Sailing Canoe Chapter 8: Keel and Rub Strips



Introduction: Sailing Canoe Chapter 8: Keel and Rub Strips

About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific I…

Finish the hull by adding a hardwood keel, rub strips on the stems, and kie (outrigger crossbeam, aka) lashings.

Continues from
Chapter 1: Make the Deck, Keel, and Cockpits
Chapter 2: Make Ribs
Chapter 3: Lash the Frame
Chapter 4: Carve outrigger and Break tools
Chapter 5: Hull Frame Finishing
Chapter 6: Morton's Oar
Chapter 7: Hull Skin

Followed by:
Chapter 9: Dipaakak
Chapter 10: Independent Suspension
Chapter X: Maiden Voyage

Please support the WAM canoe project as they preserve and foster canoe knowledge in the Marshall Islands.

Step 1: Rip the Pieces

I had some nice hard Eucalyptus floorboards from the Habitat for Humanity "Re-Store" in Wailuku.
I used my circlesaw-on-board "tablesaw" to rip them into strips 1 1/8" wide to cover the whole keel and 1" strips to cover the stems.
My stock was too short to cover the whole length of the keel, so I pieced it together. The central keel shoe would cover the joints.
For the keel shoe I cut a 3' piece of floorboard and shaped it down to 3/4" thick at the edge as seen here. I drilled four holes for 1/4"-20 carriage bolts as seen here.

I mixed some epoxy with flour for glue, slathered it on the mating surfaces, and bolted the shoe on.
I clamped the keel strips at the stems so they wouldn't shift.

Step 2: Tighten the Keel Bolts

I tightened the keel bolts with a crescent wrench.
The gluing was a wrestling-wet-snakes type operation.
I lacked confidence and dry hands to take pictures, but as you'll see in the next photo, it went well. I mixed just enough glue to bond well and make a fillet. Not so much it ran all over the nice skin.

Step 3: Counter-Sink for Screws

I didn't have a real countersink bit, so I used a big drillbit to countersink. That means drilling a wide shallow hole so a flathead screw head sits below the level of the surrounding wood. As you would want on a "counter" I spoze.

Do not drill the screw hole first!
That makes the countersink bit dig in. That causes damage and dismay.

Step 4: Drill Screw Holes

Only drill through the outer keel rub strip
Do not drill through the skin or into the keel.

Use a backing block to protect the skin.
Near the central keel you can't pull the rub strip up from the skin. I slid a can lid under it to protect the skin from the drillbit.

Step 5: Taper the Tip

The keelson (inner keel) is wider than the stem. I shaved and sanded the rub strips to match.

Screw down all the rub strips with #8-3/4" stainless steel screws. Or whatever your favorite screw is.
The wood of the frame is soft. The screws should go in easily without splitting the wood. Don't overtighten them.

I was in a hurry and spent about $30 at the hardware store for stainless fasteners. Home Depot overcharges for such things also.
Save money by going to a fastener store such as Fran-Dan, Fastenal or Bay Bolt. You'll get your fasteners as cheap as the lowest online price and you won't have to pay shipping.

Step 6: Oil the Shoes

Paint all this new wood with linseed oil. Let it soak in in the shade. The skin is already varnished, so don't worry about getting it on the skin. Actually, linseed oil seems very compatible with this varnish anyway.

Step 7: Kie Sockets

The hull has sockets in one side for the Kie (outrigger crossbeams, akas) to plug into.
We need to make holes in the skin that covers these sockets.
Backlight the skin or just feel for the holes. Mark them like this.

Step 8: Cut and Melt the Holes

Cut along the lines with a sharp knife. Cut from the middle outward so you don't make the hole any bigger than it needs to be. Melt the edges with a lighter to reduce fraying.

Step 9: Tuck the Flaps Away

Tuck the flaps under the skin as seen here.

Step 10: Skin Clamp

To keep the skin from moving around and getting loose at this point I screwed some strips of wood here to clamp the skin down.

Step 11: Kie Lashings

At the moment here's how the Kie are attached to the hull. The challenge is to devise a system that's secure, easy to fix on the water and is quick to attach and detach on land.

The kie are inserted in the sockets in the side of the hull.
A loop of cord go through holes in the deck, around the kie beams, and through holes in a transverse board that hangs below the kie.
The function of that transverse board is to keep the cords from digging into the kie. They are also to keep the lashings organized when the kie are absent.

I pounded wedges under the turns of the lashings to tighten them.

Step 12: Inside the Hull View of the Kie Lashings

It looks like this on the inside of the hull.

What do the legends tell us to add to the hull now? Read on to
[Chapter 9: Dipaakak

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    14 years ago on Introduction

    Reading these editions have been fantastic. Is there going to be some kind of epic adventure once it is completed?