So You Want to Build a Canoe
It’s Probably Easier than you Think.

Making a strip canoe isn’t particularly hard … you will need to have some woodworking skills or the patience to acquire them; a budget for reasonably good materials and tools; a place to build it; and some free time.



Time | A Place to Build | Budget | Skills | Choices Choices Choices

I’m going to take a slightly different approach than most writers might when discussing whether building a cedar strip boat is within the capacity of any particular woodworker.

Success is only minimally related to the already acquired abilities an individual might have. Instead I’d suggest that it’s important to consider a number of factors that don’t have a whole lot to do with woodworking at all. If these exist in equal measure, a builder has every chance of creating a canoe that they can be proud of.

In this series of articles I’ll discuss the role of time, space, resources, skills and boat choices; each as they relate to building a canoe. Each of these is part of a cascade of the sort that if you’re missing the first then there’s no point on moving on the second etc …

Things to Consider Before Building a Cedar Strip Canoe

If you don’t have it, no amount of money or skill will make it possible for you to build a canoe.

The second factor is space.
You need some. Period. Even a small canoe requires 150 sq feet give-or-take.

Third. A canoe costs money to build.
Even if you harvest and mill your own wood I’m guessing you’re not a chemist. There is no free epoxy of fiberglass cloth.

Fourth would be skills; those already acquired or about to be.
I’m going to suggest already acquired skills are the least important factor in determining whether an amateur boat builders will successfully complete a boat. Far more important is patience and a willingness to learn.

Be fair with yourself when thinking about each of these factors. It’s not uncommon for a builder to stall because he or she finds that they have no time, or finds that their budget is stretched, or that the skills required seem too daunting to acquire. By taking stock now, you’ll be far more likely to avoid the disappointment later.

In the fifth article in the series I discuss the choices made BEFORE starting a boat and how those choices impact potential success. This includes deciding which boat to build, what materials to use, which techniques are better suited for novices, and what kinds of trim create greater challenges.


Other Options

I’m also assuming in these articles that we’re talking about strip construction. There are construction methods out there, and many reasons a builder might wish to start with a stitch and glue or panel boat for instance. They go together a tad more quickly and require fewer steps along the way (you’ll do away with the need for a strongback and the lateral stations required in a strip build). If you’d like to learn more about this style of building the following pages show particularly nice examples:

Additionally, a builder might be looking for something entirely different. Skin-on-frame and fuselage frame canoes are a viable option for a beautiful, lightweight, and relatively simple boat.

I should note too, that there are plans available for lovely glued lapstrake designs, for lovely ribbed boats, for pirougue style canoes built with chine-logs, and a variety of other options not named here. A simple Google search will turn up most of them.

Next Steps

But of course, I digress; you’re here to read about strip built canoes.  Each article in the series can be accessed in order:

If you’re ready to get started, read on …

A Modern Tripping Boat with Beautiful Lines

The Ashes Tandem Trip

The Tandem Trip


17 feet x 33 inches
for cedar strip construction



Building a Cedar Strip Canoe

Everything You Need to Know Before You Start

Intro | Time | A Place to Build | Budget | Skills | Choices Choices Choices

Why Choose Ashes | Ordering Plans, What You Get | Choosing the Right Canoe


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