Here I’m cutting the long planks to form the sides of the canoe
The finished planks. Each piece is shaped differently and when stitched together will ‘shape’ the canoe.
Stitched together with plastic cable ties
I experimented with hanging the canoe to let gravity determine the fore and aft rocker.
Later I added a box frame as the sides were ‘flapping’ around.
The canoe glued together!
OK, I have my scale model and now it’s time to start making the ‘real’ canoe! Just to recap: I decided not to use either the Waka Ama or Ulua plans, but to create my own design using the scale drawing in “The Hawaiian Canoe” on page 69. I made two 1/4 scale models of the canoe hull – one out of solid redwood, and one from plywood strips I stitched together the same as I’ll be doing with the full-size canoe. My first step will be scarfing together two sheets of 1/4″ marine ply; these will be joined end-to-end to make a single sheet 4 ft wide by almost 16 ft long.
I start by stacking the sheets of plywood on top of each other pushing each sheet back from the edge 2″ – this will create a 1:8 ratio for the angle of the scarf. Using a plane and sander I make the scarf.
The finished scarf. This is actually 4 sheets of 1/4 inch plywood.
Here all 4 sheets are ready to be glued up at one time.
All glued and clamped. The epoxy resin glue will create a joint as strong as the wood around it.
The finished joint. Now I have a sheet of plywood that is 15 ft 10 inches long.
I’ve been studying the canoe designs in “The Hawaiian Canoe” by Tommy Holmes, as well as the Ulua by Gary Dierking, and the Waka Ama by Selway-Fisher. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Waka Ama is not really a “Hawaiian” design in that the bow and stern are symmetrical: meaning that the canoe can be propelled either way – just depending on which direction you set up the seats. This is a common design in parts of the Pacific – but not in Hawaii. The Ulua is primarily a sailing canoe; in his book “Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes” Gary Dierking even comments “I’m a sailor and I’ll only paddle if I must.” From what I’ve learned/read most Hawaiian style, single hull, outrigger canoes are primarily paddling canoes – that may also be sailed.
With that in mind I’ve done my best to build a 1/4 scale model of the Opelu canoe from “The Hawaiian Canoe” page 69. Using some scrap redwood I created this model.
This is 46 inches long X 4.75 inches wide so the finished canoe should be about 15 feet 4 inches long and 19 inches wide. Planning to make this as a ‘stitch and glue’ canoe I then cut plywood planks also at 1/4 scale.
After stitching together with wire the model looks like this:
With no bulkheads or seats to maintain the shape I inserted temporary cross pieces to hold the proper width. Now I just have to scale this up to Full Size!