Saturday, December 20, 2008

Project "X" : Building Blake's Pirogue Part I

© 2008-2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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"Dad," he said as I looked over, "if i could only fish over there," his hand waved vaguely over the water, the certainty in his voice convincing even me, "if I could just get there...
I know the big one is there!"

Blake to his Dad

Building a Pirogue
Since moving to the suburbs, Blake has been fishing non-stop. Fishing from the shorelines, docks, or lakesides, he has been able to land any number of fish. Bass, bream, catfish, and assorted salt water specimens have fallen to his fishing rod. What he is lacking though, is a means for accessing the many holes, reed beds, and small islands that dot the larger lakes and intercoastal waterways.

Largemouth BassLakewood Ranch Lake

I've been planning on making some type of craft, preferably something relatively inexpensive, and easy to build. The pirogue is a probably the simplest of the stitch and glue boats to build. The pirogue can negotiate shallow, narrow waterways, has a relatively light weight compared to its load-carrying capacity, and maneuverability that makes it perfect for many outdoor activities. It can be easily paddled and with practice one can stand on it and pole over water so skinny that the Cajuns would say, "A pirogue can float on a heavy dew." The pirogue is at its best in shallow water, perfect for ponds, lakes, and especially tidal flats. Pay close attention waterfowlers!

With five days to Christmas, I thought I had better get on it. All Blake knows is that we are working on project "X". Fortunately I had already bought most of the materials a couple of weeks ago. I may still have to get a few odds and ends but I'll get to that when the time comes. Oh and if you are wondering if there are free plans for building a pirogue, there aren't. You don't need them it's all by eye, and that is close enough!

Building a PirogueThe "Shop"
Work with what you got!

Building a Pirogue"Clamp Rack"

Some of the Materials.

First thing I got was three sheets of quarter inch underlayment. This stuff is really good quality luan veneer. And it isn't that expensive relative to the birch or oak plywood. I got it for $12.00 a sheet. I haven't found any voids in it, and the patches on the printed side are minimal to non-existent! The face side is clean and clear on all the sheets. Since this will be completely painted inside and out, and glued with waterproof glue, I see no good reason to go with expensive marine grade plywood. BTW, marine grade plywood is glued up with the same glue that exterior plywood is: Resorcinol. The difference between CDX and marine grade is the total lack of voids in the interior veneer of marine grade, and the C and D grade veneer on the CDX sheets.

In addition I bought some 1X2 cedar boards for the ribs and gunnels. I won't need them until tomorrow or the day after.

For the bow and the stern I have a few pieces of white oak dunage salvaged from the red steel delivered to the construction job sights. Though I've used the majority of them while bar-b-queing, I did save a couple for odd projects I have had in mind, like this one.

I've got a good circular saw, plenty of clamps, a chisel or two, hammer, nails (mostly rusty, may have to buy some more), drywall screws, pencils, a couple of bottles of Tite-Bond, a variety of squares, and another handful of tools that I'll explain as I continue. Plus I can damn near make any kind of jig I need to.

Let's get started!

Building a PirogueBlake cutting a strip to size. He's using one
sheet of plywood as a guide to cut the other.

The first job was cutting the sheets down to the required measurements. Most of the internet pirogue builders cut two, 10 inch wide, strips from two sheet of plywood, which leaves them with four 10 inch strips and two twenty eight inch strips. I wanted 12 inch sides so I needed to get the extra sheet of plywood. Not to worry, I'll put the leftovers to good use. In order to have one perfectly strait edge on all the strips, I cut one strip from each side of one sheet, and one from each of the other sheets. Those factory straight edges will be the bottom of the sides, assuring me a flat edge to connect to the bottom, more on that later. For a really straight cut, measure out your 12 inches, add the width of the shoe of the circular saw, and use that perfectly straight factory edge to guide your saw. Clamp the two boards together to make your life easy.

The underlayment cut to size. Four strips 12 inches wide
and two 28 inches wide.

From the two pieces that are 36 inches wide I cut two 28 inch wide strips. These will be joined together to make the bottom.

Ok I'll leave the project here until tomorrow, when we will scarf the plywood, cut the ends to the proper angle, and maybe stitch the ends together. That's if I can make a jig to cut the bow and stern pieces properly!

Please feel free to ask questions so I can amplify on this. I would like this to become a tutorial so that any of y'all who want to try can build one too.

Follow the rest of the Pirogue building series!

Building a Pirogue Part I: Getting Started
Building a Pirogue Part II: Butt the Plywood
Building a Pirogue Part III: Measuring Up
Building a Pirogue Part IV: Cutting and Building the Ribs
Building a Pirogue Part V: Attaching the Ribs
Building a Pirogue Part VI: Attaching the Internal Chines
Building a Pirogue Part VII: Attaching the Bottom and Finishing Up

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Friday, December 19, 2008

An American Combat Classic

© 2008 Albert A Rasch Randall Model 18, collecting Randall knives

"It was a terrible thing at close range. (Your knife) would cut a man's head nearly off with a quick swing.. I also used that knife to open cans, cut wood, dress water buffalo... and it stayed sharp. I was offered all kinds of trades, but I wouldn't part with it."

A letter to Bo Randall

"The only thing between me and certain death was my Randall Model 18."

One of Albert's wished for stories...

Randalls have always held a certain mystique with the American fighting man. I r
emember distinctly the Randall on the hip of the 10th Group Special Forces A-Team medic we were training with at Ft Devons. Of all the items hung on or about his person, the Randall drew the most admiring glances and whispered commentaries. I don't think there was any one of us, who dreamed of being a professional soldier, that didn't want a Randall of his own. Grenades were dime a dozen, but a Randall... the man must have been an artist.

More years ago than I care to remember, my good friend and fellow Norwich Cadet, GoGo, presented me with what many would call the ultimate soldier's gift: a Randall Model 18 Attack and Survival knife.

There was little ceremony when he handed the package to me, as is fitting between men,
professionals, and with the proper respect for an artisan's tool. He had it wrapped in a worn piece of cloth. I knew by the weight that it was metal, but I had no idea what was in store for me.

I'm big on the whole gift giving and receiving thing. Rule number one: Don't rush me. I'm usually the last one to unwrap gifts at Christmas. The experience has to be savored, enjoyed, drawn out. Not just for your own personal enjoyment, but for the spectators too. Once its unwrapped the wonder is gone.

I raised an eyebrow when he handed it to me. I felt the heft of the object in my hand. I had a feeling that there was more to this, that I would be pleasantly surprised.

I carefully pulled one fold over, and then the next. I paused to savor the suspense that was building.

I love the suspense.

Well, maybe not when I'm standing in the door at 3500 feet, watching the world
drift by at 125 mph, or worse yet, while waiting for the reassuring slam of you rig against your nether regions that lets you know the staticline pulled your chute out of the bag. But otherwise, I do like the suspense.

As I pulled the third corner, I got my first glimpse of tanned leather. I lifted the final piece of fabric up and out of the way, and the whole of the gift was there for me to experience. A Randall. And not just any Randall, but a Model 18.

I knew what it was right away. I looked at Homeslice in wonderment. He had that smug l
ook of someone who knew that he could hit a homerun whenever he wanted to. He's good, really good.

I've taken that knife with me every time I've needed the cold comfort of a soldier's knife. I can get the Randall in places that my Gov't 1911
can't go. And at less than 21 feet, its even money which is faster... Or deadlier. It has been a constant companion
for well on twenty years.

A Florida orange grower, Bo Randall started his knife making career in the late '30s. His hand forged knives sold as quickly as he made them. As they were very popular and he enjoyed making them, he decided to go into the business so-to-speak, selling them out of his Father-in -law's clothing store. But it was World War II that catapulted him to knife maker extraordinaire. A journalist's news item, picked up by the wire, spread his name throughout the United States, and the American fighting men throughout the world. Orders poured in and Bo had his hands full making the knives that helped to finally overthrow the Fascist tyranny engulfing the world. They skewered Nazis and Imperials with equal gusto and aplomb.

As time went by, new models and adaptations were produced. The Model 18 came about during the Viet Nam era when an army doctor designed a variation of the Model 14. Instead of the solid handle and extra heavy tang, he wanted a hollow handle with a cap and sawteeth along the top of the spine. Randall worked the design over, improved it, and came up with the Model 18, probably the first survival knife to feature those adaptations. The earliest models had a crutch tip as the butt cap, but that was quickly changed to the threaded brass butt cap.

The Current Model 18 is available in two blade lengths: 5.5″ and 7.5″ with a choice of either O-1 tool steel or stainless. It has the dual-edged blade, with the sawtooth edge covering three-quarter of the length on top. The handle is made of stainless steel, measures 4.75 inches, and has a removable brass butt cap as mentioned previously, with a neoprene O-ring to keep the handle waterproof. The hilt is an elliptical piece of quarter-inch brass, carefully hard soldered in place, with holes for a wrist strap. Mine has the additional feature of a compass under the butt cap.

The sheath is a wonderful piece of craftsmanship. Heavy, supple, but not too supple, it is welt stitch. Strategically placed holes allow parachute cord to be used to secure the sheath and the knife.

I wrapped the handle of my Model 18 with parachute cord. All I did was half hitch it each turn. This gives it a nonslip grip and adds about ten percent more cord to the wrap. Useful when you need every inch of it. Underneath the paracord is a single layer of copper wire. Quite necessary for snares. A small wooden bobbin in the handle holds 30 feet of twelve pound test monofilament, a couple of splitshot weights, and several #8 hooks. Matches should be replaced by a magnesium striker, and I suppose a small piece of fire starting material should be in there too.

I have been fortunate that I have never had to call upon the Randall. Knowing what I do about the care and craftsmanship that goes into each and every Randall knife, I have no doubts that when called upon to perform as needed, it will be ready.

Randall Knives
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kommen Sie Heir, Schwine!

© 2008 By Albert A Rasch

Ms. Klose's first thought was: "That is one ugly dog."

It might not be hog hunting, but I sure think its funny!

What's not funny though is the following:

"The hunter says the tabloid reporter brandished a camera and warned him he'd have the whole of Berlin on his case if he pulled the trigger. Mr. Eggert sensed a PR debacle, so he phoned around until he found an animal sanctuary 40 miles from Berlin that granted the boar asylum and named the swine "Amanda""
MARCUS WALKER Wall Street Journal

I wonder what the season is on knuckle headed reporters.

Here is the rest: Pigs in Berlin

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Outdoor Bloggers Summit: The Florida Extravaganza!

© By Albert A Rasch 2008

Well, the more I thought about it, the better it sounded!

Why not have a local Outdoor Bloggers Summit Extravaganza right here in sunny Florida?

The nation's travails, being what they are, have put a crimp in just about everyone's life. But I got to thinking, if the Florida Bloggers would like to get together for a day of family friendly fun and frolic, it could be just like a mini vacation or day trip! What I am advocating is a get-together where we could all sit down for a while and discuss matters of blogging, (Perhaps a guest can be lined up!), and then we could break up into loose groups. Folks that want to talk blogging or writing can do that, folks that want to fish go and wet lines, if you just want to soak up the sun, well go and have at it!

First thing I would like to know is how many are interested. Quite frankly if there is just one other Florida blogger interested, that's good enough for me. But as they say, the more the merrier.

Location would be the next question. Depending on where the majority of the folks are would determine where we could hold it. Some are more willing to travel than others, so that needs to be taken into account. In addition the venue has to be considered. I think that we really need an "Outdoor" venue like a state or national park, preferably one with charcoal grills. But that's just my preference. Here is an idea: Fort Desoto Park

If you have any ideas please share them; I'm willing to organize it, try to get a guest of some sort to attend, and overall do what I can to help as many people attend.

If anyone is interested email me at

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...