July/August 2006

Bark Canoe Store

15 East Sinto
Spokane, WA 99202

(office & fax)
(509)327-1850 (shop)


John Lindman

Copyright (c) 2006
All Rights Reserved


1. News -
- The "Build Your Own Class"
- new e-mail address
- comments from last newsletter
2. Building Tips -
a. Questions and answers on building
b. More on Miniatures by Ted Behne

News -

Build Your Own Canoe Class

The "Build Your Own Canoe Class" starts September 2nd here in Spokane. This class is full. Four students will be building their own 14ft birchbark canoes under supervision.

Students choose the design they wish to build and I prepare the materials before hand. They will learn how to gather and prepare materials however there simply is not enough time to gather and prepare all of the materials as part of the class. We will head to the mountains to gather root and they will prepare that.

The class is very demanding due to the nature of the task - building a full size canoe in 14 days, and the standands of quality placed upon them by yours truly is no piece of cake. Still it is fun and when complete each will have a canoe they can be proud if.

In the next letter you will be able to see their results.

This class is becoming an annual event every September. If you would like more information please visit the website

New e-mail address

I am saying goodbye to Earthlink and going with a local ISP. My new e-mail address is barkcanoe@dc4pc.net. It is posted on the website. As of the first of September Earthlink will be history.

Comments From The Last Newsletter

I am about to hop up on a soap box and get socio/polical. If that turns you off please skip this section and go to the technical tips or dump this e-mail.

Whoah! I just found out that these newsletters are getting read. Some great responses from some of the readers regarding the spraying of our woods.

I am quite aware of the game that is being played with our environment. In the early 1990's I found out about an environmental newsletter by Larry Abraham, the co-author of the ground breaking book, "None Dare Call it Conspiracy" that came out in the 70's. He wrote a follow-up piece titled, "Call it Conspiracy" in the 80's. I saw an interview of him in 1990 just before Desert Storm entitled, "Count Down to a New World Order". His premise is that if you want to know what is going on follow the players who are really calling the shots. He called them the "Insiders".

Part of what he was doing was tracking them regarding the environmental movement. His newsletter was called "Bush-Wacked". What he said was that the sole purpose of the environmental movement by these insiders (not us mind you or the many many good hearted and good minded people who care dearly about our environment and that work hard in many environmental groups) is the control of all natural resources. Their plan was to enact restrictive legislation that would thwart mining, etc. until the time these insiders had complete control of our natural resources at which time they would open things up for their benefit. This was in 1990. Have you noticed how things are now opening back up? The insiders would play liberals against the conservatives with their personal agenda not being republican or democrat. Just control of the game by controlling both sides.

While building one day and listening to NPR a woman read from a book entitled, "A Fist In the Eye of God". Her premise was that by not teaching natural selection people will not understand how plants and animals build up their immune system so as to produce species that will thrive without pesticides, etc. She mentioned how the multi-national chemical companies will go to 3rd world countries and introduce genetically engineered seeds that produce "super" results. They would offer the seeds for free and of course since these seeds had no immunity the pests would wipe them out. Then they would hook them on pesticides which were financed by the World Bank. After about 3 years of this their natural seeds would die and there would be no turning back.

An interesting research project is to make a list of major pharmaceutical/chemical/petro companies. Go to their official websites and look at their plans, who owns them, what companies they own, etc. No conspiracy theory stuff here, just their official websites. A good one to start with is "Eli Lily". Then try "Bayer".

What I found is that at this point they pretty much control the food chain from genetically engineered seeds, to pesticides and herbicides, to fertilizers. A allergist once told me that most food allergies are the result of the chemicals used in growing and processing the food, not the food itself. Once people get sick from this their doctor most oftenly prescribes drugs. According to Dr. Mathias Rath, a German research physician, "whenever you introduce a synthetic molecule to the body it sets up a new disease which requires a new medication. We commonly refer to these new diseases at 'side effects'".

So what does this have to do with building birchbark canoes? It just serves to point out what we are up against when we take to the woods to get bark, cedar and root. Spraying the woods is very big money to the multi-national petro/chemical/pharmaceutical conglomerates. I was told yesterday by a friend down in Florida that a U.S. Congress candidate was given $200,000 for his campaign from Eli Lily as an example.

I realize this sounds awefully negative. I've been tracking this type of thing for over 20 years and it gets pretty sickening. But the one thing that I have learned is that to win any game you must know the game and what you are up against no matter how big and ugly it looks. Then go undaunted upon your way to create that kind of world that serves the greater good. Just keep on trucking without falling prey to propoganda and fear. If we all apply Henry David Thoreau's principles of simply not playing the game that is served to us which doesn't forward the greater good and play a game that does then we will have a better world. From my own research I have seen technologies that can correct virtually every adverse condition on this planet from all types of disease to every enviornmental ill to adverse personal and social situations using natural methods. The one thing that all these technologies have in common is that if put into practice they would cut the profits of the petro/chemical/pharma multi-national corporations and dramatically change life as we know it. That scares some people to death and they attack these methods. The mistake we can make is to support the conventional methods that will make us sick and fall prey to fear and propoganda about the methods that will resolve these conditions naturally.

If I have offended you by straying into the socio/political arena here it is not my intent. I just want a world where I can paddle my canoe in clean water breathing clean air as a free man.

Building Tip - Questions and Answers
by John Lindman

These are questions put forth recently from someone who is about to make his own canoe simply from his own self study.

1. Question:
I was wondering how to finished the end of a lashing so it will not come loose. Answer:
Several ways. The way I do it the most is to slide it under the lashing at the top. I bring the root through the bark to the inside of the canoe, up the inside of the gunwale, snug it up and then flib the tip over on its belly and slide the root under the lashing between the inside and outside gunwales. Pull it all the way through and trim it off at the other end. When pulled shug everything should be nice and flush.

2. Question:
Also, your measurements for the Algonkin oldstyle are different than Adney's, is there any reason for that?
I don't go by Adney's measurements on any of my canoes. I use them as guides and of course greatly respect them but as you can see one tribe or builder will do it one way and another will do it another way. His canoe measurements were based on canoes he studied. I have my own opinions on what I like and what I don't like. For example I like the shape of the Ojibwe Longnose canoe but most were very deep and very wide and I prefer a hull shape more like the Abenaki so I will combine what I like from one style and add it to what I like of another style. For me it produces an even better canoe. Remember, the longnose canoe style was not originally an Ojibwe style. It was Dacotah. The Ojibwe said, "This is pretty hot," so adopted it. Styles were evolving so why not continue that. Still exact duplicates are important in Living History and for those who want that look. I totally respect that.

3. Question:
Also, I don't get the concept of height sticks, I realize their purpose is to set the height of the gunwales ( I think), but I don't think I have ever seen this done.
Yes, that is their purpose. When looking at the canoe from the side, the profile given by the gunwales is call the "sheer", the profile given by the hull is called the "rocker". The height sticks determine the depth of the canoe and the sheer. The Algonquin once used their inwales as the building frame. Once everything was laid out and the gores cut and the bark folded up they would bring up the inwales and match them with the outwales. Now there would be no frame in the canoe. The height sticks would rest on the bark. I never did this. I always used a frame. The first canoe I made had a frame the same width as the inwales. So a 33" wide frame for a 34" beam. I never do that any more. If I want a 36" beam I use a 30" wide frame. This flares the side a bit. This doesn't determine the shape of the canoe, just makes it easier when inserting the bent ribs. In the tips section of the web site you will see the measurements for canoes. Mind you, if you have a frame as wide as the beam then the bottom of the canoe and the sides will form a right-angle. When you insert the newly bent ribs there will be all that space between this right angle of the bark and the curve of the rib. To get the bark snug up against the ribs you will have to pull up the sides to close-up the gap in the right angle. This will raise the gunwales about 3 inches. To determine the final depth of your canoe you must consider the thickness of the frame, the height stick on which the inwale will rest, the height of the inwale, the thickness of the cap and how much gap will have to be closed between the bent ribs and the angle formed between the bottom and side of the bark. Lots to think about when determining height sticks. This is why I put the measurements in the tips-section.

Building Tip - More on Miniatures by Ted Behne
Unrolling and Raising the Bark - Part Two

Setting the Sheerline This article continues the assembly process by setting the sheerline of the canoe. The sheerline is the height of the gunwale above the baseline of a canoe. It is lowest at the center of the canoe and gradually rises toward the ends, sometimes rising sharply between the end thwarts and the stems. Properly setting the sheerline is one of the most important steps in the assembly process because it determines not only the final look of the canoe, but also its structural integrity. The sheerline is formed by the inwales and outwales, with the bark locked in place between them by both hardwood pegs and spruce-root lashings.

Assembly constitutes about 50 percent of the work in making a canoe, so at this point you are about half way home. Previous articles outlined other basic steps. These include: Selecting a canoe to model; making a quarter-scale "blueprint"; constructing a reusable building platform; making a gunwale frame; making and installing thwarts; making ribs; splitting cedar; splitting spruce roots for lashings; making sheathing to line the interior of the hull; and unrolling and raising the bark. To review previous articles, go to www.barkcanoe.com/home.htm. Then select "Tips," then "Building Miniature Canoes."

Carefully remove the gunwale frame from the bark enclosure. Insert the two halves of the plywood building frame into the rough canoe shape, being careful to center each half and not to disturb the position of the bark.

Next, attach sheering posts under each thwart of the inwale frame. Sheering posts determine the amount of gunwale rise from the canoe center to each end. Sheering posts can be held in place by tying them onto each thwart with twine inserted through a hole drilled into each dowel. The same effect can by achieved by running a small screw through one of the lashing holes at the ends of each thwart and into a pre-drilled hole in the top of each sheering post below. Check the blueprint for the size, number and placement of lashing holes in each thwart. Each sheering post will need to be reduced in height by the thickness of the building frame, i.e., 1/8" if the building frame is made of 1/8" plywood.

Reposition the inwale frame, with sheering posts attached, inside the bark enclosure, being careful to center the frame both widthwise and lengthwise. Cover the inwale frame with plywood planks to support the brick weights and to protect the inwale frame while the sheerline is being set.

Trim the excess height of the bark, using scissors or a razor knife, to an inch above the gunwale frame between the end thwarts, but not beyond the end thwarts.

Next, add the outwales to form the inwale/bark/outwale sandwich the constitutes the gunwales of the canoe. Center the outwales on the centerline of the center thwart and line them up at the same height as the inwale. Clamp them in place at regular intervals with clothespins.

Beginning at the center of the canoe and working outward toward each end pull the gores upward to form a smooth surface, with no bulges or gaps in the hull. Where the gores overlap, one side will be vertical and the other angled. With a pencil, transfer the vertical line of each gore onto the angled side and then carefully trim away the excess angled side so that both sides join in a vertical seam. These seams will later be sealed with spruce gum to waterproof them.

With all the sheering posts in place, replace the plywood support sections and then replace the weights to hold the now-sheered inwale frame in its permanent position. The inwale frame is now held at the proper height to begin pegging and lashing.

In the next newsletter, we will lock the inwales, bark and outwales together with hardwood pegs and begin lashing together the entire gunwale assembly with split spruce roots.

If you have questions about any of the above, just send an email to tedbehne@comcast.net.

You can view Ted's work here.

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