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One of the things I’ve always found almost as interesting as boats is images of boats, especially pop culture and advertising images. Pop culture? Really? But it’s so, well, so popular. What does it really have to say? A lot, I think.

The same argument is sometimes levelled at pleasure boating as not being a subject worthy of serious study because it “only” deals with pleasure (as if the pursuit of pleasure hasn’t been a constant of human affairs for some time now). The thing about pleasure boating, and its wealthy cousin yachting, is that they’re of significance precisely because they’re not serious (unless you’re trying to win the America‘s Cup, perhaps), and this is what makes them important. The purchase of a pleasure boat is the ultimate discretionary expenditure. There’s no practical reason to own it unless you want to, or you think it’s beautiful, or it makes you happy, or all three. If you think about it, then, these purchases can tell us about what we really want, unfettered by the practicalities that constrain our everyday acquisitions. If pleasure boats are an interesting place to study people, therefore, then advertising for pleasure boats, or that uses pleasure boats, is a great place to find out what we all desire.

I’ve been collecting images of pleasure boating for a while now, and for me it’s a real pleasure because I only acquire things that interest me. No scheme, no system, no need to have footnotes or be representative of a particular historical style or period. I just get things I like. I think I’ll share some of these with you from time to time, so here’s a few to start us off. These are all on the theme of canoes and double paddles.

Our 1890s friend here with the snappy beanie, striped shirt and moustache to match is paddling a sturdy little Rob Roy type. He’s also advertising coffee while he enjoys boating. Here’s what the back of the card looks like:

And the connection between Lion coffee and canoeing is, well, it is what ever you would like it to be. As it it says at the top, you had to buy the coffee to get this charming trade card.

On a less muscular and manly note, we have some very slender 1880s young ladies paddling some very slender Rob Roy canoes. I’m not sure what the displacement of the hull in the background is, but I would think that it’s not suited to rough water use. This is a lovely, serene pastoral image, perfect to accompany your note to a friend.

Skip ahead a few years to the 1920s, and this trim couple have been so rejuvenated by taking Dr. Roussel’s anti-anemia remedy that they are able to paddle in perfect synchronization–as the tag line says, it gives you strength.

And here’s a personal favourite. Once again, nothing says Rob Roy canoe like a striped t-shirt. One of the earliest pieces in my little collection, this tiny tobacco card, measuring 3″ x 1  1/2″,  is from 1888, one of a set that depicted a rather ecclectic group of watercraft ranging from iceboats to battleships.  It is also one of the earlier instances I’ve seen of the slightly disturbing pairing of canoeing [think healthy, outdoors, clean] with tobacco and smoking [think the opposite]. This ran all the way through to Camel cigarette ads in the 1980s that showed our hero lighting up as he paddled.

There’s so much to like about this image, including its well-proportioned canoe, the tam on the paddler’s head, the artful spray of water fro the upper paddle blade and the large, pointillist printing dots. Two nice boats in the background too, one with a dipping lug to the left and another canoe or two to the right.

Until next time. . .

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In the December, 1886, issue of Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly magazine, the noted American journalist and yachtsman W.P. Stephens, about whom I’ve written before, published an article called “Why We Canoe.” You can read the text of the article online here, courtesy of Google and the Hathi Digital Library.

Stephens was a tireless promoter of the sport of canoeing, and especially canoeing under sail, and with his canoe Jersey Blue was a fixture in the early days of the American Canoe Association. A copy of his wonderful Canoe and Boatbuilding: A Complete Manual for Amateurs should be on the shelf of anyone with even a passing interest in canoe sailing and late 19th century small craft. The book went through many editions, and original copies can be found for sale at a reasonable price. It’s also been reprinted. My friend Dan Miller over at Dragonfly Canoe Works has kindly made it possible to read the book online. As important as the book, but much harder to find, are the plates, which originally came out in a companion volume. In 1987, as the date on the cover of my well-thumbed copy says, Mystic Seaport Museum collated and re-published a complete set. Mystic also holds Stephens’s drawings and papers, a veritable treasure trove of canoeing and yachting history.

The article is vintage Stephens, arguing strongly in favour of his preferred type of sailing canoe, the all-’round paddling/sailing boat, suitable for extended cruising. He notes with approval the recent development of classification rules by the American Canoe Association, designed “to prevent, as far as possible, the construction of racing canoes.” Unfortunately for Stephens but fortunately for those of us who enjoy 16-30s, ICs and other “dangerous racing freaks,” as he condemned them, racing craft did develop.

His article contains some charming engravings of mid-1880s canoes that were just on the verge of the bifurcation in design that began to occur under the pressures of racing under sail. The four illustrated here are exemplars of what Stephens considered to be wholesome types.

Atlantis was owned by the noted Adirondack writer, photographer and artist Seneca Ray Stoddard.

Robert Tyson’s Isabel was well known on the Toronto waterfront and at the Toronto Canoe Club, as was her skipper and his characteristic tam, with its cap ribbons hanging down behind. Like many canoeists of this era, Tyson tinkered incessantly with his rig, and Isabel exhibits one of his interesting innovations. The unique bent mast serves least two purposes. The first one is to get the rig as far forward as possible without putting the mast right up in the eyes of the canoe. Combined with the heavy roach, held out by battens, this gives a big mainsail with a low centre of effort. The spar extending below the boom also permits a vang to be used, something not normally possible because of the low boom on sailing canoes which would create too shallow an angle for a vang to be effective.

Marion B ‘s mainsail displays the turtle totem of Albany, NY’s Mohican Canoe Club, one of the powerhouses of organized canoeing in the late 19th century. The standing lug rig with its two reefing battens is an early example of what would become known as the Mohican rig. Later versions pulled the whole sail aft of the mast and did away with the small portion extending forward, using elaborate hardware to attach the yard, battens and luff. Owned by General Oliver, Marion B was be decisively outsailed in the 1886 ACA meet by Commodore Gibson’s new Rushton-built canoe Vesper.

Siren represents one of the main types of early sailing canoe, the Nautilus (the others being the Rob Roy and the Shadow) The Nautilus type originated with a number of canoes of that name sailed by Warington Baden Powell. In their first incarnations, they were solidly constructed seaboats with moveable inside ballast and heavy boilerplate centreboards, sailed semi-prone. As the caption indicates, this American canoe, though ostensibly a Nautilus type, is already being sailed from the deck and not below. It was but a short step (a short slide, actually) from sitting on the weather edge of the deck to sitting outboard on a sliding seat, so notwithstanding Stephens’ misgivings about racing canoes, the wind of change was already filling these small sails.

Until next time. . .

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Back in the second post in this series, I was thinking about how to translate the arc bottom of the original sailing canoe into something I could build in stitch and glue. Using the original linesplan, I’ve modeled several different version of the hull in Delftship that allow me to make some numerical comparisons between them. All I’ve changed in each case is the number of chines and the underwater shape–everything else is the same (with the exception of some small changes to the bow profile to accommodate an additional chine). The design waterline and draft of 4″ are as on the original plans, and all these hulls are shown in a full bow-on view.

Here’s the original arc-bottomed hull, which displaces .117 short tons, or 234 lbs.

Here’s the same hull with all of the arc taken out of the bottom sections so that there’s just a straight section from chine to keel. This results in a significantly lower displacement of only .075 tons, or 150 lbs. How much displacement do we want or need? Well, I’d say something at least equal to the original hull. I’m also keeping in mind the displacement of my hard-chine 16-30 hull, which is .133 tons, or 266 lbs. From my experience in building and sailing those boats, they float pretty much on their marks with a sailor of average weight, so there’s a good comparison for what displacement we should shoot for in a two-masted, decked 16′ sailing canoe built in stitch and glue. I don’t think 150 lbs is going to do it.

Here I’ve added another chine and pulled it down amidships to make a nearly flat bottom. I may have overdone it on the extra volume, though, because now our displacement is up to .139 tons, or 278 lbs. I’m not sure we need quite all of that.

If I introduce just a little deadrise into the midships sections, leaving the ends unchanged, the displacement decreases to  .128 tons, or 256 lbs, which is pretty close to our 16-30 hull.

So far, so good. The next step is to add the deck and deck camber, put the bulkheads in the right places instead of just at a uniform 1′ interval and expand the individual hull panels. Then, I’ll buy some balsa wood and make a 1 1/2″ – 1′ model.

Until next time. . .

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As I mentioned in the last post, I started to do some work on the original linesplan for  the late 19th century decked sailing canoe Isalo to explore making the arc bottomed hull suitable for the flat panels of stitch-and-glue construction. I began drawing by hand, but then I decided to put the lines on the computer and see what I could come up with. To do this, I used a hull design program called DelftShip, a development of an earlier program called Freeship (which is still available from SourceForge). Both programs are powerful, full-featured naval architecture packages, and both are free. Once you figure out how to use them for canoes, you could also design yourself an oil tanker, passenger ship or tug if you’re so inclined. A professional version of Delftship with more features is also available for €150, with the latest version slated for release in late February. These programs have a steep learning curve, no pun intended, but are well worth the investment of time.

One thing they’re particularly useful for is projects like Isalo, because with them you can import a scanned linesplan of unknown scale, such as you might find in a magazine, and, as long as you know a couple of the principle dimensions, draw new fair lines on top of the original. There’s a handy tutorial about how to do this, based on, of all things, Leo Friede’s legendary 16-30 sailing canoe Mermaid on the WoodenBoat Forum. If you use this tutorial, go through it with the DelftShip manual in front of you, because author Bruce Taylor leaves out a couple of important steps whose absence will drive you crazy until you also read the DelftShip tutorial on Reproducing An Existing Lines Plan, which you can download from the company’s web site.

Even though I’m planning to add one or more chines, I thought I would start by getting Isalo‘s original arc-bottomed hull re-drawn in DelftShip. After a weekend’s worth of work, here’s what I’ve come up with:

This is the main Delftship window with all four views: perspective, profile, plan and body plan. Much as with regular lofting and fairing, you alternate between them, working iteratively on each one to gradually firm up and reconcile the lines. In each case, the starting point is the original linesplan in a background layer, on top of which you work with curves and the control mesh to shape the new lines.

Here’s the profile with the three main lines defined: the centreline of the hull [composed of bow, stern and bottom], the chine and the sheer.

And here’s the body plan, with the control curves [red] and stations [green]. Once you begin to develop the wireframe, you can add the other side of the hull and shade it to check on your progress.

 One of the most useful features for a project like this is that you can also run a developability check on the panels to see if they can be gotten out of plywood, which nominally doesn’t like to do compound curves, though you can torture it into shape to a certain extent. When you use that feature, the program adds red shading to show you areas that can’t be expanded into flat sheets.

DelftShip is telling me that the sections below the chine aren’t developable, which is not surprising since they’re still the original rounded arc bottom. The good news is that I seem gotten the topsides pretty straight, as it’s all green from sheer to chine. The next step is to go back to the body plan and make sure I’ve added enough curvature to the bottom to capture the volume of the original hull below the waterline. After that, I’ll  ask DelftShip to calculate the hydrostatics to get some numbers against which I can compare my multichine versions as they’re developed.

Until next time. . .

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I recently received a note from my friend Ed Maurer down in Florida. A couple of years ago, Ed took the brave step of starting a new magazine called Canoe Sailor, which is a noble project in its own right. In this case, it was even better because the magazine was focused on, of all topics, sailing canoes–imagine such a thing!

Ed’s note let me know that he’s just re-formatted the original Canoe Sailor a new, all-digital page-turn publication called Skinny Hull. In his own words,

Skinny Hull covers sailing canoes and kayaks, proas and similar style boats, Chesapeake log canoes and a variety of purpose-built two- and three-hull boats that are essentially canoes (or kayaks) with outriggers. (We’re even working on bringing you ice boat sailing!) So, essentially, if it mounts a sail and has a skinny hull we cover it!

The first few issues will contain archived content from Canoe Sailor, and there’s some good material there. Like any editor, though, Ed will be looking for new content too. I’m going to try do do my part, and I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in contributing to contact him at editor@canoesailingmagazine.com, and also to subscribe, which I’m going to do as soon as I finish writing this post.

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As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve started to explore whether the 1893 sailing canoe design Isalo would be suitable for re-designing for construction in modern materials. One of the first big questions to is how to build the boat.

If I follow through with the idea that this cruising canoe and the 16-30 are “bookends” that between them cover a nice range of sailing canoe history, then it would be best if Isalo was rendered in stitch-and-glue plywood. This has worked well for the 16-30s, proving to be light and durable and reasonably quick to build.

The body plan for the 16-30, showing its single chine hull made up from four separate stitch-and-glue panels.

The original 16-30 was a perfect choice for stitch-and-glue construction, with a single hard chine and a V-shaped bottom. The only difference from the original to the new version was that the plank keel was replaced by a filleted epoxy joint.

An interior shot of the original 16-30, showing the top of the plank keel. The bottom planks converge in a slightly rounded V-joint on the bottom of the hull.

The interior of the plywood 16-30, showing the filleted and taped seam on the interior bottom.

Our original 1893 canoe, however, has an arc bottom, much like a Star-class keelboat.

Body plan for Isalo from the original 1893 drawings.

You could likely make the plywood conform to this shape, but not in stitch and glue. In order to get the compound curve in the bottom panels, you’d have to introduce some interior framework, as on the 15 1/2′ sailing canoe Zephyr, and this would take us away from the idea of making both canoes as similar in construction as possible.

The arc-bottomed sailing canoe Zephyr, published in Yachting in 1925, was designed for traditional batten-seam plank-on-frame construction.

There are (at least) three possible ways to tackle the bottom of the new canoe, starting with the original lines. Here’s a sample section.

The original body plan at midships, with an arc bottom.

Option one is to take all of the arc out of the bottom and connect the chine and keel with a straight line, as on the 16-30:

Bottom section straight from chine to keel, with the dotted line showing the original arc section.

As you can see from the sketch, this takes a fair bit of volume out of the bottom. It might be ok, but I wouldn’t know until I did some hydrostatic calculations. Another option would be to introduce a second chine below the waterline.

The straight section from keel to chine has been broken into two parts by the addition of a second chine, with dotted line showing the original arc section.

This option preserves more of the original volume, but we’re now up to six hull panels, which will be more work to construct. Another way to do this is to give the canoe a narrow flat bottom panel:

Introducing a flat bottom panel equals or exceeds the original volume of the arc-bottom hull.

There are a few reasons why I like this option: it only needs 5 panels; it will make the boat easy to beach; and finally, the flat bottom will give a good solid anchorage for the centreboard trunk and mast steps without the complications of fitting them over a filleted centre seam. I built and sailed a little canoe with a hull like this for several years in the 1990s and it worked quite well. It was designed by John Bull, who used to own Solway Dory in the UK. He’s since retired, but the company continues, though I don’t believe they offer this design any more. The only drawback is that you need to install some floorboards so that you’re not sitting in any water that happens to come aboard!

Next step is to lay in the flat bottom on the original hull, re-draw the lines and do some calculations.

Until then. . .

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Well, it’s December 22nd, 2011. The Fiddlehead is done, all my hand tools have been sharpened and tuned up again and I have a couple of weeks off work and some precious free time. What better way to end the year and look ahead to 2012 than to think about what boat I should build next?

Three possibilities have been going through my head for a while. Back in the mid 1990s when I worked at the old Marine Museum of Upper Canada with Peter the Boatbuilder (see last post), we taught a workshop course called “Introduction to Lapstrake Boatbuilding.” The boat we used as the example was Pete Culler’s 13′ lapstrake canoe, a design he called Butternut. This is a lovely little boat, weighing about 35 lbs. We liked it because it showed you everything you needed to know about traditional lapstrake boatbuilding in a nice small package that didn’t go through a whole lot of materials, and was also small enough that we could have two of them underway in the shop at the same time. We told the students it was “the original personal watercraft,” a boat you wear more than use. Here’s one of the completed Butternuts:

As usual with these projects, I didn’t end up with one for myself, so maybe now it’s time? Something this light would also fit on top of Wendy’s little Nissan, and be light enough for her to get up and down easily. Butternut is featured on pp. 23-25 of John Burke’s book Pete Culler’s Boats. The original book is out of print but WoodenBoat have reprinted a catalogue of Culler’s designs. A simple lines plan can be ordered from the Ships’ Plans Department at Mystic Seaport.

Another boat I’ve had in my head even longer than Butternut is the late Bob Baker’s lapstrake canoe Piccolo. He designed this for WoodenBoat back in the magazine’s early days, and a comprehensive how-to-build article appeared in issues no. 36 and 37. It’s an exquisite little sailing canoe, a boat of thoroughgoing charm and modest windward ability (but gentlemen don’t cruise to windward anyways, right?). I liked this boat as soon as I saw her and have always wanted one. Plans are available from The WoodenBoat Store. I’ve gotten as far as lofting Piccolo and starting to pile up some cedar to plank her with (sorry for the grainy photo, hard to take a picture of pencil lines on lofting!):

Two little lapstrake canoes, two worthwhile projects, and eventually I’ll probably build one of each. I’m still thinking about the 16-30 sliding seat canoe, though. One of the ideas I’ve been mulling over is turning the 16-30 into a how-to-build book that also includes some of the history of canoe sailing. I’ve made a couple of false starts on this, but they’ve always come up short. I think one of the things holding me back has been the fact that, much as I love the 16-30 and the sliding seat era of canoe sailing, it was a relatively late development, and isn’t really representative of the whole 1870-1900 era when recreational canoeing first flourished.

An idea came to me in the shower a while ago (often happens there, perhaps the water hitting my head shakes loose a thought?): what about developing another historic canoe design for construction in modern materials that could be a companion to the 16-30? The aims of that project (see the 16-30 page on this blog) were to capture the decked sliding seat canoe sailing experience in a boat that could be built by one person with average tools and skills, in a garage, in a winter, using readily-available parts and materials. Could I find an original design for a cruising sailing canoe that could be adapted the same way? If I did that, then the book could feature these boats as “bookends” exemplifying the range of canoe sailing types, with some history sandwiched in between, and complete plans and building instructions for both.

On to the search for a suitable design. One of the things that made the 16-30 work was that the original boat I was inspired by was a hard-chine hull. I don’t mind turning hard-chine cedar on oak into hard-chine stitch and glue plywood, but I’m not as interested in rendering a round-bottomed hull into a multi-chine stitch and glue boat. Then I came across a design while browsing through Forest & Stream, a treasure trove of canoeing, yachting and other 19th century sporting history. Called Isalo (which is a town in Madagascar, not sure of the connection to canoeing), the boat is a hard-chined hull with a removable sliding seat and two sliding gunter rigs: a cruising outfit of 60 + 18 square feet and a racing rig of 100 + 30 square feet.

This design looks as though it has some potential, so the first step is to do a feasibility study by scaling the design up, re-drawing the lines, generating offsets and thinking about how she might be built. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, here’s an interesting development for those interested in the history of small craft. Isalo‘s lines were originally published in The Model Yachtsman and Canoeist, a British magazine which appeared from 1884-1894. It wasn’t what you’d call a mass-circulation piece, so original copies are very hard to find. The Albert Strange Association has just announced that the whole run of 2000 pages has been digitized and made available on two CDs in a searchable pdf format for the very reasonable price of 15 pounds sterling. You can order your copy from the Association’s web site. Perfect Christmas gift for the boating historian on your list.

Best wishes of the season to you all.

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In 1996/7, I built a St. Lawrence Skiff at the shop of my friend Peter the Boatbuilder. He was the boatman at the Argonaut Rowing Club in Toronto, and in exchange for looking after the club’s boats, he ran his boatbuilding shop out of the club. I shared the space with him while we built two traditional skiffs, one for me and one for him. He’s still building boats, most recently with Youth Boatworks Canada, and just finished a Bantry Bay Gig for the Atlantic Challenge competition.

Here's Peter at work lofting the skiff.

And here I am, laying out the keel line on the same lofting.

I even got my wife involved. Here's Wendy bevelling a lap on our skiff, which we would eventually name for her mother, Isabel.

And here's the skiff planked up and off the moulds, ready for ribs.

Lovely pictures, but what’s this got to do with antique rulers? Well, one day not long after this picture was taken, I came into the shop and there was a present waiting for me on the workbench from Peter. He studied traditional boatbuilding at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Townsend, WA, and it was probably there that he got introduced to traditional folding wooden rulers. Sometimes these get called “Blindman’s Rules,” although strictly speaking, that name only refers to one particular kind with especially large numbers. Peter had one that he used a lot on the skiff project, and I guess he had seen me admiring it while we worked. On the workbench that day was a package made from masking tape and a Country Style Doughnuts box (takes a lot of doughnuts to build a traditional wooden boat, so there were always plenty of boxes around the shop). Inside was a folding wooden ruler of my own, my “graduation” present for having gotten my skiff planked up and off the moulds. I still have the ruler, and I used it often while I was building the Fiddlehead this summer.

This is the ruler that started it all for me, a Stanley #61 boxwood two-foot, four-fold, square-joint ruler with middle plates, manufactured between 1855 and 1957. This particular one could be pre-1949.

Even a quick glance through Alvin Sellen’s book encyclopedic book Stanley Folding Rules will give you a sense of the vast variety of these that were manufactured from the mid 19th to late 20th century by Stanley, Lufkin, Rabone and other tool companies. Carpenters, shipwrights, surveyors, blacksmiths, patternmakers and a host of other trades all had their own rulers with features suited to their particular work. In case you don’t already waste enough time on line, take a moment to hop on eBay and search for “folding rulers” to see how many of these are still around and just waiting for you to buy them. The wooden ones are nice, but in the mid 19th century they were also made from ivory and oxbone with German silver mounts, and those are really lovely (with a price to match).

No question, then, that they make great collectibles, but are they really useful in the shop? For me, at least, the answer would be an enthusiastic “yes.” One of the things we’re blessed with in the 21st century is choice–just think of how many things there are to eat for breakfast in the average grocery store, for instance. It’s no different in the workshop. Need to cut something? If you have any kind of workshop at all, I bet there’s at least 6 different ways to accomplish the same purpose ready to hand (I took a moment to count my own stuff: compound mitre saw; tablesaw; bandsaw; 2 different sizes of Skilsaw; several  japanese saws; several western hand saws). Obviously if I have to measure off a 6′ piece of stock I’m not going to use my four-fold, two-foot folding ruler three times in a row. But for smaller measurements around a traditional boatbuilding project, these folding rulers work very well. As an added benefit, and here’s where the choice comes in, I find them just plain enjoyable to use (which I suppose is the same thing that someone else might say about their LED-equipped digital laser tape measure), and so use them I do. It’s a pleasure to have something in your hand that offers a connection to people who used to do what you’re doing now. Folding rulers also look very official sticking out of your back pocket or apron, and if you’re working in public, they’re great conversation starters.

Here's my Stanley #61 in use, checking the progress of a lap bevel at the midships frame.

Did I mention that these kinds of rulers are available on eBay? and from antique tool websites, antique tool shows, flea markets and  garage sales? I still have and use the Stanley #61 that Peter gave me more than 15 years ago, but that hasn’t stopped me picking up a few more over the years. Here’s some favourites from the “measuring” drawer of my tool chest. These are all tools that I’ve collected to actually use, so I tend not to go for the pristine examples, or pay extra for an original box, but concentrate instead on pieces that are straight, solid and ready to work.

Here's a sentimental favourite. It's a four-fold, arch-joint caliper ruler with no visible maker's mark. The outside is very worn from years of travelling in someone's pocket, but the inside markings are still clear and usable. Two higher-end features are the arch-shaped joints at the hinge and the brass binding on the edges. I carry this in my pocket nearly every day just for the pleasure of having it around.

Here's one I couldn't resist. It's a tiny Stanley 65 1/2, one-foot four-fold, brass bound with a square joint. This type was manufactured from 1855 to 1934, and this particular one dates from some time after 1867.

A Lufkin #42 boxwood Shipwright's Bevel. Competition was fierce in the ruler business, and Stanley offered an identical piece, also a #42, albeit with square ends on the brass bevel arms.

Here's a kind of Swiss Army Knife folding ruler. This big, chuncky four-fold two-foot Rabone # 1190, possibly from the 1930s, has an arch-joint and engraved hinge marked with degrees for use as a bevel gauge, as well as a brass level.

A Stanley #136, manufactured between 1932 and 1983, incorporating an inside/outside caliper as well as a ruler on the other side.

A Lufkin #41 3-fold, one-foot steel ruler with case. The leatherette case for this model was often embossed with a company's name so it could be used as a promotional item.

Some great sources for rulers like this include eBay; Jim Bode Antique Tools; Vintage Tools and Bob Kaune Antique & Used Tools.

Until next time. . .

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In this shot, the covering boards have been varnished on the underside and permanently screwed to the boat. Where they cover the watertight compartment of each end, they’ve also been bedded in sealant. I’ve also taken the outer stem off, buttered it with bedding compound, re-attached it using all of the screws and epoxied a tapered wooden plug ineach screw hole which will be trimmed flush later.

The inwales receive a coat of bedding compound on their backs before being screwed in place for good.

With all of the decking and outwales permanently fastened, it’s time to start building up the finish. The first coatis usually thinned at least 50% to penetrate deeply and raise the grain.

Even a thinned coat begins to bring out the nice warm look of the cherry.

The next step is the cockpit coamings. Because of the way Harry has designed the ends, they don’t have to fit together closely, but it still takes a couple of tries of clamping them in place dry to get the fit right.

It’s a good idea to use clamping pads on the inside of the coaming to avoid marking it with the c-clamps. It’s also a good idea to not press too hard on the portion of the coaming that extends above the deck, or you might split it and have to get out another one in a hurry (this last sentence was written by the voice of experience!).

With both sides trimmed and clamped in place, the coaming can be fastened. You’ll need to measure carefully from the bottom up to make sure the screws hit the carlin and not the deck.

At each end of the coaming, a triangular block of cherry fastens the two ends together.

The block is fastened in place from the outside with four screws through the coaming.

After the block is fastened, the top and bottom are faired into the coaming.

Now is a good time to stand back and look at the coaming. For this boat, I decided that it was a little too high in the middle, so I got out the plane and gave it some more sheer. Do this carefully, and don’t forget to sight from each end as well as each side as you’re working.

The coamings in place.

The designer has come up with an ingenious solution for finishing the coamings which avoids what can be a tricky raking beveled cut. It begins by sawing off the rough ends of the coaming and the triangular block.

This leaves a blunt surface at each end.

This is finished with another triangular block that sits on the deck cap.

This little block ties everything together nicely.

This is attached with a little thickened epoxy.

And left to dry overnight.

Then it’s back to sanding, fairing the coaming and blocks together into a pleasing whole with smooth transitions between the different pieces.

And then it’s back to varnishing, building up a good solid surface.

Because I was in a bit of a hurry, I used a quick-drying acrylic enamel on the exterior hull and the interior bottom.

The last step was to make some nice cherry floorboards that go in in two sections. And here we are, a finished Fiddlehead.

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Here’s a shot from above showing how the beveled end of the outwale fits against the stem.

With the end of the outwale cut and beveled, the outwale is clamped amidships.

It’s important to make sure that it’s clamped so that this end fits tightly, and to make a centerline hash mark so you can find this position again, because now comes the tricky part: fitting the other end.

Before the bevel from the other end can be transferred to the stock,we need one other important mark. Bending the outwale in as far as it will go, transfer the intersection of the outer stem and sheer plank to the stock.

Now transfer the bevel using the mark just made as the origin point on the inboard side.

Check that midships hash mark again, then cut the other end of the outwale. I usually cut it at least 1/8” too big and then gradually fit it into place.

The screws that fasten the outwale on are highly visible, and it looks terrible if they’re not lined up evenly, so I clamped a block to the drill press along which the outwale slides, ensuring that the countersunk holes are in a straight line.

Here’s the finished outwale fastened in place.

Here’s a long shot. The outwale makes a dramatic improvement in the appearance of the boat because the shadows cast by it on the sheer plank really define that important curve.

Now you can see what a nice effect the deck cap gives: the lines of the outwale, deck edge and deck cap edge all converge on our nicely-finished stemhead.

Once both outwales are fitted, the combination of curves that make up this little canoe is visible. This is a stage where taking your time really matters, because these are the details people will notice on the finished boat. It took me a whole day, for instance, just to get out and fit the outwales.

Now that everything has been dry fitted, it’s time to take off the decking to varnish the underside side before final assembly.

Until next time. . .

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