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Carving a Yoke (23/03/01)

Yoke roughed out.JPG (79148 bytes)The carrying thwart, or yoke, was cut from a solid piece of Sitka Spruce measuring 3"X6"X36" (parts for the seats were also cut from the same block of wood).

I began with a yoke pattern posted on the web (can't find it anymore).  But it didn't seem to suit my body shape so I used the pattern as a template for drawing a modified pattern.  It did help because I am terrible at drawing freehand.  I changed the size and shape of the shoulder dish and neck hollow for a custom fit.  Yoke carving.JPG (80257 bytes)The adjacent picture shows the dish being carved out.  I didn't use a pattern for this part.  Instead, I shaped it by eye and for feel on my shoulders. I would carve a bit then check it out on my shoulders, then carve a bit more, and so on.

There was big knot on one end but if the canoe comes out ayoke front view.jpg (30998 bytes)ccording to plan, then the yoke will be cut just short of the knot.  You can see the knot and the pencil line representing the beam at the gunnels in this frontal view of the completed yoke.

yoke side view.jpg (28209 bytes)yoke2.JPG (35139 bytes)These side views show the shape of the dish which corresponds to the shape of my back, neck and shoulders.  Of course, it hasn't been tested on portages yet but I can always refine it after it has been used in practice.

Unfortunately, I didn't keep a record of the time I spent making it.  I couldn't even begin to guess!  I am meticulous and maybe take longer than most people would.  It wasn't all that difficult but patience certainly helped. 

I bought two blocks of Sitka Spruce for about $20.00.  The longer bloc gave me this yoke and all the pieces for two seats.  The second smaller bloc will be used for the decks.

In order to maximise my weight savings I am using Sitka Spruce for all the trim: gunwhales, decks, seats, yoke, and stems (except for White Cedar inner stems - and that only because I don't have enough long pieces of Sitka Spruce).

Postscript (Oct. 2004):

The yoke was originally joined to the gunwhales by a small mortise and tenon joint but a small Yoke on gunwhale.JPG (30674 bytes) crack began to appear in one of the gunwhales.