Wood Strip Canoe

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Project by TampaMark posted 02-21-2013 12:45 PM 21725 views 20 times favorited 50 comments Add to Favorites Watch

From the moment I first saw a wood strip canoe, I knew I wanted to build one. I researched and found Bear Mountain Boat company online. (Note: There are a lot of companies to consider. I chose Bear Mountain because I really liked their online building forum that allowed me to read about a lot of other people’s experiences with their builds. I found this extremely helpful as I ran into different challenges along the way). I purchased a set of plans for their Hiawatha canoe, a copy of Canoecraft by Ted Moores, and off I went. The pictures I posted show various parts of the construction process.

Picture #1 is the finished product sitting on my lawn the day I finished her up.
Picture #2 shows a variety of things. First, I am in the process of milling the wood. I bought 16’ lengths of western red cedar that I ripped to slightly larger than 1/4”. I am in the process of planing all the lengths down to precisely 1/4”. You can see on the table that the strips are grouped together. This is so I can keep track of the color variations in the wood and helps in the selection process when planks are installed on the forms. After planing the wood, I sent all the strips through the router to receive a bead and cove on opposite ends of the planks. You can also see the skeleton of forms on the left side of this picture.
Picture #3 shows me stripping one side of the forms. I glued up three strips at a time alternating between sides. My shop is kind of small, so I had to slide the strongback (what everything sits on) back and forth so I could alternate between sides. The cedar is so light that this wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it might be.
Picture #4 shows me fiberglassing the outside of the hull. This step intimidated me the most and wasn’t as bad as I envisioned. Fiberglassing the inside was a little more challenging due to tight spots at the ends of the canoe, but, overall, I worried way too much about this step.
Picture #5 shows the trimming out of the hull. The gunwales are installed as well as the yoke and the seat frames. This felt more like woodworking than any other part of the process. You can get very creative with how you trim the canoe. I kept it pretty simple.
Picture #6 shows launch day. January of 2012 was the launch. That picture is me shoving off for the first time.

If you ever thought about building a wood strip canoe, I would strongly encourage you to do it. I found the build to be one of the more rewarding projects I have done. And it is easily the most complimented. There is just something about a wood canoe.

One more thought. I chose the Hiawatha design because I liked the look of the curved ends (challenging to trim out, as it turns out) on a canoe (more traditional in my opinion). It also was advertised as an easy canoe to paddle (I am a novice paddler), and it seated two. The canoe measures just over 15’ in length with a beam of 33.5” and weighs right at 50 pounds.

-- -- Mark (maker of high-grade kindling)

50 comments so far

View djang000's profile


67 posts in 3011 days

#1 posted 02-21-2013 01:00 PM

wow! Really nice! Makes me wish I had enough space in the basement :|

View oakwood's profile


327 posts in 2948 days

#2 posted 02-21-2013 01:07 PM

The canoe looks wonderful. That is quite the project to undertake and you did a fantastic job of it.

View ChrisK's profile


2047 posts in 3960 days

#3 posted 02-21-2013 01:08 PM

Really nice job. I have the cove and round over bits and a design in mind. Just need the time.

-- Chris K

View ghost5's profile


302 posts in 2810 days

#4 posted 02-21-2013 01:08 PM

That is a great build Congrats!! I have wanted to do something like that since I found out there is a place near me where you can go and build your own under the eye of a Master Builder. I got to say yours’ is right up there.

-- Tommy,

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3745 days

#5 posted 02-21-2013 01:12 PM

That is a beautiful canoe and you did a fine job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View MasterSergeant's profile


1441 posts in 3567 days

#6 posted 02-21-2013 01:41 PM

Dittos to all the above comments!

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View uutank's profile


79 posts in 4490 days

#7 posted 02-21-2013 01:45 PM


-- Ray,VA

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7660 posts in 4231 days

#8 posted 02-21-2013 01:52 PM

She’s a beauty! Very sharp looking! You did a mighty fine job on your Canoe!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View TampaMark's profile


38 posts in 2830 days

#9 posted 02-21-2013 02:04 PM

Thanks for the nice comments. Djang, I worked in a space that was about 5’x18’, not much bigger than the canoe footprint. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. ChrisK, milling the wood took a big chunk of time. You could start with that (maybe hold off on the coves until you are ready to start stripping). Ghost5, the two biggest tools were planning and patience, both things most woodworkers have developed with their other work. I encourage you to just jump in and go for it. There is lots of help available online when you get stuck.

-- -- Mark (maker of high-grade kindling)

View DouginVa's profile


503 posts in 3151 days

#10 posted 02-21-2013 02:14 PM

Beautiful canoe…...I hate you. I want one…..just like you did. Great project.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View Ken90712's profile


17909 posts in 4067 days

#11 posted 02-21-2013 02:15 PM

These always amaze me; I never get tired of looking at them. What a great job you did and it’s your first one to boot! The wood selection and colors make this even nicer. When gluing together did you use epoxy like West System or waterproof glue like Titebond III ?

What a proud moment and I’m sure you get alot of looks and comments while out in her.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View TampaMark's profile


38 posts in 2830 days

#12 posted 02-21-2013 02:28 PM

Ken, I used regular wood glue for gluing the strips together, but used the West System for the stems (steam-bent end pieces), and all the trim pieces. Basically, anything exposed to water was epoxied. The West System uses pumps that make working with the two-part epoxy real easy.

-- -- Mark (maker of high-grade kindling)

View GerardoArg1's profile


1014 posts in 2872 days

#13 posted 02-21-2013 03:02 PM

Wow…very nice job. Haven´t words for explain my admiration.
Excelent work Mark!!

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View PlasticMan48's profile


14 posts in 2929 days

#14 posted 02-21-2013 03:44 PM

Absolutely beautiful! Mark Harmon (NCIS) would be jealous! He is a woodworker and boat builder. Great job!

-- From Plastics to Wood

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2885 days

#15 posted 02-21-2013 03:47 PM

You did the fiberglass INSIDE your house?..?..?

DUDE! Either you are NOT married… or you have a SAINT for a wife!

Beautiful canoe! I’m extreemely jealous!

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

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