The Suburbanite
  • Outtakes Around the Lakes, PLCC students build canoe the old-fashioned way

  • They say the more things change, the more they remain the same. With that in mind, just what is it about water that attracts us like a magnet to the point where we need to build or even restore vessels?

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  • They say the more things change, the more they remain the same. With that in mind, just what is it about water that attracts us like a magnet to the point where we need to build or even restore vessels?
    Back in the days of yore, the American Indians built watercrafts and used them to travel long distances. Their “highways” were the streams and rivers in America. They built these crafts themselves and they were called canoes. Today, we're not much different. We're still emulating those native Americans.   
    Thanks to Lucy Hunter of Turkeyfoot Lake, I was recently informed about a group in our area who built a canoe much like the Indians of yesteryear. As far as I know, they’re not descendants of those Native Americans. This group doesn't hollow out logs or use strips of birch to cover a frame like the natives. No, their methods are more advanced.
    They are students, ages 17 to 20, and are all seniors enrolled in the Careers In Industries class at the Portage Lakes Career Center (PLCC).  Taylor Glasser attends Coventry. Steve Balogh is from Manchester High, Mike Carman hails from Green and Ben Wilt and Chris Kiltau are from Springfield. All five are learning canoe building from instructors Dale Dunlevy and Tom Fry.
    Using quarter sawn sycamore lumber, they have built a strip canoe weighing 94 pounds. Both the inside and outside of the vessel are reinforced with fiberglass and the gunnels and deck are made from black walnut. The seats, yoke and thwarts are quarter sawn white oak. Since power engines were not used back then, they built two paddles made from quarter sawn sycamore, quarter sawn white oak and black walnut for the driving force.
    After starting around January 15 in the Careers In Industries Service Lab at the PLCC, they finished their labor of love on May 15. It was displayed at the Portage Lakes Boating and Fishing Swap Meet June 2 at the Tudor House on Turkeyfoot Lake. While the canoe will not be in Sunday’s boat parade, it was displayed the day on Saturday at the Classic and Antique Boat Show. Tentative plans were to showcase it somewhere between the Olde Harbor Inn and Hook Line and Drinkers, on land.
    “This project incorporated many trade skills that will serve students in careers and life,” Dunlevy said.
    Included was everything from a wood planer, jointers, table saw,  sanders, fiber glassing, marketing the canoe, establishing timelines and learning new procedures ranging from the manufacture's instructions to internet video clips to asking professionals.
    “Most things we build in school are built then torn down,” Dunlevy added. “This project was different since the students built a great looking canoe and raffled it off, showing them their hours of hard work are of value.”
    Page 2 of 2 - All the lumber used in building the canoe came from Ohio trees. The instructions and plan came from a book titled “Building Strip Canoes” by Gil Gilpatrick.
    “The students built the forms from plywood,” Dunlevy said. “The rough sawn lumber was planed down and run through a jointer, then milled to strips, then 1/4” strips on the table saw. After that, the strips were run through a cove and bead bit on the router table so the strips could interlock. They were stapled or screwed to the forms and glued together to form the hull. The exterior of the canoe was sanded and fiberglassed. This process was repeated for the interior of the canoe.
    Gunnels, decks and other woodwork were added.”
    According to Dunlevy, the cost of building the canoe was about $1,000. Nearly $200 went toward the cost of wood and the rest went for finishing supplies.
    The “Canoe Five” had hoped to sell enough raffle tickets at the June 30 Antique and Classic Boat show. As of this writing, nearly 120 of the 400 printed tickets remained. There's no word yet on whether they succeeded with ticket sales but with their determination, odds are better than even that they'll be successful.
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