Building Bed vs. Building Platform by John Lindman

There are two general types of building set-ups:
1. The traditional method is on a building bed.
2. The other is a building platform.

The building bed is an area of ground that has been smoothed and leveled. It is very important that it is smooth because any sharp objects such as stones or roots could damage the bark. The importance of a level area comes when you "eyeball" the canoe which is a constance exercise. I like to take a board - 6 feet or so - and smooth out the area and then set a level on it and test it. I keep going around the area smoothing and testing until I am satisfied.

The building platform has the advantage of making life easier on your knees. There are several ways you can do this. One way is to have a good sturdy set of saw horses. Then take 2 by 12s that are longer than the canoe you wish to make - 16 feet for a 14 foot canoe. They also need to be a bit wider than the frame of your canoe.

With a building bed you use large stones or weights of some kind over the building frame to hold things in place. With the platform you can do the same or you can take a couple of two by fours and press them between the frame and the ceiling of your shop - pressed good and firm the frame won't shift. The other way is to screw your building platform right into the frame at the places where you cut your gore lines. Yes this creates a hole in the bark but you will be pitching the gores and you can extend the pitch another inch to cover the hole. The nice thing about this method is that you won't be working around rocks or two by fours.

With a building bed stakes about 18" to 24" long are used around the outside of the canoe to support the bark when you bring up the sides. With the platform you can drill holes in your 2x12 boards or make brackets than look similar to bookends and press up against the bark and screw into place into your platform.

So in summary what are the "upsides and downsides" of each. First the platform is easier on your knees. It also allows you to build in your basement or shop during the winter. You can set up a good shop light and work in the evenings. If indoors your canoe is protected from the weather. It also provides a completely flat area. The downside is running stakes into the ground is a lot more convenient and can be more exacting than trying to do it with holes in boards. Building in the ground is more traditional and gives you a closeness to the Earth - it feels good. You can also run a lot of water and not worry about it making a mess - it drains.

I know serious builders that do it using every way mentioned. There is no right way in my opinion just what is right for you under your specific circumstances.

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