Building a canoe

Hi- It's been a couple years since I've looked into this forum and much has changed in my life. I landed a dream job as a carpenter in a boatyard on Lake Michigan doing woodworking the likes of which I never dreamed I would be doing. (I actually look forward to Mondays!) Many of the guys at work have their own boats, and before this job, the most boating experience I ever had was with a 15' plastic Coleman canoe I used on the pond behind my house in massachucetts, paddling around with my little dog and chasing the geese all over. I sold that canoe along with that house. Now I am inspired to build a canoe from wooden strips and fiberglass. I have done some internet research on this subject and I feel I am up to the task, but I was wondering if I need to use Northern white cedar or can I use some other wood. Has anyone here had any experience making a canoe like this? I would love to have some input.
Chuck
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While this doesn't answer your Cedar question, I have found the book "Canoe Craft" by Ted Moores to be a good reference for building a strip canoe. Mind you, I haven't built one yet but reading his book once, I feel pretty confident that I will. Good Luck. Cheers, cc

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I know of one fellow in Seattle who made his strip canoe using 1/4-inch plywood. It looked surprisingly good but was, of course, far heavier than cedar-strip construction would be.
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There's another group that may be helpful as well:
rec.boats.building
-jbb

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You can use western red cedar also. If you search around the web, you can find companies that sell the strips already with the 1/4" rounded tongue and groove. A couple of years ago, I found one company in Canada that would have the 16'-18' strips for a 17' canoe, for about $350, plus truck freight. Never did get around to it, mostly due to lack of space and time.
You can probably use any wood that is flexible and long enough, since you'd be glassing it. The question is, however, how much will it weight?? Thats the big question.
Nobody around here (southern WI) seems to carry anything but aromatic cedar, so thats why I looked around the net for suppliers. Cutting my own strips would have been a last resort. Trying to rip 18' strips on the tablesaw then routing the strips would have been a major undertaking, to say the least.
Oh yeah, look around for some fairly recent canoe building books. I have a couple, but don't have them or their titles handy.
John
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I used red cedar. My Indiana friends use tulio, as it is commonly available. A bit yellow for my taste. White cedar is stronger, but I couldn't find any long enough. Buy and read "Canoecraft" by Ted Moores. It is the best source I've seen about building, and has several plans avalable. Use epoxy, ployester is simply lousy for this kind of project. I bought silicon bronze square drive screws from McFeelys in Virginia. Dan
On 9 Oct 2004 07:46:54 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@juno.com (Chuck) wrote:

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I beeded and coved my own strips with 1/4 diameter bit. This was a mistake, as it leaves feather thin edges that break off. I'd use a larger bit, if i did it again, 5.16 or even 3/8. Dan On 9 Oct 2004 07:46:54 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@juno.com (Chuck) wrote:

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Although I am more partial to lapstrake canoes these days, cedar strip construction is just fine, and a lot easier to do. I have two cedar strip canoes in the shed right now, the older one is now 21 years old, has jillions of hours paddling time, and is holding up just fine. There are a couple of good books around, one of the best is by my frend down in Florida Mac McCarthy. He has a nice website at http://www.feathercanoes.com/canoes.html He also sells plans, and is a great source of advice. He was teaching at the Wooden Boat School and at his shop, but he had a heart attack last fall and I think may have slowed down a little. Anyway, check out his website and E-Mail him with your question - I bet he knows. He also has a nice occasional newsletter called Wee Lassie that has some good information in it. Also check the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association site - more good information. Happy paddling.
Stephen
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snipped-for-privacy@juno.com (Chuck) wrote in

Hello Chuck et al;
There is a yahoogroup that is dedicated to cedarstrip canoe building.
http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/cedarstripcanoes
I am sure that you could find your answer and more in that group.
Good luck on your project!
Make more sawdust,
WoodworkerDan Dan Harriman Orange, Texas
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Chuck said...

questions of other builders:
http://www.bearmountainboats.com
I built a Hiawatha a couple of years ago and I'm about to start an Endeavour kayak this fall. You'll enjoy your project. Very easy and rewarding. Buy or borrow a copy of "Canoecraft" if you can...
--
Stiky

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I used Moore's Canoecraft as a basis. I used his "Redbird" plans. Also called and chatted with him and purchased his video which turned out to have info that his plans and book didn't have.
I purchased pre-shaped ball-and-cove western red cedar strips from an outfit in New England that Moore recommended. Thwarts and gunnels were from ash purchased locally. I also used fiberglass and West Marine epoxy from a local marine supply store. The manufacturers of the expoxy, Gougeon Brothers, put out a magazine, EPOXYWORKS. You can find it online at http://www.epoxyworks.com/indexprojects.html This lists descriptions of projects including several cedar strip canoes. They will e-mail copies of the articles. I also caned seats (plastic caning - real caning stretches when wet), made lightweight balsa and graphite paddles and turned a couple of laminated beer can holders for the gunnels.
I approached this as a "price is no object" effort. I had just retired and went slightly nuts working my way through a list of things that I had always wanted to do (getting certified in SCUBA, getting my private pilots license, visiting China, etc.). I had wanted to build a stripper for years and HAD to get it out of my system. After the project hit several thousand dollars, I stopped keeping track.
To make way for this thing in the garage, I sold (gave away) a beat up old aluminum Grumman (17-foot with a whitewater keel) that we had purchased new and used for 25 years.
The end result was GORGEOUS! Unfortunately the epoxy whitened in a few places, but it still looks like a work of art.
HOWEVER . . .
I added a couple of extra coats of epoxy which added about 10 unnecessary pounds to the beast. It isn't all that great on rivers. It tracks like a touring canoe and requires a fair amount of effort to turn. It also does not have the lateral stability of our old Grumman. It has been hanging out in our garage for over five years now and will probably never be used again. It reminds me of a girl I dated in West Texas several decades ago - - a gal named Wanda with serious big hair. Great to look at, but not particularly useful.
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You also might want to try here: http://www.messing-about.com . While it mostly caters to sailboats, there's lots of good advice on epoxy and construction.

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I built a wee-lassie without using staples, does a much cleaner job.
Walter H. Klaus

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I think you can use a variety of woods, just use a light weight wood that has some flexibility, especially if you are going to be portaging. The fiberglass is what supplies most of the strength and the wood which is sandwiched between is a "very pretty" filler. The only hestitation I have on using different wood is that oil content in some woods may interact with the epoxy and there may be some epoxy adhesion problems. A good place to post questions regarding specific wood usage for a stripper would be the newsgroup: rec.boats.building.
I have built two canoes using a traditional staple and glue method. I used western red cedar because of the availability, color, and weight. One canoe is 16.5' and the other 18.5' and they each weigh in at 70lb using cedar strips and oak gunnels. I built them to use, not to just look at, so they are not "furniture grade" but they sure turn heads and certainly have served me well. Check out: http://canoes.attinella.com/canoebuild.html If your bored and want to see pictures of these canoes in action and the paddle building link, check out: http://canoes.attinella.com
John Attinella
Walter H. Klaus wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@juno.com (Chuck) wrote:

Take a look at the Bear Mountain Boat Shop. They have plans and a lot of good info. If you click on 'Neat Stuff' you'll see that the have model kits for most of their canoes. The models are built *exactly* the same way as the full sized boat. At $100 the kits are kind of spend, but may be cheaper than screwing something up on the full sized canoe. I managed to pick up one of the kits on e-bay for $35. Gonna build the model and a full sized one Real Soon Now ...
Here's the link for Bear Mountain:
http://www.bearmountainboats.com /
Good luck, LD
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