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Remember the clear Douglas Fir that I sourced in Edmonton? As lovely as it was when I bought it, it still wasn’t the size that is specified for the Mana 24. The 1 inch rough boards had to be cut down. The two sizes most commonly used in constructing the Mana are 15mm x 40mm and 20mm x 40mm. What was required was some power tools – a barely used Bosch table saw and an on-sale MasterCraft thickness planer were acquired. Slowly my shop has transformed from bicycle building with welder and grinders to boat building, with wood working tools that are much more to my liking!

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And the results? Yes, smooth, clear Canadian Douglas Fir ready to become part of a double canoe in the Polynesian tradition!

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Due to the cost of air freight from the UK to Canada, James Wharram Designs suggested that I source the lengths of solid wood required for building the Mana 24. That sounded like an excellent suggestion and it was, but it did lead to a surprise. I was surprised to learn the market for lumber had changed considerably since I built my Tiki 21 during the 1990’s. Mahogany lumber was not available at any of the lumberyards that I called in the area. Even the clear Douglas Fir specified in the plans and which is grown in Canada was  not available from local lumber yards in Saskatchewan.

After many phone calls and considerable searching on the internet, I found a supplier in Edmonton who could provide me with clear Douglas Fir, mahogany and iroko as stipulated by the designer.

On May 1, my partner and I headed west, and after the 5 1/2 hour drive, pulled up outside the warehouse housing W.G. Chanin Hardwoods. The owner, Gary Chanin, had recently broken his leg and was hobbling around the best he could on crutches and with a cast on his leg. We quickly learned that this is a one man operation, and we had to exercise patience while he attended to customers who were there ahead of us,

This provided me an opportunity to snoop around a bit. What I saw still amazes me. In this dark warehouse space there is a collection of exotic hardwoods from around the world that made anything I could have imagined pale by comparison. The photos, shot on my iPhone in poor lighting, only hint at the treasure that is contained in that building.

Gary finally got to us and showed me a pallet of clear Douglas Fir, still wrapped in plastic, which he had recently received. He invited me to pick out the pieces that I needed while he took car of other customers. The shipment was all one inch rough sawn lumber in varying widths and in lengths up to thirteen feet. It took some time for me to select sufficient boards to meet my requirements and load them on my mid-sized truck. Fortunately I had borrowed my brother’s bed extender and that made it possible to carry the long pieces.

We still needed the mahogany.  This required Gary to expertly shuffle many different piles of lumber around with his forklift until he found the correct pallet that held some lovely pieces of mahogany. Once the two required pieces had been extracted,  he then had to return everything to its allocated space.

This left us with only the iroko – one piece was all that was needed. In my multiple phone calls preceding the trip, Gary had assured me that he could supply me with iroko – something that other suppliers had not even heard of. I am quite confident that somewhere in those stacks of lumber, there are some iroko pieces but Gary admitted to me that he did not know where and suggested that he substitute something similar.

Considering that the day was quickly coming to a close, I conceded with some reluctance. Gary produced a lovely piece of Burmese teak that he assured me would be more than adequate for my needs. Without asking the price, I agreed and I loaded  the board on the top of the other boards. While Gary went to tally the bill, I proceeded to tie everything securely and attach flags. It was only after he presented me with the invoice that I discovered that Burmese teak comes with a premium! That one board, measuring approximately six inches wide and ten feet in length, cost just over $250!