Cedar strip canoe

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Project by Kennethjg posted 07-14-2016 06:14 PM 3321 views 10 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I started this late in 2014 and finished around the summer of 2015. Had I known about lumberjocks back then, I may have blogged the build to chronicle the progress and the obstacles I encountered and how I worked around them, and the some of the tricks I came up with to make it go a little easier, if not for anyone else building a boat, than for myself. Someday I may wanna build another one, or I may look back and remember all the frustration and anxiety I experienced and decide not to do it again.
It all started the summer of 2014 when I was talking to my foreman about buying a canoe so my girlfriend and I could go on the river together, because all I had was a single person kayak. He said something along the lines of “why don’t you just build one?” It couldn’t be that hard.”
Little did I know that it would take me 9 months to build.
Had I taken a week off work and really hit it hard, I could have gotten it done much faster, but I just worked on it when I wasn’t at one of my 2 jobs or spending time with my girlfriend.
Anyway, I looked at an Instructables build of one (which turned out really downplay the detail of the build), and came to the same conclusion as my foreman.
Then I bought the cedar strip canoe book, I forget the name, and gave that a read, and ordered plans.
Luckily I had access to the cabinet shop I work at, otherwise I don’t know how I would have milled the 20 foot material in my garage.

After setting up the forms, I started wrapping them with strips.
It was a slow pace for me, just because I only had small blocks of time to do it.

At some point (I forget where) I stopped on one side and finished out the other.
Then marked my center line and instead of trying to hit that line perfectly with a chisel all the way down, I took a circular saw with a veneer blade and set the blade just past the cedar strips and cut it that way. Carefully guiding it along made a perfectly straight centerline.
After that, it was a matter of just closing in the hole.

After that was when the fun part started: all the shaping and sanding. It was quite an experience to watch it go from a rough, glue-splooged mess into a sleek canoe.

I used west systems epoxy and fiberglass cloth, as per the recommendations of the book, then I was able to flip it and start working on the inside.
Shaping the inside was a little tougher, but it just took some patience.

I used ash for the gunwhales
And lots of clamps.

Anyway, before I shut down lumberjocks with this post, I’ll finish with this:
If you want to build a boat, but you have any reservations about doing it, just go for it. I’m no master craftsman, and I built one in a single car garage.
It was a really fun and exciting build, and now I have a functional boat to take out on the water. It floats and tracks straight, and paddling by myself (my girlfriend doesn’t help much) I can get it going at a decent speed.
Even if I can’t catch the fish like my girlfriend can.

If you have any questions or anything, feel free to ask. I wish I had known about this site back then because I’m sure I could have found some advise with this build

-- It ain't custom unless you fucked it up.

25 comments so far

View farmerdude's profile


674 posts in 2927 days

#1 posted 07-14-2016 06:33 PM

Kennethjg, Awesome canoe! I may be wrong but that looks a lot like a build from “Canoecraft”. The mix of shades of the wood looks great. I don’t think it matters sometimes what may have come up for problems, canoe building can be somewhat addicting. I know what you mean about fairing the hull, it is fun to watch it come to shape. I can’t tell from the pics, did you make the paddles too? I did a blog on one a while back, it’s a lot of work for sure. Fantastic job, thanks for sharing.

-- Jeff in central Me.

View Kennethjg's profile


50 posts in 1823 days

#2 posted 07-14-2016 06:40 PM

Canoecraft! That’s the one. I didn’t make the paddles, I was done with the canoe, and in such a hurry to get it on the water that I went and bought some. Someday I’ll make a few.
I wanted to have a more consistent look for the colors, but I didn’t get to pick the lumber. I don’t have a truck or trailer, so I just ordered the 20’ material and had it delivered to the cabinet shop, so I got what I got, and just went with it.

-- It ain't custom unless you fucked it up.

View BB1's profile


1689 posts in 1736 days

#3 posted 07-14-2016 06:47 PM

Looks great! Enjoy!!

View BurlyBob's profile


7958 posts in 3153 days

#4 posted 07-14-2016 06:49 PM

That’s a super looking canoe.

View ChrisK's profile


2047 posts in 3969 days

#5 posted 07-14-2016 06:55 PM

Nice work!

-- Chris K

View Ben's profile


101 posts in 2125 days

#6 posted 07-14-2016 07:07 PM

Beautiful work!

View JPJ's profile


819 posts in 3508 days

#7 posted 07-14-2016 08:07 PM

Great work !

View jim65's profile


1020 posts in 2821 days

#8 posted 07-14-2016 08:08 PM

Fantastic! I will second the comment to build a boat, very fun experience, you did a wonderful job!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4601 days

#9 posted 07-14-2016 08:14 PM

A good looking boat! Now I kind of want to build a second boat!!!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View MilFlyer's profile


946 posts in 2560 days

#10 posted 07-14-2016 11:26 PM

Fantastic looking! Thanks for including all the details in the crafting and the great pics, the story is what makes some of these things so great. And I completely agree with your quote!!

-- VR, Richard "Fear is nothing more than a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you"--Remo Williams

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4035 days

#11 posted 07-14-2016 11:28 PM

That’s a great looking cedar strip canoe! Must be very satisfying to have it out on the water and knowing you built it yourself!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3914 days

#12 posted 07-15-2016 04:22 AM

Great work, Enjoy!

-- Dreaming patterns

View Douglas's profile


424 posts in 3448 days

#13 posted 07-15-2016 05:13 AM

Wow wow wow. I love it. That’s on my “someday” list. Great job. Make some paddles and post about it.

-- Douglas in Chicago -

View CampD's profile


1818 posts in 4374 days

#14 posted 07-15-2016 10:21 AM

Awesome build!
Thanks for the write up and your story of the build, gives someone like me that’s comptinplating building one that extra push.

-- Doug...

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3755 days

#15 posted 07-15-2016 12:02 PM

This is an outstanding piece of work and you have built for yourself a beautiful vessel that will become a fine friend to you.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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