Bending Ribs in Mark's Garage

Jim Okkema

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Way back in January a few of us met at Mark Morrall's place in Northern Illinois to help bend ribs on his latest all wood masterpiece. It was a great way to satisfy the canoe jones while the water was frozen. Here are some pictures.
extreme vaporizer
Lovely Wendie99


  • IMG_0661 (2).JPG
    IMG_0661 (2).JPG
    44.7 KB · Views: 1,143
  • IMG_0662 (2).JPG
    IMG_0662 (2).JPG
    42.1 KB · Views: 1,144
  • IMG_0664 (2).JPG
    IMG_0664 (2).JPG
    33.3 KB · Views: 1,138
  • IMG_0666 (2).JPG
    IMG_0666 (2).JPG
    36.2 KB · Views: 1,155
Last edited:


  • IMG_0675 (2).JPG
    IMG_0675 (2).JPG
    44.3 KB · Views: 992
  • IMG_0674 (2).JPG
    IMG_0674 (2).JPG
    42 KB · Views: 950
  • IMG_0668 (2).JPG
    IMG_0668 (2).JPG
    36 KB · Views: 1,060
  • IMG_0667 (2).JPG
    IMG_0667 (2).JPG
    33.3 KB · Views: 1,012
Last edited:
Nice Shots...

Nice shots, JIm...

Only two sentences and eight pictures... Now that's a thread, Eh?

Welcome back to reality...
Here is an attempt to post some pictures.


  • all those tacks to clinch over!.jpg
    all those tacks to clinch over!.jpg
    27.7 KB · Views: 1,083
  • long shot.jpg
    long shot.jpg
    85.4 KB · Views: 1,074
  • side shot.jpg
    side shot.jpg
    29.4 KB · Views: 1,146
It Worked!

My wife and I "birthed" it off the mold a few days ago. Now comes the daunting task of clinching the tacks.
This is a solo canoe, 15' x 29".
Thanks Mark and Jim.

Mark, very nice work. But how about some details?

What design? what woods, is it laped or T+G or??

What seals the strips?

This is appealing. :)

Hi Dan
I build my canoes much the same way they used to around Peterburough years ago. The strips are 1/4" thick, butt joined at the keelson, sealed with compound. From there they are joined by a 5/16" rabbeted lap. Each strip is tapered towards the ends,starting at 1 13/16" in the center down to 1 1/8" at the stems. The laps are held with copper tacks going through the joint then through each rib. When you clinch the tack over the joint becomes very tight, no need for any type of sealer. The ribs are 5/8" x 5/16" half round, made of elm. The planking is red cedar, the keelson, stems, and seat are ash. The gunwale is white oak. Decks are butternut, with the thwarts and accent strips being sycamore. The finish is just marine varnish, and lots of it.
As for the model, it started as lines off a Stewart River solo canoe. To make it work as a cedar strip I had to take out some of the tumblehome, otherwise it wouldn't have come off the mold. Unlike a cedar canvas, I have to plank it all the way to the sheerline while it is on the mold. I also added a bit more rocker.
Mark Morrall
Thanks Mark,

I've thought from time to time over the years about building an all wood canoe, vs restoring the W/C, sure is tempting. :)

Do you have to have the keelson? or could it be removed?

Nice work!

You don't see too many of these coming off the forms these days. I'm very interested in the mould. When you nail the planks to the ribs, obviously the nail points come through. Are the driven into the mould? and then you need to pry all of them out in order to get the canoe off? I've seen some old moulds at the CCM, and they are pretty chewed up at position. Did you find any technical resources? or did you have to reverse engineer the process from scraps of info? I've restored a few of these old boats, so am quite well acquainted with them.
Thanks Douglas.
Tha tacks protrude only about 3/16" into the mold. The pine stripping of the mold released the tips pretty easy when I pull the canoe off. The grooves you see in the old molds comes from years worth of tacks scratching, going into it.
I was very lucky to obtain a lengthy, detailed, video Walter Walker made of himself building a canoe in his basement. I'm sworn to secrecy as to where I got it. Maybe someday it can be made public, but when is not for me to say.
The video is the only detailed source I have ever been able to find.

I've never built one without the inner keelson, it could be done I guess, it would weaken the bottom some what. It might be worth trying.

Thanks Mark,

Now you've gotten me all fired up about building a longitudinal strip canoe! Great, one more thing on the list... I think that'll need to be reincarnated as myself to finish the list.

I figured that the nails just when into the sheathing. I understand the rest of the process from working on the original canoes. That video shoulds like a treasure. No way to get "special dispensations" about making it available to qualified recipients?

Of course, you could also document your own building with a free conscience! I would greatly appreciate seeing photos which show details of the mould, if and when you ever get time to do so.

Keep up the good work!

Thanks Mark,

Hmmm, a video, and Dave promised to buy me a beer if I came down next year. If you would play the tape I'm there. :)

But, yes, I like Doug's comment about making your own when you build one.
Sure'd be nice if you did ahve somebody tape you on the next canoe.

Here are the means of holding the ribs in place. I put one end of the rib into the solid half round hole, bend it over the mold, then flip the catch over to hold it down on the other side.


  • newest canoe 001.jpg
    newest canoe 001.jpg
    67.9 KB · Views: 750
  • newest canoe 002.jpg
    newest canoe 002.jpg
    61.7 KB · Views: 764
Notice the slot to hold the keelson.
I've been toying with the idea of making my own video, maybe in the fall when I start buiding another.
I'm curently looking for long, clear, wide lengths of basswood or white cedar.
It needs to be 6" x 12' or longer, with straight vertical grain. I want to try my hand at building a board and batten canoe. If any of you have a source, please let me know. The wood has to be of the very best quality, perfect.


  • newest canoe 003.jpg
    newest canoe 003.jpg
    75.1 KB · Views: 755