This is my first attempt at building a canoe. My goal is to build a 15’6″ asymmetrical solo canoe. I am excited about the opportunity to easily modify the build from boat to boat. We will see how it works.
I started with 5 – 18′ 1×4 red cedar, 1 – 8′ 2×8 rough cut white oak, 1 – 10′ 1×4 white oak, and a scrap of 1x rough cut red oak. The wood came from a lumber yard, a local mill, and friends.
The cedar was planed to 5/8″ and then glued up to make the gunwales with a 4″ sheer. After the glue was dried the gunwales were ripped and then planed to 3/4″.
The router was attached to the plate to as described in the instructions and all mortises were created. Even though this was a bit stressful to start, but oddly satisfying to see them all appear in the gunwales.
The center spreader was cut at 28.5″ and placed 1 rib back from center. Catch forms were placed 8.5″ back on the bow and 7.5″ on the stern. Stern stretcher was cut at 18.75″ and 17.5″ for the bow. After cutting the kerf I completed the first lashing and set the dowls on the ends.
For the stems I planed dow the red oak to 11/16″ and applied the pattern for the stems. In future boats I will take more time to have a gently sloping curve rather than blunt angles. Stems were attached with zip ties and then the center keel support was placed. Placing the keel was a great moment in seeing the boat take shape.
I now prepared the ribs. I found that I preferred working the ribs down to a 1″ width and 1/4″ thickness. I also chose to round over each rib. Test ribs were made for #’s 2, 9,16, 23, 30. I found a used commercial wallpaper steamer (red box on floor) on Craigslist to steam. I found that the steamboat dimensions were larger than I needed and may bring down the size to accommodate 4 ribs at a time. I also needed to kerf most of the ribs to fit into the mortises.
I started the build with a desire to try a Center depth of 12″ and a gunwale width of 29″ and a 2″ reduction for tumblehome. This would create a 41.4% Depth to Beam ratio, but I struggled to make the rib stick work for this design. I adjusted the depth to 13.25″ and a width of 30″ for a 44% ratio. The rib stick did work better, but I still had trouble the closer I came to the bow and stern. I am curious to know if it is the asymmetrical shape that I created that was pleasing to the eye, but not calculated and measured. It was great fun bending the ribs and watching the shape take place. I did have a bit of waste so I would recommend 20% more ribs for a first time boat build.
The stems were now lashed and the keel was cut and shaped to start placing the stringers. I did have to place a spacer block on some ribs near the bow and stern to connect to the keel. After lashing the strings it was time to taper each to the bow and stern and lash.
I chose to create custom thwarts and decks out of red oak.
I cut rub strips at 1/2″ width and 1/4″ thick and and placed drilled pilot holes before rubbing in the oil.
Skinning and finish
I chose to create a different way to finish the boat. I used an airplane grade glue to have the initial contact with gunwales, keel, and stems. I then stapled the fabric before shrinking.
I chose to paint the fabric a regal red for the water proofing and finish. With glue and a rubberized coating I was able to finish the stems without sewing.