Building a Skin-on-Frame Kayak - Part 11

Upon arriving to the museum this morning, Russ and I were both surprised to see that all of our ribs had turned black! The ribs, which had been soaking for a week in a container made of galvanized steel, had turned black as a result of the chemical reaction between the tannins in the red oak and the galvanized steel.

Although the issue was merely an aesthetic one, a simple solution was to eventually stain all of the ribs of the boat so that they were consistent in colour (you'll see that in the next post).

Since beginning this project I have been eagerly awaiting the day when we would get to steam and bend the ribs into place. That day had finally come. There is something rather fascinating about manipulating the wood so drastically. Apart from having to be mindful of the short window of opportunity that exists in regards to shaping the ribs while they remain hot (once they cool off, it is more difficult to shape the ribs), shaping the ribs is actually quite simple.

Working together, Russ and I established a system in which each rib was steamed for 10 minutes, shaped and placed into its appropriate place along the length of the gunwales. We had to remain mindful that each rib should have a continuous curved shape and not have any flat areas.

Flat areas often developed along the bottom section of the rib; however, addressing the issue promptly while the rib was still hot proved to be easy enough. Again, reflective of the entire build thus far, Russ and I continued to evaluate our progress by stepping back and assessing the proportions and lines of the kayak by “eye.”

After successfully installing each of the 13 ribs we packed up and decided to call it a day.

Check back next week when we install the chine stringers!