Tom Huang – Studio Projects


Progress and “Completion”
October 29, 2009, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Bamboo Canoe

Fairing/smoothing the edge of the hull to accept the gunwales.

Inwales are fitted and trimmed to the stems first, and then glued and clamped to the hull.

Decks were fitted and brass screws placed through the walls of the hull and through the in-wales prior to glueing up the out-wales.

Two layers of varnish (for now...I'll complete 5-6 total before it's done.) and she's ready for the first float.

Finished and ready to float.

It’s been almost two week since my last post.  It was a mad push.  I had set a personal goal to float the BambooCanoe in Maine, and part of that goal was to float it with my two kids for the first time.  The day after the last post, Shelli and the kids flew into Portland for a week-long visit.  Basically, I had to get the boat suitable to float by Thursday the 22nd, because we had plans to drive down the coast for a weekend getaway on Friday the 23rd.  So I’ve been finishing the boat late into the nights, and spending time with the family during the days…burning the candle from both ends.  I’ve also been packing myself up to leave the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, which I did on the 27th.  Needless to say, its been an intense two weeks and in hindsight,  quite an amazing month.  I know this blog has been mostly about the BambooCanoe, but I have much to share about the amazing people I’ve been grateful to meet during my time in Maine, but I’ve had a few request to get more up about the boat.  As I’m en route driving back to Kansas, I’m limiting this post to an update on the BambooCanoe.  Please stay tuned to see the video of the first launching also.  I’m having to reformat the video for up-loading.

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Progress on the Bamboo Canoe
October 17, 2009, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Bamboo Canoe

I’ve been getting a lot done in my time here.  Since my last posting, I’ve finished glassing the exterior of the hull, and have flipped the canoe over to scrape and glass the interior.

Flipped over and strapped down for scraping

Scraping away!!

Unlike the exterior, I’m only going to put one to two coats of resin on the interior.  This will leave the weave texture of the glass raised for grip.  While all of this was curing this past week, I’ve been starting in on the gunwales, thwart, decks, and the paddle.

I’ll have more pictures soon.

In the process of glassing the interior, a bit tricky.

notice the weave



Carbon Fiber and Epoxy
October 9, 2009, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Bamboo Canoe

The next step in the process is to sheath the hull in fiberglass.  I’ve added a bottom plate of carbon fiber which will add rigidity and abrasion resistance to the bottom of the boat.  It was also an aesthetic decision.

The process of mixing and applying epoxy resin is a bit tricky and I have to thank my fellow Fellows – Reed Hansuld, Tyler Killian, and Vince Scully for their help. Without them, I would have struggled to mix epoxy, apply epoxy, and document the process all at the same time.

Draped, masked, and ready for the carbon fiber bottom plate

Draped, masked, and ready for the carbon fiber bottom plate

First coat of Epoxy

First coat of epoxy

Draped in fibreglass

Draped in fiber glass

Wetting out the fibreglass with epoxy

Wetting out the fiberglass with epoxy

Glassed and glossy

Glassed and glossy



Maine and the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship – October 2009
October 9, 2009, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Bamboo, Bamboo Canoe, Center for furniture Craftsmanship, Furniture
What more can I say?

What more can I say? Maine at it's best.

Halfway across the country with a halfway completed canoe on the rack.

Halfway across the country with a halfway completed canoe on the rack.

My journey to Maine was long and relatively uneventful.  I did however get a chance to visit with friends along the way.  I’m fortunate to have the friends that I do, and I’ve already started to get to know the other Fellows here at the CFC.  Two nights ago, we went out to a fantastic dinner at a restaurant in Camden, Maine called Francine’s. During our meal, Adam Peterson, a furniture maker from Minneapolis, Minnesota talked about the value of fine furniture as it related to the fine artisan meal we were consuming.  He talked about the wonderful patrons that he’s had who have supported his craft.  He commented that they truly value the experience of owning something made to a high level of refinement and care.  I couldn’t agree more.  In this day and age of instant and fast, the object that is carefully and well made, stands out.  And to the discerning, it is worth every penny.  After all, the experience of owning fine furniture is not exclusive to the original purchaser’s lifetime.  It will long out live him or her. It will carry on functionally, but also build its own independent history.  Isn’t that why it’s called an heirloom?  It weaves us together, generation to generation.

Rockport, Maine

Rockport, Maine

Community of Craft

Community of Craft

Studio Fellowships at the Center allow for studio space, on-site materials for purchase, and 24 hour access to incredible woodworking facilities.  In return, one is simply to contribute 6 hours of service time per week to the Center.  This can include anything from being a gallery monitor, to lawn maintenance, to sorting lumber into the lumber racks.   At the end of the day when you work side by side contributing, you quickly become a part of this wonderful community.



Progress on the Bamboo Canoe
October 8, 2009, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Bamboo Canoe

Before I continue further into sharing my progress and process on the Bamboo Canoe, I need to state that most of my construction process is informed by Ted Moore’s fantastic book, “Canoe Craft”.  In it, he does a very comprehensive job of describing the process of building a cedar strip canoe.  It has been highly valuable in this journey, and I fully recommend it if you are considering building a canoe of your own. He includes information on how specific aspects of a canoe’s design perform in the water, and he touches upon the canoes’s rich history.  He also describes several different models and includes brief descriptions.

My canoe is modeled after the Rob Roy (a solo, double-paddle canoe) that is described in his book.  I chose this form for two different reasons.  First, I already have  an Old Town 164 (a 16′-4″ tandem canoe), I don’t need another tandem.  And second, because of the form’s history.  As Ted Moore’s describes,

…the origin of the Rob Roy goes back to England and the mid 1800’s. John MacGregor, after seeing our native birch bark canoes and the Eskimo kayak, designed his idea of an efficient cruising canoe, calling it the Rob Roy. Typical of this type of solo canoe were: length 12′ to 15′, propelled with a double blade paddle from a sitting position and often rigged for sail. Early American canoe builders like J. Henry Rushton and W.P. Stephens were influenced by this style.”

For me, the fact that this form evolved from MacGregor’s cross-cultural experience is highly significant.  In introducing a material (bamboo) that has such strong cultural connotations, I feel that I’m adding to the forms cross-cultural lineage.

After the planking is completed, the high spots or ridges are taken down with a block plane, spoke shave or sander.  Because the grain of bamboo moves outward at each node, both planes and spoke shaves have a tendency to tear the fibers out.  Fortunately, the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship (CFC) has a Lie Nielson Scraper Plane.  It is an absolute joy to use.  After scraping, the hull is sanded and “faired” to produce an even surfaced hull.

Scraping the hull

Scraping the hull

Amazing tool

Amazing tool

Fairing to a smooth surface

Fairing to a smooth surface

The next step is to fiberglass the hull…



Fellowship at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship
October 1, 2009, 1:38 pm
Filed under: Bamboo Canoe, Design, Furniture

Welcome to my Blog.  I have to thank Whit Bones for helping me overcome the inertia of learning something new.  As the name of the blog suggest, I hope to be posting about my on goings in the studio.  However, I’m going to be formally starting this blog from Rockland, Maine.  Yesterday, I arrived in Maine, settled into my apartment which I’m renting for the month and unloaded my car-full of materials and tools into my space at the Center  for Furniture Craftsmanship.  My first impressions of the CFC are that the students, faculty, and fellows are all warm, talented and willing to share.  The facilities are top notch!!!  I can’t wait to dive in and get to work.  As you can see from the images I’ve already posted, I’m in the process of building a bamboo canoe.  My plans for my time here will be to finish the canoe and develop ideas for some new pieces of furniture and sculpture that use some of what I’ve learned from the construction of the canoe.  As I learn the technology involved with blogging, I’ll be posting pictures and hopefully some video.  So please check in from time to time and join me on my (canoe) adventure.