12 Foot Tyvek Canoe •

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Project by tyvekboy posted 02-25-2010 07:57 PM 20592 views 32 times favorited 53 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Feb 26, 2010

In 2005 I toyed with the idea of making skin-on-frame (SOF) boats. My objective was to make them inexpensive and light but durable and easy to maintain. I used wood and other materials that I was able to scrounge. The only thing that I had to buy was the brass screws, glue, spar varnish and contact cement for this project.

Since I’d never built a boat before I started out by borrowing a book from the library on how to make a wooden strip canoe. I got some basic shapes and basically winged it on building my first boat with really no plans.

I built the framework using 5 bulkheads cut from cabinet grade 3/4 inch plywood with lightening holes. The keel piece was made from some hardwood scraps. I then made a basket of steamed maple that was about 3/16 inch thick and 3/4 inch wide. All the intersections were glued together. The gunwales were made from laminated 1/4 inch thick oak. The breast hooks (or decks at either end) were made of laminated walnut, maple and cherry. Once the frame work was done it was given several coats of spar varnish.

The frame was then covered with 3 layers of Tyvek Homewrap. The first layer was attached with contact cement to the frame work with the printing facing out. The next two layers were applied with contact cement with the printing facing the previous layer. Due to the complex shape of the hull, each piece of tyvek was no wider than 18 inches and subsequent layers were overlapped by about 2 inches. The pieces were applied from the back of the canoe progressing towards the bow.

After all the Tyvek was applied, The outer gunwale was applied after being varnished. The floor boards were made to be removable so that the weight of the canoe to the water would be kept to a minimum.

The seat frames were made out of cherry and then hand caned when finished. The front seat is fixed and the rear seat is adjustable to be able to trim the canoe if 1 or 2 people were in the canoe.

The paddles were made from laminated maple, cherry and walnut. Several paddles were made as experiments. Two can be seen in one of the pictures. They were finished with spar varnish.

This effort took about 10 months of spare time. The result was a 12 foot canoe with a 32 inch beam that weighs only 48 pounds empty – without the floorboards or adjustable rear seat.


It is a great fishing boat. It tracks fairly straight. Because of it’s weight, it’s faster than a 15 foot aluminum canoe. I’ve caught several fish out of it. It will hold 2 adults but then it slows down a bit.

Hope you all enjoyed the description and the pictures and I welcome any and all comments.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

53 comments so far

View Dale 's profile


415 posts in 4066 days

#1 posted 02-25-2010 08:08 PM

Fantastic Alex, thanks for posting the photos and the description. Great job.

-- Dale West Central Pa. Do it all, before last call.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3903 days

#2 posted 02-25-2010 08:10 PM

Neat!! Catch any fish in it yet? how does it “ride”?


-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Rotceh's profile


231 posts in 4333 days

#3 posted 02-25-2010 08:11 PM

it´s a great proyect, and a great description work .I like the desing

-- Work is my road to knowledge,Curiosity is my fellow traveler. El trabajo es mi camino al conocimiento, la curiosidad es mi compañero de viaje. Héctor

View Franson98's profile


3 posts in 3898 days

#4 posted 02-25-2010 08:13 PM

That is a great idea and an awesome canoe! Do you have any more pictures of this canoe? I would like to try and replicate it! I’m really digging that frame!

View joey's profile


396 posts in 4789 days

#5 posted 02-25-2010 08:18 PM

She looks great, how does she fair in the water? did you build her for canoeing on lakes or river?

-- Joey~~Sabina, Ohio

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 4413 days

#6 posted 02-25-2010 08:20 PM

WOW, something to be proud of for sure! What a beauty! Looks like a great design for use and beauty. Super job on the details, man that’s nice…...............

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View kerflesss's profile


182 posts in 4253 days

#7 posted 02-25-2010 08:24 PM

Awesome project! True craftsmanship!

View ackychris's profile


103 posts in 3898 days

#8 posted 02-25-2010 08:39 PM

Wow, my first thought was, “That’s a beautiful canoe!” For such humble materials (for the most part), you really managed a beautiful, unified design. It reminds me of a lot of Japanese-style work. And the fact that the skin is Tyvek just makes it better. I hope someday to have that kind of skill. And creativity!

-- I hate finishing. I never manage to quit while I'm ahead. --Chris

View patron's profile


13711 posts in 4226 days

#9 posted 02-25-2010 08:42 PM

wow !

what a beauty .

very well done .

welcome to LJ’s .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Paul2274's profile


330 posts in 3998 days

#10 posted 02-25-2010 08:46 PM

What a fantastic project! I have never heard of anyone using Tyvek like that…. great idea! Hats off to you!


View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 4172 days

#11 posted 02-25-2010 08:46 PM

Very well done. That’s something I have always wanted to do. I can’t quite justify it though—We don’t have much water around here.

Thanks for sharing.


View michelletwo's profile


2786 posts in 3901 days

#12 posted 02-25-2010 08:54 PM

WOW, that is one impressive canoe. You oughta be proud as punch. I built a redwood one from scratch (made all my own parts) and have used it for many years to harvest wild rice. Enjoy your time on the water

View Terry Desilets's profile

Terry Desilets

18 posts in 4144 days

#13 posted 02-25-2010 09:01 PM

Beautiful job! Definitely a cool boat! Reminds me of a geodesic boat by Platt Monsfort. If you didn’t get inspiration from him or aren’t familiar with his work, check out his website ( ).

-- IN REMEMBRANCE OF MY NEPHEW: Cpl. Ben Desilets - USMC KIA 22 May 2007 Anbar Iraq

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3911 days

#14 posted 02-25-2010 09:09 PM

WOW. Amazing good work!

-- Dreaming patterns

View ChrisK's profile


2047 posts in 3967 days

#15 posted 02-25-2010 09:16 PM

Alex, Great Job.

Chris Dunwoody,GA

-- Chris K

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