Canoe ready to hit the waves following long-term Perse woodworking project
30 Apr 2020
Key worker pupils at The Perse came to the rescue to help complete a painstaking boat-building project.
The Perse Woodworking Club began the challenge of constructing a cedar strip canoe in September 2018 with more than 50 students being involved along the way.
The project was scheduled to take two years to accomplish, but following the recent school closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was thought the scheme may not reach fruition before this summer. However, key worker pupils stepped up to the plate to put the finishing touches to the canoe despite most of them not having any previous experience of woodworking.
Perse Head of Outdoor Pursuits Ben Parker said: “They showed great focus and patience applying a perfect final coating to the exterior and trim. A special thanks must go to Pete Edwards and Dr Commin for their support and expertise keeping this project on track.”
Every part of the 17ft canoe has been handmade from source materials apart from the seat weaving. Built using American red cedar, English white ash and South American wenge trim, the canoe was put together painstakingly using a bead-and-cove construction method with steam-bent bow and stern pieces.
The entire frame was constructed over a custom mould and was finished with a transparent layer of glass fibre and resin for strength in use. There were many challenging moments from ‘trueing’ the mould from the start to hand-carving separate components, especially during the delicate process of removing the hull from the mould for the first time.
The vessel was built in a ‘voyager’ style with a high symmetric bow and stern for cutting through water and tracking straight and true with little steering input from the paddler.
Despite its immense length, the boat’s hull is no more than nine millimetres thick at any point and can be carried by one person.
The completed canoe will go on display at the Upper before forming part of the outdoor pursuits department’s working fleet.