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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Canoe Building: Making the Thwart

About halfway through cutting and machining the strips one of the router bits went bad.  I had put the router bit in, tightened everything down, then turned on the router.  It didn't sound right and had a wobble, so I turned it off, and checked things over again before turning it back on.  This time the shaft on the bit bent and the top of the bit started taking out chunks of anything it came in contact with.  I shut it down as quickly as I could and knew that routing was over until I could get a new bit.  It is crazy to think of the forces that the router puts out to bend the shaft on the bit!  I called up MCLS Woodworking where I had ordered the bit from and they said they'd replace it free of charge.  Talk about awesome customer service!  I got it in about a week from when I contacted them.

While I waited for the bit, I wanted to keep moving forward with the canoe.  My solution was working on the thwart.  I cut a piece of cherry that is a couple inches wider then the canoe will be, and about 2 1/2 inches wide.  I got out some graph paper and drew out a couple of curves that seemed like they would work.  I picked an intersection on the paper, with the x axis representing the width of the canoe and the y axis being the width of the thwart.  Counting squares horizontally and vertically helped to get the basic concept down, then getting a thin strip of wood (I happened to have an abundance of them with all of the cedar boards I had just cut up) to connect the dots in a way that curved attractively.  I then cut out the template, then transferred it to the cherry.

After I cut the cherry out, I sanded down the curves, then ran it through the router with a round-over bit to make the edges all nice.  A little more sanding on the flatter sides, with finer and finer sandpaper, and the thwart is now ready to varnish.

I've got the thwart put away until the rest of the canoe is finished.  I think I'll varnish it the same time I varnish the seats and rest of the trim.

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