Monday, December 05, 2005

The Journey of Wood

One thing I have yet to discuss in any detail is where the cedar wood came from. For quite some time now I have been thinking about building a boat and about a year ago my wife & I had settled on building a kayak. After viewing a number of kayaks built by local folks (thanks Gary, Morris, & Carl) we had decided to build one of the Waters Dancing kayaks, probably the Solace 17 or 16 EX. All we had to do was order the kit and I was just about ready to do so when I happened across a posting on the MEC OutdoorGearswap, a bulletin board for used outdoor gear. An ad was posted stating that the seller had "everything needed to build your own kayak" for an asking price of $450. The kayak in question was the 17' Guillemot, and although it really was not everything to build the kayak (no fiberglass or epoxy which are a substantial cost, nor varnish, closed cell foam, bungees, deck lines, nor any of the other items needed to finish the boat), it was enough to make it worth pursuing. For sale was enough pre-milled strips to build the kayak, and the forms, along with a copy of Nick Schade's book. It seems the seller (Piers) had them sitting in his apartment for some time and he had bought them off of a friend who had had them sitting around in his garage for some time. Where the original guy got the materials from was only identified as "a company" (or something to that effect). The problem was that the materials were in Vancouver while I am in Saskatoon (~1700 km, 1050 miles); however where there's a will, there's a way. A boatbuilder from the Vancouver area, Rod Tait of Orca Boats, hearing of my situation very generously volunteered to go have a look at the materials on my behalf. Here is what he had to say after viewing the strips:

I took a look at the strips and the forms. The forms are computer cut with center already cut out for internal strongback, all lines already on them and it appears that they have not been used. The strip are a nice chocolate brown and uniform in colour. The bead and cove is clean except for a few areas where there was some tear out during milling (perfectly normal). there seems to be enough to build a boat, but long lengths are limited. I am not sure if there is enough full lengths to build the hull and deck, so strips may need to be scarfed or butt joined, but not many if at all. The grain is tight with some knots which you can certainly work around. The wood will certainly look [good] ... with a few accents of a lighter wood such as yellow cedar or eastern white cedar.... I did take my camera, but the wood was in their house, so I politely declined to ask to take a pic. If you are interested, I think it is well worth the price. I think other builders will be envious of the nice wood.
Rod Tait.

After Rod's comments, how could I not buy it? I pursued it further and ended up purchasing the materials and Rod again came to my rescue by picking up the strips, forms and book, and bringing them back to his shop in Port Moody, a service for which he charged me his "consulting fee". From there, the only obstacle was figuring out how to get the pile of materials 1700 km to the East. That's where it's sometimes good to know a truck driver. My cousin Cory Richmond graciously agreed to pick up the strips the next time he was out that way with his truck and had both the room and the time to accommodate my extra load. It took a few weeks but in June when Cory was on his way home after dropping off/picking up a load on Vancouver Island, he stopped in at Orca Boats to load up my future boat. From there, the materials made their to Saskatchewan and into Cory's garage in Warman, about 1/2 hour drive from my house. (I still owe Cory.) I was then able to transport the strips (a bundle of 3/4" x 1/4" strips, some as long as 19') home by tying them to an extended ladder secured to the roof racks of our Honda Accord. From there they found their way onto the shelves of my garage where they could recover from their ordeal for the next few months until I began my project.

As Rod stated, the strips are mostly a dark brown in colour, with a few being a bit lighter. They were not quite long enough for full-length strips in the longest regions of the boat so about 12 strips had to be scarfed (just the 2 at the sheer) or butt jointed. I haven't touched the 19' long strips that Rod added to the pile; they will be incorporated in some fashion into the deck. The bead and cove on most of the strips is OK, but a few strips seem to be cut unevenly & or had the milling of the cove less than perfect (which may be normal). In all of the strips added thus far to the boat, I have seen only one knot (which I have left in place because I like the looks of it, but I hope it won't give me grief when it comes time to scrape/plane/sand the hull).

Well, there you go - now everybody knows where the wood came from, or at least now you know pretty much what I do about the subject.