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JW Kite build - ready for Gunwales

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Hi.

I have a very Specific question about my build but I thought I'd start off with a little introduction since I haven't posted anything about this build yet.

Last summer I started building my John Winters Kite up in northern Sweden. I've had a lot of help along the way especially from Martin Step at Greenvalley Boatworks where I bought the plans. Can't say enough good things about the service and support from him.
Stripperguy (no known blood relation) and Dogbrain has also provided much good advice and support along the way.


In short:
I finished the hull, glassed it inside and out, then the project was put on hold for 8 months until now.

The hull is stripped with locally grown spruce (picea abies), stripped with rectangular strips or "rolling bevel". The strip dimension was 3/16" x 3/4". I cut out many knots and used a 1:12 scarf joint and glued the strips so that all of them were full length before stapling them on the forms. I found a very good technique and this felt like the easiest way to go about it.

I'm using two piece tapered stems made from local Aspen.

Glass schedule is as follows: A full layer of 4oz E-glass on the outside and an additional layer of 4oz S-glass on the bottom stopping a few inches above the waterline.
The inside is 4oz S-glass laid perpendicular to the length of the canoe, overlapping about 1" every 30" and thus creating a sort of reinforcing rib at the overlaps. The hull feels stiff and sturdy enough.

I put three fill coats on the outside, none on the inside.

The outside will be painted with a high gloss "high performance two component polyurethane" from De Ijssel in a bordeaux red.
Inside will be the same quality polyurethane but clear with only a small amount of the red added to block UV even better and add a little red hue to the very bright spruce.

Weight at current stage is: 12kg or 26.5lbs
I'm aiming to keep the finished weight below 20 kg/44lbs which might be doable. I should at least get close. The Spruce I used as strips is of the northern variety which is denser than what can be found down south. I think this is the reason that the hull is a bit on the heavy side, or not heavy exactly.. Let's say it's a little heavy for a light weight craft.

I've started to sand the outside hull today.
I also picked up a good 17 foot 2"x5" heartwood Scots Pine (pinus sylvestris) for the gunwales. It is has good rot resistance even though it doesn't absorb much of an oil finish. It cuts, sands and glues very well. This is my best alternative for gunwales. Even though this is old growth and much higher quality and harder than construction grade pine it is still a softwood. Should be lighter than Ash (which I can't get) but it's no where near as hard.



I would like to hear your opinions on gunwale dimensions using this type of wood.
I will not do scuppers and I will hang a sliding seat from the inner gunwale.

/Thestripper
 

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I hesitate to comment, because I am not a light weight builder, but I would probably go 1.9 cm for the inside gunwales, since you will be hanging a seat, then 1.3 cm or so for the outer. I just finished my gunwales, I used cherry, I'll be going about 1.6 for my inners.
Martin is a gem, he has been my main guy for around 25 years.
 
You sorta tied our hands on opinions as you have already bought the wood. However, Scots Pine is not rated with good rot resistance in my references, doesn't mean you can't use it, just means you will have to keep it protected .... cherry would have been a better choice for about the same weight.

Having said that, it is in the same arena with cherry for strength (but not hardness) and that I work with a lot. On my last 15' canoe, I used 5/16" x 5/8" cherry strips for inner and outer gunnels, the inner receiving a 45 degree chamfer to help water drain out (as well as lighten the gunnel). Since you are a foot shorter at 14' you can likely trim this sizing a bit ... but not too much. If you are watching weight, you will want to make sure you taper the gunnels as they approach the ends, say going from a width of 5/8" to ~1/4" at the tip ... i usually start the taper after the thwarts.

You can epoxy on an additional 1/4" - 3/8" in the area you intend you mount the seat. Although, personally I am finding cleats a whole lot better to work with ... maybe consider reading up a bit more on how you want to mount the seats.

Making the gunnels here : https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/light-weight-solo-tripper-build.105054/page-2#post-105214

Gunnel install from last build is found here : https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/light-weight-solo-tripper-build.105054/page-7#post-110227

Maybe you will find something useful there

Brian
 
I'd check with Martin, as it's his design.

Me !
Minnesota builders had a novel idea that worked quite well, for the inwhale.

Member here, by the name of Steve Zapf should have a pic of the MCA inwhale, that Bruce Kunz built.

I wish I had a pic !

Each inwhale, was made up of three, roughly equal in length pieces, of 3/8"x 3/4". A few scuppers were also used.

I'll try and describe.
Two pieces, 3/8" thick, were adhered to the hull, solid, The third overlapped, and spanned the gap between each of the first two, by say 8". This left a 3/8" gap, between the hull and the third piece. Scuppers were placed, to support the seats. So themiddle of the inwhale was actually, 3/4" thick to hang the seat from. The gaps between the scuppers allow a place to lash things to, and drain water.

Again a pic would have made this clear.

It is a good system, and I had thought about using it on my last build.

Maybe on my next one.
 
I use Engelman Spruce for gunwales on the last 3 solo canoes I built and replaced my Kite gunwales with the same a couple years ago. Since the Kite has that sharp tumblehome, the hull without gunwales is already quite stiff compared to other solos, so you can minimize the outwale. I used 3/4" tall by 3/8" wide for outwales and 3/4" tall by 5/8" wide for inwales. For hanging seats I don't think you would want to go any smaller than 5/8" wide.

Mark
 
You sorta tied our hands on opinions as you have already bought the wood. However, Scots Pine is not rated with good rot resistance in my references, doesn't mean you can't use it, just means you will have to keep it protected .... cherry would have been a better choice for about the same weight.

Having said that, it is in the same arena with cherry for strength (but not hardness) and that I work with a lot. On my last 15' canoe, I used 5/16" x 5/8" cherry strips for inner and outer gunnels, the inner receiving a 45 degree chamfer to help water drain out (as well as lighten the gunnel). Since you are a foot shorter at 14' you can likely trim this sizing a bit ... but not too much. If you are watching weight, you will want to make sure you taper the gunnels as they approach the ends, say going from a width of 5/8" to ~1/4" at the tip ... i usually start the taper after the thwarts.

You can epoxy on an additional 1/4" - 3/8" in the area you intend you mount the seat. Although, personally I am finding cleats a whole lot better to work with ... maybe consider reading up a bit more on how you want to mount the seats.

Making the gunnels here : https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/light-weight-solo-tripper-build.105054/page-2#post-105214

Gunnel install from last build is found here : https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/light-weight-solo-tripper-build.105054/page-7#post-110227

Maybe you will find something useful there

Brian
Thanks for the links Brian. I will check them out.
It's true that I'm pretty tied when it comes to wood selection up here in the north. Anything can be ordered of course but shipping costs and the time it takes to get it pretty much rules that out. The Kite is 15' though so same s your canoe.

Scots pine is a fantastic wood and very rot resistant, if you get old growth red heartwood that is. This is getting quite rare these days. I think most ratings for Scots pine is referring to new growth trees from industrial forestry which is very different. In the old days (viking times and before that even) they used to put the pine trees through a treatment that made it last for hundreds and even thousands of years out in the elements! (check out the awesome Norwegian stave churches and note how old they are!). Basically they scraped off the bark on one side of the living tree (I think it was the north side) then let it stand to accumulate resin inside for some years before cutting it down. They then laid it amongst the rocks in the tidal zone where it got drenched two times a day. It laid there for at least two years and then it was dried for for many years and then inherited by the next generation who either used it or buried it in a bog, further enhancing it's quality. Why my forebears did not foresee my need of gunwale stock is not known. What is known is that the red heartwood of old growth Scots Pine is pretty awesome wood and could be expected to last a very long time. Varnish is probably a bad idea though since it will get damaged, let moisture in but not out. I think I will simply add continuous layers of boiled linseed oil.



I'd check with Martin, as it's his design.

Me !
Minnesota builders had a novel idea that worked quite well, for the inwhale.

Member here, by the name of Steve Zapf should have a pic of the MCA inwhale, that Bruce Kunz built.

I wish I had a pic !

Each inwhale, was made up of three, roughly equal in length pieces, of 3/8"x 3/4". A few scuppers were also used.

I'll try and describe.
Two pieces, 3/8" thick, were adhered to the hull, solid, The third overlapped, and spanned the gap between each of the first two, by say 8". This left a 3/8" gap, between the hull and the third piece. Scuppers were placed, to support the seats. So themiddle of the inwhale was actually, 3/4" thick to hang the seat from. The gaps between the scuppers allow a place to lash things to, and drain water.

Again a pic would have made this clear.

It is a good system, and I had thought about using it on my last build.

Maybe on my next one.
Hi Jim.
Martin didn't have anything specific to say about this since he hasn't seen the wood I'm using. He nodded towards the dimensions in the builders notes. Those numbers are H x W for the outer gunwale 1/2" x 5/8" - inner gunwale 3/4" x 5/8"
Tapering them towards the ends seems like a given. Both for saving weight and to enhance the aesthetics.

I use Engelman Spruce for gunwales on the last 3 solo canoes I built and replaced my Kite gunwales with the same a couple years ago. Since the Kite has that sharp tumblehome, the hull without gunwales is already quite stiff compared to other solos, so you can minimize the outwale. I used 3/4" tall by 3/8" wide for outwales and 3/4" tall by 5/8" wide for inwales. For hanging seats I don't think you would want to go any smaller than 5/8" wide.

Mark
Hi Dogbrain.
I have no experience with the Engelman Spruce but from reading a bit I get the impression that it's somewhat like the Norway spruce (picea abies). Your numbers sound very reasonable for the Kite. Your outwale is taller and narrower than Martins numbers. I feel more confident in how to dimension my gunwales now.

I haven't decided on what to do around the ends yet. This sketch describes an alternative I'm pondering. I think I will add short carrying handles in the bow and stern instead of decks. Might use those "miniature decks" in the sketch just for looks though.
 

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uuwY1a4.jpg

Upon looking back, I see they are not as miniature as I thought, but around 3 inches long. That's on my osprey, the Kite's older sister.
 
I was just looking at your pictures, I finished glassing the inside hull of the Raven last night, and it has a serious knuckle on it that caused some cursing, but nothing like the kite. Did you have any difficulty glassing the inside when you got to that overhang part? I did a very similar layup to you, 50 inch cloth perpendicular with overlays, which makes it a lot easier, but there were still times when I wanted to light it on fire and walk away.
 
I'd check with Martin, as it's his design.

Me !
Minnesota builders had a novel idea that worked quite well, for the inwhale.

Member here, by the name of Steve Zapf should have a pic of the MCA inwhale, that Bruce Kunz built.

I wish I had a pic !

Each inwhale, was made up of three, roughly equal in length pieces, of 3/8"x 3/4". A few scuppers were also used.

I'll try and describe.
Two pieces, 3/8" thick, were adhered to the hull, solid, The third overlapped, and spanned the gap between each of the first two, by say 8". This left a 3/8" gap, between the hull and the third piece. Scuppers were placed, to support the seats. So themiddle of the inwhale was actually, 3/4" thick to hang the seat from. The gaps between the scuppers allow a place to lash things to, and drain water.

Again a pic would have made this clear.

It is a good system, and I had thought about using it on my last build.

Maybe on my next one.
I had to meditate on this for a while. Does this sketch describe the concept?
 

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I was just looking at your pictures, I finished glassing the inside hull of the Raven last night, and it has a serious knuckle on it that caused some cursing, but nothing like the kite. Did you have any difficulty glassing the inside when you got to that overhang part? I did a very similar layup to you, 50 inch cloth perpendicular with overlays, which makes it a lot easier, but there were still times when I wanted to light it on fire and walk away.
Yes!
I laid out all the glass and carefully dry-brushed it with a big soft brush to get it to conform to the shapes before going on with the epoxy. I thought it was going to be easy but it was a real thriller. The epoxy went on one glass sheet at a time, starting in the bottom at the center and working my way up the sides. The glass would lift like crazy either in the bottom or in the knuckle. The trick was to wet the cloth and let it soak for a good 3-5 minutes and then as if by magic the cloth would lay down perfect. On a few spots I had to use my gloved hand to smooth the cloth to the hull and then take off the excess epoxy with the squegee. Remember that I used S-glass. E-glass is much easier in my experience. S-glass also seems to be a lot thirstier than E-glass so I'm not sure about the benefits of using S-glass (except for the exotic cloth bragging rights of course). It's probably better against abrasion but to save weight a thinner S-glass, like a 3oz, would make more sense if there even is such a cloth..
 
There is some Scots pine here in the states but it doesn't seem to grow as well here as it does over there. I believe it failed commercially and, here in the Midwest, was planted as yard trees and often in rural cemeteries. It tends to grow big and crooked with a lot of big limbs jutting out at various angles. Interesting to look at but not something to get good wood from.

Alan
 
There is some Scots pine here in the states but it doesn't seem to grow as well here as it does over there. I believe it failed commercially and, here in the Midwest, was planted as yard trees and often in rural cemeteries. It tends to grow big and crooked with a lot of big limbs jutting out at various angles. Interesting to look at but not something to get good wood from.

Alan
Yeah they can grow in a variety of ways depending upon location and local climates. The industrial forest grow fast and straight with no branches until you reach abot 20 feet up. The old growth can look like this too but most of those trees have been cut down long ago. They are like our giant sequoias in a way. In Alpine regions and along the coast in Norway they are shorter with thick branches. These are more beautiful trees but of course not as good for long clear boards. They are very good firewood since they are usually full of fatwood and resin. This is what makes it so resilient to rot.

Scots Pine is not highly regarded as lumber these days. It's the standard construction grade lumber here. The growth rings are spaced far apart and it's rot resistant at all. There are some specialized small mills that still has some of the old growth but it's rare to find. This story is probabbly the same with a lot of wood species that used to be great but nowadays it's almost another species entirelly.

Sitka spruce is one example. In some places it's a highly regarded and expensive lumber. It's been planted all over Norway for the last hundred years or so, growing with record speed killing all undergrowth and spreading like wildfire. It's now regarded as an invasive pest tree without any use and it's too big for any existing machinery to cut.
 

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I owned a sawmill for a few years and had the chance to cut up a scots pine that was removed in town. If I remember right it was around 100 years old and over 40" in diameter. I got some somewhat clear lumber from the first 6' log and then a couple sections that made some interesting looking slabs.

It was nice wood and quite resinous. I still have most of it stacked on stickers. It needs to go to a kiln to set the pitch before it can really be usable for woodworking due to the resin (can't be sanded without plugging up paper).

Pretty much all of the Scots pine I've seen in the midwest look like the 'ugly' picture you posted. That's not too surprising though as there aren't many other conifers that do very well here either.

Alan
 
I owned a sawmill for a few years and had the chance to cut up a scots pine that was removed in town. If I remember right it was around 100 years old and over 40" in diameter. I got some somewhat clear lumber from the first 6' log and then a couple sections that made some interesting looking slabs.

It was nice wood and quite resinous. I still have most of it stacked on stickers. It needs to go to a kiln to set the pitch before it can really be usable for woodworking due to the resin (can't be sanded without plugging up paper).

Pretty much all of the Scots pine I've seen in the midwest look like the 'ugly' picture you posted. That's not too surprising though as there aren't many other conifers that do very well here either.

Alan
Please don't call it that Alan. That is forest that has not been touched after the ice age 😊. The "ugly" picture is the one with the skinny trees and destroyed undergrowth.

On a more serious note. You don't need to kiln dry that wood. Use it as is for anything outside that you want to last. Window waternose, decking, stairs, sill or such. Quartersawn is best because the fibers protrudin outwards from the logs core (I don't know the word for this) will not transport water through them. Otherwise put them with the growth rings like a smiley face.
 
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Please don't call it that Alan. That is forest that has not been touched after the ice age 😊. The "ugly" picture is the one with the skinny trees and destroyed undergrowth.

On a more serious note. You don't need to kiln dry that wood. Use it as is for anything outside that you want to last. Window waternose, decking, stairs, sill or such. Quartersawn is best because the fibers protrudin outwards from the logs core (I don't know the word for this) will not transport water through them. Otherwise put them with the growth rings like a smiley face.

Yes, you are correct about the use of the word ugly. I too prefer the look of the less uniform trees from visual aesthetics. But for the sawmill I'd prefer the straight stuff.

:)

Alan
 
I once used Southern Yellow Pine for gunnels, they suffered from my neglect but it took 20 years before they needed repairs.
I'm fond of mahogany for all the wood trim, light, strong, and a nice color contrast. I avoid ALL hardwoods due to the weight penalty.
As dogbrain mentioned upthread, the crease on the Kite provides plenty of hull stiffness in and of itself, gunnels are more of an aesthetic concern.
OK, maybe more than just good looks, you do need the gunnels for cartopping...
As far as dimensions? Other than your desire to hang your seats, nearly any sections will suffice.
I will say, (not that it matters) I am not a fan of gunnel hung seats. There's too large of a moment on the seat drops and gunnels.
The Kite is quite sensitive to trim, so it's just about imperative to have some fore-aft seat adjustment. I am particularly pleased with bottom mounted seat pedestals, for multiple reasons.
Easily allow fore-aft adjustment, clear space between seat frame and gunnels, (easier to move about the boat for loading, launching, beaver drags, etc) no awkward accommodations for seat hangers, no loads on the gunnels...

Oh, and that sure is a pretty boat!
 
I once used Southern Yellow Pine for gunnels, they suffered from my neglect but it took 20 years before they needed repairs.
I'm fond of mahogany for all the wood trim, light, strong, and a nice color contrast. I avoid ALL hardwoods due to the weight penalty.
As dogbrain mentioned upthread, the crease on the Kite provides plenty of hull stiffness in and of itself, gunnels are more of an aesthetic concern.
OK, maybe more than just good looks, you do need the gunnels for cartopping...
As far as dimensions? Other than your desire to hang your seats, nearly any sections will suffice.
I will say, (not that it matters) I am not a fan of gunnel hung seats. There's too large of a moment on the seat drops and gunnels.
The Kite is quite sensitive to trim, so it's just about imperative to have some fore-aft seat adjustment. I am particularly pleased with bottom mounted seat pedestals, for multiple reasons.
Easily allow fore-aft adjustment, clear space between seat frame and gunnels, (easier to move about the boat for loading, launching, beaver drags, etc) no awkward accommodations for seat hangers, no loads on the gunnels...

Oh, and that sure is a pretty boat!
Hello there Big Stripper!

20 years of neglect before repair was needed sounds acceptable to me. Did you varnish those or just use oil, or nothing?
I don't have mahogany but I spent the night yesterday salvaging and re-sawing an old door frame out of real Burmeese Teak. It looks and smells lovely and it will last forever out in the elements. The drawbacks are weight and that it doesn't glue well because of the oils (supposedly, I have no experience with this). Not sure I will use this for anything on this build. I've been doing some more sketches and think I am getting close to what could be a good solution on the gunwales. In this scetch the piece named "inlay" could be made from Teak just for the looks. Another alternative could be to let it be a part of one of the gunwales instead of a lose piece. Hope the line weights on my drawing will show up well enough for you to see and understand what I'm trying to explain. With this type of gunwale solution the top of the stems will be completely covered by the gunwales and little decks. The gunwales will of course need to be thinned out on the inside to fit nicely over the stems and a small piece added in front to make the outside gunwales wrap around the bow/stern in a nice way. I've used Martin Steps' dimensions for the sketch and I think they might work well for me. I've tapered both inside and outside gunwale towards the ends. They will of course be rounded off, this is a preliminary sketch.

Added some pictures of the teak and my Scots Pine gunwale stock. I will only use the heart wood, not the white wood at the right side of the board.

When it comes to seat I have had thought long and hard.. I kneel in dire situations but only then. Otherwise I sit and if I am paddling longer stretches I sit with one leg under the seat and the front foot up in the wrap of the bilge on the side I'm padling. A pedestal seat will not allow for this. A stationary seat will, but I've heard so much about the trim sensitivity of the kite that I've landed on a adjustable seat of the same concept as Martin Step is showing on Greenvalleys site. I have not dimensioned this nor do I have any idea on how to easily adjust the seat back and forth and get a solid "lock" where I place it so it will not slip around in critical situations. Anyone?
 

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