Build a canoe?

I’m considering building myself a canoe.It will be used for fishing and maybe a little hunting.I want it to be stable light and around 14’ in length.Anybody have recomendations on the best wood for the hull and sources for plans/materials?I know there are a few that offer free plans.Are these any good?I might put a layer or two of glass on at some point to.

The short answer is to use cedar. You must glass inside and out to give strength. Search every video on building on youtube. The hardest part is making the stems.

If you are planning to build a strip plank canoe if you can get Paulownia it is even better than cedar being lighter and nicer to work with.

If you are planning to use plywood have a look at some of the designs at

Before recommending designs people need more information eg solo or double (I’m guessing a solo at 14’), single or double bladed paddle, load carrying ability, lakes or rivers.

construction work to minimums, arrive at max performance.


skin on frame paddlers smile a lot more than wooden hull owners,

leaning towards something similar to Wenonah’s Fisherman design.Just enough to handle two people and some gear.So I’ll need seats fore/aft and a removable center seat for when I’m alone.Might add oar locks for that to.

are available from a Google Images search…you may add blog to the search terms or ?

Books are available on how cut n assemble the proper hull curves.

be aware fiberglass chemicals are toxic

a well written blog should describe the process

Canoe build

– Last Updated: Feb-05-15 10:03 AM EST –

Seems there are several things to consider here. If just getting a canoe to get on the water and doing some fishing and hunting for cheap (mention of free plans leads me to think that might be a consideration for you) perhaps just buying something used might be the way to go. Building is a passion for some, but it isn't the cheapest way to get your hands on a general purpose canoe as far as I can see.
Canoes have been made for a long time now and there are a whole bunch of ways of doing it that have been developed. The history of the techniques that have been brought to bear on the job of building a canoe is an interesting subject in its own right.

Doing your own glass lay-up or going the traditional wood/canvas route is better suited to production of many canoes since it means spending time making rather elaborate molds or forms that are reused. So eliminate that idea. And I'm guessing birch bark is out as well.

So the three ways most builders now choose among is 1)using marine plywood (usually with a "stitch and glue" technique and glass covered), 2)a strip lay-up technique usually using cedar (also glass covered) and built over a "strong back" with formers mounted to it , and 3)skin-on-frame.

Kits and plans, often computer generated, are available for the first type; for kayaks, canoes and sailing boats. This should get you started:
I've only seen kayaks built by this technique and they are light and reasonably sturdy, though I don't know how a canoe built by this technique would stand up to years of hunting/fishing use. 1/4" ply, even when glass covered, can be damaged on rocks and the kind of use you might eventually be putting it through.

There are also sources for kits and plans for strippers. Here are a couple for starters.
Strippers are great boats but take longer to build than stitch and glue and often come out so beautiful that I'd be reluctant to use one in quite a few situations. Of course anything you can build you can repair, but who wants to? There will likely be scars.

Skin on frame can be incredibly light and, with the "ballistic nylon" and two part urethane finishes now available, are pretty sturdy, at least for kayaks. (A kayak deck adds structural strength that is provided by thwarts and gunwales in canoes, so a skin-on-frame canoe might turn out to be a more delicate animal than a SOF kayak. I've never paddled a SOF canoe and only seen a couple, but I'd expect a little flex - not necessarily a terrible thing.) I'd question how they would stand up over time to fishing/hunting use. Also possible roof rack damage might be a consideration. (Folboats and SOF kayaks need a little extra attention when carrying on a rack - damage from over-tightening is a concern.)I'd take care to oil or varnish the wood very well prior to covering to forestall rot. There is no glass involved with these as far as I've ever seen.

You might also want to check into pirogues. I know there are people, mostly using them for hunting/fishing in far southern swamp and marsh situations, who make these quickly and in quantity but I know very little about how. I think they cut plywood ribs and attach relatively thick marine plywood to it but know little of the details. There used to and may still be a forum, "Old Sparky's" I think its called, that dealt with piroques almost exclusively.

Happy hunting!

For fishing and hunting almost any canoe will do. If you are convinced you want to build one, decide on the technique. Strippers are popular, but so are frame and skin canoes and stitch and glue. Use Google and look around.