Cape Falcon 66: Spreaders and Kerfs

After all that measuring I took a bit of time to play. First, I wanted to play with spreaders in different positions. Brian instructs builders to screw the spreaders to the gun’ls, but I didn’t want to. I have a visceral reaction to punching holes in my carefully laminated sticks, so I came up with a bracket system, which evolved from its first iterations to these cleverly gated arrangements that not only allow me to move the spreader back and forth so I can evaluate different asymmetries, but also keep the gun’ls pretty securely perpendicular to the spreader while bending the ends together:

Yes, this was a ton more work than simply tacking the gun’ls and the spreaders together with screws. But I’m not (yet) in a hurry.

Kerfing the ends of the small boat didn’t go well. I get impatient with this step, and I tried using my circular saw to get the process started. Bad, bad idea. I ended up mangling the ends and had to repair them by first taking them back to my chop saw for a quick cleanup, to be followed with gluing matching wedges in place.

Kerfing and lashing for the rest of the boats went much more smoothly. I’ve discovered a few things about this process:

  1. The gun’ls should be in the upward-curving position. Not sure why, but the ergonomics don’t work as well for me if I try to do this with the gun’ls curving down.
  2. I need extra bracing. My body mechanics and muscle memory don’t work unless I can rest my saw against my thumb knuckle while starting a cut, so I can’t spare a hand to pull the material together and keep it aligned.
  3. If I don’t have something to catch the saw on the other side of the kerf, I will cut my hand off. This is an established fact.

I lashed each end as I went, rather than separating this step out. I find both the kerfing and the lashing to be a bit tedious, so it helps my work to alternate these steps: a little bit of kerfing, and little bit of lashing, and so on.

With all the ends kerfed and lashed, and center spreaders installed, I’m setting these aside to lay out and cut stems.

Cape Falcon 66: Playing with Shape

This is when I really need to settle on a width. For now, I’m thinking 25” for the smallest, and 29.5 for the largest. I need to get a sense of how these look, so I’ve set things up to see all four canoes together.

The cinder block in the center keeps the gun’ls oriented straight up and down. Without that they would flex out of square to the spreader. The shims give me a sense of the size of each canoe with a quarter or so inch of allowance for nesting. This is all very imprecise for now.

After looking at this, I’m still not sure. When I built my first canoe, I was worried about it being big enough. It was big enough, and even maybe bigger than I wanted. So this time I’m worried about whether it’s too big. I want these to be absolutely no bigger than they have to be to do the job.

Cape Falcon 66: Cutting the Ends

Now that the gun’ls are mortised it’s time to trim them to length. Here’s the thing: the Ends to not get cut square to the tangent of the curve at the end point of the gun’l. Instead, the ends get cut square to the ground. To do this, Brian puts the gun’ls upside down on a long board, and slides his combination square against the board. I don’t like this for a couple of reasons:

  1. I don’t have, and don’t want to take the trouble of getting, a board 15′ long that I can count on being straight for the full length of my horses. If I’d built a strongback for this project, then that would be a different story. But I didn’t, so…
  2. The ends of my gun’l are ragged, and I didn’t set things up so that I would have exactly the same amount of waste at either end of the gun’l. If one end has more waste than the other, then that would mean that the line from end to end does not sit parallel to the line from one end of the trimmed gun’l to the other.

I may be overthinking it on (2) but there’s still (1) to think about. So this is what I did:

  1. Mark center on a board that was shorter than my shortest set of gun’ls.
  2. Level the board on horses.
  3. Clamp a square at the center point of the board. This carries the center upward, making it easy to align the gun’l center mark to center on the board.
  4. Clamp a plumb bob at the end.
  5. Line a square up to the string, and strike a line.

I have to say, this worked beautifully. And if one didn’t have a proper plumb bob, one could use a bag of nails tied to a string, or anything really. (I pulled my plumb bob out of my grandfather’s toolbox, which I inherited when my grandmother died.)

I’m pretty good with my saw, but I felt like cleaning up the ends just a tad.