Monday, July 28, 2008

Stapleless Boat Building

Today Glen posted on the Kayak Building Bulletin Board a link to photos from the recent joint WCHA reunion and Bear Mountain Rendezvous 2008. Going through a few of those photos, something caught my eye (aside from many beautiful wooden boats). It was a series of photos that depicted a novel method of securing strips for stapleless building. Building with wood strips requires that the strips be held tightly to adjacent strips while the glue dries, and to the station mold for the duration of the stripping. Typically, staples are used to achieve this. Staples are fast and effective, but they do leave behind a row of little holes at each station. Many builders use clamps, jigs, tape and bungee cord (or all of the above) to hold the strips in place while building. I tried this initially while building the Guillemot, but I decided to revert to staples in the name of speed and efficiency. The method shown in Glen's photos from the BM Rendezvous uses a wire device attached to bungee to hold the strips down against the previous strips, the bungee is tightened using a chain that can be hooked to the right length to the strongback. Meanwhile, a strap which goes around each form keeps the strips tight to the forms. This latter component seems to solve one of the perpetual problems of some stapleless methods which would allow the joined strips to move away from the forms. In areas such as at the bow of the Guillemot kayak which have a concave curve, wedges would probably be needed to maintain the pressure to hold the strips tightly to the forms.

The straps and jigs are being assembled and sold as a kit by Ron Frenette of Canadian Canoes. The kits are pricey ($375) but seem like a pretty slick system for building a fine piece of woodcraft.