How To Build a Cedar Canoe

How To Build a Cedar Canoe
Building a cedar strip canoe is not an easy task, and often takes months to complete. That being said, if you have the patience and are willing to stick with the project, the end result will be a canoe that is a work of art. With proper care, it will be a timeless piece as beautiful in 20 years as it is the day you finish it, and can be handed down through the family. Not only will it turn heads and get comments everywhere you go to paddle, but you can take pride in the fact that you built it with your own two hands.


Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Woodworking Tools
  • Steam Bending Equipment
  • Clamps
  • Tape
  • Wood Glue
  • Fiberglass
  • Epoxy


Step 1
Find a set of plans for a canoe you would like to build. There are many companies online which sell boat plans, or for a free option try looking for books on building canoes in your local library. Many of these books include plans as examples.
Step 2
Construct a strongback on which your hull will be constructed. This can be as simple as beams laid over a pair of sawhorses, or as complex as you wish to make it. The strongback should be as long as your canoe, and strong enough to support the weight securely during construction.
Step 3
Cut section molds and place them on the strongback according to your plan details. These are basically cross sections of your canoe around which your hull will be built.
Step 4
Cut cedar strips into the lengths detailed in your plan. These should be as exact as possible, though a bit long is better than too short, as extra length can be cut off when planking.


Step 1
Cut, glue and bend the stems. These are the end pieces basically, and will be attached at the bow and stern. Exact details will be in your plans, but they are constructed of wood strips glued together and then steam bent around a form section.
Step 2
Attach the strips around the mold sections. Strips are glued into place and must be held securely using clamps, tape, or whatever method you find works best. The pattern for stripping your canoe will be in your particular set of plans.
Step 3
Smooth out the hull, removing all excess glue, sanding the strips and stems until the hull is smooth and seamless. This process is known as 'fairing' the hull.
Step 4
Apply fiberglass and epoxy to the hull inside and out. Fiberglass is a flexible fabric which hardens when coated with epoxy, forming a protective barrier for your wooden hull.
Step 5
Add the boat trim. This includes the gunwales, decks, yoke and seats. Your plans will have exact dimensions for each, as well as recommended materials. Ash is the most common wood for this trim. Pre-made trim pieces can also be purchased if you do not wish to make these yourself.

Article Written By Christopher Williams

Christopher Williams has spent over 11 years working in the information technology, health care and outdoor recreation fields. He has over seven years of technical and educational writing experience, and has brought strong skills and passion to the Demand Studios team in articles for eHow and Trails in 2009.

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