How to Make a Canoe
A practical and serviceable canoe, one that is inexpensive, can be built by any boy, who can wield a hammer and saw, by closely following the instructions and drawings, given in this article.
Excerpt from the book: THE BOY MECHANIC VOLUME I – 700 THINGS FOR BOYS TO DO WITH 800 ILLUSTRATIONS 1913, BY H. H. WINDSOR CHICAGO POPULAR MECHANICS CO. PUBLISHERS
It is well to study these carefully before beginning the actual work. Thus an understanding will be gained of how the parts fit together, and of the way to proceed with the work.
Canoe and Molds Details
Dimensioned drawings of the canoe and molds are contained in Fig. 1. The boat is built on a temporary base, A, Fig. 2, which is a board, 14 ft. 1 in. long, 3 in. wide and 1-1/2 in. thick. This base is fastened to the trestles and divided into four sections, the sections on each side of the center being 4 ft. long.
The next thing to be considered are the molds (Fig. 3). These are made of 1-in. material. Scrap pieces may be found that can be used for these molds. The dimensions given in Fig 1 are for one-half of each form as shown in Fig. 3, under their respective letters. The molds are then temporarily attached to the base on the division lines.
Shaping the Canoe
Proceed to make the curved ends as shown in Fig. 4. Two pieces of straight-grained green elm, 32 in. long, 1-3/4, in. wide and 1 in. thick, will be required. The elm can be obtained from a carriage or blacksmith’s shop. The pieces are bent by wrapping a piece of wire around the upper end and baseboard. The joint between the curved piece and the base is temporary. Place a stick between the wires and twist them until the required shape is secured. If the wood does not bend readily, soak it in boiling water. The vertical height and the horizontal length of this bend are shown in Fig. 4. The twisted wire will give the right curve and hold the wood in shape until it is dry.
The gunwales are the long pieces B, Fig. 2, at the top of the canoe. These are made of strips of ash, 15 ft. long, 1 in. wide and 1 in. thick. Fasten them temporarily to the molds, taking care to have them snugly fit the notches shown. The ends fit over the outside of the stem and stern pieces and are cut to form a sharp point, as shown in Fig. 5. The ends of the gunwales are fastened permanently to the upper ends of the bent stem and stern pieces with several screws.
Construction of the Various Parts
Two other light strips, C and D, Fig. 2, are temporarily put in, and evenly spaced between the gunwales and the bottom board. These strips are used to give the form to the ribs, and are removed when they have served their purpose.
The ribs are now put in place. They are formed of strips of well seasoned elm or hickory, soaked in boiling water until they bend without breaking or cracking. Each rib should be 1-1/2 in. wide, 3/8 in. thick and long enough to reach the distance between the gunwales after the bend is made. The ribs are placed 1 in. apart. Begin by placing a rib in the center of the base and on the upper side. Nail it temporarily, yet securely, and then curve the ends and place them inside of the gunwales, as shown in Fig. 6. Fasten the ends of the rib to the gunwales with 1-in. galvanized brads. This method is used in placing all the ribs. When the ribs are set, remove the pieces C and D, Fig. 2, and the molds.
A strip is now put in to take the place of the base. This strip is 1-3/4 in. wide, 1/2 in. thick and long enough to reach the entire length of the bottom of the canoe. It is fastened with screws on the inside, as shown in Fig. 7, and the ends are lap-jointed to the stem and stern pieces as shown in Fig. 4. When this piece is fastened in place, the base can be removed. The seats are attached as shown in Fig. 8, and the small pieces for each end are fitted as shown in Fig. 9.
The frame of the canoe is now ready to be covered. This will require 5-1/2 yd. of extra-heavy canvas. Turn the framework of the canoe upside down and place the canvas on it. The center of the canvas is located and tacked to the center strip of the canoe at the points where ribs are attached. Copper tacks should be used. The canvas is then tacked to the ribs, beginning at the center rib and working toward each end, carefully drawing the canvas as tightly as possible and keeping it straight. At the ends the canvas is split in the center and lapped over the bent wood. The surplus canvas is cut off. A thin coat of glue is put on, to shrink the cloth and make it waterproof.
The glue should be powdered and brought into liquid form in a double boiler. A thin coat of this is applied with a paintbrush. A small keel made of a strip of wood is placed on the bottom to protect it when making a landing on sand and stones in shallow water. When the glue is thoroughly dry the canvas is covered with two coats of paint, made up in any color with the best lead and boiled linseed oil. The inside is coated with spar varnish to give it a wood color.
A Single Paddle
The paddles may be made up in two ways, single or double. The double paddle has a hickory pole, 7 ft. long and 2 in. in diameter, for its center part. The paddle is made as shown in Fig. 10, of ash or cypress. It is 12 in. long, and 8 in. wide at the widest part. The paddle end fits into a notch cut in the end of the pole (Fig. 11).
A shield is made of a piece of tin or rubber and placed around the pole near the paddle to prevent the water from running to the center as the pole is tipped from side to side. The complete paddle is shown in Fig. 12. A single paddle is made as shown in Fig. 13. This is made of ash or any other tough wood. The dimensions given in the sketch are sufficient without a description.