20' cedar; How Should I?

Just bought some 20’ cedar to make a new canoe.

How about a 19 1/2 foot canoe? Are there problems with such a length?

Or should I stay with standard 17’ length?

Design first! Wood later!
Choose a design and figure out how much wood you need. Don’t buy wood and try to figure out how large a canoe you can build.

should be good
I would probobly suggest 19 foot to allow enough working legnth. And alot depends on how wide you want this baby.

Do you have the space
and the equipment to handle working with 20’ long stock? If you work alone you’ll need a good run off system for milling the stock for a cedar strip canoe. From my experience the leads and ends of long slender stock are not always on size and it’s good to have an extra few inches on each end to trim.

For an 18’canoe I would probably buy 20’ stock.

problems with such a length.






Unless you have a specialized reason for such length, say beaver trapping expeditions from Duluth to the Yukon, it seems excessive.

piece of string?
how long is a piece of string? Do you imagine why there are not that many 18+ feet boats out there? unless you have HUGE loads or a third paddler, why?


I have plenty of room to handle the working length.

I am wondering more about perhaps a 19’ canoe and possible widths, rocker, flatness of bottom, tumblehome, etc. Also about possible problems with paddling a larger canoe.

I recently built a 13’ canoe, about 34" wide and it is a bit tipsy since the bottom is a bit rounded. It is however very easy to paddle and otherwise handles well. I want ease of paddling and more stability which I hope to gain with the length.

I do thank you all who posted so far.

Long canoes can be great.
To figure out what you want for a design maybe paddle some of the usual suspects. Wenonah has a couple or three. The Itaska is a nice paddler I know.

As recently as the 1970s there was still a 20’-6" class for down river racing and they were faster than the 18-6 “medium” class canoes. Plans are available out there for the EM White guide in the Gilpatric book.

Spacing for any set of forms can be adjusted for longer or shorter canoes.

19 1/2’ canoe
If you try to make a canoe 19 1/2’ with 20’ wood you are not leaving any margin for error and or defects with the wood. All boards should be at least 4-6" longer than the longest needed part for your project. Also if the canoe is 19 1/2’ you are not allowing for the added length needed for some of the strips that are bowed to make the shape of the canoe. If you don’t understand do this, take a canoe and measure it bow to stern. Now turn on its side and measure bow to stearn. You will be surprised how much longer the measurement is. I have built 4 solo canoes so far and I allow 2 extra feet for cut-off and waste. Mike

epoxy stirring sticks
are a good use for the ends of cedar strips. For a 17’-2" hull I recently built I picked 18-1/2’ to 19’lengths from a unit of rough-sawn 2x6 clear cedar boards. I left the 20 footers for someone building an 18’expedition canoe.

is this 20 ft. WRC? If so where did yo get it?


Jackel Enterprizes in Watsonville, CA stocks long lengths of clear WRC stock.

I don’t use clear cedar.

I know this makes it more difficult but it’s cheaper to use.

I bought them at a local lumber yard.

Got a friend whiz built two 28 foot strippers…you are good

I would think a 28’ canoe would be a problem in large waves unless it had good width.