Replacing and reinforcing side panels

02 Oct

Monday and Tuesday were days spent preparing the canoe for the addition of the gunwales. Wayne was apprehensive about the thickness of some of the birchbark that had been used for panels in the center part of the canoe.  Although the bark has two layers in some areas, in other places it is only one ply thick.  So making sure that that one piece is sufficiently thick, flexible, and durable is of great importance.  Wayne and crew removed several pieces, cut new replacements, and fitted those back in.

removing braces

The braces were removed so as to take out the panels that were too thin.

slotting new panel in

After the old panel had been removed, a new one was cut to size and carefully slotted in.

new panel slotted in

The new piece was then braced again from the outside and trimmed along the top.

replacements finished

The new panels in place, the canoe looks much as before, although it is now stronger and more reliable. Center panels bear a tremendous amount of weight and pressure, and making sure that the bark is of sufficient thickness and quality is an essential step.

On Tuesday, reinforcement strips were cut and applied to the upper portion of the canoe. These will be sandwiched in together with the other layer of birchbark between the three pieces of the gunwale assembly.  Wayne likes to use a zigzag pattern to make the bottom edge of the reinforcement piece more attractive to the viewer and to help insure that the piece does not curl up as it dries over time.  The reinforcement strips were anchored to the gunwale using a staple gun. These staples and the upper end of the pieces will be hidden within the gunwale assembly once that is installed.

preparing reinforcement strips

Strips of birchbark 3 1/2 inches long were cut out.

reinforcementstrips ready to install

A decorative zigzag pattern was cut out along the bottom of each strip.

reinforcement strips with pattern

The strips were then carefully applied along the gunwale.

reinforcement strips in place

The finished top is now reinforced and ready for the installation of the outer and top pieces of the gunwale assembly.

closeup on bark

Wayne noticed scratch marks on one piece of birchbark that were probably made by a bear long in the past.

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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Building the Canoe


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