Celebrating a Job Well Done: Woodstrip Canoe Course, September 27-October 3
The group celebrates a milestone with a toast of maple syrup liquer
Last week’s Woodstrip Canoe Course wrapped up on Saturday, and we’re feeling tired but happy. Ten students came from around the globe – Australia, Alaska, Montana, Texas, Toronto, and Edmonton, to name a few places – yet they formed a particularly well-matched group in terms of interests and skill levels. Under Ted and local builder Denis Gagne’s instruction, they built a 15’ Prospector Ranger and a 17’ Freedom over the course of a week.
As the workshop opened, students took a moment to explain what brought them in. Several in this cohort were approaching retirement, and looking for a new and meaningful pursuit. All had been thinking about building a canoe for some time, and approached the week as a chance to refine their woodworking skills.
On Day 1 Ted addressed setting up a workshop. Boatbuilding was often only one of the things students were interested in doing in their shop, so this included a general survey on tools, equipment, and maintenance. Ted considers tool sharpening one of the most important skills he teaches, since sharper tools are not only better for precision work, but also safer. Other safety topics include ventilation and protecting skin from glues and epoxies. After the workshop survey, the group got to work setting up the molds to lay out the shape of the canoe, and put stems on so they were ready to plank the next day.
The group worked long days throughout the week, planking, fairing and sanding, and laying up fibreglass. In between sessions they ate well courtesy of Joan, and fit in a trip to the Canadian Canoe Museum. When the final plank was fitted and epoxy applied, the group toasted with maple syrup liqueur. Towards the end of the week they removed the hull from the mold and sanded inside, before the final step of installing decks and outwales.
Fitting stems, Day 2
Gluing strips using syringe and bead and cove strips
Applying epoxy, Day 3
Saturday ended with a graduation ceremony and raffle. The winners purchased the completed canoes at a reduced price – Josh Heise won the raffle to purchase Freedom 17’, and Sara Yelland won the Prospector Ranger.
Many students go on to build 3 or 4 more canoes, often as legacy gifts for friends and family. Whatever this group does with their woodworking skills, it’s gratifying to spend time with such a committed bunch. Thanks to everyone who attended!