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Over the years we've encountered some challenging aspects of canoe and guide-boat restoration. Effective techniques can be discovered and/or learned from others. Materials, however, are a different story. A hundred years ago boat and canoe builders had access to woods that rarely exist today and hardware that is, in some cases, no longer made.

The good news is that a truly accurate and historically respectful new build or restoration can still be done. All that's required is an unhealthy degree of obsession, lots of searching and no small investment. Having seen many examples of shortcuts (laminates, modern hardware, etc.) we felt there was some value in sharing the fruits of our sourcing efforts with those who wish to 'do the right thing' when building or restoring antique small craft. Thus, we are offering both stumpwood for guide-boat stems and ribs, along with original dimension brass stemband rivets for B.N. Morris canoes. First, the rivets:

c.1906 Henry Kilburn Martin guide-boat

Morris used brass rivets to affix the brass stembands on his canoes. The shaft diameter was 7/64" so that they fit very nicely into the 1/8" I.D. burrs (washers) that were placed on the inside of his canoe stems. So far as we know, there is one place on the planet that has the dies to make this diameter in brass. It's a tool shop located about 60 miles north of Birmingham, England. We bought enough to never run out and still have some to offer for sale. The overall length is 1.25" and the head dimensions are within 1/64" of the originals. Our price for a set of 20 (enough to do one canoe) is $38.00 post paid to the contiguous 48 states. For folks in other lands we'll charge the $38.00 plus actual postage. Please contact us if you're interested or have questions.

Now the Stumpwood

All Adirondack guide-boats used stumpwood for their stems and sawn ribs. The most predominate species was Red Spruce. J.H. Rushton used Tamarack (Eastern Larch) for the stems on his guide-boats as well as many of his canoes. During the summer of 2012 we had the good fortune to obtain about a dozen Red Spruce and Tamarack stumps. The aforementioned obsession took hold and we turned them into slabs that are generally cut to 1.25-1.50 inches thick (to allow for a finished 1" stem thickness) and kiln dried to about 8% m.c. The slabs can be resawn for finished 7/16" rib stock.

As you can probably imagine, the entire process is very consumptive of time and money and qualifies as a huge pain in the rear (this is why we see laminates at boat shows). Rather than wallow in the details, here are 8 photos that outline the major steps:





Tamarack
All rough cut to at least 1.25" thick

No. Usable dimensions (Height x width in inches) Price
1 24 x 16 $150.00
2
24 x 14
$135.00
3 22 x 22 $190.00
4 22 x 22 $190.00
5 18 x 15 $110.00
6 21 x 18 $150.00
7 18 x 18 $130.00
8 16 x 16 $100.00
9 18 x 16 $115.00
10 16 x 10 - For canoe stems only $60.00
11 22 x 10 - For canoe stems only $90.00
12 18 x 13 - For canoe stems only $95.00



Red Spruce
All rough cut to at least 1.25" thick (for guide-boat stems)

No. Usable dimensions (Height x width in inches) Price
1 24 x 16 $155.00
2
22 x 17
$150.00
3 23 x 16 $145.00
4 22 x 22 $190.00
5 20 x 16 $130.00
6 24 x 22 $210.00
7 22 x 12 $105.00
8 24 x 20 $190.00
10 20 x 20 $160.00
11 24 x 14 $135.00
12 24 x 20 $190.00


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Red Spruce
Most rough cut to 1.25" thick (for guide-boat rib stock that can be resawn for pairs).
All marked with an asterisk are 3/4" thick and are to be used for single ribs.

No. Usable dimensions (Height x width in inches) Price
9 21 x 14 - appropriate for 2 to 3 pair $80.00
13 22 x 10 - 2 pair $60.00
14 21 x 14 4 pair $80.00
15 16 x 14 - 3 to 4 pair $60.00
16 22 x 4 - 2 pair $25.00
17 20 x 3 - 2 pair (bow ribs) $15.00
18 24 x 3 - 2 to 3 pair $20.00
19* 24 x 5 - 2 ribs $20.00
20* 30 x 5 - 3 ribs $30.00
21* 22 x 7 - 2 or 3 ribs $30.00
22* 24 x 3 - 2 ribs $20.00
23 19 x 3 - 2 pair (bow or scribe ribs) $15.00
24* 19 x 3 - 2 ribs (bow or scribe) $10.00
25 21 x 6 - 2 pair $35.00
26 21 x 6 - 1 pair and 1 single $30.00
27* 21 x 5 - 2 ribs $20.00

Notes: If you are interested in any of these pieces please contact us and we'll send along a photo of the specific board(s). All pieces struck through with red are no longer available.

Finally, since we're operating in the realm of tough to get stuff, this summer we hope to have extra stock of Northern White cedar and may offer some for sale. Yes, 16' perfectly clear boards with quarter sawn faces up to 8" wide do exist. During April 2011 we reviewed more than 1,000 boards at various mills and bought 9 of them. Our guide-boat and canoe jobs have consumed all of this material so we're making the trek again later this spring. If you wish to be true to the art with your new build or restoration, check back with us in a few months.

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