How to Build a Canoe – Design Selection
From my own experience in learning how to build a canoe, I discovered that the very first step is to decide, “What is the intended use of my canoe?” Will it be built for speed? Do I want an extra stable canoe, which won’t be prone to tipping? Will the canoe be used for hauling heavy loads? How many people will be riding in the canoe?
All these questions need to be answered before starting your canoe construction. The answers will determine the length, width, depth, and overall shape of your canoe. For example, a canoe built for speed will be longer and narrower. If you want a more stable canoe then you need a design that’s wider. A canoe built for whitewater needs to be shorter and more manuverable. If your canoe will be used for long paddle trips with a couple people and lots of camping supplies, then you need a long, wide canoe – probably 20 feet long and 44″ wide.
If you want a canoe for everyday recreational use that is stable and can easily carry two adults, a 16′ long canoe with two seats and 36″ in width is about perfect.
How to Build a Canoe – Two Choices
Another important design question when considering how to build a canoe, is the type of construction. The two choices are basically plywood or wood strip. I chose wood strip because I wanted a canoe that would turn heads when I took it out. Wood strip requires more build time, but when you’re done, it’s a work of art!
Plywood canoes are much faster to build, but I don’t think they look as good. If you want a basic canoe and you don’t have a lot of extra time to build one, a plywood canoe will serve your purpose.
Once you decide on a design and which type of construction you want to use, it’s time to search for plans showing how to build a canoe. There are many good books available describing how to build a canoe. Most have plans and instructions for several different designs, so you need to browse the contents to discover if the design you want is included. Make sure the book you purchase has very detailed plans, instructions, and templates. The one I recommend is shown below. It has several designs to choose from and the instructions are thorough and easy to understand.
This book is beautifully illustrated with tons of photos. It shows you step by step how to build a canoe. It was written especially for the novice boat builder who wants to achieve professional looking results using common, everyday tools and techniques.
Here’s a video showing how to build a canoe.
In summary, the first step in how to build a canoe is to figure out which canoe design suits you the best. Once you have that nailed down, the rest is easy!