I decided to build a boat this winter in my basement. The stairway to the basement is in the garage and it has a right angle turn and solid walls. Whatever I built would have to fit out of one of the 12″x30″ casement windows. This limited my decision to a kayak so I decided on a Skin On Frame Greenland style using the traditional methods of mortise and tenon, pegged and lashed construction. I was able to purchase Eastern White Cedar from a local mill. I bought it rough cut and re-sawed it to the required dimensions.
With that decision made my next concern was bending the ribs and coaming which is normally done with a Steam Box and all the paraphernalia that goes with it. I was web surfing and found the arctickayaks.com site and saw a reprint of a SOF Greenland kayak construction from Sea Kayaker Magazine. I printed it out and liked the method used to bend the ribs and coaming. They sawed kerfs partially through the piece being bent and steamed them with traditional methods. The article explains everything in detail. I also have three kayak construction books that I found very useful.
I had a “Eureka” moment and thought of using an electric iron pressed on a wet cloth to steam the wood just like I pressed my uniforms when I was in the US Navy 60 years ago. Luckily my wife had an old electric iron that she let me use after I explained what I was up to. We took some photos of the process and am very happy to say that I was very pleased with the results.
I noticed that some of the stock that I re-sawed for the gunnels was drying with a bow to it. Two of the four pieces (I’m splicing them in the middle) were OK and the other two bowed in the wrong direction. We decided to try the wet sock and iron method to straighten them out. I prestressed them with a crude set-up as shown in the photos Truing Gunnels 1-4. One end is slipped under a shelf, the center is bowed up with a 2×4 and the other end is held under a 1×2 screwed to the bench. You can adjust the stress by increasing the size and location of the 2×4.