Wood ordered for Micmac


Curious about Wooden Canoes
My wife and I are building a 17' Micmac and just placed our order for Cedar. The supplier we found had 5/4 x 12" (finishes to 1" thick) x 10' long pieces of red cedar at $10ish bucks per linear foot. Seemed like a reasonable price and we were able to split shipping as a friend is ordering some Spruce for airplane spars at the same time. I used Hazens book and figured 40 board feet of cedar would be plenty with 3/4" strips. This lumber will give us 1" thick strips if we want and we are going to get four 10' timbers so we should have plenty of extra for screw ups. Also, we'll get good at scarfing for the longer pieces.

Any opinions on using 1" strips vs. 3/4" strips. Our friends wood shop where will cut the strips and bead and cove them has the capability of planing the boards down to 3/4" if we want. But at 10 bucks/foot I really hate to turn a bunch of wood into sawdust if it is not necessary.
I've only used 3/4" strips, so I'm only speculating. The 1" strips might not give you curves as fair as the 3/4" ones, but then that would get taken up with sanding, so I don't know if it would any difference. Hopefully get somemore feedback soon!
On a relatively long canoe like the Micmac without abrupt changes in shape, I think you could get away with 1" wide strips, but 3/4" are easier to twist into place.
We always built Micmacs with 3/4" strips, so I can't say for sure whether 1" strips will be harder to work with. I can tell you that if you use the football stripping pattern suggested by Hazen, any problems will likely just be with the first few side strips, next to the football. I'm not really worried about them forming the proper hull shape, but those are the strips which tend to get the most edge-set (sideways bend) and a 1" wide strip resists edge-set somewhat more than a 3/4" wide strip will. The best way to find out ahead of time would be to bend a couple of test strips over the forms and see how they do. We know that the football section on a 17' Micmac should extend 13.25" out from center on each side of the middle station and taper out in a nice, fair curve toward the stems. Make a few marks on the stations to represent the edges of the football once you get the strongback and forms set up. Then take a 1" strip and see how well it will bend to fit the curve. If it resists a lot and wants to buckle between forms, it might be worth trimming those first few strips on each side down to 3/4" width. The first strip, next to the football on each side will need to be beveled on its ends to cleanly meet the football's edge. None of the other strips on a 17' Micmac usually need any beveling with this stripping method.

One thing that's a good idea if you use the football method is to mark some sort of consistent level line about half-way up the sides on all of the forms using the plan and before you mount them on the strongback. This method tends to produce hulls with fairly level wooden stripes down their sides. However, the arc of the sheer line and the visual weight of the outwale on the finished boat often tend to create a bit of an optical illusion. You can have a dead level pattern of side strips and the sheer curve can make it look like the strips sag downward at their ends. For that reason, we usually stripped our side strips with a little bit (1"-1.5" or so) of smoothly curving, upward sweep at their ends (downward sweep as you're stripping the upside-down hull). The level reference line on the forms can be very handy once you start stripping the sides. It's a subject for another day, but the line needs to be marked early in the process.
Hi Tony, I don’t think I would scarf. Butt joints should work out good, just stagger the joints. Use the 1 inch but leave some without bead and cove. I think going around the chine area (curve from side to bottom) might be easier to do by beveling with a hand plane. It’s a pretty sharp radius and the bead and cove may leave a gap on the outside. If you find that the bead and cove behaves well then you can always add the bead and cove later but even then leave a few straight for final strips.

Are you going to do a football as Hazen did or strip all the way to the center? I chose the latter but there are several very knowledgeable members, I believe Todd for example, who have done the football. I personally was intimidated by it and thought it would be easier to start at the shear and work all the way up. In the end I am happy with the decision. I found that using a Kugihiki saw from Lee Valley Tools made every part of stripping and doing the herringbone bottom easy, almost fun. I can’t imagine doing the stripping without one.

Be careful to align the inside edges in the area 4 feet from each stem in the chine area. Actually, it’s all chine in that area and tight because the stem form is close. It is a bear to sand a smooth curve if you don’t. Paul is right, the 1 inch strips may make it a bit more difficult but not enough to worry about in my opinion. If you are using 1/4 inch thick strips you should have lots of sanding material if you are careful.

Don’t fret it everything will go well. I think if I was doing bead and cove I would start cove up, a trough to hold the glue.:)

I used a thin kerf 0.068" 7 1/4 saw blade to cut strips and prevent creating so much sawdust. I also used a circular saw with an 18 inch fence. On a 12 inch board you will gain lots of strips with one. Worth the investment, I paid 10 bucks for one.

Good luck, Matthew

Thanks Matt,

I think we'll scarf the boards together first and then cut the strips. My friend with the wood shop is a master at scarfing (does a lot of wood airplane and glider repair) and it should be able to be barely visibile when we're done. Butt joints would probably work OK but IMO would be butt ugly (ba dum ching).

Haven't decided on the actual technique for stripping. I figured that RTFM was a pretty good approach for our first canoe, so i guess I have more reading to do :)

Yes we're planning on 1/4 inch thick strips. What I've read here and elsewhere is to put the cove down so you have something solid on top to press on as you work your way up, vs putting pressure on the weak edges of a cove.

I hear you on the thinnest blade we can get. Our friend currently has a 3/32" blade. Maybe we can find a narrower one. I know i'm going to make a lot of mistakes and i want to make sure i have plenty of extra strips...
Don’t fret it everything will go well. I think if I was doing bead and cove I would start cove up, a trough to hold the glue.:)
Good luck, Matthew

I wouldn't recommend that. If you're building stapled or staple-less, this means that your fragile cove is "up". This can easily be damaged as you pull on it to staple or clamp it in place. You can protect this area by using short sections of dowel or scraps of strip that have an edge cut square as a pad, but it is just as easy to do with the cove down.

We have a pair of blocks that have 1/4"+ slots in them to hold the strip cove up on a bench or even mounted on the patterns. We use a 2oz poly bottle with a nozzle tip (available from McMaster and others...) for glue application - almost a perfect bead for stripping. Then quickly flip and apply the strip to the building hull and clamp or staple as desired. Works just fine.

Yeah, those Freud Diablo 7-1/4" thin kerf blades work well for ripping cedar! While they're not the world's best blades, the do the trick and don't waste much more stock than some bandsaw blades.
Back when I started building strippers (1973-ish) we didn't have bead and cove strips. We used square-edged strips and it worked just fine. I haven't ever built a canoe with B&C strips and can't really see any reason that I would use them today. Personally, I think the "need" for them, has been blown way out of proportion - and mostly by people who have no experience building without them. They assume that there will be some sort of big gaps between the square-edged strips and that simply isn't the case. As I mentioned above, we would build a Micmac and the only strips on the entire boat that needed beveling were the two strips that met the football at the bottom of the sides. All the other joints were square edge to square edge.

It's a bit hard to see in this shot because I currently have the varnish sanded off of this canoe and you're looking through 10 oz. cloth, but this is a very tight chine curve area where a flat bottom (5/16" strips in the upper part of the photo) meets a flatish, flared side (1/4" strips in the lower part of the shot). The boat is upside down and the edge of the football is about 1"-1.5" down from the top of the picture. The chine curve starts right below that and all the strips are square-edged and unbeveled. As you can see, there are no gaps between the strips and that's a tighter curve that you'll likely ever need to strip on a typical canoe. If you think B&C strips will make it easier for you to build a nice boat, by all means use them - but don't believe for a second that they are required for building a great stripper.


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I never tried a glue gun for the actual stripping, but always used one to help secure the forms to the strongback. On big boats they were bolted on and then had a bead of hot glue around the bases to make sure the forms couldn't move. On a few small boats, the hot glue beads were all that was holding the forms to the strongback. Give them a good sharp tap with a mallet once the stripping and outside glassing was done and the forms would come off with the hull.
we got our wood in last week. Now more opinion needed. The distributor said he had flat sawn cedar and that is what we asked for. One or two of the boards came flat sawn but the rest are quarter sawn. So tell me, does it really matter? Seems to me it is mostly a looks thing and I think even with the quarter sawn there will still be enough grain on the "flats" of the strips to make them look OK.
Mostly it is a looks sort of thing. The other issue you may notice is a difference in the bending and torsional stiffness of the different grain directions, but generally being such a small strip, it isn't a big deal.

I find that I can have problems with strips ripped from stock that has really flat, but not tight grain - they grain tends to "run" a bit as you cove and bead it and looks hairy. Sharp cutters and relatively slow feed helps. You can also dampen the strip's cove edge with a sponge set on the infeed, too.