Cedar Strip Canoe Build # 41 Fitting The Decks

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Blog entry by farmerdude posted 03-03-2016 11:21 PM 2343 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The next order of business is to do the decks. The decks need to fit the finished canoe, this means that you need to be sure the canoe is the correct shape before you begin. Usually when you put on the fiberglass that makes the canoe narrower than it should be. On top of that when you add the gunwales that narrows it even more. This model is supposed to be three feet wide in the center. Find the center by looking for the strip of staple holes in the middle and measure there. This canoe was 1 1/2” too narrow. Now cut a piece of wood the correct length to make the hull the width needed. In my case that 1 1/2” puts a lot of pressure on the spreader. The gunwale is slippery due to the epoxy painted on it so I use clamps to hold it from slipping. There will be some creaking and other scary sounds when you stretch it out, but it will be OK so carry on.

When I say it needs to be three feet wide, I mean at it’s widest point. This means half way down the side, not right at the gunwales.

I’m throwing in a shot of one of the scarf joints in the gunwale, even with the pressure of the sideways bend it’s still holding and looking good.

Here is what needs to be filled.

Right in the point it has some trash that needs to go. I start with a rasp, then finish with a chisel.

It looks good, except for a few little bumps on the side. Now is the time to get a tight fit. A thin stick and some paper takes care of it.

If it’s smooth and ready to go, get a big piece of scrap to mark out a pattern.

Not a bad looking fit, just need to tweak near one of the gunwales.

It’s at this point that I notice that the inside gunwales are just a little low. Lower than I am willing to accept. I can’t fit my drill in there, it’s too tight. The best move will be to cut off some wood and the deck will be a little longer. It won’t be long enough to cause a problem, and I like the look of a longer deck anyway.
These cuts need to be square so the gunwale will fit into the notch in the deck without any gaps. I’m not good enough to do this by eye. A piece of scrap makes a good jig to keep the saw straight.

It goes without saying that you need to be very careful not to saw into the hull. As you saw, the curve of the hull will cause the wood to pinch your saw. I have a bar clamp that can be reversed to push out, this works well here.

Cut in as far as you dare, then clean it up with a chisel. When you think everything is ready you can transfer the pattern onto the wood. In this case I’m using Elm.

You may notice that having traced the hull you will have a slight curve on the sides of the piece I call the arrow. Use a straight edge and straighten out these sides, the hull is thin and flexible, and it will match the straight cuts when you put in the screws.

Now a quick trip to the bandsaw.

Now to the belt sander.

I would like to end this with a picture of me trying the new deck to see how it fits, however, the belt sander went to pieces before I got it sanded. It sounds like a bearing to me. So this is where we stand. One deck is somewhat shaped, one to go. Then I can glue them in. I have another appointment tomorrow. When I get home I will try to take the sander apart and see what it needs. If I figure it out I will order some parts. I have a handheld belt sander I can clamp upside down, that may get the job done. I also have one more seat to weave. So there is plenty to do to keep me busy. I probably won’t have an update for a couple of days. I will post one as soon as I can. See you then.

-- Jeff in central Me.

8 comments so far

View English's profile


682 posts in 2083 days

#1 posted 03-03-2016 11:42 PM

The details never end when building a boat, You’re doing a great job both on the boat and the blog. Thanks for sharing the fun.

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View hoss12992's profile


4166 posts in 2499 days

#2 posted 03-04-2016 04:02 AM

I am in awe of how well you explain what your doing and why. Outstanding job on the canoe. Thanks for the update buddy

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Bobsboxes's profile (online now)


1399 posts in 3270 days

#3 posted 03-04-2016 04:47 AM

Great blog, very well done. I have enjoyed following this a lot. Thanks.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View bearkatwood's profile


1809 posts in 1618 days

#4 posted 03-04-2016 04:47 AM

Nice trick with the gunwales. Looking good.

-- Brian Noel

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2613 days

#5 posted 03-04-2016 03:25 PM

I have really enjoyed watching this being built. I dont remember (and am too lazy to go back and read it all again) but are you building this for yourself? Or is was this ordered by a customer?

Either way, it’s gonna be a damn nice canoe !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View farmerdude's profile


670 posts in 2645 days

#6 posted 03-04-2016 07:36 PM

Thanks everyone, I appreciate you following.

-- Jeff in central Me.

View farmerdude's profile


670 posts in 2645 days

#7 posted 03-04-2016 07:40 PM

Joe, I’m building this for my sister’s boyfriend. He was wanting one, and I was wanting to build one. Worked out well I reckon. Thanks, buddy.

-- Jeff in central Me.

View bearkatwood's profile


1809 posts in 1618 days

#8 posted 03-05-2016 08:27 PM

Thanks everyone, I appreciate you following.

- farmerdude

It has been our pleasure, very masterful work and a joy to read.

-- Brian Noel

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