Expenses Expenses Expenses

It costs $1,000 to build a canoe.
And there, I just lied.



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

There’s no need to spend a fortune on materials and tools. On the other hand there are some items you simply can’t skimp on. You will need epoxy and unfortunately it’s not getting any cheaper. You’ll need decent wood; there’s no way you’re going to make a cedar strip canoe out of pallets (now watch somebody make a liar out me). And you’ll need a finish with good UV inhibitors. That said, there are expensive ways and less expensive ways of going about your build.

Material Costs

In our shop we divide the cost of a boat’s materials into quarters and so far the spreadsheets tell us that it works out pretty accurately.

  • 1/4 strips
  • 1/4 resin and harder
  • 1/4 cloth and associated supplies
  • 1/4 everything else

Imagining it’s mid-2019 and you are purchasing your materials in Ontario for our 16 foot Tandem Day, you would expect to pay something like $200 for your cedar, something close to that for your epoxy, that again for your glass, and the same again for the remaining bits and pieces, bringing materials to roughly $800.

Keep in mind that that won’t include the cost of the strongback, your tools, and you’ll be cutting your own strips. So add another $200 just because … and that’s how we get you to $1,000.

Note also that the $1,000 is in Canadian currency; in the US that would be approximately 25% cheaper due to a stronger currency, and in the EU you might wish to add a touch more because of regional costing.

For those who wish to be precise about it all, visit our Materials Calculator to figure out the base materials required for each of our models, (it works for generic boats as well).

Materials Calculator

Strip Calculator | Board Feet | Epoxy | Fiberglass



Kit Costs

Kits are more expensive pound for pound. The following links will be useful in understanding the breakdown of the costs and materials that go into each boat. As you can tell from a visit to those sites, kits vary in price and they come at premium, but what what you pay in dollars you save in time. Only you know if those calculations are worth it.

Can you do it Cheaper?

Well. Um. Yes. Decking cedar is perfectly appropriate but you might have to cut out knots which takes time; off-brand epoxies work perfectly well (Raka is a good American example); inexpensive canoe seats are available through outdoor retailers for reasonable prices, and there is no need to use expensive marine finishes. Many perfectly good boats have been built out of fence posts and hardware store finishes.

Keep in mind, however, that sometimes saving money can be false economy. Anybody who’s run out of sand-paper will attest to how trying to stretch its life is a fools game … once the cutting edge is gone, you can spend 10 times the effort and time for 1/10 the effect.

All else being equal, the less you spend on materials, the more difficult they’ll be to work with

The more simple you keep things, the less money you’ll need

Use everyday tools, but keep them sharp and in tune

Haste makes waste. Be patient when learning new skills

Measure twice, cut once.

And a whole bunch more cliches, doncha know …

It probably also goes without saying that different boats and different techniques will also require different budgets. Smaller is cheaper. Simpler is cheaper. Go figure.

If you were to choose one of our boats and was looking for a tandem canoe that was a good balance between ease of build and price I’d suggest the Anglers Day, or if one were looking for a solo, the Solo Pack would be an appropriate choice. Take a look at the “plans” page for more choices. Or wander over to Bear Mountain Boats, who have a comprehensive selection.


Canoe Plans from Ashes

Tool Costs

Surprisingly few tools are required to build a cedar strip canoe. But you do need tools.
Here’s the short list if you buy a kit.

  • A 5″ random orbit sander
  • A stapler
  • Scissors
  • Dozuki or back saw
  • Driver kit
  • Apron plane if using a rolling bevel

Those not choosing to buy a kit will also need:

  • Jig saw to cut forms
  • Table saw or circular saw to cut strips and gunnels
  • Router table with cove and bead bits if not using a rolling bevel

Other Considerations

If not already in your possession, you’ll also require a variety of shop materials

  • Clamps, the more the better although it IS possible to fabricate clamps using plastic piping
  • Drill and driver bits
  • Levels and straight edges
  • Utility knives and markers
  • A shop vacuum
  • Various mixing cups
  • Lung and hearing protection
  • Squeegees, roller cages, roller trays etc etc

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. If so, don’t be shy, send me an email and remind me.

And now, if you’ve got this point and you’re still with me, you’re a patient lad or lassie.
In the next article we talk about skills, whether you need them or not … carry on.




Building a 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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Build a Instant Classic

The Anglers Day from Ashes

The Anglers Day

15′ x 33″
for cedar strip construction