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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Canoe Building: Cutting the Center Line

When one side of the canoe is completely stripped, it's time to cut the center line.  I tried several tools, but the one that handled the best for cutting the line was a chisel.  First though, I got a rough idea where the center line was and cut the strip ends off approximately 1 inch generous of the line.  It's a rough line, but then the real center line is needed to be marked.  
You can mark the center line using a jig and lining the marks up with the centerline of the molds.  The second way is to string a line between the stems and pulling it tight.  I used both ways, but the string line was most helpful to me.  After centering and pulling the line taut, I borrowed some sewing pins from my wife and lightly pinned the centerline reference points, then marked the  line between pins.  Several visual checks and adjustments got the line straight.

I then used my chisel again and gently cut, starting at the middle of the canoe and working toward the ends, the cedar away and making the center line.  Pushing the chisel through the cedar and pulling the shavings away is really fun.  Like as in really really fun.  If you're not careful, it would be easy to get carried away and cut too far.  As I was chiseling, I thought several times about Pat McManus's story about the Christmas Hatchet (In his book "Never Sniff a Gift Fish).  His story is a classic.  After the line was pretty close, I finished it gently with some sanding paper on a firm block.  Sighting down reveals any imperfections.  It's exhilarating when the line is straight and one half of the canoe is completely stripped.  

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