FAIL Making a Canoe With Fire




Introduction: FAIL Making a Canoe With Fire

About: I'm16 and in my free time I control cockroaches, weld, make canoes from duct tape, 3D print, make helmets, light big pieces of wood on fire, and other awesome stuff

I tried to make a native american dugout canoe...... it didn't go so well: I got a second degree burn from kneeling on a hot coal, got a log burned through it, got another log burned through it and got a log and burned a hole through it as well.

Fun fact: I built this in an area where lots native americans were known to live

Step 1: Obtain REALLY Big Log

The first step to failing is to obtain a REALLY big log I got my first one from a tree that fell over in a creek.

Step 2: FAIL Number One

This was my first try

Why it failed: it failed because some relatives were over and I forgot to check on the fire and it burned through the bottom

Lesson learned: DO NOT kneel when EXTREMELY hot coals are scattered everywhere

Step 3: FAIL Number Two

Second try

Why it failed: It failed because the coals dropped into the hollow spot and the log was up in flames within an hour

Lesson learned: don't use hollow logs

Step 4: Fail Number Three

third and closest to success

Why it failed: I didn't put it out enough

lesson learned: put the fire out totally ( I also came up with a rhyme: when in doubt flood it out)

Step 5: Float Your Boat

Now time to float your boat! My sisters didn't want to get on it so they put their Instructables shirt (they won it in the makerspace contest) on a stuffed animal. :)

As you can see it's maiden voyage didn't go so well.

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    49 Discussions

    "Fun fact: I built this in an area where lots native americans were known to live"

    And I bet their spirits had a good laugh watching you that day.

    1 reply

    The natives used propane blow torches since the coals were difficult to handle with bare hands.

    1 reply

    Well, the one that sunk wasn't a failure, it's a secure place for frogs and little fish to hide in. You did a good thing! Remember, if at first you don't succeed, you're doing it wrong! Story of my life:)

    Hey, your canoe looks fine! Just the passenger is too big.

    I'm sorry you got hurt, but it is a little bit funny.

    A note from an anthropology major: great attempt! I think part of the theory is slowly transferring coals to the log from a fire, it would allow you a bit more control. (It's a really slow process but has a beautiful result)

    1 reply

    Yes, I've seen this done in a couple of living history displays. Hot coals are moved from the fire onto the log to be burned out. The coals are fanned as the area burns, then coals are moved to another area (or removed and replaced by new coals if they've burnt out or away) and the burnt wood is scraped out. Repeat until the desired burn is created. And yes, it takes a very long time.


    Good attempt, looks like you had fun. Did you take the opportunity to cook anything on the log as it burned?

    2 replies

    no but I did try: making glass, firing clay, and melting aluminum foil :)

    LOL! Melting glass bottles is a fun thing to do with a fire. Getting them out without any cracks is an art.

    Thanks for posting your failure!

    Couple of suggestions for next time: you've already realized that the log wasn't long enough; I'd also add that it wasn't thick enough. A "really big" log nowadays would have been a piece of kindling to someone 200 years ago.

    You need to remove your own weight in wood, plus enough for several inches of freeboard (distance from waterline to to top edge of the canoe. Most American hardwoods run between 30 and 40 lbs per cubic foot, so if you want to carry (say) 350 lbs of people and cargo, you'll need to remove 10 cubic feet of wood PLUS about 50 percent more for freeboard. That's a half-cylinder 2 feet in diameter and about 7 feet long (so a canoe hollow 2 feet wide, a foot deep, and 7 feet long)--a lot more wood than you removed I think.

    Last point: when I saw this done as a kid, it was done in dozens of separate burns. They'd let the fire go until just an inch or two of char developed, then they put it out and chopped/scraped out the burned parts down to bare wood. Then they'd do it again and again--this allowed for much finer control over the removal of wood.

    3 replies

    Out-riggers might have helped with the displacement problem, although I'm not sure Native-Americans used them. :)


    thank you

    and I did do this in probably 10-20 different burns for the first and last log and chiseling the char out between

    you should have planted plants in it after it failed. That would have made a cool looking planter!

    Great Instructable because it was super instructive! I can totally see why you tried the things you did, how the mistakes could happen to anyone, and what you learned from each one. Sometimes people make it look too easy, and that can be way less helpful than showing the inevitable flubs. Thanks!

    I used a shovel in the process but how would you do that with an ax?