Just as birchbark canoe builders gather bark, spruce gum, cedar, and spruce roots, the building of a cedar canvas canoe requires the gathering of materials as well. In order to build authentic replicas of the early Chestnut Guide, we are adhering to its original configuration and list of materials. White cedar ribs and planks will, along with maple for the seats, thwarts and decks are not difficult to source , and even white oak for stems has been procured. What does prove difficult however is long lengths of spruce for gunwale stock, either for single, closed gunwale construction or for the later style of open gunwale with both and inner and outer. Chestnut was building in both styles before the factory fire of 1921. During a weekend north walking the woods hunting for grouse, we visited a sawmill who had 2 30' logs they agreed to mill for us in an attempt to pruduce some clear stock. Ash gunwales, or even cherry or oak are not over scarce, but clear spruce in lengths over 17' are rare as trees are both smaller, and no one cuts in those lenghts. Lumber piles yield large rafter stock, however it has always been kiln dried and wont bend well afterwards.
Small pile of big cedar
Milling the log, 19' section
Moving stock around
Starting to load - nice long stuff, much clear throughout.
The write up of the Guide model early on specified that the lumber is not as selected as with the pleasure, and small knots and imperfections were allowed so long as they didnt weaken the board. As in many canoes, they can be hidden behind ribs where possible, however even our example has small knots visible in some areas. This was a Guides canoe after all, and with the heavier canvas it was meant for working.
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