Stem Pieces by John Lindman

A fellow asked me a question the other day about stem pieces. He said his question was not addressed in any articles I had written, in any videos or in Adney's book. The question was, "how is the stem piece attached to the bark?"

If Adney doesn't address it in text you can see the answer in the drawings but they probably don't mean anything unless you know the answer before looking at them. So here I go.

The stitching that holds the stem piece in place goes right through the stem piece itself. If you try to do any stitching that does not go through the stem piece other than perhaps stitching that is just on the inside edge of the stem piece, it will tear the bark. What this means is that if you plan on doing any fancy stitching with long stitches then you better have a stem piece that is the same depth as the length of those stitches. The holes are made with the awl. The awl goes in from one side until a dimple is made in the bark on the other side of the stem piece. Then the awl is used to make a hole going in from the dimple. This is done so that you have a clean hole on both sides rather than a torn hole on the side from which the awl exits.

The stem piece gets placed at the end of the building frame (or if it is a bit longer is slipped just under the end of the building frame). It then gets pegged to the bark on one side. That side is then trimmed. Then the stem piece is aligned and the pegs go through to attach the bark on the other side. Regardless of the style of canoe you are building the top of the stem piece needs to be attached to the gunwales. You can't just have it floating attached to the bark. Everything structural needs to be connected. If you look closely at Adney's drawings you can see how what I am talking about as regards the various styles of canoes.

If this is done your canoe will have stability.

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