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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Canoe Building: Making the Seats

After I installed the outwales, but before I varnished the canoe, I started making the seats.  I used cherry wood, built so that the seats are 10 inches from front to back and 15 inches wide.  The legs of the seat extend even further.  I epoxied the joints, then clamped them and let the epoxy cure.  Then I sanded away the excess epoxy, and routed all of the edges to make them rounded.  I drilled two holes for screws on each side of where the pieces came together, then countersunk them so I could plug them.  I used cherry plugs, but was really tempted to use walnut plugs to add a darker accent element to the seats.  After installing the screws and plugs, I did a final sanding and was ready to varnish the seats as well as the thwart.
I hung all of the pieces and varnished them all at once.  I also had made a hollow dowel to use to hide the bolts to get the seats the correct height, but when it came to installing it, I had made it too large.  I should have made the width of the dowel the same width or slightly smaller as that of the inwale.  I ultimately ended up finding that dimension and remaking the height adjustment dowels.

After a few coats of varnish, I was set to weave the seats.  I deliberated what material I wanted to make the seats out of for quite a while.  Cane seats are beautiful.  But more then that they are breathable (no boaters itch!), and when they start to sag you can wipe the underside of the cane with a wet rag and the cane will tighten up again.  I really really wanted to weave some cane seats.  I even went so far as check a book out from the library on cane weaving.  Ultimately though, I realized that I have young kids who will be canoeing with me.  Since they can be a bit hard on things, the cane seats will have to wait.  I went with polypropylene webbing instead.

Polypropylene webbing comes in tons of different colors, is UV resistant, does not stretch, and also does not absorb water.  It's a way better option than the more common nylon webbing.  I singed the end of the webbing and also used a hot needle to melt/fuse two holes in the end where I would screw it to the seat to begin weaving.  I wrapped the seats the long ways, stretched it tight, then fused the ends and screwed it to the frame.  Weaving back through the short ways with another piece helped further tighten the weave.  Once the seats were woven, I was ready to install the seats and thwart and be finished.

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