The Finished Wannigan
Right, What’s a wannigan? The name comes from the Algonquian first nation people and it is a box that would hold a camp kitchen. Traditionally they were used in canoes by the Voyageurs, but they were also used by wood cutters and winter travelers.
I’d been exploring some pretty interesting DIY wannigan projects with my canoe restoration research. I was thinking I might want to build one when Teresa (my daughter-in-law) asked me to go over to her dad’s house and chop up an old armoire that her father wanted to get rid off. The chopping was going to be necessary because the giant oak cabinet was so big that they had to remove the decorative arch in the entry way just to wrestle the monster into the front room. Now, nearly two decades later it was time to upgrade to a flat screen TV and the armoire had to go.
For my efforts I was “awarded” all the oak pieces I wished to salvage. Perfect! I’d build a wannigan for Travis & Teresa made from all the oak scraps from her father’s old TV cabinet.
The salvaged oak
I reused the mortises
I had a bunch of oak rails with mortises to hold the door panels. After trimming off all the fancy stuff and most of the old stain, I fabricated them into 1×2 rails and stiles, but kept the mortise to hold the new 1/4 inch birch plywood sides. I’d have to cut tenons into the rails, and try to match them to the fancy coves in the stiles.
I tried to reuse as much stuff from the armoire as I could but I wanted to make a top out of cedar. The top was going to be a “shoe box” style with a lid that lifted off to be used as a table or a tray.
So it was back out to the “lumber yard” to hack out another chunk of old growth western red cedar.
The lumber yard
Once again my whole world smelled of cedar shavings for weeks.
There is something very satisfying about salvaging a slimy green log from a soggy marsh and extracting a beautiful piece of wood from within it. It is kind of a massive effort for a small hunk of wood but in my mind, it’s totally worth it.
Cutting the tenons
Slowly but surely I laid out and cut the tenons… 8 cuts per joint, times 8 joints…
The storage tray
I built a little nesting storage tray for the wannigan.
Smoothing up the cedar edges
Next was the glue up
Glueing the cedar top
…and more planing
Lots of sanding and several coats of spar varnish
Susan bought a bunch of nifty camping necessities like hot cocoa and extendable marshmallow sticks, and I made a set of wooden dice for the “games and toys” section.
That’s it for now, but I’m going hiking tomorrow so who knows, maybe there is another episode of the Adventure Journal right around the corner.