Green Valley Boat Works

Builder's Corner

The Builder's Corner is being added to share boat building techniques, tips, and tricks. The methods illustrated here are either not covered in the many available books, or could benefit from a more detailled description.

Each of the methods shown have worked for someone, and maybe they can work for you. This section isn't intended as a forum for debate, but if you have a better way, or something else interesting, we invite you to document it with a clear, sharp photo and a concise explanation. If it's suitable, we'll post it with credits.

Click on any image to see it enlarged.

Planking without staples: this method is very slow, but gives beautiful results. You get a hull without any unsightly staple holes, and virtually no gaps between strips that have to be filled. This is because the clamps and wedges let you force the strips together tightly.

Note the angled wooden blocks to clamp the strips at the stem - they don't slip because they have sandpaper glued on the back. Also, short pieces of scrap strip are temporarily stapled to the stem to keep the previous strip down tightly in this spot (the staple holes in the stem get covered by the next strip.)

Also, note how the stem is clamped at the keel line - this method allows an unobstructed view to sight the centerline along the keel from time to time to make sure everything is still in place. Lastly, note the plywood strongback - we include plans for it with the canoe plans we sell.

Another view of planking without staples. Note how the wedges and clamping jigs are used. As well, you can see the stem clamping arrangement along the keel line. The walnut stems are protected from being indented by the clamps by two scrap pieces of wood.

To aid in pushing the strips tightly together is a six inch piece of 1/4" diameter dowel, which you can lay into the cove on the topmost strip. Then, when you push down, there's no chance of damaging the fine edges of the cove.

This photo shows the strip-clamping jigs used in the photos above. They are made of 3/4 inch plywood. The slot is made by drilling a 1/2 inch dia. hole, and then cutting out the slot with a band saw. The wider relief at the entry of the slot is for clearance for the hull as you move around the curve of the bilge. The smallest jig, on the right, is used closest to the ends of the canoe where clearance is tight.

Also shown are one each of the two styles of wedges needed with the clamping jigs. The wedges are made from scraps of the bead and cove planking. The one in the upper right has the bead along the long side, and is used inside the end of the slot, to push the new strip tightly against the previous strip. The other wedge is tapered across its width, and is used to force the strips tightly against the adjacent station mould. Refer to the photos above. The 2 inch C-clamp is used to hold the clamping jig in position, and is shown for reference.

This photo illustrates a very useful trick which can be used with any method of planking. There are always some strips which have to be twisted considerably. From the middle of the boat where these strips are almost horizontal on the bottom of the hull, they rotate to almost vertical at the stems. The resulting torque makes it very difficult to get the strip to lay perfectly into the cove on the previous strip.

Even with staples, the strip resists your efforts. To counteract this torque, attach a 2" c-clamp to the strip just past the end of the stem line. Tie a string from the strongback to the clamp at a point offset outward from the strip. Pulling the string tighter exerts a counter-acting torque which completely offsets the natural torque of the wood. The strip will now lie nicely where it's put, and you can staple or clamp it without having to fight it.

This photo shows a method of 'clamping' the hull to the Station Mould from the inside. This method can be used when building without staples, or when a part of the hull is pulling away from the mould. Use only as required. Glue a small block of wood to the hull by its end grain, clamping it to the mould until the glue dries.

Then, loosen the clamp, push the hull in tightly, and reclamp. Drive a screw through the block to fasten it to the mould, so that the clamp can be used elsewhere. Use a drop of the same glue as you are using for the strips. When you are ready to take the hull off the form, remove the screws. When the boat is off the form, tap the blocks with a hammer to break them off.

To make a laminated thwart (see Home Page photos) you'll need to make a form. This one is about seven layers of particle board, with the ends cut and shaped at the proper compound angles to fit the intended location on the boat. It is also designed to be adjustable in width for fine tuning the depth of the thwart from the gunnwale.

Also note that the wood strips must start out wider than the final thwart, because they go off at an angle after they bend around the corner, due to the compound angle. After gluing, you bandsaw them to the final width, but in a straight line.

Seat Plans are now available. Full size plans including caning directions for the seats shown above can be ordered directly from Green Valley. These seats could be just the finishing touch your project needs. See address at bottom of page. (Read some happy customers' comments about our Seat Plans.) These seats can be built for the bow, the stern, or as a slider, even for a solo canoe. Details of the laminated support in the photo are not included, but you would normally use a straight cross bar suspended on hanger bolts with wooden spacer blocks.

The address is...

Green Valley Boat Works, PO Box 20004, Pioneer Park Postal Outlet, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, N2P 2B4.

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