not all that surprising giving Newberts back ground in boat building, but nonetheless, an uncommon technique used in wood canvas construction and an added bonus (discovery) for repair work!

Here are some before and after pictures.


A nice little sport boat by Old Town Canoe

New inner keel being installed

The joinery between the inner keel and the stem.

Not much holding the transom on.  Time for a new one.

Emily has the old transom removed.

Here Emily is working on the mortise on the transom that will receive the inner keel.

The million dollar cut.  Once the transom is cut to pattern, faired, the rabbet and mortise cut, and the notches for the inwales cut, the transom is dry fitted on the hull and the top edge pattern is marked and then cut on the band sawn.  Mess up on this cut and it's a total re-do from the beginning.

The new transom installed.

The new mahogany seats look spectacular.

All finished!


John Henry Rushton of Canton NY is one of the most desired builders.  His boats and canoes are much sought after today.  This is his Saranac Laker, an Adirondack Guideboat.   This one was just about all original, never mucked with, and a single owner from the time of purchase, sitting idle for nearly 75 years until it came into our possession.  Does it get much better? An incredibly rare boat.

Nickle plated hardware throughout.

The simplicity of these lines just beg to be taken, lofted, and built. Perhaps another day.

 The stem band never went up and over the stem head.  Sometimes they did on Rushton guideboats, sometimes they didn't.  I wonder what prompted him to do this or not do this.

White cedar planking, spanish cedar sheer strakes and decks, pine bottom board, cherry seats and gunwales, spruce ribs and stem.


Some before and after pictures

Bending the new decks

Rebuilding the rotten ends

New outer stems bent on the jig

New outer stems being installed

All finished!


Many new canoes were built. Below, Emily fitting the goring.


Two new canoes being built at the same time

A hull comes off the form

 A 14' Smoothwater being built

The Smoothwater all finished.

A removable paddling thwart

A trailer load of 17' Chicots and 17' Prospectors.

Sorry, no link yet for the Prospector.  We have only been building this model for three years and we still don't have a web page for it yet.  Better get a crackin'.

A 16' Temagami Traveler.  Probably our most underrated canoe we build.  There is no other way to describe this canoe other than Sexy.  Super fine curvy lines, creamy sheer rise, and a delicate fit and finish with the outer stems. Operators are standing by, ready to take orders.

Emily tumping up a canoe and getting ready to head out with her helper

I know where you are going and I'm not going to get left behind.

Off they go into the wilds of Temagami Ontario.

Returning from the best trip evah! Our son paddling in after a 21 day trip up north.

Watching these three paddle one of our canoes just warms us to no end!