Cedar strip canoe project

Canoe project (This is an old story that I forgot to post)

This is the canoe I pulled out of the dumpster at City cleanup. I wish I had taken a picture prior to this. It must have been used as a duck boat as it was an awful camo brown. It was almost broken in half and had many holes that needed patching.

I spent some time fiber glassing the holes and painted it up. It has been our favorite canoe ever since. It tracks very straight and is very stable. I went up to the BWCA with us this summer of 2009. It may never see those lakes again as it is way too heavy at probably 90lbs. It also doesn’t travel well as it is very wide making it hard to position on most car tops. This last ride it took we noticed that it would flex in the middle making it a challenge to strap down tight enough without feeling like it may crack in half or crush.

Takes two guys to carry it.

This summer I also started building my own Cedar strip canoe. Originally I had hopes of getting it done in time for our BWCA trip however it quickly became apparent that wasn’t going to happen. I purchased these plans and got started in May.

The plans

This is the complex and important part of the plans: Make sure you do a good job laying out and cutting your forms. I missed the line a few times and it made it harder as my cedar strips didn’t quite follow the form. I would actually take the page into photo shop and enlarge them and find some way to slicing them up and printing them actual size and taping the sheets together. The way explained in the plans didn’t work for this guy so well, mostly because I didn’t take enough time getting the lines right.

the framework

This is the forms bolted to the strongback. None of this stuff becomes any part of the canoe when it is finished. These are the guides that will help form the canoe shape, and are removed after it is all glued in place.

Cedar striping starts

After you have ripped a bunch of cedar strips on a table saw you can start attaching them to the form and each other. I used staples to hold the first ones to the form. In the future I would attempt to use as few staples as possible as they leave holes in the cedar that hopefully will swell shut and hide themselves. I found that I could skip the staples quite a bit and use a combination of tape and clamps.

September now and I better get this finished before it starts getting dark and cold.

getting closer, sanding.


There is much sanding to do. The belt sander saved me some serious time. Consistent thickness on your cedar strips will also save some sanding. My little table saw isn’t exactly the professional model and our strips would get thick and thin until we figured out how to get a consistent cut. My boat has cedar with knots in it. I hope this looks ok when it is finished I notice that all the pictures in the book do not have any knots. Well I wasn’t going to toss that much wood out to accomplish that feat with the cedar from the local Menards. I would have been nice to find cedar board with less knots in them.

sanding more



At this point I have a bunch of work in front of me.

I need to finish sanding the outside and then stain/varnish it before applying a layer of fiberglass, sanding and varnishing again.

Then the forms can be removed so the inside can be sanded, varnished and fiber glassed. After the inside is finished the gun wales, deck and seats. I really hope that I can use it next summer.

You will want one of these

Things I think you will want will include a belt sander like this one, and lots of those spring clamps like those holding the dust bag shut. Hopefully you won’t loose your dust bag clip, but you will like the clamps for holding the cedar strips in place.

saw and glue

A band saw helps with the last little pieces that have long angles or curves.

The glue however, check out that stuff. I used several types and brand, this is the stuff. It is exterior gel. Dripping glue is an issue here and the gel sticks to the wood even upside down, and that is very helpful.


When it is done it should look something like this:




More of the building process:

Fiberglass cloth on outside
Draping the fiberglass cloth over the outside.

The fiberglass is an epoxy resin and hardener. When you mix them you have a limited time to get it on before it starts to gel up and get hard. It creates noticeable bit of heat as it cures.











Application of the resin
Wetting the fiberglass with the resin








Cleaning and sanding the inside
Remove from form and clean and sand the inside.









Fiberglass application to the inside of the canoe
Apply fiber glass to the inside.









Completed fiberglass on the inside
Getting fiberglass in the tips of the canoe is a challenge.









Complete the gunwales, then you can do the seat and thwarts.








Complete and ready for the maiden voyage.