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First Nation canoe

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by crosscuts, Jan 17, 2021.

  1. crosscuts

    crosscuts LOVES Wooden Canoes

    The 13' canoe is in pretty good shape but I would appreciate some help redoing the seats. What is a source of the raw hide and how is it treated before and after the seats are threaded.

    Many thanks, R.C. IMG_0401.JPG
  2. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

  3. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Another possible source:
    Rawhide Lace & Lacing for Drums | Centralia Fur & Hide (

    - It needs to be soaked a few hours before weaving.

    - but not more than a few hours as it really starts to smell awful if left soaking past the point where it has become soft, limp and workable.

    - It has a right (smooth) side, which should be the surface you sit on. The rougher side is the back side of the strip.

    - Since the lace comes in assorted lengths you often need to splice it to itself. This is done by cutting a small (maybe 3/8" long) lengthwise slit in each piece near its end and threading each piece through the slit of its mating piece. Position splices in spots where you will not be sitting on them.

    - It's a good idea to let it dry for several days after lacing. Then go over it with your hand, looking for sharp edges. They can be abrasive to your pants (seriously). Any you find which are really sharp can be eased a bit with fine sandpaper before the seats are varnished.

    - Varnish both the frames and the lacing. It is even possible, if desired, to varnish the frames before lacing and then also after lacing. A good spar varnish is generally used for varnishing rawhide-laced products. Varnish them well, as that's what helps to keep the rawhide from sagging and stretching in use.

    Honestly, for long distance tripping the most comfortable seat (either rawhide or caned) that I have ever used was topped with a hunk of 1/2" thick ensolite foam (cut up Yoga Mat from some place like Target) wrapped in canvas and tied to the seat frame. For short trips, it's no big deal, but for long trips it can be a lot more comfortable, as well as being usable in camp when you're tired of sitting on rocks and logs.
    MGC likes this.
  4. Jerry Fruetel

    Jerry Fruetel A well built wooden canoe is a work of art

    I've laced several seats with rawhide (babiche) and echo Todd's advice. In addition:

    - Adding a little borax and liquid glycerin to the soak water makes the rawhide slicker and easier to work with.

    - Use ⅛" (3-4 mm) rawhide. It's quite strong. Also, it's easier to work with and (in my opinion) visually more appealing than thicker rawhide.

    - Before lacing, apply and sand all but the final coat of varnish on the frames. After lacing, apply the final coat, thinned 50/50 with mineral spirits, to the entire seat (lacing and frames). Thinned varnish penetrates rawhide better than full strength, and avoids excess varnish in the nooks and crannies of the lacing.

    - Concentrate and frequently recheck your lacing as you go. It's so easy and frustrating to make a mistake in the lacing pattern, and (trust me) it's no fun having to pull out three rows of lacing to correct a mistake.

    The attached lacing instructions may be helpful. Good luck!

    Jerry Fruetel
    Canoe babiche steps, part 1.jpg Canoe babiche steps, part 2.jpg

    Attached Files:

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