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Thread: Want to build a Canoe but clueless about boats

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Atlanta, GA

    Want to build a Canoe but clueless about boats

    Hi guys and gals,

    I've been browsing this section of the form for awhile and love all the boats people here are sharing. Made me really think about wanting to have a crack at it, only issue is I know NOTHING about boat building.

    I'm not asking for someone to hold my hand and walk me through it step by step, but I'd really appreciate it if someone can point me in the right direction to start learning about boat building and what is required to be successful in building one.

    Examples, what books or websites should I visit to start reading up and learning about it. How did you start off with boat building and how did you learn what you know today?

    I would love to learn and think boat building would be just awesome to add to my skills.

  2. #2
    As far as I'm concerned, the definitive book on Canoe building is Ted Moores & Merilyn Mohr's "Canoecraft". In my opinion, the book provides you with a very well rounded approach to design and construction of the strip type canoe. (20) years ago, I attended a class held for building a cedar strip canoe, enjoyed it and signed up for a follow up class in which you build your own canoe. There were (25) canoes and small boats built during this class. "Canoecraft " was the "anchor" for our building, I highly recommend it.
    Last edited by Mac McQuinn; 01-13-2016 at 12:01 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks, found the book on amazon for $5 shipped and just placed my order.

    Would still like to hear from others if you have more to share.

  4. #4
    I built a strip canoe using the Canoecraft book. It was tons of fun, and I really want to build another, or maybe a kayak. I knew nothing about boat building, and really don't have any big wood working tools outside of a contractor table saw.

    I see this was posted in Jan, have you made any progress?

  5. #5
    Back in the 80's I was the same as you....knew nothing about building a canoe but decided (during the winter) to try one just for something different. I used 2 books as my guide...the first edition of this one..(I see it has been revised).. and this one.. . Both books were very helpful in getting the project done. I still have and use the canoe today.....
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. I am building a Black Pearl designed by Bjorn Thomasson who has a building manual at
    There is also and search for North West Canoes.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Atlanta, GA
    Barry, our canoe looks beautiful. I did buy a book but never got around to reading it. had a couple to projects come up in between and now in the middle of building a new home and getting ready to sell my current, I won't have time to start on building a canoe any time soon. Maybe in another year or 2 I might get some time.

  8. Gil Gilpatrick has a book out (Amazon has it for sure) that has his whole canoe building process broken down into smaller, bite-sized projects. Book has templates and patterns for several different types of canoes. He spells everything out pretty clearly. Lots of photos to try and make things clear. Each chapter starts out with a list of materials and tools needed for that chapter/sub-project. I've been dreaming of starting one of his canoes. Closing in on retirement so may need to clear out some of the garage and get started. Good luck on your canoe!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Before you make a final design selection, learn what to expect from the finished boat. Here are a few principals

    1. A longer waterline makes a boat faster

    2. Faster is the same as less work to paddle

    3. A kayak paddle makes a canoe about three times as fast as a canoe paddle, I'll never look back

    4. A narrow boat is faster but wants to tip over, but a stable paddler can be ok

    5. In wind a boat with lots of rocker will be very difficult to steer straight (rocker is bow to stern rocking on a flat floor)

    6. In whitewater a boat with no rocker will be difficult to steer

    7. Any clear finish will require a lot of maintenance, and will have a shorter life than a painted boat

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    South West Ontario
    I saw a beautiful strip canoe on a lake I canoe on. Backrests and all. The freeboard when interior camping was just over 2 inches. Any wave or some wind and they would sink. Windy days they went nowhere, such a shame to miscalculate so much.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    I saw a beautiful strip canoe on a lake I canoe on. Backrests and all. The freeboard when interior camping was just over 2 inches. Any wave or some wind and they would sink. Windy days they went nowhere, such a shame to miscalculate so much.
    It sounds like he's seriously over loaded for the design's perimeters or just picked the wrong design to build for his purposes. The good thing is it's a opportunity to build another canoe that will meet his/her's requirements next time.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    US Virgin Islands
    Blog Entries
    Canoecraft is an excellent book for canoe building, but also Nick Schade's "The Strip-Built Kayak" has a wealth of information regarding strip building. Even if building a canoe and not a kayak, it's a great resource- they are much the same, only one has a deck with a hole in the middle. :-)

    Keep in mind that there are also other methods of construction- stitch-n-glue, lapstrake, and skin-on-frame are examples. Iaian Oughtred designed the MacGregor- a beautiful glued lap plywood decked canoe. Plans for the forms come with marking for the strakes, which makes it easier to lay out.

    CLC makes a glued lapstrake canoe in kit or plans form

    Pygmy Boats makes the nicest classic-look canoe with stitch-n-glue construction in kit form. It's a real beauty and would be a quick build.

    Guillemot Kayaks, owned by Nick Schade- author of the book I mentioned above- sells plans for a canoe:
    It is a bit flat- best for lazy flatwater paddling.

    I personally prefer cedar strip. It is not that hard- just build the forms and glue the strips up one at a time. My suggestion is get LOTS of clamps. Spring clamps work very well. Also the Irwin Quick-Grip clamps are great for this kind of project- easy to get on and off. They don't hold as tightly as f clamps, but they hold plenty for flexible strips.

    Best of luck. I build wooden boats and sometimes teach classes in boatbuilding. Happy to assit with any questions.

  13. #13
    Okay, if we're expanding into other construction types, I've admired Arch Davis designs in glued lapstrake ( No canoes, but several "sorta traditional" designs: a peapod, skiffs, etc. I've got his Penobscott 14 on my wish list for a future project. I've gotten and watched his video on construction of the design and found it quite thorough, clear and understandable. And longish, too. He doesn't skip a lot. Not a cheap way to go, but you get what you pay for in this case.
    Fair winds and following seas,
    Jim Waldron

  14. #14
    Depending upon what type of water you want to be in, as an alternative to a canoe, I would suggest a look at I did not, yet, build a boat, but do have a 15’ manuf Kevlar guideboat. If you are looking for flat water rowing they are just fabulous boats. You have 8’ long oars. I was up in the Sierra last summer and all the canoes and kayaks were trying to get off the lake when the wind came up. Many were pinned on the shore. They all told my wife and I not to go out, but we shoved off and had enough mechanical advantage that we could go where we pleased with ease. One of the nice things about them is you sit facing each other and you can carry a load. I have the sliding seat option which I have not used as much as I would like, but you can row it for exercise if you like. They have fabulous fair lines and handle so sweetly. The “Adirondack Guideboat” by Ken and Helen Durant is a must read if you are into rowing boats

  15. (oooh look, my first post! Hi everybody.)

    I built a plywood canoe a couple of years ago
    canoe 1.jpg
    It is a Quick Canoe from Michael Storer. It took me 4 weekends from buying the plywood to launch. The instructions were comprehensive. Since then, I've had it on rivers
    canoe 2.jpg

    canoe 3.jpg

    and the sea where it handles up to 6ft swell just fine.

    For a first boat/canoe builder (as I was), I found the plans and instructions clear, straightforward and pretty much idiotproof. It helps that the designer has an active Facebook page, where I could ask questions and get answers too. Having said that, it's not the lightest canoe ever - his Eureka and forthcoming Viola designs are more elegant and lightweight - but it's pretty much bulletproof and with the added airtight bulkheads, will keep its gunwales above the surface when full of water (don't ask me how I know this).

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