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Rough cedar OK if bead and coving?

Discussion in 'Strippers, Stitch-n-Glue, and Other Wood Composite' started by helgin, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. helgin

    helgin Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi all,

    I just started building a strongback for my first strip canoe. Living in the northwest, I figured finding WRC would be pretty easy. But, after a few phone calls and a lot of surfing, the best I can find is clear cedar in random lengths up to 17' and rough cut on one side. I don't think the length is a problem, although full length would be nice. But, the rough side is there for use as siding (so the paint sticks) and of course I don't have a planer. I don't think the "roughness" is more than 1/16" of variation and the overall thickness seems very uniform.

    So first question, if I bead and cove, does it really matter than one side is slightly rough? If the boards are 7/8" thick and I setup the router's first operation to take it down to 3/4", won't I be fine? I wouldn't even ask, but I saw online someone mention planing and then b&c'ing, and planing seemed like an unnessary extra step to me unless the cedar was very very rough.

    Other question is, anyone in the PNW have a good source for clear cedar?

    thanks very much,
    Spokane, WA
  2. Canoez

    Canoez Paddle Bait

    Well, it shouldn't be a problem to remove the rough surface after ripping strips. I'd just be aware that running the rough surface against the fence might make the strips a bit wavy which isn't bad, but the visual results are not nice. (DAMHIKT)

    Keep the milled surface against the fence and let the cutter remove the rough stuff. Be careful in your set-up so that you're not removing more strip width than you want...
  3. Max Peterson

    Max Peterson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    In the interest of safety, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER run the material between the fence and the cutter on a shaper or a router. If you must, rip your strips to 3/4" on the table saw before doing the cove and bead. Better yet, find someone with a planer and give them a few bucks to plane the boards for you. You won't need that many boards so it won't take that long.
  4. Max Peterson

    Max Peterson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I probably reacted too strongly to this suggestion last night, but there is a real danger here. In general, don't run material between the fence and cutter on a router or shaper. There is a good chance, without sufficient featherboards or a power feeder, that material will get trapped and a serious kickback will occur. There is also the likelihood that material will pull away from the fence or up from the table shattering or kicking back and ruining the strip at best. I run a professional shop and learned this lesson the hard way many, many years ago. I'm sure that Canoez has a set-up that is well thought out and safe. I just don't want to see someone get hurt in their home shop because they lack the experience to really think through the dynamics of an operation.
  5. Canoez

    Canoez Paddle Bait

    I want to support Max's observation that there are situations where you should not do this.

    Large router cutters and shapers are prime examples - particularly with short sections of hardwood with difficult grain. Routers spin at upwards of 25,000 RPM and some shapers around 15-20,000 RPM. A large cutter provides a great deal of torque and can spit back chips, splinters or whole pieces of stock in the event of an accident. Raised panel cutters in particular come to mind where this would be a dangerous thing to do, but there are certainly other cutters I would not do this with.

    Proper use of featherboards or other anti-kickback devices is necessary with a set-up like this to protect the operator and to get good results. We've run literally thousands of feet of strips (miles, now, actually) through a set up with a router cutter making a cove at the fence and another cutter making the bead that is offset from the fence. We use lots of featherboards in this set-up and have operated it without incident for years.

    In any case, you should read and understand the safety information that comes with your tools and get proper instruction as to their use. It only takes a split-second with a bad set-up to ruin a lifetime of woodworking and paddling. Use care - we want to see you out there paddling that beautiful boat you're going to build. (and the next one... and the next one...)
  6. OP

    helgin Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the comments and concern guys. I understand the point about less safety in using the fence opposite the router bit. I'll probably need to get the wood and rip a couple strips on the table saw to figure out if I can just use the rough side against the fence. Like I said, the rough side doesn't seem that rough.

    Sounds like I have a few backup plans though: get someone to plane the boards, do a second table saw operation, or build at least a couple feather boards.

    thanks again,
  7. Max Peterson

    Max Peterson LOVES Wooden Canoes


    Get someone to plane the boards to clean, uniform thickness. It won't take long, they can do it in one pass, there aren't that many, and it shouldn't cost much. This will result in equal width of strips to start with. It will be well worth it in the long run as the accuracy of each successive step depends upon the accuracy of the preceding. When you rip the strips, keep the edge pressed against the saw fence with featherboards. Uneven thickness will give you fits in milling the cove and bead. If you don't have a two-router setup for doing cove and bead in one pass, definitely do the bead first, bury the cutter in the fence, and use a minimum of two featherboards. You need one above right in front of the cutter or slightly over it and one holding the work into the fence right before the cutter. I would place outfeed guides just after the work leaves the cutter also. This will enable you to carefully pull the strips through for the last foot or so. Finally, always keep the strips in the order they come off the board. It will save a lot of time when trying to match them up on the boat no matter what design you choose.
  8. chameleon

    chameleon designer/builder

    Bandsaw helps

    To eliminate waste you can use a bandsaw, doesn't have to be anything fancy the first boat i built was all the strips were cut on a meat cutting bandsaw. Now i have a Grizzley Resaw Bandsaw :) it makes things easy to work with. I built a router table with 2 routers to bead and cove the strips all in one pass to whatever width i need. It's not hard i bought one of the routers at a garage sale for $20 and i already had one, mount the second router upside down so the rotation is correct and i made the table out of uhmw with an adjustable fence. If you have any questions about it i can sennd you pictures. I can cut about 3 boats worth of strips in about 2 hours and they end up perfect. It just cuts out the need to get you fingures close to any moving parts as everything is covered, and you don't need a planner.

    Good luck with your boat
  9. OP

    helgin Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the tips. If I still have the canoe building bug after this, I'll go for the double router setup and a bandsaw.

    I ended up getting yellow cedar decking finished on all sides. According to a lumber company website, yellow cedar seems a lot like spruce in terms of strength and weight. A bit heavier than western red, but stronger too. I also got a couple western red cedar boards for an accent strip. The yellow cedar was pretty cheap, but I'll have some waste from knots. I kinda like the look of the small knots though. Probably have to stain it a little darker since it looks too much like pine right now for my taste.

    B&C has been time consuming for me even though my setup works well and the quality is good. Ripping on my low-end table saw was real a pain though. The WRC boards ripped well, but then the 14' 5/4 yellow cedar boards (about 7/8" thick after bead and coving) liked to move around even with featherboards and hand pressure and roller stands. Something I had to learn by experience. With a big iron table saw, I could have rigged it to work more smoothly, but again, just a matter of waste and lesson learned.

    I'll post some pics when I get the stripping going.

  10. Douglas Ingram

    Douglas Ingram Red River Canoe & Paddle

    Bead and cove is WAY over rated. If you don't get it perfect the results are terrible. Its a lot of work for the results.
  11. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Clear Cedar Puget Sound

    What size and grain structure, ring count etc. I am on a tree farm in Snohomish County. I do logging and cut red cedar. I have various stuff around.
    Arlington, WA
  12. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Good point Doug,

    I can't speak for the C+B method, but here in the midwest (MN) the MCA has been promoting strip building for many, many years, and never with C+B, always with square cut strips and a hand cut rolling bevel.

    If you use a good blade in your TS, (a Frued Diablo) that gives you a smooth surface, run the strips through the TS and lay em up.

    Some here even use a "Skilll" saw to rip strips.

  13. Douglas Ingram

    Douglas Ingram Red River Canoe & Paddle

    The last few stripper canoes that I've built, when I build that way, I don't even bother to do the rolling bevel anymore. Not that its difficult to do pretty easy actually.

    I have come to prefer stripper canoes with a painted exterior for a whole lot of reasons, two of which are: it looks better to my eye and offers a lot of faster building options.
  14. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    The painted exterior seems to be an interesting comment to me, Doug. I thought the whole point of strip-built boats was that you can see the wood from outside the boat, as well as inside... :confused:
  15. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Yes, it is an interesting comment - and one that in many ways I can identify with. The first stripper I ever saw was a marathon boat at a race, and at the time, it was the most beautiful canoe I think I'd ever seen. Later on though, after I had built a bunch of them, I actually got very tired of the way they looked. It was kind of a "been there, done that" sort of thing - jumping through hoops to try to maintain perfect clarity and/or cutting strips into little pieces to make some sort of fancy inlay pattern. Along the way, I saw some folks do some absolutely stunning feature strips, but after a certain point they just no longer got my attention and my typical reaction became "That's nice, move along".....

    My background is in sculpture and I've always said that there is no excuse for an ugly boat, but I think I'm more interested in a sweet shape and a lovely profile than I am in an ornate-looking surface or finish. Some canoe shapes just seem prettier to me as a solid color than subdivided into a whole bunch of little pieces. It's certainly a good way to make a light, stiff hull with a minimum of molds and tools and they offer a lot of design and construction possibilities, but the clear finish and fancy wood work are optional and don't really affect the usefulness of the boat - which ultimately may be its primary function. The other advantage to painting anything covered with epoxy resin is the UV protection that paint provides, which is substantially better than even the best UV filtering varnishes.
  16. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Interesting perspective, as always. Having built only one stripper (which is still in dry dock after the crackup in May; almost ready for the interior re-glass work), I guess I still like seeing the wood when the boat's on top of the car, rather than just when I'm in it.

    But it does raise the question: if the lines and the profile are your primary concerns, why use wood at all? Why not build composite boats, trimmed in vinyl?

    Note that I'm not trying to start an argument, I'm just curiously trying to follow the logic. This is what too much science in college did to me... I have to understand! :eek:

    And I don't think any canoes are ugly. I will allow that some, however, may be "diamonds in the rough."
  17. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

  18. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    I can think of quite a few canoes that I find genuinely ugly. Most Colemans, for example. The stem profile is what it is for one reason and one reason only - they stack like Tupperware and it lowers shipping costs (OT followed suit with the Discovery series). Combine that with furniture-grade aluminum inner structures which are needed in a Coleman for it to attempt to hold its hull shape and you have a boat that's ugly both inside and out. Then there are exaggerated examples like the Dolphin Chief, with the Hollywood Indian stem profiles taken to extremes and rendered in a super-heavy, super-cheap fiberglass layup. That one is ugly so deep that it interferes with function.

    I like the solid feel of strippers, even if they're painted pink and purple. Some of the fancy Kevlar race boats that I've paddled were fast and incredibly light, but I can't say I'm fond of that flimsy feel when you grab the gunwale. Granted, all the upper sides need to do is keep out water, but I just like a more solid feel.

    It's interesting that it's almost impossible to buy a composite or plastic canoe that has the shape of any of our classic wooden boats. You don't see anything that has the lines of a Morris, an Indian Girl, an Ogilvie, a Racine or any number of absolutely lovely shapes. Moore Canoes tried one in the mid 1970's. It was a slim 16' boat called the "Ladybug" and it was pretty. Rumor was that the mold was pulled from an old wooden canoe and they offered it with Hemlock gunwale pieces in kit form. We bought one and assembled it and it was pretty, but EXTREMELY tippy (Hemlock also makes lousy gunwales). Another rumor soon surfaced that the original wooden canoe's bottom had rounded-out due to its old age and that the new version had a lot less stability than it was intended to have.

    Then there are what sometimes seem like hundreds of boats, of all forms and materials, which are claimed to be a spittin' image of the famous "Prospector". Most are fool's gold.

    Perhaps there isn't much of a market for classics in plastic, but if done like the original Mad Rivers or Old Town's high-end wood-trimmed fiberglass Canadienne models, you actually can make a pretty classy looking composite boat. In the mean time, I gues it's up to us to make sure that the world still has a decent supply of lovely classic canoe shapes by preserving and restoring them.
  19. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Got me to thinking

    Todd, you got me thinking about Piragis' Seliga. has anyone had any experience with it? And can compare to a Seliga w/c?
  20. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder


    Acually it's a Bell Seliga.

    Bell got one of Joe's canoes built after the fire, and made/formed a mold over the outside of it, I believe without taking the canvas off, so the shape is reasonably close(?) to a W/C Seliga. (I know the guy who was originally going to supply the canoe for the mold, don't know why his fell through.) I think Joe told me that he wanted them to use a canoe built "pre fire" but they couldn't find one and had to settle for a post fire canoe.

    While I haven't paddled a Bell Seliga, I know a guy who has a W/C Seliga and also paddled the 1st protopype, (the canoe Piragis had for test paddles early on) and he felt they paddled the same.

    And a note about lines and consistancy. I've taken the lines from the 2 Seliga's I have and got a 3rd set from another member, and plotted them in excel;

    All 3 are slightly different in either shape or fullness.

    Whether this is due to measurement error or real differences in the 3 canoes I don't know, but I used the same measurement process on both of mine and was VERY careful each time.


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