Woodstrip Canoe Build – Redbird 17

I took a break from blogging back in 2010, but always wanted to add this to my blog. A friend of mine saw a a photo of a wood strip canoe on my desk one day and asked if I could make him one. It was a Bear Mountain Boats, Redbird 17. I agreed that I would, bought the plans, and got to work.

To make the stems, you bend, glue and clamp the wood strips around the end forms.

Bending, clamping, gluing the stems around the end forms

Bending, clamping, gluing the stems around the end forms

You need to build a strongback, which is the box looking support, and then cut out a series of forms which make the pattern  for the boat shape. It looks like a giant mushroom farm. Keep in mind, that the boat is built upside down.

With the strongback box leveled I installed the forms which defines the shape of the hull

With the strongback box leveled I installed the forms which defines the shape of the hull

Since I have a table saw and router table, I was able to cut the wood strips from 17 foot, knot-free, boards I bought from a fencing company. Then, I milled the bead and cove into each strip. Getting the first strip just right was a little stressful.

Getting the first strip in place

Getting the first strip in place

I could staple the strips in place like I did on my Mill Creek 13 custom wood strip deck, but I liked the idea of having no staple holes when it’s done. Given all of the clamps, the process can be a little slow however, it gave me a little time to think about adding some detail.

Making progress and adding some detail

Making progress and adding some detail

Further along . . . .

Here I'm about a third of the way along with adding strips

Here I’m about a third of the way along with adding strips

Close to closing the hull . . . .

Here I am adding the last strips to close the hull

Here I am adding the last strips to close the hull

With the stripping complete and having sanded the hull, it’s about time for fiberglass and epoxy.

The wood strip part is complete

The wood strip part is complete

Many people don’t realize that boats like this are wrapped in fiberglass and epoxy, for strength. The fiberglass cloth is white, but when the epoxy is added it becomes transparent. Pretty cool stuff.

Here the entire boat is covered in a white fiberglass cloth. The left half has the epoxy added

Here the entire boat is covered in a white fiberglass cloth. The left half has the epoxy added

Adding the gunwales required some steam bending, scarf joints and lots and lots of clamps. I used all of my clamps, regardless of type, and borrowed even more.

Clamping one of the gunwales

Clamping one of the gunwales

Here we are prior to final finishing . . . .

Just before final finishing

Just before final finishing

And the following are the finished product. I began in February and ended in early July of 2010, though I did take vacation for two weeks along the way, plus my second son graduated high school that year and we were busy with that as well. I’m really happy with the result.

The Bear Mountain Boats, Redbird 17

The Bear Mountain Boats, Redbird 17

Looking at the end detail of the Redbird 17

Looking at the end detail of the Redbird 17

And, it got some use in August on the Labyrinth Canyon section of the Green River in Utah.

One month after complete the Redbird 17 was on the Green River in Utah

One month after complete, the Redbird 17 was on the Green River in Utah

I just like making stuff.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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3 comments on “Woodstrip Canoe Build – Redbird 17

  1. kayakyrstin says:

    That’s beautiful!! You did an amazing job and made it look so clean and easy. Incredible.

    Like

    • sklcolorado says:

      Thanks! I thought I’d post it because it is such an interesting process. It was pretty challenging at times so I didn’t mean to make it look too easy. For example, I remember spending three consecutive evenings trying to interpret the plans and a description in a canoe book. Eventually, I figured it out, but not without going to bed each night asking, “What am I doing wrong?” Adding the wood strips was probably the easiest part. Making the inner and outer halves of the ash gunwales, was probably the most difficult. Especially, because I made the scallop cuts in the inner halves with a curved-sole spoke-shave, that is, without the help of any power tools. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

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