canoe plans/kits?

How hard is it to build a canoe? I have some pretty decent mechanical skills. I used to a be a plumber and have had experience as machinist. I have the room the build a canoe at a relatives. It is not climate controlled though.

Do you need to have the area your working in a certain temperature when working with the molding and epoxy/resins when coating the canoe?

If any one could would you explain the basics to me and what would be need to build my own canoe? Wood, fabric, epoxy, and tools?

If I dont end up just buying a used one I would like to build something in the 17-18ft that would be light enough to portage in the BWCA but still have a decent weight capacity. Mainly it will be used for fishing rivers and lakes but I am close enough to the BWCA that I would like to make a portaging trip yearly. Thanks for any information.

Getting started
Like you, I’ve thought about, and looked into, building a canoe. But I lack a garage or basement usable for such a project. I’m sure others with much more experience will soon jump in here, but a decent starting point might be to look at the stuff at Bear Mountain Boats and Green Valley Boatworks. There will probably be other suggestions coming shortly.

Both of the above are mostly cedar strip plans and kits. These boats are a pretty big building project for most folks but the end result is light, beautiful, and I think its safe to say not as sturdy as an aluminum or royalex boat would be at a fraction of the cost and time. But folks who love strip boats love them a lot. They’re so beautiful that personally I’d be reluctant to paddle them in many places where they might get beat up.

Another popular home boat-building method is “stitch and glue” which uses a high quality plywood, usually 1/4", that is then glassed over. They build relatively quickly compared to strippers. These are usually kayaks but there are a few stitch and glue canoe kits out there… but I’ve never seen or paddled a stitch and glue canoe so I can’t really say anything about them with any authority. Don’t know if I’d want to hit a rock in rapids very hard with one though… the s&g kayaks I’ve been in felt a tad delicate and a canoe wouldn’t have the inherent structural strength of a decked kayak.

So maybe that’s something to get you started thinking about this. If you just want a canoe to paddle the easy, fast, cheap path is to buy something manufactured. Still, those I know who build their own love them dearly and apparently can’t stop building them. Only you can say for sure, but if you’ve got the time, space, and skills building might be the way for you to go.

finished building a stitch and glue kayak from CLC. It was actually a lot of fun, right up until the varnishing part. Didn’t much like that. They have canoe kits (and plans too) Start here:

I built my kayak mostly in my garage because it was easier to heat than a bigger space I had available. The epoxy and varnish need to be not so cold, like above 60 to 65 degrees for them to set in a timely manner. Too hot is not good either, though.

CLC has a forum and lots of tips on their site that I found very helpful. If I wanted a wooden canoe, that’s where I’d start.

It wasn’t that hard to build, and I learned a lot. I’m not God’s gift to woodworkers, either. Wouldn’t hesitate to do it again if I wanted another boat.

Good luck!

My experiences
having built three kayaks (but no canoes - all mine are boughten). First, don’t go into this thinking that you are going to save a lot of money. Do it because you want to paddle something that you built. Be warned though that having a wooden boat on your roof can make it hard to get out of parking lots and gas stations some times. Beyond that, kits vs. plans - you taste and need for gratification. My two stitch & glue kayaks were pygmy kits. I’m fond of Pygmy’s designs & don’t really like the design of the original CLS boats, but CLC has nice looking newer ones. The Pygmys were ready to float in 2 months and finished & varnished in a little more than 3. The strip boat was another story. It was about 11 months from starting the forms to finishing the varnish.

Tools: Stitch & glue doesn’t need much if you build from a kit. A power drill for the stitches, a jig saw, and an orbital sander. hand tools, a scraper, a sure-form, and not much else. If you are building a strip boat from planks & plans you will also need a good table saw, a router set up for the cove & bead (unless you try planing to fit). You will also want a couple of good planes and a pull saw.

Temperature: While you can get fast hardener that will allow the epoxy to set at cooler temperatures you should try to avoid that, especially when you are wetting out the fabric. A number of sources recommend that you start with the hull quite warm (upper 80s) and work with it cooling to “pull” the resin into the hull and to avoid bubbles for escaping gases from the wood.

Protecting the boat: Some look at wooden boats & think that they are fragile & too pretty to use. I say phooey. You built it to use so use it. They are darned strong - really a wood cored composite. Put some extra glass where the abrasion will be the worst and at the end of a season, sand down the scratches & give it a fresh coat of varnish.

And all else, enjoy, and if you are anyway near Lansing Michigan March2, stop by the Quiet Water Symposium

at the northwest canoe shop in minnesota.I built three canoes from their plans and book. Simple enough for me to build. Good people and helpful.

Try this link

Pygmy Boats
Pygmy Boats has a kit for a 17-foot canoe, the Taiga, a very nice, high capacity stitch-and-glue canoe.

Cedar Strip Canoe
A cedar strip canoe is a fun and doable project. THere is so much information out there that is pretty easy to get it right if you do your research. There is probably a fellow boat builder nearby to help when help is needed.

Finding and milling your own stock can be a fun and rewarding part of the project but beware that you need lots of room to mill your own stock unless you have open doors and windows or can work outside.

Contact me privately if want more discussion. I had a lot of fun strip canoe building and I’d be glad to discuss details with you.

Good luck with your build.

Oh, there is a site and forum for cedar strip canoe building. You’ll find lots of info and help there.

I think my problem is going to be with the epoxy keeping it around 60-65. I wanted to build it this winter but maybe If I have some spare time it will be a good summer project.

I was hoping the build would be a little faster. That and I don’t have the wood working tools right also. It sounds like it would be a fun project. I just don’t have that much spare time right now and I want something I can use by spring.

thanks for all the information guys. I have always wanted to do this. I just don’t see it being able to be done in the time frame I want before spring. I might start one this summer when I am on vacation so I can have a better control on the climate also.

Cedar Strip Canoes…

– Last Updated: Jan-15-13 5:46 PM EST –

...aren't really hard to do - just tedious at times. I helped a friend do his 16'last summer, and would estimate it took about 300 hours in labour from cedar 2x6's to a finished (and absolutely beautiful) boat. We did have the advantage of being able to borrow a set of stations - the forms you use to build - which saved a lot of time.

I've built a number of stitch and glue kayaks - there are S&G canoe designs out there, but the hulls must be multi-chined, since ply bends only one way - it is a very simple and quick way to get a boat done. I estimate about 80 hours for my VOLKSKAYAKs - a 17', 24" sea kayak weighing about 45 lbs.

Don't sell the wood/epoxy boats short re toughness either; my first VK is now 12 years old, and all it has needed to keep it in great shape is bi-annual paint and the repair of a partial crack in a hull panel it got when a wave dropped me on a rock. I don't deliberately beat it around, but it hasn't been babied either. And with both S&G ply or cedar strip construction, you can always repair anything you've built quite easily...

There's a tonne of info out there on the net - just Google around, and if you can find someone nearby who's done a boat or two, you're absolutely