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Discussion in 'Adirondack Guideboats' started by Gary Willoughby, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. Gary Willoughby

    Gary Willoughby Boat Builder

    Was wondering
    Does anyone dig stumps for ribs anymore ?
    Does it make a difference if you use Red or White Spruce ?
    How hard is it to find stumps ?
    Here in Michigan I can get White Pine and Nothern White Cedar, I don't know about Red Spruce.
    Next summer I am going to start looking for stumps I think that I might be able to find White Spruce.
  2. David McDaniel

    David McDaniel Canoe Dude

    Red Spruce only grows in the North East.

  3. John Michne

    John Michne Recovering stripper

    Next summer is six months away. If you could find and dig up a stump, then cut it into two-inch crooks, you would have to let them dry for two years before you could start building. If you made laminated ribs, you could build two or three boats during the same time. Laminated ribs are more consistent, are said to be stronger than sawn ribs, and don't look much different to the casual eye.
  4. JHomer

    JHomer Continuing the Tradition

    There are a few guideboat builders that still build boats using the traditional methods. I have attached Jim Camerons web site below for your review. I have dug one stump out and can say its not an easy task. I went through a couple chains for my saw as well. The stumps are hard to find anymore due to all the limitations on cutting timber these days unless you have your own land or know someone. I would research the strength data on the White Spruce before you go through all the digging and drying processes it takes to build a boat. You can go to this web site for further information.

    Guideboat Builders-

    Good Luck
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  5. Joe Spadaro

    Joe Spadaro New Member


    I am a traditional guideboat buiulder in Saranac Lake. I learned the techniques after working for several summers in Carl Hathaway's shop. He purchased the original Willard Hanmer shop and was trained by him. Carl is one of the finest men I have ever met. He gives of his advice freely and it is always a pleasure to visit with him. Ralph Morrow was also a great help to me.

    I have built several boats copied from Vassar in Bloomingdale. (12,14 and 16 foot) The 12 footer I built on his design with white cedar weighs about 35 # which is remarkable when compared to the 12 ft Radison which also weighs 35# The 14footer was the worst boat I have ever used and I still do not know why. Just know that I will NEVER build another!

    My favorite all around both beautiful and practical is a 16 ft copied from a Waren Cole design. It is just about the most stable and forgiving boat that I have ever used.
    Working in Carl's shop I had the pleasure of checking several different builders design(Grant,Parson,Vassar,Rice,Hanmer and Hathaway). From my limited experience it is the best.

    White spruce works well. I usually find a local lumbering project and seek out the lumberman and ask that he leave about a foot of the stump above ground. It often takes several min to get him to agree as 12" high stump tends to tip pover skidders. Digging out anything in the Adirondacks is often discouraging especially in black fly season. You have to really love your project.

    I have patterns for several Vassar and Cole design which I will share with anyone interested. I also heve a written guide for the construction of the Warren Cole that I will share. I am glad to share my knowledge without compensation as an expression of my gratitude to Carl Hathaway and Ralph Morrow.

    July 1,2012 should be a guideboat dreamer's wish as a large variety of builders will be present.

    See the posting by John Michne on this site. John is a very skilled and helpful builder and has written a book on his technique. He has graceously shared many ideas with me.

    I am currently building an all cedar Cole boat and will post pictures of my progress on this site.

    I wish I could find a source of clear,quarter sawn, northern white cedar. Any ideas out there?

    Good luck to all.

    Joe Spadaro
    Saranac Lake
  6. OP
    Gary Willoughby

    Gary Willoughby Boat Builder

    Joe I don't know what to tell you about finding quater sawn cedar. Here in Michigan we have a lot of cedar, But I have not had much luck finding quater sawn I have bought, sold or used around eight thousand bd ft of cedar and never found any quarter sawn. The saw mills I deal with cut log cabin logs or landscape timbers and I have tried to get them when they get a clear log to saw all of it but no such luck. A friend told me about a mill near him that has piles of cedar logs and this summer I am going to buy the logs and have them sawn by a local bandsaw mill near me. Just hoping to get some clear lumber. My friend also has several White Spruce trees just might get me a stump or two.
  7. Lazy Jack

    Lazy Jack LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Are you building that Cole boat of WRC or Eastern White? I think it is Lewis Grant who found white cedar "too spongy" for planks...but he was but one builder. Are you going to beef up the scantlings for the cedar ribs?

    I look forward to watching photos of the progress
  8. Joe Spadaro

    Joe Spadaro New Member

    Lazy Jack.

    Northern white cedar is my material of choice for working ease and most importantly lightness. At 70 one can appreciate my rational. I agree that white cedar will absorbe water and expand but I have not had any problem. Several quality coats of good spar varnish seems to protect the wood just fine. Also no one leaves a wooden guideboat in the water anymore and I cannot imagine anyone sitting in a guideboat for more than 8 hours. If they do I bet they have a hell of a time getting out.

    On the subject of the expansion of wet white cedar consider this fact. Years ago locals would use a star drill to drill a hole in rocks and then plug it with a dry cedar plug. Amazing fact is that the expansion of the plug when wet would split the rock. The locals called the process "plug and feather"

    Ribs will be of white spruce root stock 7/16"(-). If I could get cedar root stock I would surely use it. Any hunter who got slapped in the face by a cedar limb and then tried to retaliate found that it is stronger tan steel. I am even thinking of making seats and cleats and deck beams of cedar. After all is said and done I hope to set a record for the lightest 16 foot traditional guideboat ever built!

    I reall what Carl Hathaway always said to me "The Lord hates a Coward"



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