I got a compliment this weekend: one of our customers said that I was a speedy canoe-canvasser. Amazing! I have rarely been told that I do anything quickly! Of course, it does go a bit faster on the canoecam's end-of-day video than in person in the shop, but I can't resist the compliment. So, here: I will show you just how fast it can go!*
Step one: Measure, cut and fold the canvas
The canvas must be cut about three feet longer than the boat to allow for some extra to fit in our vertical canvas clamps. Then we fold it up lengthwise and hang it.
Step Two: Vertical Tension
With the canvas hanging from the clamps, it creates a perfect envelope for the canoe hull. Boat in! To keep it from popping back out when we stretch the canvas, we use a couple of adjustable posts for some downward pressure. There are two wooden "beaver boards" (as, I am told, one would use for skinning a beaver) in the bottom of the canoe to keep the posts from punching right through the hull.
Step Three: Horizontal Tension
A come-along hooks onto one of our vertical clamps. We crank it until there is no more slack in the canvas, right below the gunwale. Ready for tacking!
Step Four: Tack along the gunwale
Stretch the canvas with the canvassing pliers and it's two tacks per rib, right below the edge of the planking. I always have to make sure my tacks don't sneak in under the inner gunwale - those make for a painful surprise later... If you squint really hard at this picture, you'll see me tacking the canvas!
|The large clothespins you see help bring the canvas closer to the canoe at its ends.|
Step Five: Tack along the stem
We cut the canvas right down the center of the stem once it is out of the clamps. We lap the canvas across the stem, pulling it tight across the stem for each tack. This is one of my favorite parts, which the canoecam can't quite capture: the neat line of tiny copper tacks down the stems once both laps are attached.
Fill the canvas and voilá!
There. Wasn't that speedy? Wasn't it??*
*The shop record is currently still held by Peter Wallace and Rollin Thurlow who both insist that they can canvas and fill a boat, "no sweat," in four hours. "Yeah," says Peter. "One before lunch, one after lunch!" So, there you have it. It's all relative!