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It's very nice here but am I in the wrong place?

Discussion in 'Guestbook' started by anadem, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. anadem

    anadem New Member

    I'm hoping to build a very lightweight skin-on-frame canoe as my first real boat-making. (I helped my daughter build "the six hour canoe" as her eighth-grade school project.) Despite advice to the contrary I'm not going to buy a kit or "full" plans, but will work from the Têtes de Boule Hunter’s Canoe plan from and "wing it", altering things for SOF instead of cedar strip. I may regret it but want the experience.

    Is there anywhere that lists the comparative qualities of different woods for canoes? I'm aiming to use white oak and ash, and perhaps redwood, but wondering whether Douglas fir might be a substitute.

    Is there a more appropriate forum for my dumb questions?

  2. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Welcome, Alan--

    No such thing as dumb questions here, and someone who really knows will appear and be helpful.

    I-- who have never built a canoe-- can only say that the ones I own and know-about are largely constructed of cedar, with trim made of a hardwood such as the oak and ash you mention. That's just my $0.02-worth, and a big hello and congratulations on the project with your daughter. Boats are a wonderful family-project!

  3. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Alan – welcome!

    I think you will be very disappointed building the Tȇtes de Boule Hunter canoe using SOF construction, using Bryan Hansel’s plan which is designed for fiberglass sheathed strip construction.

    The Hunter canoe is an interesting boat, and from printed descriptions, is a good paddler. I would expect Hansel’s plans could lead to a fine, if unusual, strip-built canoe.

    But the shape of that canoe, curving sharply up at the ends, makes it particularly poor choice for a SOF canoe.
    Adney and Chapelle describe the characteristic Tȇtes de Boule canoe shape: “straight along the bottom for better than half the length and then rose rather quickly toward the ends. Similarly, the sheer was moderate amidships and increased toward the ends.”

    If you look at the designs of SOF canoes of Platt Monfort (Geodesic Designs), S. Jeff Horton (Kudzu Craft, author of Fuselage Frame Boats), Dave Gentry ( ), and Robert Morris (author of Skin of Frame Boats), they are all characterized by very modestly curved sheer lines and modest (if any) rocker. Neither the sheer nor the bottom of their boats rise “rather quickly” towards the ends.

    Gunwales, stringers, and keels, if curved, will tend over time to try to straighten out. And the more the curve, the stronger the tendency. The planking of a wood/canvas or a strip-built canoe, and the planking and bark of a bark canoe, will resist this tendency, and the canoe, properly built, will hold its shape, maintaining the curve of the sheer and of the entire hull, because the curve is built into the entire fabric of such hulls.

    A SOF hull, by contrast, has only thin, extremely flexible cloth to resist the tendency of the curved gunwales, stringers, and keel to straighten themselves out – meaning that there is nothing to offer resistence – and as a result, the hull will want to hog, that is, curve up in the middle and down at the ends – developing what you might call reverse rocker. The gunwales may, and should be, steam bent to give some curvature to the sheer and keel, but I would be very leery of attempting the generous curvature of the Hunter’s lines in a SOF canoe.

    Morris has some discussion of this in his book, which is out of print and very hard to come by, but you really out to read it (get it from your library, on inter-library loan if needs be) if you are going to try to wing it in adapting an existing plan designed for some other construction method.

    I think you would be much better off with Platt Monfort’s Nimrod 12 or Snow Shoe Lassie or Snow Shoe 12. Monfort’s designs are generally well regarded.

    You also might look at Tom Hill’s ultralight designs, which might be adapted to SOF construction.

    If you prefer to modify a classic non-SOF design for SOF construction, I think you would be better off looking at Rushton’s Wee Lassie, Nessmuck, or other all-wood canoes (not his w/c Indian Girl) – the all-wood canoes generally have modestly curved hull lines.

    I think also, that you should consider a canoe a bit larger than Hunter – a boat that short is quite specialized and limited in its uses – a canoe of 12-14 feet long will be much more versatile, and being built SOF, will be light and not difficult to handle – your daughter should have no trouble with the slightly larger size.

    But again, I would really discourage using the Tȇtes de Boule Hunter canoe design as the basis for a skin on frame canoe. I don’t know why others have discouraged you from building a skin on frame canoe without full plans, because I think that it can be done IF you have done the proper research and preparation and have some sense of the quirks and limitations of the chosen method of building. Wanting experience is one thing, but walking straight into a bad experience is something else. Building a kit, or building from plans designed for your building method can give you good experience that provides a basis for later experiments. But in any event, you will be much less likely to have a bad experience if your design is suitable for the method of construction you have chosen.

    As to woods – oak and ash, especially if green, are good bending woods. White oak, very rot resistant, is much preferred for boat building over red oak. Ash has a tendency to begin to rot and blacken. Rot is generally not a major concern if you do not intend to leave your boat in the water for any length of time, and SOF canoes are generally not kept in the water. Redwood is very rot resistant, but it is very brittle, splintery, and does not bend readily at all (and almost all the wood in a SOF boat gets bent). Spruce, fir, Douglas fir are all good for the stringers and gunwales, are generally lighter in weight, but like most soft woods, do not steam bend as readily as oak or ash.

    We would welcome your reports on your project as you proceed, telling us about your progress, identifying your difficulties, and announcing your success when your canoe is finished. And we love pictures.

    You certainly "belong here", and as to the “proper” forum, we are not sticklers here, but probably the “miscellaneous” forum would get you the best visibility for discussions of SOF canoes.

  4. Scot T

    Scot T LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Another resource for good SOF designs. If you purchase plans he supplys access to an online video collection that is very helpful.

    I believe (I'm not positive) he was a partner with Robert Morris in a Grandville Island shop in Vancouver BC Canada. His methods are very similar in any case.

    BTW you can still find the Morris book in used book stores occassionally. Or from on line sellers but they seem to go for anywhere between $125.00 and $725.00. I'd look at the used book stores...

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