Thursday, January 6, 2011

Scratch Built 1:12 Peterboro Canoe Part 1

Midwest offers a kit of this canoe for around $30. The canoe is built on a strongback and once the kit is completed the strongback can be reused as many times as you like. The cost for scratch building this kit is around $7 per canoe. I've built four of these thus far and I thought I'd pass along what I've learned and what seems to work for me.

Start by milling 3/32 inch thick basswood boards into 3/32 x 1/16 inch thick strips. Using 3/32 inch thick material assures a clean top and bottom surface for the strips. Any minor surface irregularities made during the milling process will be removed when the completed hull is sanded. Two contrasting strips of a dark colored wood will be used for the third planks from the sheer. I’ve used mahogany and cherry for this but you can select any wood that you like. I prefer woods with little grain and figure to them because of the scale but this is a matter of personal preference. If you are making several canoes, try to buy several sheets of basswood of differing color tones to add interest to the planking of the hull. 

Bow and stern pieces are cut out following the pattern in the kit. Mark the location of the sheer plank on both of these. A keel strip is glued onto the both end pieces and they in turn are temporarily glued onto the strongback base. The plans call for marking the locations of the cross braces on this strip but this is not necessary. The ends of the sheer plank are beveled and glued at the previously marked location on the bow and stern pieces. Alligator clamps work well to keep the sheer in good position.

The first several strips require no beveling along their length, only beveling of the ends where they glue to the stem and stern. Thin CA glue is used to gluing the strips on to the canoe. The thin CA flows by capillary action between the planks. This will be explained better later.

Once the hull begins to make a turn (tumblehome), bevels must be made to the edges of the strips. This can be done by sanding or planning. I use a plane because it makes less mess and dust. A jig that consists of a groove made into a piece of wood that will accept a strip is shown below.

Once the strip is secured, the plane is held at an angle and is run end to end to make the proper bevel.  A sanding block is used to bevel one end of the strip for attachment to the stem.

Once in place thin CA is run between the strips. A needle with the bevel ground off works well to accurately place the CA.  Once glued, a short time of holding the planks together allows for a firm bond.  

Work down the hull until about 4 inches from the end. Place the plank into final position and mark the end of the strip.

Use a nail clipper or other cutting device to trim the strip to length. I find that nail clippers leave a nice clean cut.

Pull the strip away from the strongback and sand the bevel into the stern end of the strip.

Glue the strip down to the stern.


Continue down the hull until the turn of the bilge. The last strip before the hull becomes flat on the bottom is the hardest in the whole canoe. Once this is in place it becomes much easier. I find that rubber bands work well to keep the canoe in good contact with the strongback. I should also add that I use small pins at the sheer to keep the sheer strake in contact with the strongback.

When the turn of the bilge is reached, the strips change from attaching to the stem/stern and instead attach to the keel. Since the floor of the canoe is essentially flat in cross section, there is no need to bevel the long edges of the strips. To cut these strips, place one in position and mark the location of the end of the bevel with a small tic as shown.

I also mark the keel so that there is perfect symmetry in the bottom planking. Use a straight edge to cut the bevel and place the end of the strip into the canoe.

Repeat the process on the other end on the strip. Glue the strip in place using thin CA.

1 comment:

  1. how is anyone ever going to fit into that canoe? Its going to have to be at least 3 times bigger.
    regards Zoolander