Canoe construction begins with cutting, planing and shaping rough cedar boards into ribs and sheeting which will ultimately form the body or hull of the canoe. Long runs of hardwood, either white ash or cherry, are cut into inside gunwales. Shorter pieces of ash are bent into stems, the curved pieces which give shape to the canoe ends. Seats, decks and thwarts are also made from the shorter pieces of ash. We cut hides to make the long thin strips known as babiche (or rawhide) which are soaked and stretched and then woven in the seat frames.
Actual construction of the hull takes place on a solid wooden form to which the inside gunwales and stems are fixed. Ribs are steamed and bent in place over sheet metal bands fixed to the form. Cedar sheeting or planking, the thin pieces running longitudinally, are attached to the ribs with brass tacks (approximately 2000 per canoe) which self clinch on the metal bands on the form.
The canoe is then removed from the form. The centre thwart and decks are installed, the ends are tacked together and the final rows of sheeting are completed.
The canoe is then covered in canvas and the canvas is filled with a waterproof and abrasion resistant compound. The filler cures for 3-4 weeks. Brass strips are then secured to the ends and outside gunwales are screwed on. Painting, varnishing and seat installation are the final steps.