Chris Woodward is a master guideboat builder.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 5, 1998
Woodward wins woodworking contest
Ad'k Guideboats honored in Wood-Mizer Products competition
SARANAC LAKE - The Saranac Lake firm Adirondack Guideboats and boatbuilder Chris Woodward have placed first in a national woodworking contest sponsored by Wood-Mizer Products. Woodward won $600 in prize credit money for construction of an Adirondack guideboat, which was produced using his Wood- Mizer portable band sawmill.
The boat was built with sawn red spruce ribs and northern white cedar planking. All of the wood was cut on the Wood-Mizer, including the boat slabs," said Woodward, who cut about 100 bd. ft. of white cedar and black cherry for the project.
Woodward uses traditional construction methods, starting the process by digging out spruce stumps and slabbing the root sections to use the natural crooks for the ribs. "We made a special rotating jig to cut these crooks on the "sawmill," explained Woodward.
The rest of the boat is quartersawn lumber from clear wood, which, as defined by Woodward, is "No knots. Not a '1/4" knot every 4 foot' — no knots at all! We only use top grade lumber or top grade logs."
The planking in the boat is 1/4" thick, split from a 1" thick board to match side-to-side, with eight per side. "The planks are beveled on the edges, where they overlap to create a smooth skin," he said. The laps are then clenched together with copper tacks, after the plank is fastened to the ribs with copper screws. A hand-planing job finishes the area for a perfect beveled fit, a time-consuming process aimed to create both beauty and functionality.
An average of 450 hours goes into the delicate manufacturing of one of these guideboats. "It's around two-and-a-half months of effort," Woodward said. For their efforts, Adirondack Guideboats sells one of these elegant vessels for around $10,000.
"Guideboats are one of the more technically-advanced boats to build, which is why there are only a half-dozen builders left," he said His business has been manufacturing boats since 1930, first by hand, then with a circular mill purchased from Montgomery Ward in the 1940s. In 1983, the business switched to a portable band sawmill. "I've found the Wood- Mizer to be just a little more practical and a hell of a lot easier to handle, maintain, and use. Not to mention a lot less scary," said Woodward, who has owned the business since 1991.
The Personal Best Contest is a semi-annual contest held by Wood- Mizer Products, the Indiana-based firm known worldwide for its thin kerf portable band sawmills. As one of the company's 21,000 world-wide owners, Woodward competed against hundreds of others to become the Regional Champion of the Northeast, which included New York as part of an 11-state area.
As a winner in the Personal Best Contests, Woodward will receive national recognition in the Wood-Mizer News, a magazine published by Wood-Mizer Products and read by over 30,000 sawmill owners and others interested in woodworking and sawmilling.