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Old World Fabrication Still Rules

Old world fabrication typically involves spending more time on the creation of one-time use jigs and molds and securing tools and products than the entire time to build the boat.  Traditional strip canoe builders typically must create the following components before they embark on building their canoe:

Stern Bending Form.  This form is used to form the front and back sterns that define the shape of the bow and secures ribs, strips, gunwales and deck of the canoe.  In essence, its like your shoulders which connect your arms to your backbone. Typically a stronger wood such as Ash is used to make the stern and other rigid parts of the canoe skeleton. 

Canoe Form  To shape the ribs a form must be made to secure and attach the ribs to shape your canoe.  Basically, you spend about three times the amount of time it takes to build the boat, building the "negative" of airspace of your canoe.  For those builders of rib less canoes creating a precise strong back is the most crucial part of the boat building process.  This labor intensive process requires a shop full of expensive power tools to be done properly.  Pictured above is a mold for a prospector canoe.

Steam Box.  To bend your ribs and Stern you need to create a steam box which will allow you to add just enough moisture and heat the be able to bend and shape the stern and ribs.  Typically ribs are first soaked in water then steamed for 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on wood type and dryness.  These boxes are usually 60" long by about 14" X14".  The source of steam is generally piped into the box from a modified electric skillet or crock-pot.


Flambeau Canoe Company
W5992 Little Chicago RD
Phillips, WI 54555