Racine "laminated" canoe

Ken Cupery

Fan of the 19th Century
In the 1880's Racine made a canoe laminated from sheets of what appears to have been a thick veneer. I've seen them referenced a number of times in period publications. A brief article in Scientific American notes:

“It is made of birch, cherry, or cedar, according to the taste of the purchaser. Three sheets of the wood are cemented together with the grain of the inner sheet crossing the grain of the outer sheets, and the whole, while green, is pressed into the desired form under heavy pressure, making a body with but a single seam under the keel.”

Sort of a cold moulding process for that era.

I am guessing that the use of a 19th century glue in this environment may have consigned these craft to the same fate as Waters' paper canoes. That old devil moisture eventually won out. Hence, I'd expect to find few if any of this construction to have survived.

I've cast about for these craft in modern museums. Are there any out there that people know of? I must admit my interest is more academic than practical.

None in museums that I know of.

Steve Wheeler's article in Wooden Canoe suggested the glue used was "cattle glue" or hide glue - a superior glue for many things and commonly used in veneer work, but definitely not waterproof, or even water resistant.
I have seen formulas quoted in 19th century literature for making hide glue "waterproof". One was to expose it to fumes from formaldehyde(!). Another glue recipe describes a "waterproof" glue made by dissolving shellac and India rubber in ether. So there were apparently some things supposedly better than simple hide glue.

However…. "waterproof" was a was a pretty subjective word in those days, (i.e. no ASTM standards), so I've no idea how well they actually worked. (And I'm not messing around with formaldehyde or ether to find out!) Perhaps the dearth of surviving Racine Canoes and Waters boats gives an empirical answer.

(I'll dig out Steve Wheeler's article. Thanks for the reference.)