Rich’s Dual Pack 66 Canoe Build, Gardiner NY

Specifications: Length: 11′ 4″, Width: 28 1/2″, Weight: 19 lbs. 9 oz.

Date of Launch (first boat): December 7th, 2020

2020-08-24: Having never built a canoe, I spent the first couple weeks watching the videos, tuning up my saws, ordering parts & tools, identifying lumber sources, and making jigs. Before cutting the first piece of wood I need to visualize the process in my mind. I often ruminate on problems just before falling to sleep. Tomorrow I’ll go buy lumber: green white oak and red cedar.

Zero clearance table saw insert, blocks for lamination of gunwale, capture form, thin push stick


I obtained clear vertical grain cedar at Curtis Lumber, Ballston Spa, New York. For the gunwales 1″x4″x12′, for the stringers and keel 1″x6″x12′. The lumber was sanded on 3 sides.

I picked through the pile at Lowe’s and found a straight 2″x8″x12′ fir board to serve as a base for the gunwale lamination. The board wasn’t perfect so I improved the surface by running it through my planer (DeWalt DW735). I planed the cedar board to thickness.

I marked out the mortise locations, etc., applied TiteBond III to two surfaces and clamped the gunwale boards.

I used what’s know as a holdfast to clamp the center of the board. It fits into an ordinary dog hole in the bench top. Available from “Tools for Woodworking”

Having other work to do in the meantime, I removed the clamps after 48 hours and measured 3/8″ of “spring back”, which I deemed acceptable based on the instructors comment of ‘about 1/2″ to be expected’.

With the help of an experienced friend I cut the 2 pairs of gunwales on a small Delta contractor’s table saw using a 24 tooth Diablo thin kerf (3/32″) rip blade. I screwed together a pair of gunwales and prepped for cutting mortises. For support I used the same three blocks as used for the lamination.


I did not own a router so used this occasion to purchase a Festool OF 1400 EQ plunge router along with two guide rails. I adjusted the guide rails to straddle the gunwales. My alignment on several mortises was poor and one in particular so bad I needed to repair it by filling it with a 2-part epoxy and recutting. It worked well.

I test fit a rib into each mortise

This boat consists of a keel and eight stringers made of red cedar. Using a Slickplane to round the edges.

I trimmed the gunwales to the desired length of this pack canoe: 11′ 4″.

To record the actual sheer measurements I placed the gunwale my floor using the seam bewteen planks as a straight edge. I recorded the deflection at each rib location.

Set-up for measuring deflection of gunwale (sheer) at each rib location

The gunwales are secured in the capture forms and the center spreader is inserted. The spreader is cut to the canoe width minus the combined gunwale thicknesses (28 1/2″ – 1 3/8″). A string line is dropped to insure the bow and stern align with the centerline of the spreader.

Securing the gunwales and checking for symmetry with a string line

Borrowing a 16kg kettlebell from the gym located in a corner of my shop, the center of the gunwales is weighed down so as to deflect the gunwales to be parallel. The two end spreaders are screwed in. Note: the video calls for a 1/8″ drill bit with #6 screws. This bit is too thick and can be reduced. Use your own judgement.


Using a thick kerf pruning saw the gunwale ends are tapered to increase contact area. I found using a flush cut pull saw was also useful. Next a hole is drilled through the tip of the gunwales and they are lashed using a sturdy needle and artificial sinew.

After lashing the gunwale ends they are drilled and pegged then trimmed with a pull saw.

Tapered, lashed, pegged and trimmed gunwale end


Using scrap cedar purchased from an auction held by the Northeastern Woodworkers Association, I cut the stems. The final thickness was 13/16″ which is 1/8″ thicker than the spec. A piece of plywood is attached to the center spreader and set to a specific height to maintain the rocker (curve) of the keel (here, 1″). Before shaping the stems they are tied to the gunwale ends (using cable ties) to check alignment of gunwales. If alignment is off, the tapering can be adjusted.

The completed stems are cable-tied to the gunwales and screwed to the keel


Rough Sawn 5/4″ green, quarter sawn white oak was obtained from Meltz Lumber (Hudson, NY) by special order, planed to 1″ thick and cut into 17/64″ strips to serve as ribs.

Marking each rib length

2020-09-23 Rib edges are rounded over with a block plane. Instead of a steam box, I soaked the ribs in near-boiling water for 10-15 minutes prior to bending. The hotter the water, the easier the bend. Resting on two electric hot plates, the tray is 48″ long and used to soak wood for making Shaker Oval Boxes (available at:

2020-10-12 The rib rails are made from ash and drilled to accept countersunk #6, 3/4″ stainless steel screws. They are coated with Bush Oil followed by spar urethane.

2020-10-21 Stringers are lashed with artificial sinew then cut to length and tapered to sit flush against stem.

Lashing and trimming complete

2020-10-25 After lashing, the entire boat received a coat of Bush Oil. In retrospect it would have been far easier to coat the stringers and ribs/gunwales before lashing them together.

The boat begins to show character after the lube job.

2020-12-01 The boat was skinned with 840 (9oz) Denier Xtra Tuff nylon sold by Push pins are used to hold fabric in place.

With skinning completed it’s beginning to look like a canoe

2020-12-03 Acid dye is used to color the canoe. Subsequently two-part polyurethane (sold by seals the boat. I applied three coats and a little extra on the keel and stems.

After applying polyurethane

2020-12-07 On a date that will live in infamy for me, the boat is launched!

December 7th, 2020 – Black Creek, Highland, NY (at HWY 299)

After completing the first boat I waited a month then began building a second boat 8″ shorter and 1.5″ narrower so as to nest inside the first one. I completed it in about 43 hours over 3 weeks. I had already milled the wood and laminated the gunwales as part of the first build. The first task therefore was mortising the gunwales.


View posts by Rich
With a background in electrical and computer engineering and sales, I retired from the IT industry and now spend my time on woodworking, training/teaching jiu-jitsu and various outdoor activities including paddling and XC skiing. I'm a member of the Northeast Woodworkers Association where I served as President from 2019-2020. I enjoy making Shaker Oval boxes, a craft that involves steam bending thinly sliced wood of various species. I hope to develop expertise in canoe building and have an audacious goal of constructing 6 nested vessels.


  1. Kevin
    August 5, 2021

    These are beautiful! Could you tell me what color you used?

    1. Rich
      August 5, 2021

      Thanks! I used Jaquard Acid Dye, 1/2 oz (one heaping tablespoon) – Aztec Gold ordered from Cape Falcon.


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