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Outdoor Skills

Snowshoe Construction: Build Your Own

Course Overview

Carve, bend, and lace your own pair of wooden snowshoes in the traditional Ojibwe style. Pointed at both ends, this snowshoe design is efficient for travel through both wooded areas or across frozen lakes and open expanses. During the evening session, students will steam bend and shape ash frames. For the remaining three days of class, students will mortise in crosspieces with simple hand tools and learn traditional techniques for lacing their shoes using lightweight, hollowed nylon cord. Traditional bindings will be provided and their uses will be covered in detail. The end result is a satisfying reflection of craftsmanship and skills handed down through the generations.

This course is scheduled for a full three days in order to allow enough time for students to completely finish lacing both snowshoes and to return home with a finished project, to provide for a comfortable pace throughout the class, and to create opportunities to participate in parts of the Winterers' Gathering and Arctic Film Festival. Students who work quickly or feel confident in completing their work at home could plan to leave earlier than 5pm on the last day. This course is open to youth ages 14+ if accompanied by a full-paying adult. Pairs can choose to make one set of snowshoes and pay one materials fee, or construct two sets and pay two materials fees. A 25% tuition discount applies to the youth participant. Students are highly encouraged, though not required, to attend a session on Thursday evening to bend their frames. The frames will set-up on Friday and class will re-commence Saturday-Monday to complete the project, allowing students to go hiking, take another course, or take in films and speakers during the Winterers' Gathering on Friday. Students unable to attend the Thursday evening session will have frames prepared for them by the instructor. This course requires students to stand for much of the day and have moderate hand strength. An example of hand strength is being able to open a jar.

Required Tools

I hesitate to require tools, but if you have tools bring them. It can be beneficial to use the tools you are familiar with or in some cases learn to use the tools you own.  If you don't own tools and plan to buy them, it is perhaps better to wait until after the class at North House in which we will discuss tools and the right tools to buy.

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Leather gloves

Optional Tools

  • Square
  • Block plane


Currently Scheduled Sessions

No sessions currently scheduled for this course.

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