Monday, September 21, 2020

Building your own canoe in Luzerne

By David Cederstrom, Chronicle Staff Writer

The Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne offers a 10-day class for $1,800 in which you build your own canoe.

The Chronicle took a look last week after Ed Moore, a local businessman who most recently bought the Queensbury Hotel, alerted us both to the course — and the fact that he was in the midst of taking it.

Mr. Moore and his brothers Dennis and Matt, their cousin Jim Ziembo and brother-in-law Mark Hannan all built canoes in the class, taught by Larry Benjamin.

Mr. Benjamin said he got started in canoe making by buildingone with his daughter. He approached the Folk School about teaching a class.

“We’re having fun,” said Ed Moore, when The Chronicle stopped in as the canoes were nearing completion last Friday.

“Dennis is the one that got us started,” said Ed.

Dennis said he saw one of Mr. Benjamin’s canoes at LARAC — the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council Festival (coming up this year on June 18-19) — “and I said, ‘Wow, I’ve got to do that.’”

He talked about it with the other guys, and they joined in.

“It was a very fun class,” Mark said.

The best part? “We were able to do it together,” Ed said.

Mr. Benjamin said these canoes are “a cedar-strip version of the ‘Wee Lassie’ canoe” originally built by the Rushton Boat Company for George Washington Sear. One of the originals is at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, he added.

Instructor Larry Benjamin, right, at the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne, watches as students Matt Moore (center) and his brother Ed put the finishing touches on a handmade cedar strip canoe. Chronicle photo/David Cederstrom
Instructor Larry Benjamin, right, at the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne, watches as students Matt Moore (center) and his brother Ed put the finishing touches on a handmade cedar strip canoe. Chronicle photo/David Cederstrom

The hull is made with cedar strips, then fiberglassed inside and out. The final weight is about 20 pounds.

Mr. Benjamin said such boats are commonly built by nailing the strips to a form and filling in the holes with glued toothpicks when the nails are removed, but he uses a method of clamps and forms that eliminates the need for nails.

The men’s plans for the canoes?

“We’re going to use ’em,” Matt said. He plans to “take my grandchildren out on the pond, do some fishing.”

Dennis said he’ll enjoy the canoe with his grandchildren, and use it on Schroon Lake and “small ponds, just to explore.”

Ed expects to use his on Schroon Lake.

Mark said he would try out his canoe, maybe take a canoe trip, but mainly he was building it for his granddaughter.

Jim, who came in from Chicago, said he would take his canoe out on Lake Michigan and some of the other lakes in that region.

The class also involved making their own paddles, Dennis noted.

The course includes materials, tools, workstations and instruction. $1,800 is the price for Folk School members, but it only costs $50 to become a member, so it’s less expensive to join than pay the non-member price, the canoe makers said.

Copyright © 2016 Lone Oak Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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