Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Wood Worker's Snowshoes

Today in the News:  A chicken smoking crack could forecast the weather better than our meteorologist.  They predicted 1 - 3 inches of snow and we currently have 18 inches.  This guy is wrong more than I am.  I think I missed my calling.

Link of the Day:  The American Grouch Blog. He has a couple of great posts from the last few days.  His most recent is a day out in the snowy bush with his kids building a shelter.  He has great content and awesome photos.  I'm also green with envy over his new pack!


The Wood Worker's Snowshoes

Mrs. Hotel and I love yard sales.  As a matter of fact, I doubt I'll be posting five days a week during the summer because my Saturdays are currently spent writing.  In the summer, we go "junkin'."

Last summer we came upon a sale at a pretty nice place.  The man had a few acres with a pond.  The house was huge.  You know the drill. 

Mrs. Hotel went in for the primary search.  She walked into the garage and out of the garage within two minutes.  My brother-in-law and I refer to that as "not-Scottish".  Why?  Because if it's not Scottish, IT's CRAP!  My disappointment quickly turned to excitement when she came to my window.  She said, "Two pairs of snowshoes.  $4.00 for one pair, $5.00 for the other.  Go!"

Go I did.  I walked into the garage and immediately picked the snowshoes and wandered the rest of the sale.  I asked the old guy if he knew anything about the shoes.  He replied by telling me that he made them himself.  He proceeded to take me through his work shop, which I might add was larger than my house, and showed me his studio and work.  It was amazing.  Every couple of square feet was a small replica of some kind of boat from history.  He picked up each boat and told me about the historical origin of the vessel.  He told me that he would read about each boat for a certain amount of time, then he'd build the boat.  He had Greek boats, boats from Hawaii.....I can't remember all of them.  Anyhow, he was great.  I spent about a half hour talking to him, much to Mrs. Hotel's chagrin.

Here are the snowshoes:


The larger set will be for me.  I'm not sure what the deal is with the bindings, but they will HAVE to go.  They look like they are from cross-country skis.
You can see my dilemma.

Although they look to be well used, you can still see his pencil marks from when he was building them.


Up front on the right snowshoe I found a crack.  It doesn't go all the way through.  Anybody have suggestions on a fix?

Mrs. Hotel's snowshoes are more of a worry to me.  The leather bindings are pretty dried out.  I'll have to oil them up and see if I can bring them back to life.  If not, I'll make a new pair out of leather.  That's how I plan to remedy mine as well.

I'm no expert, but the weave looks way off.  That could make these first class wall hangers.






I decided to try mine out, since the forecast called for 3 inches of snow and instead we got 18".

About ten yards into the tryout, my foot fell out of the binding.  These bindings are going for a hike.


They're going to be a bit of work, but for under ten bucks, I'm not complaining. 

I used to snowshoe a lot in Maine.  Since we got married I can only count a handful of times that I've been out.  Honestly, here in Colorado I think you'd get more mileage out of a pair of cross country skis.  We rarely get enough snow to merit snowshoes (although people wear them in 3 inches of snow and act like they have a purpose).  When we do, the snow doesn't stay that long.  I'll hang onto these anyhow.  Hand made by a local guy.  Even if they don't work well, I will swear that they do.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel.....out.

13 comments:

  1. Good find, the shoes and the chap selling them. I suggest you simply laminate. Place another piece over the top and bind it.
    Good post, thank you.
    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/

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  2. I'm too duck-footed to ski and would love to try snowshoes, but at my weight, they'd have to be 12 feet long!

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  3. Thanks Le Loup. I heard from someone that fiberglass was a no-no. I will def. look into the possibility of laminating.

    Gorges - where there's a will, there's a way. My uncle lost 50 lbs by snowshoeing and walking.

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  4. MOH,

    I was going to suggest laminating another layer as well or possibly a good two part epoxy. My only other thought was this is a high stress point no matter what the fix it may not hold. If you get them repaired I would love to know how you went about it.

    I would probably replace the leather on both regardless especially if it hadn't been oiled regularly. Would hate to find out five miles from home in deep snow.

    Just my 2 cents

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Very cool find! I have been thinking about buying a pair of Aluminum ones online but can't justify it when we only get 2-3 inches usually.
    Why not use them as a model to make your own if you find they really are unusable?


    http://thewanderingthinker.blogspot.com/

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  7. Hudson - I've experienced that. 5 miles from home with a broken strap. Had to stop every half-mile to reapply duct tape. Sucked, to say the least!

    TWT, you are far more handy than I, sir! I can't wrap my head around the newer light weight ones. I'm sure if I used them I would love them. There's just something about wood and rawhide that gets me. My grandma has a pair made from plastic - like milk crate type plastic. She's had those a long time, with good reason. We'll see. I'll buy anything cool on the cheap! I bought my boy a pair of aluminum llbean snowshoes for 5 bucks. He's still too little to use them, but he'll get there soon.

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  8. Hey Mike,

    Do you have access to some soft brass?
    I know a guy who wraps the stems of cedar canoes with brass.

    Sounds crazy but if you run out of options I'd try some hammered to fit brass with some strategically placed small screws. Pre-drill obviously and see what happens. I think if placed over a large area around the front to the sides and attached well it would reinforce the shoe and take the brunt of the punishment.

    Just a crazy idea.

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  9. That is crazy. Hmmmmm......but I like it. Where do I find soft brass?

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  10. So this is even crazier then, why amazon.com of course!

    I didn't know it either but they sell it by the sheet. They have sample packets as well for under $10 which should suffice. Cut it with good shears or mallet and sharp chisel. Heat it to a point that you can work it, mold it to the shoe. I'd put it over a large amount of area say at least from 10:00 through 2, 9 to 3 would be even better I'd guess. With any luck the stress from the show will transfer without splitting further.

    My concern would be the affixing of it. After thing more about it I don't think I'd use screws right off, believe that would be my last resort. If you can get it warm and molded, maybe use some leather binding or artificial sinew to secure it while it's hot.

    From the looks of the fracture I don't think it's going to fail anyway, just want to stop it there.

    Let me know how it works out, I'm dying to know.

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  11. I'm not handy ... I just don't show how many tries it takes to get something only mildly horrific (and I have the scars to prove it). I'm the same way though ... I almost bought a kids snowboard at a yard sale one time because it was $20 and I still think I could have gotten my feet in it.... yes...yes I do a lot of dumb things ...a lot. I think the aluminum shoes I saw were on www.cheaperthandirt.com, I'm still thinking about getting them ... but you just gave me an idea about making some out of the milk crates I have lying around. Hmm, interesting.

    Anyway Jantz Knife Supply carries Brass sheets as well if you decide to do what American Grouch suggested.

    http://www.knifemaking.com/category_s/98.htm

    I think that sounds like a good idea, however, I am a little concerned with heating the brass much. It does take heat well and cools quick, but if you go this route I would watch the temp. very carefully, you could easily burn something. If you could get some rawhide strips a few feet long by 1 or 2 inches wide you could soak and wrap them after the brass is on to compress it, then hold them over a boiling pot and steam the wood just a tad to release some of the stress so you can sink two screws in the ends of the brass without causing it to split.

    http://thewanderingthinker.blogspot.com/

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  12. First off, the black rubber bindings are great for someone that is in and out of snowshoes, ie, a forester, or trapper. Don't knockem till you try them. Secondly, watch out oiling the leather on the sandel style of binding, they will streach. Can be a real pain in wet snow (as opposed to dry/cold snow). While we are on that issue, using a good spar-varnish, give the shoes a good varnishing. (after your repair the broken one). Use a good waterproof glue, and clamp it till dry, then wrap with wang ( the rawhide used for snowshoes, this is where the "tough as wang leather" came from). You wet the wang, then wrap, then dry, then varnish - 2 applications. While you are at it, you may want to wrap the toes of all four shoes. This is the area where bush can cause issues. As to the pair with the none-traditional "weave" really called "fill" There is a pattern to weaving this. I am sorry but I don't not have the space to describe it, see Try this site: http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/winter/gear/snowshoes/chippewa.html. Good luck, You will know you are a pro when you can cross a lap high deadfall without removing your shoes.

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  13. I did not like my first post. Not edited. So….

    First off, the black rubber bindings are great for someone that is in and out of snowshoes, ie, a forester, or trapper. Put your foot through the hole in the long part. The ball of your foot should be directly over the thick laced, back edge of the hole through the fill(Webbing). Don't knock’em till you try them.

    Secondly, do not oil the leather on the sandal style of binding, they will stretch. Instead use snowseal or a wax preparation to treat them. They do need to be treated or they can be a real pain in wet snow (as opposed to dry/cold snow). They will soak up and stretch and stretch.

    While we are on that issue, your shoes, webbing and all except the bindings need coating of Varnish to preserve and lockout moisture (after your repair the broken one). Use a good spar-varnish.

    To repair the broken shoe use a good waterproof glue, and clamp it ‘till dry. Then wrap with wang ( the rawhide used for snowshoes, this is where the "tough as wang leather" came from). You wet the wang, then wrap, then let the wang dry, then varnish - 2 applications. While you are at it, you may want to wrap the toes of all four shoes. This is the area where bush can cause issues.

    As to the pair with the “none-traditional” weaved webbing, really called "fill" There is a pattern to weaving this. I am sorry but I don't not have the space to describe it, ( Try this site: http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/winter/gear/snowshoes/chippewa.html. Note the types of wang used.

    Good luck and have fun. It is very good exercise, especially in deep powder snow. You will know you are a pro when you can cross a lap high deadfall without removing your shoes.

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