Skip to main content

Wood and Rawhide Snowshoes

There seems to be no doubt that bindings-or what holds the feet to the snowshoes-are the most controversial part of the whole apparatus of snowshoeing.

William Osgood and Lesile Hurley, The Snowshoe Book, 2nd edition, 1975


16 inches of snow at 5am and an inch fell in the hour that I took the dogs for a walk this morning at 7am. Josey is bugging me to go out and play in the snow as I write, I guess I should strap on the old Indian webs.

The snowshoes on the left are the Huron/Maine/Michigan style, as you can tell they are claimed by several different groups of people and the ones on the right are the Alaskan style. The Huron pair I bought 15 years ago and the Alaskan pair my wife got me 13 years ago, I've used them every winter when we've gotten snow. Many people think that these old styles webs don't work in the snow anymore, they say that only modern snow shoes give the best flotation. I disagree, I have snowshoed with people who used the modern shoes, they "post holed" through the snow and I skimmed along the surface. It's hard to beat 6,000 year old or more technology. Snowshoes, or Indian webs as the old timers called them when I was a kid back in the 1960's, were the mainstay of folks who lived were it snowed until the 1930's when the first skiing craze really began. My great uncle told me that when he was 12 in 1912, there was a Swedish immigrant who worked at a nearby sawmill who made skis, or snowshoes as they were called then, for all the kids in the community and sold them to adults. My uncle told me that he got good enough on the "snowshoes" that he could jump logs and fly over 20 feet! He owned a pair of Indian webs to walk the trap line the he operated along Battle and Panther Creeks.


I should have titled this blog, Why Woodwork When You Can Snowhoe. The National Weather Service is forecasting an additional 7 to 11 inches of snow today, gotta love a Winter Storm Warning.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised

Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979


So, you want to build a guitar.

Since the original post, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making, click here to see it, is the most popular post on this blog, I thought I would revisit it and adjust it to what I am using now to make a classical guitar.

The first thing I recommend doing is to buy or borrow copies of the following books:

Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall
The Guitar Maker's Workshop, by Rik Middleton

These are required reading before you begin making a guitar.

Also required reading are these books by Roy Underhill:

The Woodwright's Shop
The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice


Why these books by Mr. Underhill? You will learn valuable wood working techniques if you make any of his projects. The dovetail joints used to join a drawer together are far mor…

The Guitar Maker's Backsaw for Cutting Fret Slots

The overall correct process of placing frets in a guitar fingerboard ("fretting"), is far less straight forward than most people believe. A perfect job, for perfect playability, requires some careful preparation.

Anthony Lintner, guitar maker



Twenty five years ago, I bought my first fretting saw from Luthiers Mercantile. It was made in Germany and had a straight handle on it, basically it was a gent's saw.

First thing I did to the saw was to take off the straight handle and make a nice handle for it from some wonderful Claro walnut that came from a Cottonwood Creek bottom wild grown walnut. I used it to cut fret slots in dulcimer and classical guitar fret boards. The saw served me well for several years until I made the mistake of cutting some brass with it.

Well, I never did get around to sharpening the thing.

The blade is .015 of an inch thick with the teeth set at .022-.023 of an inch. I think it has 22 teeth per inch. It is a great saw and I was very sad to see that…