Boat Building Forum

Find advice on all aspects of building your own kayak, canoe or any lightweight boats

Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
By:Paul Jacobson
Date: 5/17/1998, 12:41 pm
In Response To: strip-built canoes: kit or plans? (Jim Eisenmenger)

> I have no boat building experience, but have a moderate amount
> of woodworking experience.

You are already overqualified, and probably have more tools than you need. What are you waiting for?

>I've been wanting to build a canoe for
> some time - should I go with a kit, or buy plans and materials?

What is the difference here? The kits include: Plans and materials.

Someone once told me the difference between parts and materials. According to them, you build cars from parts, but you build houses from materials. If you follow this line of reasoning, the kits include plans and unfinished parts.

What parts are there to a stripbuilt canoe or kayak? Basically three items: 1) Wood strips, which may have square edges, or be shaped to have bead and cove edges, which nest together. Kits generally supply bead and cove strips. You can also buy these if you don't want to make them. It is easier and faster to make square edged strips. If you decide to use square edged strips you will probably use a few more staples, and a bit more sandpaper, and come up with just as pretty and strong a boat. 2) forms, which are cut out of plywood or some similar sheet material (particle board, MDF, Oriented Strand Board (OSB). You can trace the pattern on the wood and cut these uut with a jig saw, or you can get them precut from a partial kit, or you can rent or borrow (sometimes for free) precut forms from some canoe clubs. 3) a strongback, which is more a tool to keep the parts in line than a part in itself. Sometimes these can be borrowed, too.

You can make any of these parts easily, or buy them. The trade off is time for money. Do you have time or do you have money?

> Or will I be in over my head with either one?

While building a kayak there may be a few times when you do indeed have the boat over your head. This is a common situation when you are applying fiberglass to the interior. If you do not have enough light, bring a flashlight.

Will the construction exceed your skills? If you can drive a staple with a staple gun, and then pull it out, then I would say ``probably not''.

>(if I spend the money and screw it up my wife will not be happy)

For advice on keeping wives happy write to: Ann Landers, Dear Abby, or Dr. Ruth.

If all you are worried about is spending too much money, then go in easy stages. Buy plans, or a book that has plans in it. Check for the books by Gil Gilpatrick, David Hazen, and Nick Schade. Invest in one or more of these, and any others on the same topic, and read them well. Somebody already mentioned Ted Mohrs book. It is good, too.

Talk your wife into allowing you to ``gamble'' with $75 to $100 worth of lumber (2 sheets of plywood and some cedar planks). Make the strongback, cut the forms, and apply 2 dozen strips. By that time the thing will look like a boat and you can decide whether you want to finish it, or not. By this time you will be pretty well past the stage of screwing things up. Once the hull is done, order the fiberglass materials and while you wait for them to be delivered, get acquainted with your sander.

Fiberglassing can be a rite of passage. If it goes well, no problem. If it goes poorly, sand off the mistakes and try again -- and this time read the instructions.

> I'll be doing this on my own with no help other than what
> support I can get from my supplier.

Don't expect too much support from a lumberyard if you buy the raw materials, but we will be happy to offer lots of occasionally contradictory advice. If you get a kit, the kit suppliers can offer some support. If you buy the plans, the designer may offer some advice. If you borrow the forms from a canoe club, you may get advice from other members.

> Thanks.

You are welcome. Everybody here went through the same doubts and questions when they built their first boats. We know where you are coming from. Take a look at what we are paddling and you will know where YOU can be going.

Best of luck to you.

Paul Jacobson

Messages In This Thread

strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
Jim Eisenmenger -- 5/13/1998, 1:43 pm
Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
Carsten Staal -- 5/31/1998, 10:33 am
Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
Mark Kanzler -- 5/19/1998, 4:20 pm
Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
Paul Jacobson -- 5/17/1998, 12:41 pm
Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
Bob Harding -- 5/13/1998, 6:50 pm
Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
Mac Buhler -- 5/13/1998, 5:33 pm
Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
Bruce -- 5/13/1998, 5:03 pm
Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
Don Beale -- 5/13/1998, 2:35 pm
Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
Mark Kanzler -- 5/13/1998, 2:16 pm
Re: strip-built canoes: kit or plans?
NPenney -- 5/13/1998, 1:53 pm