Introduction: Building a Cedar Strip Canoe

About: Retired software engineer. Like the outdoors, canoeing, camping, hunting and fishing. I’ve built 3 cedar strip canoes and 2 cedar strip kayaks and use all of them. I built 3 acoustic guitars and play all of th…
A practical account of my experiences and a brief guide to building a cedar strip canoe. It includes links to stories of using the canoe for wilderness camping and fishing.

I also now have an instructable for a cedar strip kayak:

for more information on the canoe see:

for more information on the kayak see:

estimating epoxy costs:

estimating cedar strip costs:





stripping the hull:

seats, decks,yoke:

sanding and fiberglass:

final details:

using my canoe :

Step 1: Gather Information – Getting Started

Read books about cedar strip construction techniques. Canoe Craft by Ted Moores, Kayak Craft by Ted Moores, Building a Strip Canoe by Gil Gilpatrick. I read Canoe Craft twice before I started the project.

Step 2: Select a Design

Determine what the boat will be used for, a canoe for the cottage, a canoe for camping and tripping, or a work of art just to look at hanging in the garage.

Step 3: Plans

These can be purchased from Bear Mountain, Chesapeake Light craft ( or a number of other sources. They can also be created from tables of offsets, using a process called lofting.

for more info on lofting:

Step 4: Build a Construction Platform

A sturdy, level, long thin table needs to be built on which the canoe can be assembled.

Step 5: Cut Out the Forms

The outlines of the hull cross sections are drawn on sheets of plywood, particle board or MDF.

Step 6: Attach Forms to Strong Back

The forms are attached to the station blocks on the strong back with drywall screws, taking care to line up the centerline of the forms with the centerline of the strong back.

for more information on making forms:

Step 7: Cover Form Edges

The strips will be glued along their edges and stapled to the forms. Some protection on the forms is needed to keep dripping glue from permanently sticking the hull to the forms.

Step 8: Cut and Mill the Strips

Use the table saw with feather boards clamped to the guide and table to keep the strip thickness uniform. A circular saw with a guide jig for cutting the strips is shown in the photo.

for more information on cutting strips:

Step 9: Laminate the Stems

The strips used for the stems need to be steamed and clamped onto the stem forms then allowed to dry before gluing them together.

for more information on making the stems:

Step 10: Attach the Inner Stems

Once the glue for the inner stems has firmly set up, they can be attached to the stem mold with a screw through the last hull form into the end of the stem and a screw through the other end of the stem into the stem from.

Step 11: Strip the Hull

Now comes the fun part. Start attaching strips to the forms at the part of the form closest to the strong back and work towards the center of the hull. The strips are glued together at their edges and stapled to the forms.

for more information on stripping the hull:

Step 12: Trim Strips at Stems and Attach Outer Stems

Once the hull is completely stripped it is time to trim the strips flush with the bow and stern stems.

Step 13: Remove the Staples

Now all the staples are pulled, being careful not to dent the soft cedar. If a few staples are forgotten they will be found in the next step for sure.

Step 14: Plane, Sand, Sand, and Sand Outer Hull

The joint where strips meet at curves in the hull are a little squared off. These joints need to be planed to make the hull smooth.

Step 15: Fiberglass the Outer Hull

Fiberglass cloth is laid over the hull so that it extends just past the stems, then smoothed with a soft bristle brush. Epoxy resin and hardener is then applied to the cloth in small batches, working from side to side, in about 2 to 3 foot long sections. Three coats are needed.

for more information on sanding an fiber glassing :

Step 16: Remove Hull From Molds and Flip

A cradle must be constructed to hold the upright hull. Carpet scraps suspended from brackets attached to the strong back will work.

Step 17: Sand, Sand, Sand the Inner Hull

Now it is time for more sanding and scraping. Glue beads can be scraped away. Sand paper wrapped around a plastic bottle will help fit into the curves of the hull.

Step 18: Fiberglass the Inner Hull

Fiberglass cloth is laid inside the hull and held in place with clothes pins, then smoothed with a soft bristle brush. The cloth is just short of the inside stems. Epoxy resin and hardener is applied as was done on the outer hull. Only 2 coats are necessary.

Step 19: Attach the Gunnels

Gunnels are long strips of wood which are attached inside and outside to the top edge of the hull to give it rigidity when combined with the thwart.

Step 20: Attach the Seats

Seat frames are usually made of hardwood. Ash is typical since it is flexible, but other wood varieties will work. The seat pad can be made with chair caning, strapping or webbing, left over cedar strips, or plywood.

for more information on making seats, yoke, decks and gunnels:

Step 21: Sand the Epoxy

Now you have a beautiful shiny new canoe! It is time to get out the sander one more time and make it look dull. Use a 220 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface, both inside and out.

Step 22: Varnish the Hull Inside and Out

All of the wood components like the gunnels, seats, decks, thwart need to be sealed with a 50/50 mix of mineral spirits and varnish before final varnish is applied.

for more information on finishing:

Step 23: Last Step.

Paddle your canoe..

follow this link to see me using this canoe:

for more information see:

estimating epoxy cost:

video of 2016 fishing trip in Quetico Provincial Park Ontario, using one of my canoes.

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