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Thread: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

  1. #1
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    Default Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    After contemplating for a long time about this special building method (Plywood Canoe Concept - Birchbark Style), I actually started to build a canoe.

    This is my "tree":



    It is not birch and not bark but 3mm plywood.
    I would have preferred using marine grade okoume plywood, but unfortunately in my area there is no way of getting the good stuff.
    For building a prototype I hope the cheap poplar I choose instead will do.


    The sheet has an odd size (252 x 185 cm), which is good for me because I only need one sheet for the light weight solo canoe I intend to build.
    An advantage of the 3mm poplar plywood is it's flexibility. For easier transportation I was able to roll it (ca. 22.5cm radius) and in this shape there is an apparent resemblance to the bark of a tree.




    Here is the layout and the pattern for the panels for two regularly sized plywood sheets (244 x 122 cm), which I had to modify to fit my odd sheet.
    PDF Download file of this drawing here: http://flo-mo.weebly.com/gorewood-14-solo-canoe.html (or click at the drawing)




    After cutting off a small piece of the sheet (luckily that's where all the flaws in the outer veneers were located), the remaining part (219.6 x 184 cm) will be used with almost no waste.




    Instead of two half panels I ended up with one half and two quarters. The two quarters will be butt joined along the keel line before the resulting half gets connected with the second half by a scarf joint.




    Prior to that I cut the curves for the bow...

    Last edited by flo-mo; 07-23-2017 at 04:24 AM.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    ... and then cutting the gores




    Glass reinforced butt joint between the two quarters




    The two half-panels are scarfed




    scarf joint finished




    zip ties for closing the gores (edited to add: In retrospect I think it is not necessary to use the zip ties)




    all zip ties installed

    Last edited by flo-mo; 07-23-2017 at 09:14 AM.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Excited.
    "A man builds the best of himself into a boat- builds many of the memories of his ancestors." -Steinbeck

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Now comes the fun part:

    I call it shape shifting. Starting with a flat panel, then going to the shape of a skateboard half-pipe and finally morphing into a hopefully beautiful canoe.


    In this position it is easier to close the darts




    The lashing straps also help




    Gores closed and exactly aligned




    Wooden double wedges glued to the sheer to keep the gores closed




    Installing the gunwales





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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Oddly shaped object awaiting the metamorphosis




    Lashing straps will induce the process




    Tightening the straps










    Almost there


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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Closing the hull at the bow




    Temporarily installed ribs made of cardboard help scrutinizing the shape of the hull




    Overall I am quite pleased with the shape of the hull











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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Wow!
    Steve Lewis
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    http://angelfire.com/ego/lewisboatworks

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Fantastic. Wonderful work.

    Brian

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Overall I am quite pleased with the shape of the hull
    You don't say!

    Wow! is right. Thanks, man. This is a keeper.

    enjoy
    bobby

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Quite remarkable ! To be capable of "normal use" would 3 mm with a layer of 6 oz cloth and epoxy resin be sufficient ?
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Such uncommon elegance in the conception, the execution and the object itself. Beautiful.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Quote Originally Posted by flo-mo View Post
    Closing the hull at the bow




    Temporarily installed ribs made of cardboard help scrutinizing the shape of the hull




    Overall I am quite pleased with the shape of the hull










    FloMo - That is uncommonly beautiful! Excellent job!
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe


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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Lovely Flo Mo. just lovely. That is perhaps the most elegant origami boat I've ever seen.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Terrific all right. Love it.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    That is very nice.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Some kind of handsome flo-mo
    Will you put permanant ribs in and will you glass the inside beforehand?
    Amazing how fair it is at the copes.
    Wonderful work.
    Thank you

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Thank you all for your kind words and positive comments, much appreciated.


    I think there are two options to strengthen the hull and deal with the copes:

    Add ribs and mimic the look of the traditional birchbark canoe. If you use high quality plywood and varnish, you could even skip the glassing of the hull.
    The result could be similar in appearance to this beautifully crafted canoe by Hans-Georg Wagner (more information: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...s-Georg-Wagner):




    I need to go another way as I choose poplar plywood for my build, which is not even manufactured using waterproof glue. So I have to sheath the hull on the outside and the inside anyway.
    I will use 3oz. glass to keep the boat as light as possible (I am aiming at 30lbs).

    It turned out that the bottom of the hull is flatter than I had expected, so I will use a rhombically shaped second layer of plywood to reinforce the bottom and to prevent oil-canning.
    Dry fit of the double layer:



    Most photos do not show the bumps but at some angle of view they get quite apparent.




    It is my plan to pad the hull at the inside of these spots with epoxy and then sand down most of the bump on the outside. At some places I may even sand down the whole thickness of the plywood so the padding has to be thick enough to compensate for that. After the hull is smoothed to my liking I will sheath it.

    If you are interested in more detailed information about the build so far, take a look at the 200+ photos with some comment added: https://plus.google.com/photos/11011...585?banner=pwa
    Last edited by flo-mo; 07-25-2014 at 10:43 AM.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Thanks Flo Mo.
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    What's going on here Flo Mo ? Are you repairing the bump?

    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Yes, I am repairing the bump.

    I am quoting myself to illustrate what had happen:
    I really took my time and everything went fine when I let the hull take it's shape. I checked the shape from all sides and was very pleased with the result.

    The next day I made arrangements for closing the hull at the bow and gluing the panel and the gunwales together.

    During preparations I heard an almost imperceptible but very disturbing crack.
    After checking the hull from all sides I found this unpleasant deformation.

    It is not that bad and I think I can fix it but it's annoying that at first everything seemed to be perfectly fine and now I have to deal with this little inconvenience.
    What's interesting to me is that the crack did not occur immediately during the bending process but one day later without having applied any additional stress.




    I managed to fix the crack after some time of consideration:

    Last edited by flo-mo; 07-25-2014 at 09:09 AM.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    I expect there was a void there... albeit a small one or perhaps a crack or knot hole in the inner ply that let you down.
    Steve Lewis
    Formerly Lewisboats (don't try to change your email address!)

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    A stress concentration.
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    FloMo - perhaps you want to have a drilled hole at the end of each gore to allow for stress relief? Doesn't have to be a large hole.

    Peter has it in one. In developed metal parts, a relief is required to avoid stresses and odd bends.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Rather than try and fair the bumps down I think I would be inclined to embrace them. They are an honest feature of the design and build process, unlikely to affect performance and quite distinctive. Could they be incorporated in to some kind of painted or stained pattern?

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    I like the way you think, Clarkey! As above, embrace the effects of the design and materials. And the visual effect of the bumpy bits could certainly be minimized visually by a painted pattern.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewisboater View Post
    I expect there was a void there... albeit a small one or perhaps a crack or knot hole in the inner ply that let you down.
    Might as well be. The thin plywood sheet gets translucent when held against a roof window in an almost darkened room so the inner veneer gets visible. This is what it looks like:





    Quote Originally Posted by Canoez View Post
    FloMo - perhaps you want to have a drilled hole at the end of each gore to allow for stress relief? Doesn't have to be a large hole.

    Peter has it in one. In developed metal parts, a relief is required to avoid stresses and odd bends.
    This is a valuable suggestion and in retrospect I think that's what I should have done.



    Quote Originally Posted by Clarkey View Post
    Rather than try and fair the bumps down I think I would be inclined to embrace them. They are an honest feature of the design and build process, unlikely to affect performance and quite distinctive. Could they be incorporated in to some kind of painted or stained pattern?
    I can totally relate to this approach, but decided to do it in a different way.



    Here is another consideration I want to share with you (a slightly modified text I sent in an e-mail to a forum member):

    Maybe I should have coated one side (the one that will be the outside) of my 3mm poplar plywood sheet with a thin and even layer of epoxy prior to cutting the panels.
    This procedure should help to stabilize the outer veneer so cracks could maybe be avoided. It would also make the thin poplar plywood a little less flexible which would influence the bend radius (larger bend radius), which I would appreciate.
    It is hard to tell what really would happen by this procedure but at least it would not cause much extra work. It would be important to clean the cured epoxy coat from any occurring amine blush (wash with soap and rinse with clear water). Afterwards the flat sheet should be sanded (80 grit) to enable a mechanical bond when later sheathing the hull.
    Then everything else could be done the same way as I did (+ stop drill holes at the point of the gores, as I learned recently).

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe


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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Quote Originally Posted by flo-mo View Post

    Maybe I should have coated one side (the one that will be the outside) of my 3mm poplar plywood sheet with a thin and even layer of epoxy prior to cutting the panels.
    This procedure should help to stabilize the outer veneer so cracks could maybe be avoided. It would also make the thin poplar plywood a little less flexible which would influence the bend radius (larger bend radius), which I would appreciate.
    It is hard to tell what really would happen by this procedure but at least it would not cause much extra work. It would be important to clean the cured epoxy coat from any occurring amine blush (wash with soap and rinse with clear water). Afterwards the flat sheet should be sanded (80 grit) to enable a mechanical bond when later sheathing the hull.
    Then everything else could be done the same way as I did (+ stop drill holes at the point of the gores, as I learned recently).
    I'm not sure that the epoxy is flexible enough to take some of the curvature that you are making with the panel. I would make up an epoxy coated test panel first and bend it. I'd leave it bent and then go back and observe it some time later - like a few weeks. I think you're likely to see some discoloration and potentially some cracks from "stretching". The other concern is that while the initial panel bend may not reveal these flaws initially, they may appear later. I do tend to agree with your notion that it will probably give you a smoother, larger bend, however if you coat the plywood. Blush-free resins are supposedly available, but I tend to clean the surface to get rid of any contamination anyway.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    And there's also the factor of as the ply is bent, that the outside is opening up its pores, so to speak. So that when it is coated in epoxy after shaping , all those stretched gaps/ pores get filled, and that helps to lock shape in. Perhaps by sealing it with epoxy first, you would lose the advantage of that to some extent.
    There's a bendy ply product we buy here which exaggerates that principle by the way the grain is laid up, I've often dreamed of using it for a boat , but it isn't laminated with a marine glue either. That's put me off trying it.( perhaps it shouldn't)

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    The real birchbark canoes I've seen do have edges and lumps, all plastered over with that black goo, of course.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    I believe that black goo is spruce gum boiled down. Birchbark canoes are such an interesting method of construction. I once saw a documentary about an hour long or so about an old native man who builds one. He builds it over a summer and it's so cool to watch him build a boat with a few small hand tools (knife, hammer, axe) and little else. This ply version of it is also very cool. I am curious to see how it goes.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    Because the hull has a flat bottom the bilge curves are fairly short radiused. I an surprised the ply accepted it with so little damage.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    I just added a direct link to download a PDF of the drawing of the panel layout and the offsets (I did not know that it is possible to do this until now).

    So just click at the drawing in post #1 if you are interested in.

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    Default Re: Gorewood 14' Solo Canoe - a present-day interpretation of the birchbark canoe

    That is a very nice looking boat.

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    Quite remarkable ! To be capable of "normal use" would 3 mm with a layer of 6 oz cloth and epoxy resin be sufficient ?
    After 10 years paddling a tortured ply canoe made with 3mm Okume and one layer of 6 oz glass on the outside, there has been no problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarkey View Post
    Rather than try and fair the bumps down I think I would be inclined to embrace them. They are an honest feature of the design and build process, unlikely to affect performance and quite distinctive. Could they be incorporated in to some kind of painted or stained pattern?
    Thank you for that. Those are the perfect words.

    I would agree that the crack must have been caused by one of the knots on the inner ply at the end of the dart. Consider how many darts with only one crack.

    Post # 30: John may be right.

    Backing up the darts by using a 3" wide 'butt block' (made from the same plywood as the skin) on the inside of the dart can reduce the lumps to some extent, but not much. It does provide twice the thickness to sand down to fair the surface without creating a weak spot. Grain direction has a huge effect on stiffness, so cut the doubler strips across the grain to match the grain direction of the panel. The 'butt blocks' can be clamped with a series of drywall screws and small blocks of wood, very similar to the crack repair.

    Stillwater canoes set a amount of deadrise angle in the panels to stiffen the bottom. It works, but the panels have to be bent around forms, which totally changes the process. I like the formless approach as it is such an elegant way to grow the shape.

    How do you plan to clamp the doubler to the bottom? I would run screws through battens laid on both sides to spread the load and fill the holes later.

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