Strip Canoe in Carbon




Introduction: Strip Canoe in Carbon

In the fall that I started making my canoe with the method "stripcanoe" In reality the project running through my head since 2004 after reading the book of Gil Gilpatrick on the how to make a strip canoe (its site

The type of canoe

Between 2004 and 2012 my research helped me identify my criteria and bring my ideas to my own manufacture. In first, the form according to my usage, I have three boats River; Two in Royalex model detonate from Esquif and a Dagger Caption duo. I wanted a good canoe lake with a beautiful line, lightweight, 16 feet or more. I decided to build the “18 ½ White Guide” by Gil Gilpatrick, I shortened one foot, which gives a boat 17 feet and a half.


Come then materials, cedar, pine, fiberglass, carbon. Initially I had the idea of a classic canoe cedar covered with fiberglass / epoxy.

The Carbon

Intrigued by its lightness and the technical aspect, but difficult to get a good price. One day I found on EBay at a price that met my budget.

Step 1:

Type of fiber carbon

The resin

I use for all my projects Miapoxy 100 resin with hardener 95. The curing time is approximately 3 hours.

The Wood

All roads lead to the use of cedar, cedar why ? Once the boats were to be made of a material that provided a good life and lightness. But today canoes (stripcanoe) are coated with epoxy. Rest lightness, pine offers a good comparison to cedar. Here in Quebec is expensive cedar, but pine is abundant, ok for pine. One day while shopping in a hardware store I came across a sale of pine wall paneling and virtually no nodes, the thickness of the boards is perfect, 5 / 16 inches in lengths of 8 feet and the canoe will be covered with carbon fiber, the appearance of wood does not count, I buy.

Step 2:

Commercial pine wall paneling.

The shop

My selection of materials being made I had to find a place for my project. My garage is 21 feet long inside, with shelves on the back wall was only 19 feet, I had to find space. I have long had the idea to expand my garage 10 feet, expensive and difficult to have permits. I changed my criteria boat lengths from 18 to 17 feet and I redid the shelves of my garage, ok I have the shop.


I get two essential router bits, concave and convex at Lee Valley store. I wanted to buy a router table, I decided to make one that will be more appropriate for the type of strips that I have to make. I was able to add wheels to push the strip in right way, only regret I should have to make two router table, one for each router bit.

Step 3:

Cutting guide

Remind you that I am purchasing paneling 5 / 16 by 4 inches wide by 8
feet long, with what I do paneling strips of ¾ inches. I made a cutting guide,
which is installed on my band saw to cut facilitated the series of strips.

Strong back

The strong back is made of four 16-foot 2X6 I put together earlier so
that it dries. I assembled the stations on the stand and put the whole level. I
am ready to begin my making.

Laying the first strips

I started laying the first strips in mid January using staples and
glue, each row took me about 1 hour and had to dry before laying the second
row. I changed my approach to the tenth strips, I replaced the carpenter's glue
with glue polyurethane which has the property of expansion, it fills the gaps
in contrast to the carpenter's glue which retracts. After 4 hours I could do
another row. The clamping plates is problematic because the staples break the strips
on the inside, the strips broke easily if the clip is near the edge. I finally
developed a method to the elastic.

Step 4:

And a method

This method I found after several rows of lath, fasten one end of elastic at the first strips, and
pass the elastic through the hook, and pull up the elastic just at the cleat hook on the first strip.

Step 5:

I put screws through the hull to make sure that the hull pressed firmly against the station.

Bottom of the boat before the step of sanding. Large cracks have summers filled with polyurethane glue and fine sawdust.

The trolley is very convenient because the sanding creates a lot of dust.

The sanding gave me a hard time with the vibrations of the sander, the strips
glued with carpenter's glue took off at some place. To repair this, I put
polyurethane glue with a vacuum cleaner, I applied the suction side of the strip
and the other I pushed the glue, it worked well.

Step 6:

Preparation for the installation of carbon fiber

The laying of the carbon fiber is complex, the carbon fiber can not be sanded or barely, and have a good finish requires that the surface of the boat is perfect.

The technique of pressing vacuum bag

Step 7:

A little history

A few years ago, in the early days of snowboarding I have known Bernard Lavoie and
Louis Fournier, Lofo nickname. Lofo has the right of authorship in the patent
for the invention of Hyback, the most important part in snowboard bindings
today. Lofo manufactures snowboards since the year 80 and during the period
where I knew Lofo. Me and Bernard, we made our own snowboard in my garage.
That's where I learned the knowledge required for the bonding of composite
materials. One technique that we used was the pressing under vacuum. The
assembly is inserted into a bag and using a vacuum pump, we remove the air from
the bag, the atmospheric pressure will make the pressing.

Made de Bag

In my project it is necessary that I introduce the boat in a bag, I made a
polythene plastic bag 20 feet long. To make tight, I put two strips of double
sided tape ½ inches apart and I put the saddling of caulking between the two bands.

I saddled the two ends, put the double sided tape on the length of the bag, ready to close when the fiber will be put on the canoe.

I took the canoe of its stations, and make a brief sanding from inside the hull as there were small bursts of strips that could puncture the bag.

I reinstalled the boat to its cradle, you can see in the picture the bag under the canoe.

Prior to the installation of the epoxy, the bag will be rolled under the boat, there is no resin dripping above.

Step 8:


Carbon fiber is thin, such as pine wood is white, it is possible to see through the fiber of white dots.

I dyed the canoe, black, with a water-based dye.

Step 9:

The laying of the resin and carbon fiber

I'm ready for the laying of the resin and carbon fiber we are April 4. My buddy Christian Hudon will come give me a hand.

Christian manufactures fabric covered canoes. We just see here

The site of Francis Rothan which manufactures bark canoes

Marcel Savoie, Langis my brother gave me a helping hand. We started at 19:00 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. it was over.

Step 10:

Perforated plastic

The installation of perforated realesed plastic film (the exceeding epoxy adhesive will pass through the holes and found in the breader)

Step 11:

Pumping felt

A cotton fabric, pumping felt, allows free passage of vacuum and absorb excess glue.

After packing assembly in the large bag that was tucked under the boat.

Step 12:

Put vacuum

The cure time of the resin is long, about 3 hours.

We haved a lot of glitches with the vacuum, there were many small hole in the bag.

Note, take more care of bag handlers.

Step 13:

Unpacking canoe

The boat in the next morning I removed the bag and removed the release film perforated. There are folds in places. The vacuum is not effective; it left ribs in the fiber. They leave with a light sanding.

We installed the vacuum plugs in the wrong location. They left their footprints in the castings. Note, the next boat,
the vacuum must be done on the edge of the boat, the location of the flat edges. (Note for the next project we will use a spiral plastic sheath used in the manufacture of electric run-throughs, it is placed around the edge of the canoe to distribute the vacuum.)

Step 14:


After two weeks of reflection and testing, I found the solution. The ribs are due to excess resin, after sanding,
80 percent of the ribs are missing.

Next step put a layer
of resin and make a final sanding. The structure of the canoe is very rigid.

Step 15:

Prepare to install strips of Kevlar on the stems.

The carbon and Kevlar fiber blue, for the bows of the canoe.

Requires ceramic scissors for cutting the fiber.

3 May, I coated the boat with a layer of resin, apply the two guards bow of Kevlar and repaired small imperfections.

After completely, I noticed slight imperfections on the surface. When I completed the installation of the fiber inside the boat I'll do a final sanding and put a layer of translucent urethane. The translucent urethane layer will protect the epoxy against the effects of the sun.

Step 16:

Sanding the inside of the boat

9 May

I started sanding the inside with a belt sander. I quickly noticed that I could not do the rounded sides, so I am
experimenting with an angle grinder (buffer) and find that the best results were obtained with paper grade 36 and 80 for finishing. The speed of rotation of a buffer is 35000 rounds, I connected a dimmer to slow down the speed.

Under the Sun
Following the advice of Lofo (my friend Lofo, Louis gave me lots of advice during his visit. He is really on the cutting edge of composite materials). I put the canoe in the sun to complete the cure of the resin. Just before I tried sanding the hull, it was difficult, the resin was still soft. This little tanning session should harden the resin.

20 May

Sanding the inside of the hull is complete.

Step 17:

Put carbon Inside

21 May
I held the carbon fiber to separate into two bands of 24 inches. I'm going to lay the fiber in two 2 steps.

25 May
The laying of the fiber inside of the hull.

I divided this stage into two to facilitate the task. I put the carbon fiber on one half of the hull
interior. It went well, my vacuum is perfect.

31 May
A highly rigid structure ...

Half of the hull is done and I already found the rigidity of the structure. I do the sanding of the fiber
before putting the other half.

Step 18:

Another tanning in the sun...

1 June
Today, I took the canoe the workshop to put in the sun, it will allow the resin finalized its cure, the
sanding will be easier.

4 June

Pictures before the step of sanding I took some pictures of my boat before the final sanding stage. It weighs 52 pounds at this stage, I am very satisfied with his weight and rigidity.

Step 19:


12 June
Research materials for the manufacture of flat edges

I tried to get of white ash, 18 feet long but no local supplier had in stock. So I get a board 1 inch by 6
inches by 12 feet long white ash and a plank of western red cedar. I cut the boards into strips 3 / 8 inches thick for that final passage after the glider I still have some strip of ¼ inch. I pasted it all to have a flat edge of a 1¼
inch wide by 1 inch by 17 feet long. Note: the next time I'll make strips of 1/8 thick, my flat edges were very fragile when I have pasted. With strips of 1/8 I would have more overlap in places where there are joint.

24 june

Adjusting the flat edges on the canoe

I broke twice the same flat edges on trying to install it on the hull, I cut the flat edges in half to make it more

26 June
Glue the flat edges

Before glue it together, I put stainless steel screws to check the symmetry of the two flat edges.

27 June
Shaping of flat edges For shaping, I spent the router with a corner round over bits of ¼ radius and I finalized with the orbital sander.

28 June
Sanding the hull exterior and touch-epoxy.

I put a layer of epoxy on the flat edges. I prepared the surface of the hull to
the installation of urethane varnish. I found it at my auto parts supplier, he
knows the application, because the world of sports cars, fashion is carbon
engine cover and to protect them from sunlight, the application of layer
(clear) urethane is recommended. It exists in products for boats, sailboats,
but much more expensive. Urethane is composed of two parts that must be mixed
and spread in 20 minutes.

29 June

Last sanding before applying the urethane varnish.

Sanding, sanding, sanding ... I have no pictures because there was too much dust. I spread a layer of clear the
result is very beautiful. A second layer will provide even more luster.

Step 20:


30 June
The canoe is on my Westfalia for our weekend me and my girlfriend

The benches are not installed, I brought all the equipment I need. I put the canoe in the water and placed a
level at the center of a canoe to know my balance. With this method I obtiens the location of benches.

31 June 2010
First camping trip

Saturday evening, after a good
supper, me and my girlfriend are going on the Lake St-Jean in Bay of Chambord.
The lake was calm and there were a couple of loons singing the serenade, a
magical moment ...


Model: The White guide 18-foot
canoe in the book of Gil Gilpatrick

Length: 17 feet 9 inches

Weight: 58 pounds


Shell:Carbon fiber and pine

Flat edges: White Ash

Benches and Bar: White Ash

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    11 months ago

    That is a beatifiul canoe


    2 years ago

    La rivière Saguenay c’est libérée de ses glaces. Nous sommes allés faire du canot et nous avons vu des phoques.


    Question 2 years ago on Step 20

    First of all I want to express my thanks for sharing the experience of building a boat.
    At the moment I am building a 3 mm thick wooden boat and I would like to cover it (only on the outside) with carbon fiber for strength effects and final finishing. But I would not want to use the system of covering with plastic to then produce empty. I just want to place the carbon fiber cloth on the boat and then apply the epoxy manually, will it be possible? I have done it before but with fiberglass cloth.
    M. Stauffer (from Switzerland)

    I attach some photos


    Answer 2 years ago

    C’est possible de faire la pose de la fibre sans faire le vide mais le produit finale sera plus pesant car avec le procédé sous vide on retire l’excédent de résine. J’ai été consultant pour une entreprise de fabrication de snowboard réalisés sous vide et dans ce domaine on désire avoir des fibres rigides avec le moins de résine possible.
    Je vous recommande fortement de faire un sandwich, fibre bois fibre.
    bon travail et j’ai hâte de voir les photos. En passant les liens photos ne fonctionnent pas.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi Patrice.
    Thank you very much for the advice. Then I will apply the carbon fiber cloth by hand. The boat has a design weight of only 18 kg so I have the range to absorb the excess weight that the application of that method means.
    I attached some photos. Anyway, I make periodical posts on instagram with progress in the construction of the boat.


    Answer 2 years ago

    Je suis sur messenger Patrice Lemieux, Chicoutimi, Quebec


    4 years ago

    Congrats. You are incredible, I was involved with carbon fiber layup for aircraft. We had to put our parts in an oven (size of a walking freezer) to cure. I am disappointed that after all these hard work, it still weighs 58 lbs. Great job.


    6 years ago

    C'est une magnifique réalisation qu'est ce canoé!

    Merci d'avoir partagé votre réalisation avec nous!

    PS: Ne vous en faites pas des commentaires désobligeant, certaine personne croient que le monde est leurs esclaves!

    Yves de la ville de Chambly


    Reply 6 years ago

    Great job. A friend and I had the opportunity to go canoeing in Boundary Waters and North into Quetico in a fiberglass canoe, and after a week I wish we would have paid more for the use of a kevlar canoe. Someday when I get the other woodworking projects done I'll have to build me a canoe, and after seeing yours, it will be carbon fiber, and I'll probably use some of your ideas. Keep up the great work.


    Reply 6 years ago

    I would be very happy to answer your questions when you make your plan, I make mistakes during this project if I just help someone.


    6 years ago

    You should have really sprung for Western Redcedar (WRC). It is 23 lbs/ft3 (370 kg/m3) in density. The lightest pine I can find on is 28 lbs/ft3 (450 kg/m3). Assuming that your boat is 80% pine by weight, the canoe in WRC would be 49.75 lbs (22.57 kg). It would be even greater if you used more common pines that are denser than the lightest I found.That might not seem like much, but it is significantly lighter if you portage the canoe.

    I really liked the vacuum bagging. I've thought about ways to do it on larger boats and you've confirmed that I was going down the right trail with it.

    A thought, when you sanded, it is highly likely that you sanded into your carbon fiber. If you had added a lightweight fiberglass over the carbon fiber, it would have prevented sanding of the carbon fiber with minimal weight.


    Reply 6 years ago

    Douglas Fir has a very good strength to weight ratio.
    It's better than spruce, and works well for building airplanes (if the grain is selected carefully)


    Reply 6 years ago

    Sitka Spruce has better properties overall. It has the same stiffness as Douglas Fir with 80% of the weight. It crushes a little easier, but not much. It has no rot resistance so you need to seal it some how. Doug Fir has some resistance due to the extreme amount of pitch in the wood.

    The main thing that Doug Fir has over Sitka Spruce is availability. Doug Fir is common (especially where I live, in Oregon). Sitka Spruce, not so much (it is mostly found along the coast of Oregon north and it doesn't really get inland until you get to BC and Alaska). Clear Vertical Grain of both will set you back, but CVG Doug Fir is much more common.


    Reply 6 years ago

    when I meant better overall, I meant toward airplanes. Boats need the rot resistance of Doug Fir more often. Sitka Spruce does make fine oars and masts though...


    Reply 6 years ago

    It is true that I could have used the lighter wood but at a price.

    In a collage composite is the epoxy glue that has the largest share for weight. Ensure that the breather can absorb a lot of glue.

    In bonding composite is epoxy glue which has the largest share in the weight. Ensure that the breather can absorb a lot of glue. The glue must also take quickly otherwise the wood will absorb too much glue. We want a little glue on the wood but not too much in the cells of the wood.

    Thank you for the nice comments


    Reply 6 years ago

    That's partly why I'm confused. Carbon fiber cloth is expensive (at least here in the USA). As in really expensive. The cloth alone would run around $350. The same amount of 6 oz fiberglass would be $50, tops.

    As you said, the majority of weight savings is in the reduction of epoxy. Properly saturated 'glass is at a 50/50 ratio ('glass to epoxy). Since you used vacuum bagging, it would be close to that ratio. Your fiberglass would weigh 8 lbs, tops. The carbon fiber fabric that you chose was 2x2 twill 3k weight fiber. It is roughly 5.7 oz per yard (vs 6 for 'glass). That means using cheaper fiberglass would have a net weight gain of 3.5 pounds (roughly) over the carbon fiber and a net savings of $300 from using the cheaper fabric.

    I guess I just don't see the justification of using a high performance fabric but not a high performance lumber.

    As a disclaimer, I typically don't use high performance materials when I've built my boats. I don't use them because I can't afford them. That's me. I prefer to get out on the water and simply mess about in boats. If using carbon fiber floats your boat (get it?) then more power to you. I don't wish to undermine what you've written here and discount it. You've done a fantastic job of documenting a really cool canoe. You should be proud of what you've done. I know I am. I just don't understand the choices you've made on your materials is all and I'm trying to understand.

    I debated posting this because it could come across as being over critical. I'm not trying to be critical at all. I'm just trying to understand.

    Once again, awesome canoe!


    Reply 6 years ago

    I worked a long time with fiberglass and my experience in the field of manufacturing snowboard convinced me of the great carbon properties, I would have had to double the amount of fiberglass and as glue for the desired structural rigidity. I've broken several fiberglass snowboard but those manufactured in carbon, my always surprised. Yes the weight was a factor but the rigidity was a priority. A very rigid boat is fast.


    Reply 6 years ago

    I've seen some very lightweight kayaks made with kevlar fabric - and it's a warm color, almost like pine. CF is amazing material as well though.


    Reply 6 years ago

    I need to build the same boat at a total weight of 30 pounds if possible with no loss of rigidity. Do you think it could be done if you were to use foam sheet strips instead of pine strips for the initial structure? Many of the same suppliers that sell carbon fabric also sell a variety of foams in different thicknesses and material properties. Here is an interesting tidbit of info..... if you double the thickness of the structure, the rigidity increases by eight times. So I am playing around with idea of using thicker foam sheets that might be the same weight as pine in strategic locations and vastly increase the strength. I plan to add wings

    to my project and need to remain very very light to stay legal.