After getting sidetracked on a couple other projects, I got back to the canoe. This is the “stitching” stage, where you go from flat panels to a three-dimensional canoe.
I laced together the bottom edges of the two bottom panels with zip-ties, then opened it up and laced on the second set of panels. The curves did not line up very well at all here, and I knew the reason why - I’d done an atrocious job of truing up the butt ends of the bottom panels, and had significantly shortened them.
I was hoping this would be close enough to ignore, but when I got it lined up with panel 2, it was evident that wasn’t the case. I ended up taking it all apart again, cutting the bottom panels in half, and adding in inserts. This didn’t go smoothly either, but I eventually got something workable.
A big takeaway from this is that it’s better to be accurate than neat. That is, maybe your line is a little wiggly, or not quite square. Stitch and glue can fill in that sort of minor discrepancy no problem. Resist the urge to plane down the line until it’s smooth, strive instead for accuracy.
Back to making forward progress now - here are the bottom three sets of panels stitched up.
And all 10 panels joined.
Then I stuck in the bulkhead forms. In this picture they’re just held loosely with masking tape, but I did end up tacking some finishing nails in to hold the panels in place. After some false starts, I got the best results joining the top panels to the forms and letting the other panels rest in place.
Going into this stage, I thought you’d join everything together and call it a day. This was not the case. The ends needed a little finessing with a plane to get an even curve, and many sections of the canoe had one plank that wanted to stick out further than the one adjoining it.
Some suggest you round over or bevel the edges of your panels so they don’t meet at a corner. I wish I’d done this, particularly for areas where planks join at sharper angles - the two corners want to slide past one another, rather than sit even.
I ended up using a few more finishing nails to hold a couple panels in place. The bottom panels didn’t want to make the twist necessary at the very ends, so I ended up sticking a spring clamp on there - with the aid of a small nail to keep it from sliding off. Masking tape was perfect for joining the ends of the canoe; easy to work with and easy to adjust.
I’d initially stitched the hull together with plastic zip-ties. These worked great for the most part, though I’d over-tightened a few originally, so I cut them off and used new ones. They go on fast. Zip-ties, however, can only tighten so much, so for sections where I needed to close gaps, I ended up switching to baling wire. This worked great, though it was a little slower. I also used masking tape at various spots throughout to help hold things in place.
(This picture is before all the adjustments)