Help deciding on a canoe to build

I’ve decided to go ahead with an old dream of mine - to build a canoe, but I have been obsessing about which one to build. This will be my first boat building project, but I have maintained a sailboat and done some UNfine woodworking in the past. My worst characteristic as a woodworker is impatience. As a canoer, I guess I’m an advanced beginner or beginning intermediate. So, here are my priorities:

  1. I will use it mainly on lakes, sometimes large and choppy.
  2. I will use it mainly as a double-paddle solo; if I can squeeze in one passenger occassionally that would be a plus.
  3. It must be light - I’m too old to heft a heavy craft onto my car roof - preferably under 35#, but I could stretch it some.
  4. Not too challenging for a first-time builder.
  5. Decent looking, not just a cube with a couple of hard chines.
  6. I’m 6’2", 185#. I may want to take along a weekend of gear once a year, but usually just a lunch and a towel.
  7. Not too squirrelly, but it doesn’t need to be a barge for me to feel comfortable.
  8. I don’t want to have to work continuously to keep it headed straight, especially in wind. I won’t be using it in fast rivers.
  9. Should cost well under $1000 for supplies.
  10. Small decks would be a plus. Ability to add a sail, later, would be a plus.

    Can all this be accomplished with one canoe? What models do you recommend? Plans only, or kit? SOF, Stitch and Glue, or stripper? I am intimidated by strip building and by building from plans without a kit, but maybe that’s silly of me.



weight goal will be tough
35 pounds to handle all the things you list will be difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

I have a few designs if you want to cruise through my site. Just look at my profile.

To add to the confusion…
For light weight:

Some nice-looking solos:

Osprey, strip & S&G. Newfound Woodworks can CNC cut the S&G panels.

Northwest .38?

Would a scale model built first
be of some use to you? See if any of the recommended sites have an inexpensive kit that is the same techniques and pieces as building the canoe full size. This lets you learn and make mistakes at a lower cost, & you may have a finer product when you attempt the full size project.

Or, see if there is a builder/kit maker/paddle shop who has lessons or a build your own boat workshop. This might mean a week or two away from work/home. If practical for you, this should assure you have a good result.

Good luck with it, Kaps

added confusion

– Last Updated: Jan-08-07 10:36 AM EST –

Thanks for the suggestions! The Issaquah 14 and 38 Special look like good bets. I'm also considering the Chemaunis and CLC Sassafras, and Sweet Dream. Also the Stillwater Dusk.
- eric


– Last Updated: Jan-08-07 8:17 PM EST –

A strip Osprey by John Winters can be built under 40# but you have to use a few tricks. No stems, 1/8" strips, 4 oz glass (doubled in the football area) one piece slotted gunnels.

JEM watercraft
Good site and good boats. The plans are fabulous in their detail and instructions!

And he is right about the weight!

My Merlin was at 24 pounds before I added the thwarts, gunwales and seat. It can be modified now to wiegh in at 32 pounds. Tracks great, turns like it is on tracks unless I lean and sweep. Easy to build or you can buy one from Al athe Northwest canoe shop. I wiegh in a 190 now.