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Making the Stempieces

Stempieces are what shape the side-view profile of the bow and stern of the canoe.  They are pieces of cedar that are carved and shaped, and then sewn into the bark at the bow and stern.  The profile defined by the stempieces is one of the key features that distinguishes the canoes of different regions and tribes.  Some are fairly complex and or have a fairly large profile, while others are quite understated.  The canoe that we are building falls more into the latter category.  The idea is for the bow and stern to behave well in waves, as in large lakes, but avoid catching too much wind when on a lake with a side-wind.

These are the two pieces of cedar that have been carved into the basic form from which the stempieces will be made.  They are soaking in water to facilitate them being bent into the desired shape. Tom used his crooked knife to make 7 longitudinal splits most of the way down each  piece.  This will facilitate them being bent without cracking or stress that might weaken them.
The shaping of the wet piece begins by just bending it against the knee. Tom has laid out the basic form that he wants on a peg-board.  He works towards getting the piece bent to match the pattern.
  If the piece will not bend enough, it is not forced.  Rather, hot/boiling water is poured on it.  This makes it more maleable. He then bends if further, and repeats the process until it will fit in the pegboard foarm.   
  The piece is now in the desired shape.  Left dry, while constrained in this shape by the peg-board, it will hold its shape.  Before being fit in the canoe, however, the laminated parts are lashed in order to increase their structural integrity.   Here we see that the second stempiece has gone through the same process.  By having both fit to the same peg-board, we will achieve the symmetry that we want between the bow and the stern.  
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