In which a canoe is built, its progress described and photographed.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

6. Laminating the Inner Stems

Have you ever heard the phrase "from stem to stern"? How about "stem the tide"? Well, both phrases stem from a boat's stem. (sorry, I couldn't resist) To "stem the tide" is to sail fast enough to make forward progress against a tide.

On a boat the stem is the foreward edge of the bow. A canoe has a "point" at both ends, and so has a stem in the bow and in the stern.

Traditionally, the stem of a wooden boat would be made from one piece, but I will laminate mine from 1/8" oak strips my dad had sitting around from about 20 years ago. (see below and right) Oak seems like a good choice because it is strong and attractive. The author of the wooden boat article chose cedar, but leaves the choice up to the reader.

The author recommends using a waterproof glue, like polyurethane glue. Gorilla Glue is a common brand here in the US.

The strips will be clamped to the stem forms. I have cut 2" holes to accommodate the clamps, and taped the edge of the form with masking tape to protect it from the glue.

Gluing six 1/8" strips gives me a 3/4" thick stem. Use disposable gloves for this! You'll be glad you did. With the strips glued together, but not yet set up, I bent them around the stem form, and clamped them down. The strips complained a little bit as I did this, but I don't see any cracks, and I think it'll be OK.

Unfortunately, I only have enough clamps to do one stem at a time, so I'm taking a break while the glue sets and posting this.

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