Canoe Building Time-Line

Prepare Site – Day One Set up building platform, tables, tank, heater
Prepare Root – Day One & Day Two Insert in pot, bring to boil and let sit for 3 hours Split Remove bark
Prepare Thwarts – Day Three Carve
Prepare Gunwales – Day Three Bevel Inside Gunwale Laminate Ends Bend Ends
Prepare Stem Pieces – Day Three Carve Laminate Bend
Prepare Sheathing – Day Four Split blanks down for ribs and sheathing Make sheathing blanks and then soak them Pick out the various pieces and where they will go Soak it
Prepare Ribs – Day Five Split rib blanks Carve ribs
Final prep of root and sheathing – Day Five Final split and trim of sheathing pieces. (Carve as necessary to get all pieces consistent in thickness) Do final prep of sheathing – get each root consistent in size with all others
Roll-out Bark – Day Six Weight it down Cut gores Bring up sides Insert side panels Stake into place Check
Stitch – Day Seven & Eight Mark line Mark holes Peg Stitch Insert Gunwales – Day Nine Release inside stakes Insert gunwales Height Sticks Clamp Check
Lash Gunwales – Days Nine & Ten Peg Lash (to end thwart)
Insert Stems – Day Eleven Peg one side Trim bark Peg other Trim half way Remove Frame
Insert Permanent Thwarts – Day Twelve Make Mortise Insert Peg
Turn-up and Lash Gunwale Ends – Day Twelve Make cardboard template
Trim bark Lash Do fancy lashing at end of gunwales or do bark deck
Bend Ribs – Day Thirteen Bend Install binder Leave to dry
Pitch Inside – Day Fourteen Prepare canvas Mark all inside holes with felt pen Pitch Cover w/canvas
Insert Ribs and Sheathing – Day Fourteen
Insert Ashleaf or man-board – Day Fourteen Carve
Fit Apply Gunwale Cap – Day Fifteen Make Pegs Drill & Fit Lash ends
Pitch outside – Day Fifteen Prepare pitch Pitch
Test – Day Fifteen Place on saw horses Add about an inch of water Go underneath canoe and mark with pencil any leaks (slosh water around to check all necessary areas) Pitch as needed

(NOTE: Please see the stages of building for added information.)

From the birch tree, comes the bark; from the spruce, pliant roots; from the cedar, the ribs, planking and gunwales; and from a variety of natural sources, the sealing pitch. A typical birch bark canoe consists of selected high grade birch bark, over 35 hand-split cedar ribs, 50 wafer-thin cedar sheathing, full-length gunwales and pegged caps, deck ends, birch thwarts, about 500 feet of spruce root lacing, and two quarts of spruce gum/bear fat waterproofing. Depending on the materials used, a 14-foot canoe can take between 30 and 50 hours to complete. This time commitment requires dedication. A birch bark canoe is inherently beautiful. The canoe connects us not only to past cultures but reminds us of the importance of nature in our lives.

Balance. Harmony. Grace.

Estimated time involved is 3 weeks.

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