The Construction of Canoes
By Meglin Bodner
The Advanced Woodworking classes have worked hard to complete handmade canoes with the help of their teacher, Mr. Niemiec, and various others. Mr. Niemiec was thinking of new projects that the students could try out. He wasn’t sure exactly what to do, so he asked another shop teacher. They came up with making canoes. Mr. Niemiec said that when he was in high school, he built two dinghy type boats. So, he had already had some experience with making boats. This gave him and his students an advantage.
He said, “I got the idea for the canoes from this fellow shop teacher and my wife then got me the book with the plans for these canoes, the rest is now BHS history.”
Before the construction of the canoes could begin, materials were needed. They used West System Marine Epoxy, ¼” A/C Ext. Plywood, Pine & Maple, Mahogany, and Purple Heart hardwoods for seats and paddles. These were obtained by Mr. Niemiec at the Branford Building Supplies store near the town green and also Birbarie Marine, which is near Branford.
Now, here was where the building came into play. It took about 2 months to build the canoes. Next came the planning. The plan was that the canoes were going to be tried out behind BHS at the boat ramp. The students weren’t sure if they would actually float or not, but soon they found the canoes to be successful! Mr. Niemiec remarked, “Yes, happily they not only float and are completely water tight, they are also extremely fun and easy to manage. They are designed for calm water and no more than 250 lbs. of weight, and are best suited for one person.” The only element that still needs to be put on is the paint, but altogether they did a really nice job with them.
After the paint is on and the canoes are finished, Mr. Niemiec plans to raffle them at $5.00 per chance with the drawing at the Spring launch and barbecue during a field trip with the Occupational Foods Classes in 2010. At first, he was thinking on selling them, but no one stepped forward. More plans were coming about. Mr. Niemiec was saying, “Yes, we plan to make more each semester, and possibly some kayaks, in the hope of creating a new full year course specifically for boat building and framing.”