Building a Cedar Strip Canoe




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 :

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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.

Great Outdoors Contest

First Prize in the
Great Outdoors Contest



  • Make It Fly Challenge

    Make It Fly Challenge
  • Stone Concrete and Cement Contest

    Stone Concrete and Cement Contest
  • Indoor Lighting Contest

    Indoor Lighting Contest

94 Discussions


5 years ago on Introduction

Just wanted to say congratulations on being a finalists in the Great Outdoors Contest! This was a fantastic instructable and just stunning to look at! This goes beyond being a canoe, but just plain art! Love it!! Good luck!

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Thank-you for the kind words. I didn't really expect to become a finalist, nor did I expect 146000 view in less the a month and a half. I just like to create something I can use and enjoy documenting and sharing the process.


6 years ago on Introduction

I just can't get over how beautiful that canoe is. I would love to know what you do with these besides show them off. What I'm saying is what kind of waters do you take them in? Or do you even take them out at all. Also, where do you buy kit for these canoes, or did you make it from scratch. I do have a lot of questions because I'm really interested in these kind of canoes.


6 years ago on Step 23

I really enjoyed the read on this project. It was well thought out in its planning and in your explanation of the steps and details. Thank you for sharing this, and I look forward to your future projects.



6 years ago on Introduction

This is absolutely beautiful!

I love your fixtures

I love your attention to detail.

I love your quality of workmanship.

Someone posted an alarming question as to paint color. Paint!? Hide such beautiful work, such lovely wood grain.

I just cannot say enough.



6 years ago on Introduction

BEAUTIFUL!! well built and I love the way you explained how to do it.I have 3 plastic Coleman 14' canoes and I'd sooner have a wooden canoe than a plastic.For to ride in a canoe is nothing like the "SILENCE" of gliding through water with out any noise.You see wildlife as it was meant to be.Also you can sneak into places to watch the wildlife with out scaring them.LOVE THE canoe build.


Question 1 year ago on Step 3

Hi, I am very pleased with your canoes and descriptions. Thank you.
Could you provide more canoe plans? Do you get this kind of coordinate
plans in the book canoecraft or you have to buy them separately?

Best regards,

2 answers

Answer 1 year ago

i don't provide plans. In the book "CanoeCraft" are tables of offsets for a few designs. You need to layout the hull cross sectional shapes on a grid using the numbers in these tables.


Answer 1 year ago

Thanks a lot. I allready bought the book.


Question 1 year ago on Step 5

Hello, i just started my first canoe project. Started cutting out molds and my center mold seems very shallow. About 13”. Is this right?13” deep for a 16’ long and 36” wide canoe. I just copied some plans and want to make sure i did it right

1 answer

2 years ago

Wow, what a beautiful creation! So proud of your work! I wish I could make one, but, no cedar here on the Prairie that is not gold cost,and above all, no garage...some day perhaps!:) Would love to try doing this!! You do make it look easy, which I know for sure it is not....takes skill!:) NICE JOB!!!


Reply 3 years ago

The seat is one designed by Martin Step at Green Valley Boats. A bit of work but worth it for the comfort and comments.

I built the Ranger in about 6 or 7 weeks but that included taking one hull, completely glued up, and burning it. Too many gaps. Great learning experience. worked 7 days a week for at least 8 hours a day and a lot of them 16 hours.

I didn't loose money selling them, but your figure per hour isn't far off! Their both hanging from ceilings of the purchasers.

I'm in the process now, of getting everything together to build the 16' Prospector and another Wee Lassie for my grandson who just turned 7.

One trick i learned is to sand the outside down with a 9" air opperated DA designed for autobody work. 30 minuets with 36-40 grit and your ready to do the 80grit sanding with a 5 or 6 inch electric da. No plane, scraper or anything. Very easy to keep fair with that 9" disk.


3 years ago

She's gorgeous, a floating piece of art! Amazing work mate, really.

1 reply