strip questions

Submitted byPaul@water onMon, 11/05/2018 - 01:48

I'm going to make a Mystic River Canoe from plans and was wondering how important it is to have 18' strips. Or, should I just attach smaller strips? I guess I can certainly mail order them if it comes to it although wonder if it is cheaper to mill my own..

I have a router table and tablet saw but it seems sort of difficult to put  a bead and cove in 18' strips.. but is this how it's done? On the other hand, if I connect a bunch of smaller strips, I imagine it will have color variations.

Also, having a little difficulty finding clear cedar in NW Montana, may have to go over to Washington? 

Thanks for any help or advice!

John VanBuren

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 07:55


    You can use shorter pieces of wood to make our long strip. Just scarf them together using an 8 to 1 cut. Google "Scarf joints" for information on making the end cuts for scarf joints.

An alternative to cove and bead would be to use one of the bevel edge tools Nick Schade sells. That is what I am planning on using on the strip built canoe I am in the process of building.

John VB

Bead and cove on a router table is easy but tedious. You might consider using alder considering your location. A tad bit heavier but not much.

Tom A.

Rob Macks Laug…

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 08:49

If you have a table saw you're all set.

Cutting your own strips is much less expensive and allows you control over wood color.

I've been building strippers for thirty years and here's what I do.

Choose boards for the color you wish. Shorter-than-full-length boards can be scarfed into one long board to cut strips from.

Rip a short board down the middle and scarf the common ends and the scarf will be invisible.

3/16" thick strips are easier to use as the strength of your hull is in fiberglass. Mill a 3˚ bevel on ONE edge of all strips on the table saw, INSTEAD of milling bead and cove. Much faster, much easier.

See this video for details on milling strips -

See my "Shop Tips" pages @

and my YouTube channel for more strip building tips @

All the best,

Rob Macks

Laughing Loon Custom Canoes & Kayaks



I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. 


You will find that an inexpensive block plane, available at Harbor Freight, or any big-box home center or hardware store is about the only tool you'll need to get your strips to fit tightly, even in those areas where they bend and twist. Cedar is soft wood and easy to work. You don't need an expensive tool with space-age metallurgy, or fancy sharpening equipment. (but people who have the latest toys do tend to appreciate them).

You may need some way to support your strips while you work on their edges. Using your table saw and a 4' long piece of 2x4 make a simple strip support: rip a slot slightly wider than the thickness of your strips down the middle of this board. If you are using 1/4" strips, make the slot 5/16" wide. The depth of the slot should be at least half the width of your strips. If you are using strips 3/4" wide then made the slot 3/8" to 1/2" deep. Easiest way to do this is to set the depth of cut on your table saw, rip a grove the length of the board, then re-position the fence to cut another groove next to it. Repeat until you have a groove as wide as you need. On a 2x4 you can make several grooves of different widths if you mess  up, or if you are working on boats with thinner and thicker strips.

Once you have your groove or grooves cut, cut the 4' board into 4 pieces, each about a foot long. Screw these to something solid, like the your workbench, or an extension of the strong back. Drop a strip in to keep these aligned as you install them. With a foot or two gap between these blocks you can support strips 8 to 12 feet long. If you have longer strips, work on them a section at a time.

Make a few small wedges. In use, you drop your strip in the grooves and gently tap in a small wedge to hold it in place while you shape the edge with your block plane.