Building Another Scale-Model Prospector Canoe

The second scale-model prospector canoe is mostly an experiment in creating my own strips. Of course, I already have the forms from the first scale model.

Creating the Strips

To create the strips I needed to buy a table saw. As I was only going to use the table saw for this purpose, I decided to buy a relatively cheap saw. I thus bought a Skil table saw from Home Depot for about $170.

Unfortunately cheap table saws don't have the same fittings as more expensive ones. In particular, the throat insert is 1/16" steel, so a zero-clearance insert has to be done slightly differently. I cut a 3/32" piece of hard plastic to fit the opening and used that. I would have preferred to use Lexan, but I couldn't find a suitable piece.

[Ripping the Strips] I used pine for this model, as it was readily available. I bought 4 1"x6"x10' pine boards and 1 1"x6"x8' pine board from Home Depot. This was more than enough for the scale model.

I set up for ripping with an auxiliary fence and two fingerboards. I also added an infeed support and outfeed board support. Ripping was actually quite easy. Feeding the boards into the saw was not a problem, and keeping them tight against the fence was also not a problem, as long as the side fingerboard was kept tight. Eventually I held the side fingerboard tight by hand as I fed the board in, so that I didn't have to adjust it for every board. I think I might try some tension method next time.

[The Strips] [Sawdust] I got 17 strips from each 6-inch board, and only messed up four or five in total. The end result was a pile of sawdust and a lot of strips. The whole process, including setup, took only a couple of hours.

[Router Table] The next step was putting a bead and cove on most of the strips. I built a simple router table for this use. The gap in the fence is a zero-clearance gap, to prevent any problems with strips getting stuck. I fed the strips in the ``wrong way around'', which resulted in a very clean cut. I only launched one strip, but it went out of the router very fast. After that I made sure the fingerboards were very tight, to the point that I had to exert considerable force to move the strips through the router setup.

[Brush to Remove Stuck Cuttings] Adjusting the position of the bit took a bit of care, at least for the bead side. I broke two strips into 2' sections for test pieces, which was more than adequate. I lucked out on the cove side and didn't have to do any adjustments for it. The only problem with the cove side was that the cuttings ended up compacting in the cove. I added a toothbrush to the end of the fence to clean out these cuttings, which worked fine. Next time, I might put a small gap in the fence to allow these cuttings to escape.

[Finished Strips] The end result was a bunch of finished strips. I didn't put a bead or cove in about 10 strips, for use on the bottom of the canoe. To lead into this section I had two strips with only a bead cut out. The whole process took about 3 hours. It took about 30 seconds to cut a bead, and about 35 seconds to cut a cove, both times including time to move and arrange the strips.


[Accent Strip] [The First Strip] I mounted the forms just as for the previous model. In fact, I hadn't taken the mounting blocks off the strongback. Mounting and adjusting the forms only took an hour or so.

Then it was the usual process of putting the strips on the forms, starting with the sheer strip. This strip actually only followed the sheer part of the way. I used dowels in the coves and tape to hold the strips in place. I added an accent strip of Western Red Cedar that I had left over. The side strips went on quite easy.

[Using Tie Downs to Hold Strips] [Difficult Strips] On a scale model, the bends are accentuated. As I was working with 3/4-inch strips, and pine is stiffer than cedar, bending some of the strips near the turn of the bilges was quite a struggle. I used bending weights for them. I also could only do one strip at a time, as I had to wait for the glue to set before working on the next strip. As I got to the bottom, the strips became a little easier to fit, but bending them against their long dimension was somewhat of a challenge. I used strapping tie downs (packs of four were very cheap at Home Depot) to hold the strips in place, and also to encourage them to bend the right way.

[Bow and Stern Strips] [Bottom Strips Held in Place] [Bottom Strips] I decided to stip the bottom of the model front-to-back with strips without beads and coves. I cut all these strips at once and them glued them in place all at once, holding them in place with the tie downs.

The last strips to be done were the ones at the bow and stern. These were held in place with fiber tape.

Sanding and Glassing

[Outside FiberGlass] [Outside Seal Coat] [Sanding the Outside] The next step was to sand and glass the outside. I used a combination of a plane and a random-orbital sander to sand the outside. As usual, sanding the outside was not difficult.

I then put a seal coat of System 3 ClearCoat on the outside. I also put bias-cut stripes of glass on the bow and stern. Then the fiberglass was put on and expoxied in. I added two fill coats after putting the glass on.


[All Done] [Attaching Outwale] After sanding and glassing the inside, the next task was to add the gunwales. I used cedar for the gunwales, as that is what I had on hand. I formed the gunwales with my router, then glued them in, as usual. Afterwards, I used a coat of epoxy to seal the gunwales.

The last task was to varnish the canoe with three coats of varnish.

Updated 27 October September 2003 by Peter F. Patel-Schneider