Which First: Restoration or Form? Chicken or Egg?

Scot T

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Finally getting my new shop to myself after the contractor that is doing renos on our house clears his mess out...we won't get into how I feel about that particular "space invasion"!

Anyways, I have a beautiful 16' Greenwood that I will be working on as my winter restoration project. It suffered a snow laden tree limb falling on it a few winters ago (before I got it) so needs a few new ribs, planks and a couple thwarts. As well as new varnish and canvas. Nothing particularly difficult, just basic stuff.

I love the lines of this boat so I plan to make a building form from it and build a few copies. Which leads to my question.

All you folks out there that make forms from existing canoes (that needed repairs as this one does). What is the sequence you like to follow to complete both projects? Would you restore the canoe then take the lines and build the form? Or would you proceed the other way, take the lines, build the form then use the form to assist in the repairs? And why did you choose the method/sequence you did.

I have my own ideas from restoring antique classical guitars and making copies of them but I'd like to hear others opinions and experiences.
Chicken or egg

I say restore first, form later. The chances that the form will be an exact replica of your boat down to the n'th degree are slim. If you try to build a form first and then restore the old canoe over the new form I would think you'd end up with more lumps in it than if you just restored the canoe on it's own. That's just my sense of it though I'm sure others have various opinions
Depends upon how badly the original ribs are. If not too bad, then I'd repair first. Then you can use the canoe while you do the significant job of building the form. If the ribs are pretty shot, and you're planning on making the form anyway, then I'd go for building the form first.

But really, it comes down to how long you figure that it'll take you to finish the form...
on the other hand. if you get the canoe finished first you may never get around to wanting to tackle the form. if it was me i'd get the form done then tackle the canoe closer to spring when you can do the filling of the canvas in warmer weather.:D
It all depends on the shape of the canoe (and I do mean shape, not condition). If you assume the canoe is symmetrical side-to-side and end-to-end, which is almost always the case for w/c canoes, then you need only take the lines from 1/4 of the canoe. If you have 1/4 that has held its shape and is still fair, you've got something to work with.

Otherwise, you need to spend a lot of time fairing your lines during lofting, and you may end up with a shape that is not quite the same as your original. If you try to build a mold over which to restore the canoe, it may not fit when you are done, and if you didn't accomadate rib springback when building your mold, your new canoes will have a slightly more rounded bottom than the original.

So, IMO, if you want to build new canoes, take the lines off the old canoe and do that. Whether you take the lines before or after restoration depends on how out of shape your hull is, and if it is, if you can get it back into shape. But, I would think that trying to build a mold over which to restore could become an excercise in frustration.

I would restore the damaged canoe to the best I can first -- or at least far enough so that I can take some station lines to start the form as the restoration proceeds. You can always tweek the stations as the restoration advances and before you assemble them on the strongback.

I personally like to jump from one unfinished project to another, particularly if I run into a snag on one. Gives me time to think about what got me to the snag while still accomplishing something.

Best of luck, and please, make sure you post pics of your new shop.