A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures


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If you were to do it again, would you make any adjustments to your original plan? Nice work, definitely the solution for the best price. I turned those over too. Great work in keeping it simple and light, that is the key. In your instructions it is stated that you zip tie your panels together. Can you give an illustrated example of what a zip tie looks like? Where did you get the pattern? What grade and thickness of plywood did you use? What size PVC pipe did you use.

If you can please send your reply to my email address. All those questions are answered in the post. The pipe is 3 inch PVC cut to 1 inch think clamps. So I did. After making it and using it, what would you differently if you were to make another canoe? Wider base? Yes, indeed. Great article and the photos are very helpful.

I notice you put the seat in the back as opposed to the middle. Did this affect the canoes performance? How did you attach it to the sides? Very nice. I am currently half way through the project myself. Panels cutr, next step: butt blocks. Did you remove the zip ties before fiver glassing? Zip ties come out before fiber glass goes on though some of them were stuck enough that I just sanded them down. Wow, bold pursuit. Pictures of the progress are fun.

See any cool wildlife out in the canoe? Has the beauty survived a trip with more than one passenger yet? What do you think about making this a 2 man canoe. Maybe making it slightly longer? Do you think the plywood could take it? I know you answered the weight and stablity questions. Do you have any idea on the load capacity? Track well? I had usually rented Kevlar canoes from a local outfitter but I thought I would enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of building my own boat and using it to make a trip.

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The final cost of materials and tools probably ended up higher than the cost of just purchasing a used or lower end canoe, but the satisfaction from using my canoe is worth it. What follows is a very general description of how I built my cedar strip canoe. Read books about cedar strip construction techniques. I read Canoe Craft twice before I started the project. Also, visit www. Determine what the boat will be used for, a canoe for the cottage, a canoe for camping and tripping, or a work of art just to look at hanging in the garage. Choose a design that is practical but also pleasing to your eye.

Other things to consider are length, weight, stability some designs may require an experienced paddler , load carrying capacity, symmetry, speed, and last but not least ease of construction. A design with a high bow and stern may require more effort to bend wood for the stems and one where the hull wraps around the paddler more sharply called tumblehome can be more difficult to strip. These can be purchased from Bear Mountain, Chesapeake Light craft www.

They can also be created from tables of offsets, using a process called lofting. The books mentioned above contain offset tables for several designs. I purchased plans for my canoe and lofted them for my kayak from tables in Kayak Craft. If you purchase plans you can expect a drawing with cross-sectional hull outlines and stem form outlines that can be traced to make the molds. Follow the books you read. A sturdy, level, long thin table needs to be built on which the canoe can be assembled. This is called a strong back. The molds or forms are then attached to the blocks to form a sort of skeleton onto which the strips are temporarily attached and glued together.

The outlines of the hull cross sections are drawn on sheets of plywood, particle board or MDF. They can be traced using carbon paper between the plan and the board. They need to include a pedestal feature so that the forms are held above the strong back an appropriate distance. They end up having a mushroom-shaped profile. Alternately a separate piece of wood can be attached. The forms are attached to the station blocks on the strong back with drywall screws, taking care to line up the centerline of the forms with the centerline of the strong back.

A string stretched from the bow to the stern stem forms will help with alignment.

A Maine angler thought he hooked bottom, but it was a monstrous splake

Once all the forms are attached, eyeball the shape from each end looking for forms that are off a little. A long thin strip of wood held against the edge of the forms and slid up and down along the hull can also help to identify forms that need correction. Small shims are used for minor adjustments. The strips will be glued along their edges and stapled to the forms. Some protection on the forms is needed to keep dripping glue from permanently sticking the hull to the forms.

Edges of all the forms should be covered including the stem molds. Plastic packaging tape works well for this. Use the table saw with feather boards clamped to the guide and table to keep the strip thickness uniform. A circular saw with a guide jig for cutting the strips is shown in the photo. Make a few test cuts and adjust your set up. Using a thin kerf blade like the Diablo, cut more than enough strips since some will break or have large knots or other problems.

They do not need to be the total length of the boat, they can be scarf jointed or butt jointed on the hull. The strength of the hull comes from the wood core laminated with fiberglass not from using continuous strips. Cut the bead first since the cove is more delicate.

Once again make some test runs to adjust your set up. I end up with tape pieces every 6 inches or so. Once the deck was securely positioned, I ran a strip of masking tape down the length of the seam to seal it up. I was careful not to allow too many wrinkles in this strip as they could cause a mess later. I laid this strip of tape down on sheet of waxed paper and slathered on some mixed epoxy with a chip brush to completely saturate the strip. I also brushed some epoxy on the lower seam between the deck and hull on the inside of the boat.

Then it was just a matter of unrolling the tape on to the seam. Using the chip-brush I worked the tape down into the corner between the deck and hull, smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles. Each side took about 20 minutes with a few hours break in between. The next day when the epoxy had cured, I stripped off the masking and packing tape. At this point the long seams between all the panels were fairly sharp.

Step 2: CAD - Cardboard Aided Design

Fiberglass does not wrap around sharp angles, and sharp angles are delicate and weak in the finished kayak, so they need to be rounded over. Once I have a consistent chamfer down the full length, I knock the corners of the chamfer to create the beginnings of a round-over. A couple more passes with the plane completes the radius. The epoxy seal coat over the stain has had a chance to set up hard by now so it really should be scuffed up with grit sandpaper to take the gloss off.

At the same time as I sanded all the flat surfaces, I tuned up the round overs at the corners.

Because the planing and sanding cut into fresh wood and removed the stain, I used a cotton swab as a brush to touch up the bare wood with stain. Again, I keep the swab wet and move quickly to get a nice even coverage. The next step was glassing the outside of the hull. To keep drips under control I ran some masking tape on the deck following the sheer line and then turned the boat upside down. Laying glass on the outside is easier than the inside, you can just roll it out and then brush down the wrinkles.

When I reached the ends of the kayak the cloth needed some trimming to fit the stems. I was then able to gently lift the cloth off one side, wrap the excess from the other side around the stem and the lay the lifted side back down before wrapping it around to the far side. This left a little tuft of strands sticking up at the knuckle, but there is really no way around it. Once the fabric was fully wet out, I came back with a squeegee to scrape off the excess like I did on the interior. When the epoxy had dried to the touch I came back and trimmed off the excess glass along the sheer using a utility knife.

This left a bit of an edge that I sanded down and I touched up the stain that I messed up again. This glass got trimmed to overlap onto the tape about half an inch. This glass got wetted out in the same way the hull was done. I allowed the epoxy to cure for a few hours and then used a sharp utility knife to lightly score the new glass just above the masking tape. When I peeled up the tape, the excess fiberglass on the tape came up with it. Properly saturated fiberglass cloth should end up with a distinct weave texture where there is only enough resin to completely wet the fabric, but not so much that it is left shiny.

Too little resin and the layup will lose strength, too much and it will gain weight. The problem is the best finished surface is smooth and shiny. To achieve this, I brushed on another coat of epoxy over the whole boat. I applied the resin with a chip brush and spent time making sure there was a consistent film thickness over the whole kayak. I masked at the sheer line to keep drips from running into undesirable places.

The coaming always presents a problem. It is a bit of a complex shape, this ring of wood that is raised off the deck. On a full size kayak this is where you would attach a spray skirt to keep water out of the cockpit.

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Quick Canoe Plan. Woodworker builds in 4.5 hours (I took 2 weekends)

It consists of two basic parts, a riser and a lip. The riser gets the lip up off the deck so the spray skirt can be secured around the lip. But these rings are all ovals that chew up a lot of plywood if you try to make them out of one piece. Another riser solution is to use one long strip of wood that is bent around into an egg shape. I stuck a layer of filament strapping to what was to be the outside diameter of the coaming. This helped prevent splitting and breaking as I bent the wood into a circle and joined the ends.

I then distorted this circle into the cockpit egg shape and wedged it in the cockpit hole. Spot welds of CA glue around the perimeter held it in place while I wedged the coaming lip on to the top of the riser.

A Canoe Built (By a Geek Dad) for Two...

This was similarly spot welded. The angle of the weave allows the cloth to distort easily around complex shapes. The first step was to brush some epoxy on the coaming. This allowed the strip of cloth to stick in place as I carefully wrapped it around the inner circumference of the riser. I could then brush the top out over the lip and the bottom down under the deck.

With that saturated in place I then reinforced the underside of the lip by tucking a bias cut strip in between the lip and deck and carefully brushing it smooth with epoxy resin. The coaming is a bit tricky and constituted about 3 hours work, but it was very solid when complete. After the epoxy cured I trimmed off the excess glass around the perimeter of the coaming and gave the whole kayak another fill coat of epoxy resin.

The trick to creating a smooth finish is all in the prep work. This means sanding. I start out with very coarse 60 grit sandpaper with the goal of leveling the surface of the epoxy.


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The idea is to make a flat smooth surface where the gloss of the bare epoxy is gone, but without actually sanding into the fiberglass itself. With a couple fill coats of epoxy I was able to quickly get a smooth surface using a random orbital sander. Once I got it flat with 60 grit I moved on to , then grit sandpaper. Epoxy does not play well in the sun. Ultra Violet will eventually break down the epoxy exposing the fiberglass and eventually delaminating from the wood.

This is prevented with paint or varnish. I like the appearance of the wood so I went with varnish. I built up three coats of varnish by first coating the deck, waiting for it to dry then flipping the kayak over and coating the hull.

Northwest Canoe Company, Inc. - Canoe Repair, Canoe Building

I did the deck in the morning and the hull in the evening. The next morning, I gave it all a light sanding and repeated the deck and hull coatings. Over the course of 3 days, I got 3 coats.


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  • The actual work went quick; it was the dry time that dragged out the process. I cut some chunks of foam to make a seat and glued it in place with contact cement and shoved some more foam into the ends for flotation. I also made a quick little Greenland Inuit style kayak paddle out of a piece of 2-by All of the above happened from the raw kit to installing the seat happened over the course of a weekend and a few mornings and evenings. Launching a new boat is always a momentous event, especially when there is a 5 year old boy involved, but — given the age of the future captain — champagne did not seem appropriate, so we just dunked the kayak in the lake.

    The design was meant more as a pool toy than a boat for expeditions, as such I put my nephew and waded out into waste deep water with him in the kayak and then showed him how to tip over. I wanted him to feel comfortable with the idea that he could get wet and that it was OK. I was able to pick the boat up to dump out the water and put him back in the seat. He immediately took to the capsizing thing, thinking that was great fun.

    A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures
    A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures
    A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures
    A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures
    A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures
    A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures
    A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures
    A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures A Small DIY Canoe Build in Pictures

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