Birch bark canoe part 5 gunwales and thwarts

Back to our birch bark canoe build the last post we had just started sewing on the gore panels, that is the part that extends the width of the main bark sections upwards.IMG_9372-2The next stage is to set out the gunwales, we had split these out from an 16 foot long cedar and now set to shaving them down using the crooked knife. Jarrod taught a class on the making of crooked knives in Edale two years ago, they are seemingly simple basic tools but it is easy to get the hand grip wrong and so put strain on the wrist or thumb when shaving. A well designed crook knife or mocataugan works fast like a drawknife but without the need for a shaving horse..IMG_9441Here are the gunwales, two inwales for inside the bark and two outwales. Fitting these and getting the shape of them is crucial, they are what give the boat it’s strength and its shape.
IMG_9443The end of the gunwales are split to allow them to be bent upwards at the bow and stern, the binding stops the split going too far, the two nails act like a cleaving break and allow the split to be steered side to side to avoid it running out.IMG_9451Next the gunwales are set on the bark. At this stage Jarrod is weighing up lots of variables at this stage, he likes the finished height of the canoe to be 12-13″ he stakes out the gunwales at 9″ above the bed to achieve that. If the bark is thinner or the stitching looser it will stretch more, thicker bark and tighter stitching will stretch less.IMG_9458The bark is pinched between inwale and outwale and tied off between clamps.
IMG_9461This shows the lines with the end of the gunwales yet to be bent upwards.
IMG_9470Next I split out a bunch of pegs.
IMG_9500and Jojo shaved them down.IMG_9505We pegged the gunwales into placeIMG_9508Then cut the excess bark off leaving a tab of bark to be held by the lashing.IMG_9512Lashing is next with spruce root which we dug, split and dressed earlier.IMG_9522a nice finished lashing showing how it holds the two gunwales together pinning the bark..IMG_9530Lashing takes a long time and on lashing day we had lots of help, Tom Dengler, Jarrod’s friend Mike the blacksmith and April all got stuck in.
IMG_9536As the bark is cut down we begin to see the shape
IMG_9540
at the end of the day we remove the clampsIMG_9551and now we can remove all the stones from inside and the building frame, it’s beginning to look like a canoe.IMG_9569We shaved down some ash thwarts and lashed them into place.
IMG_9577Just 4 days into the build it looked like this.IMG_9570

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