historians believe the ancestors of North American native peoples brought snowshoes with them when they migrated from Central Asia some 4,000 years ago today the tradition of snowshoe making lives on thanks to skilled artisans who combined an age-old craft with a few modern improvements every snow shoe frame comes from a single piece of hardwood usually white ash craftsmen start with a two-yard strip about 3/4 of an inch thick using a planer they thin the middle down to about half an inch then it's on to a table saw where each end is tapered to a fine point they take the trim pieces known as bows and hammer steel braces onto each one these support the wood where its thinnest so it won't break later on during the bending process the bows go into a steam chamber to soften the wood 30 minutes later they're damp enough to bend without breaking the craftsmen start working from the middle the area called the foe where the wood is thinnest and easiest to bend they wrap it around a steel form on a bending jig then lay one taper to end over the other and tack them together now back to the steamer for a second bow to complete the pair a temporary crossbar helps hold the shape different steel forms are used to shake different snowshoe models the frame is set on a bending machine called a press break then a wooden bar is positioned on the frame to act as a fulcrum as the press comes down it curves the tip of the frame about two and three-quarter inches upward a crossbar is inserted lengthwise to hold the bend in place still dam from the steam chamber the frames will need to dry out for several days only then can the temporary crossbars safely come out the craftsman then sand the wood to a smooth finish they drill slots on the inside for the to permanent crossbars while another machine stamps those bars with the company logo it takes just a quick stretch to insert the bars one near the toe the other near the heel now the frames go for a dip in a vat of oil-based varnish to seal and waterproof the wood once the varnish dries the frames are ready for lacing in keeping with tradition the laces are made of animal hide wetting it makes it easier to cut into the long strips a skilled weaver threads her needle then begins by hooking the rawhide lace through a nylon thread that runs along the shoes inside Perimeter she nimbly builds up a pattern of webbing that always begins and ends with a series of triangular shapes this intricate weaving technique is a traditional skill passed down through generations of native canadian women she finishes by wrapping up the heel end of the frame with rawhide then pulls it tight now that the toe piece is finished she starts weaving the middle piece using a large width of rawhide she builds up another web of triangles this time knotting the strip's directly onto the frame finally she weaves an opening to leave room for the bindings that hold the snowshoe to your booth once the rawhide dries the webbing will like taut across the frame the last step another coat of varnish to seal and protect both the wood and webbing and now these traditional snowshoes are ready to make some tracks

Traditional Snowshoes | How It`s Made

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