New Member


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hi Guys!
I have just joined the forum so I thought it would be polite to introduce myself. My name is John Lamb and I am based in Scotland, UK.
I am just starting my first stripper, a 16 ft Prospector (sort of) using plans from the english company Selway Fisher. I am using 6 x 18 WRC strips and I would value some advice on the length and gauge of staples to use. Is there some rule of thumb like "twice the plank thickness" or whatever? Hope this isn't a stupid question.
match the staple to the wood

Hi JLamb, although you do not need advanced engineering to make this choice, it is actually a very good question. There is only one thing more frustrating than having staples that are too short and keep pulling out of the forms, and that is staples that are too long which won't pull out when you want them to.

A lot depends on what you use for your forms. I typically like to use MDF so I need to have at least 1/2 in staples in order to get a good bite. However, when I used Plywood forms I used to use 3/8 in so that they would be easier to pull out.

When you get to a stubborn part of the boat where staples just won't do the trick, then get yourself a small 1/4" thick block of hardwood with a hole drilled in the middle the size of a finish nail. Then use a finish nail and drive it where the staples won't hold the strips to the forms. Don't drive it home, you won't need to.

Bottom line is neither one is wrong but if you choose right now you will save yourself a lot of irritation and frustration.

good luck.
Staple sizes

Thanks for your quick response. I am using 3/4 MDF and I thought 1/2 long
staples would be OK but it's good to get a second opinion. Any thoughts on
gauge and profile? I know that staples come in wide and narrow crown
profiles, round or flat crown, and you can get a range of wire gauges for
the same length staple. Is there a sort of industry standard for 1/4 inch
strippers or is it just a matter of "suck it and see"? I suppose in the end
it's a matter of personal preference and what works for you.

Minimize the damage

The gauge of the staples are pretty standard. They may vary slightly from one manufacturer to another but not so that you would notice.
The name of the game is to minimize the trauma to the wood both as you are putting staples in and taking them out.
The crown staples sound like a good Idea on the surface, but they will enlarge the holes as they go into the cedar. Cedar is a very soft wood so the crowns tend to tear at the hole as they go into the wood. On the upside, they are much easier to get out.
flat staples will make a clean entry however if you are not careful, you will do some real damage taking them out.
To take staples out I have found that absolutely nothing does the job like an old fashion tack puller. You may have never seen one of these before but it is like a tiny crowbar. If you can find one of these it is worth the effort. When you are pulling the staples use a pair of pliers or another tool with a padded handle as a fulcrum point to rest the puller on. This will give you leverage under the staple as well as save your knuckles. You will also break a bunch off so have a good set of diagonal cutters around to pull up the stragglers.

In the last 25 years I have learned one thing for sure. The best tool for pulling staples is distraction. Have your favorite beverage in hand, something playing on the radio and whenever you have a spare moment or two in the process, pull a few out here and there. There is no law that says they need to all come out at once.

Good luck
forgot something

I wanted to make a quick comment on your use of 3/4" MDF as the forms. I think that is a good choice as a working medium and I so use 3/4" on the stems but you may want to consider 1/2" on the body forms.
The 3/4" will play havoc as you bend the strips around depending on the design of the boat. As you get closer to the stems, you will probably find that you need to shape the forms in order to get a smooth bend. If you do need to do this I have found that nothing beats a belt sander and a steady hand. The other plus to using 1/2" over 3/4" is they are a lot lighter to work with and store for the next boat. ( And there will be a next boat).
Thank You

Thanks for all the info Jack. I really appreciate it. I will let you know how things progress.