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1. Start of build.  Introduction, bark, ribs and sheathing

The actual build began in the last week of July, 2008, although the collection of raw materials started a few weeks earlier.  I first went up to visit Tom for a few days and learn what I could, on August 5th.


Tom's 100+ year old log cabin where he lives.  No running water, nor electricity.  But a great view, isolated, and right on the Spanish River. The work shed where the canoes are built.  Mine is Tom's 41st bark canoe.  The shed is welcome, especially when it is pouring rain, and when the mosquitoes are out (i.e., most of the time!).
This and the adjacent picture show a close-up of the bark.  Contrary to many people's belief, it is not paper-thin;  rather, good bark is far closer in to the leather in your belt in both thickness and flexibility. The bark is harvested from the trees in (hopefully) large sheets so as to minimize the number of seams in the boat.  It is carried out of the bush in rolls.  Here you see how much it can be bent without splitting or cracking.
All of the work is done with traditional hand-tools - well, let's qualify that:  post contact tools, since metal is used.

Here Tom is using his maw and a wedge to split cedar.  This is in order to make the sheathing, or planks, that go between the bark skin and the ribs on the inside.
Here he is at his shaving horse using a draw knife to work what will become the sheathing. You can see a number of the planks against the wall behind him.  These are about 4" wide, and 1/8" thick.
This is a close-up shot that gives a better view of the sheathing that will eventually be fit between the bark and the ribs in the interior of the canoe.   Notice how thin the split, and the uniformity.      These are the ribs that will go into the canoe.  They still need to be shaped - something that happens later in the build.  The ribs and sheathing are all hand-split out of cedar logs, as above, and worked with a combination of the shaving horse, also seen above, and a crooked knife.
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