The Birth of the Canoe
The Clark Event 2011
September 22nd - 25th, 2011
Chinook Indian Country
Long Beach, Washington

This section is named '"The Birth of the Canoe" as the Canoe will, in essence, have a 'life' of it's own. John McCallum, the owner and boatright of Applegate Boatworks in Veneta, Oregon, is the builder of the Canoe for the reparation to the Chinook Indian Nation. Most people think a canoe as that aluminum vessel quietly gliding down a river. Not so for an ocean worthy Northwestern coastal canoe. The Canoe that we will return to the Chinook Indian Nation is 36 feet long and 61/2 feet wide at midship. We invite you to join us in the construction of the Canoe via the slideshow below. Watch the Canoe come to 'Life' as we prepare for The Clark Event 2011. 

This commentary has been provided by John to explain the steps that it takes to build a Canoe that can withstand both river and ocean.

John McCallum's Notes:

3-18

Hello Ray:

  We have started building the canoe. I have hired two good workers. 

We are laminating the bottom plank. Two layers of 3/4" plywood are glued to form the 1-1/2" thick bottom plank. This thick plank forms the backbone of the canoe's strength. It also acts as ballast to increase the canoe's stability.

 

John McCallum

 

3-21 

Hello Ray:

 

Today we glued the remaining pieces of the central bottom plank into place. The job went quickly without any problems. The next step is to form the slightly curved end portions of the bottom plank. Because they are curved, they must be laminated using three layers of 1/2" 

plywood. After the first of these layers is in place and the plank is still flat, we will layout the shape of the plank.

 

Here are some photos of today's work.

 

John McCallum

 

3-23

Hello Ray:

 

I'm glad you like the photos. Today we were making the lap joints to join the bottom plank ends to the center section. Laps joints are precise but not very strong joints. However because the bottom plank is heavy structural ballast, it is four times thicker than ordinary planking for a vessel of this size and weight. Experience has shown that canoes built this way are immensely strong and can withstand major blows.

 

John McCallum

 

3-24

Hello Ray:

 

We have finished assembling the bottom plank panel. We now have a 400 pound square raft, 32 feet long. The next step is to flip over the bottom plank. We will then bend the 1/2" thick end sections into the proper curve. We can then laminate two more layers on those curved ends.

We will wait a couple of days to let the glue in the lap joints fully cure.

 

John McCallum

 

3-29

Hello Ray:

 

Today, we laid out the shape of the bottom plank onto the laminated panel. My computer prints out the table of dimensions of the plank shape. There is not much to see in the photos because we have not driven in the brads for bending the marking battens. The layout needed to be done before we laminate the curved ends of the panel. 

What you see is the last three stations marked on the panel. The other points have been marked, but they fade away in the distant parts of this close up. Tomorrow we will flip the panel over to finish the laminating.

 

John McCallum

  

3-31 

Hello Ray:

 

Today we finished the layout of the bottom plank and rolled it over to finish the laminations. We drove nails into the points laid down yesterday, and bent a batten around those nails. Using this batten, we marked a line which is the edge of the plank. Next, we finish the laminations of the end sections. I fiddled around with photoShop to make a composite photo of the batten in the succesive positions as we laid out the line. The Photo "Spline1" is of the batten one place. 

The Photo labels "Splines" is the composite which gives some idea of the plank shape.

 

John McCallum

 

4-2 

Hello Ray:

 

We had a good finish to the week. The bottom plank has been cut to shape. You no longer have a 400 pound raft, you have a 300 pound surfboard. That heavy bottom plank is weight way down low, where it is quite effective as ballast. Next,  we will cut the rebate in the plank edge to receive the side plank. Then we will fiberglass the inside face of the plank. I always fiberglass the plywood before the hull is assembled. That is much faster than fiberglassing inside the hull on a vertical surface. Once the bottom plank is sealed, we will move on to assembling the side planks.

 

John McCallum

 

4-11 

Hello Ray:

 

Thanks for the kind words. I hope that you are doing well. We had a mixed week here. Progress was very fast at the start. The 3/8" rebate is cut and ready to receive the side planks. The interior face of the bottom plank has been fiberglassed. On recent canoes, I have been top- coating the fiberglass on the  inside bottom with epoxy colored with red iron oxide powder. This is so that when the paint underfoot is worn through, there is still red color underneath. I leave the edges of the plank free of color to get the best bonding with the sides. 

That is all done now. I had mentioned that we might be able to use CNC water-jet cutting for the side planks. It turns out that it is not really practical. There would be some delays and in the end I decided to do that experiment on a much smaller canoe. So there was some time lost as I checked out that avenue. Then today as I was starting the scarf joints for the side panels, my skil saw failed. I rewired a new cord but it still did not work. I think that I will just get a new one rather than fiddling around with it. I have decided to join the side planks with scarf joints and not the finger joints that I have used lately.

Fiberglass reinforced finger joints are stronger than the plywood but scarf joints are stronger. I want this canoe to be absolute top of the line. Next week we start joining the side panels.

 

John McCallum

 

The pictures show cutting the plank to the line with a pattern cutting bit and cutting the rebate for the side plank. There are also pictures of the fiberglass and topcoat.

 

 

4-14 

Hello Ray:

 

Here are some photos of the process of cutting the scarf joints in the plywood for the side planks. We use a skil saw with a beveled block fastened to the foot to hold the blade at the correct angle. We use it to rough cut the slope of the scarf on the ends to be joined. 

The pieces of plywood for the first set of joints are stacked up with each layer set back 3 inches from the layer below. We are in the process of planing all the pieces of plywood down the the correct bevel.

 

John McCallum

 

5-5-2011

Hello Ray:

 

We have all the scarf joints done and have started laying out the shape of the side planks. It was a long and boring slog to get through all those sixteen scarf bevels. They are cut at an 8 to 1 slope, which must be done with great precision. We took our time and the payoff is that the joints are all tight, straight and flush. The panels all line up nearly perfectly. On Thursday we got the 38 ft long panels up on saw horses and aligned. We took a great deal of time to lay down a perfectly straight 38 ft base line and a forward grid line at an exact right angle to it. These two lines are the basis for all the other measurements. Friday we will continue to lay out the points of the side plank shapes on this grid. I am including too many uninteresting photos of the scarfing process. I just wanted to give some idea of the steps involved. The last photos of the zero point at the intersection of the two grid lines. It is a dull picture but it represents a lot very precise and exact of work.

 

John McCallum

 6-6-2011

Hello Ray:

 

I hope that the Sun is breaking through the clouds over there in your rain forest. We have spent the last week and a half bringing the hull into it's proper shape. Just like a dugout before it is steamed, the hull has vertical sides and a hogged shape when it is first stitched up. The seams don't match up very well. The trick is to start adding spalls and closing up the seams. Gradually the seams close and the hull spreads. Then with wedges on the saw horses and diagonal braces, the centers of the spalls are brought into alignment with the centerline. Then the seams at the center of the bow and stern are nudged into being straight, vertical and centered. It is a process that might seem to be impossible. Nothing fits at first and nothing can fit together until everything else fits perfectly. Bit by bit it all comes into exact alignment. Those big panels want to fit together in just one way. It finally gelled today, very satisfying. Tomorrow we will steam the plywood just in front to the tail to get that graceful curve. That involves hours of preparation and about 15 minutes of white-knuckle anxiety as we steam it and coax the wood into shape.

 

The morning after we first got the hull up, I went out to the shop to see the canoe. As I stood there with the neck and nose of the canoe towering above me, this silly little rhyme popped into my mind:

 

It ain't small because it is tall

It can't hide because it is wide

It sings a song because it is long.

  

John McCallum

 

6-26-2011

Hello Ray:

 

On Saturday we turned the hull over. It took 14 of us. It is about 600 lbs and rolled smooth as silk with that much help. I think that I have been working 45 days straight without much of a break so afterwards I had a nice nap! Previously this week we finished applying the fiberglass tape to the interior seams. These tapes form the main structure that holds the hull together. We also fiber glassed the aft section of the side planks. We had to leave that wood bare in order to steam the tail. We also installed extra bracing to withstand the stresses of rolling the hull over. I am sending more photos of this week's work. There should be photos of the roll over tomorrow.

 

We have had a setback. My co-worker, Jim Cederstrom, was called back to his previous job for a week. 

He has worked with me before on the Kalapuya dugout canoe. Jim is highly skilled, and at this late date, is just about irreplaceable. I have a couple of good volunteers who can help out a little bit while he is gone.

 

 

John McCallum

 

6-27-2011
Hello Ray:

 

Here are a couple of photos of the canoe roll-over party. They were taken by John Kohnen and my wife Laura McCallum. Here is a link to John Kohnen's pictures on Flicker of the rollover. These pictures will give an idea of the enormity of the Canoe...

 

<http://www.flickr.com/photos/jkohnen/sets/72157626932213867/>

 

John McCallum

 

7-11-2011

 

Hello Ray:

 

Last week we got back up to speed, Jim is back after a week at another job. We have finished laminating the curved ends of the bottom plank up to full 1-1/2" thickness. The full thickness of plywood could not be bent into these curves. So we laminated them in three layers. You can see in the photos that the nose of the canoe is down in a small pit. The hull is so big that we did that to avoid having to work on scaffolding to fiberglass the bottom. We actually may have to lower it even further. Our next step is to round over the chine to about a 3" radius. (The chine is the intersection of the sides and the bottom plank.) This round chine reduces turbulence in the water and makes the hull faster.

 

John McCallum

 

7-27-2011

 

Hello Ray;

 

We have finished the outside of the hull. We are going to roll it back upright on Saturday. I have been so swamped that I have not taken time to write you. So here a whole herd of photos. They show the rounding over of the chines, the fiber-glassing of the aft side plank and the fiber glassing of the hull. The fiberglass on the hull bottom is a high strength type called Biaxial Fabric. It is top- coated with a layer of epoxy filled with graphite powder and rock dust. This layup is used on modern drift boats and Grand Canyon dories.

 

John McCallum

 

Hi Ray;

 

Here is the third group of Photos. These show the fiber-glassing and top-coating of the hull.

 

John Mc

 

 


8-7-2011

 

Hello Ray:

 

I hope that everything went well on the Journey. Last weekend we rolled the canoe upright. We are getting ready for the gun’ls this week. The canoe is sitting on stubby 14 inch high sawhorses; this lowers it enough that we could install the forward tips of the side plank to form the ears. The Alaskan Yellow Cedar gun’l stock has been ripped and planned to dimension. We are the making the tapered wedges that bring the gun’ls out wide enough to make the nose and tail. 

These wedges have to be split with saw kerfs, steamed and laminated to match the curved shapes of the hull ends. We will do the same process on the end sections of the gun’ls as well.

 

The hull is complete so I am attaching the invoice for the next progress payment. There are also more photos of the roll over and ears.

 

John McCallum

 


8-15-2011

 

Hello ray:

 

The work last week was slow but important. We laminated the wedges that define the sweep of the gun'ls as they approach the cedar carvings at the bow and stern. Both sets of wedges have compound curves and quite a bit of twist. They had to be laid out and laminated carefully. The wood for the wedges and the gun'ls that will be glued to them was sawn from adjacent pieces of the same board. 

That means that when the gun'ls system is laminated, all the wood in the flared ends will be glued into place in the exact orientation it had in the original tree. This is done so that the texture carving can be done with traditional tools without fear of tear-out when the carving tool crosses a glue line. This all takes time. Even though the wedges in each end hardly have enough wood in them to make a good baseball bat, it took a week to make all four of them. Next, it is on to the gun'ls. We will use every trick in the book on them, kerfing, steaming and laminating.

 

John McCallum

 


8-25-2011

 

Hello Ray:

 

We finally have the blended shapes at the bow and stern finished. As i mentioned before the wedges that we added define the transition of shapes between the neck and tail to the main hull. We have the gun'ls scarfed together. The three staves on each side are now one continuous 39 ft clear vertical grain Alaska Yellow cedar gun'l. We sawed kerfs for a few feet into each end of the gun’ls. This is to split them into thinner pieces that can take the extreme curves in the end sections. The aft end is sawn into three vertical sections. The bow section has one horizontal saw cut. The gun'ls are still not flexible enough, so we will setup my steamer tomorrow to steam them into place. After the steamed wood dries out we will glue the laminations back into one solid piece.

 

John McCallum

 

cache/wst.opf.739275.xml

   http://www.applegateboatworks.com/coastal.html
Please visit Applegate Boatworks to view other Northwestern Coastal Canoes that John and his crew have made. Their authentic design and incorporation of modern construction methods is unmatched!

cache/wst.opf.739249.xml
Web Hosting Companies