Dug-out Or Log Canoe
Categories: THE TRAPPER'S MISCELLANY.
It's general appearance is well indicated by the accompanying
illustration. With the proper tools, one of these canoes is easily
made. A sharp axe, an adze, a shaving knife, a round edged adze,
and a small auger, are principally necessary; and a cross-cut saw,
broad-axe, sledge, and large sized chisel, will also be found useful.
In any case the log should not be much less than two feet in diameter,
ly sound, and free from knots. If this precaution is observed,
the result will be all the more satisfactory, and the canoe can be
cut so thin, as to render it a light burden; being easily carried
on the shoulders.
A pine log is generally chosen for a dug-out, on account of the
lightness of the wood, and the ease with which it can be worked.
Butternut, cottonwood and whitewood, are also excellent, and indeed
almost any sound log of large size will answer the purpose.
For a dug-out of good size, the log should be ten or more feet
in length. The first thing to be done is to cut a flat surface on
one side of the log, from end to end. This indicates the bottom
of the canoe. On the upper side the wood should be hewn away, in
the curve shown on the upper outline of our illustration.
It is well to divide the log by notches into three equal lengths.
In the centre division, the wood may be cut down to a straight
line to a depth of about eight inches from the upper surface. The
gradual curve to the bow and stern of the canoe should start from
each end of this flat cut, and extend to the upper edge of the log,
the guiding line being made on the sides of the log by a piece of
chalk. The adze will come into good use in trimming off the wood on
these curves. When this upper outline is accomplished, the log may
be turned bottom side up, and the sides of the extremities rounded
off. This may be done with an axe and adze, and when performed,
the bottom curves should be made by chopping away the wood in the
curves shown in the lower outline of our illustration. This curve
should also be marked out with chalk, and should commence a little
nearer the end of the log than the curve on the upper side. Shave
off the wood to a blunt edge on this curve, at both bow and stern.
The rough form of the canoe is now obtained, and by the aid of
the draw-knife, or shaving-knife, it can be neatly and smoothly
It is then ready to be dug-out. The tools most useful for this
purpose are the adze and axe, and sometimes the sledge and chisel.
The digging out is of course the most tedious part; but with sharp
tools it is a comparatively easy matter. When the great bulk of the
wood is taken out, the interior should be finished with a howel
or round adze; and the sides may be worked to one inch and a half
in thickness if desired. The writer once saw one of these canoes
of most exquisite workmanship, being only one inch in thickness,
and so light as to be easily lifted with one hand. Of course such
perfection as this is not necessary for ordinary purposes; although
where the canoe is expected to be carried any great distance, it
is well to thin it as much as possible. A gimlet or small auger
may be used to gauge the thickness of the canoe, using it in the
following manner: Supposing the required thickness of the wood
is two inches, proceed to bore the hole from the inside of the
canoe, and continue until the point of the gimlet or auger barely
makes its appearance on the outside. Draw out the tool, and if the
thickness measures more than is required, insert into the hole
a slender piece of wood exactly two inches in length; push it in
as far as it will go, and you may safely work until you reach the
end of it. By this method the thickness may be gauged in different
parts of the boat sufficiently to acquire a fair average thickness,
and there is no danger of cutting through. The gimlet should be
allowed to extend outside of the canoe only sufficiently to be
detected, and the holes thus made will seldom give any trouble as
leaks. If, however, this should be the case, a little putty or pitch
will remedy the difficulty.
The dug-out may be constructed of any size, and of any desired
shape, but the above is the usual type.
When leaks or cracks occur, they may be caulked with hemp, and
smeared with pitch, which will render them thoroughly waterproof.
For lightness and portability there is no boat more desirable or
more unique than--