I initially wanted to build a tandem canoe the would nest over my cedar strip canoe. Fortunately, I reached out to Brian and he talked me down. Using his suggestions I started with this canoe at 15′-6″ long, 31″ wide with a 1″ tumblehome and 12.4″ deep. The D/B is .40 and R/B 1.44. To give myself a challenge, I went with an asymmetrical build. The sheer height at the bow is 8 1/4″ and the stern is 7″. The planned rocker is 2″ at both ends.
The build begins with a search for a long board for the gunwales. I found 18′ reclaimed laminated bleacher seat made from old growth Douglass fir. They advertised gum at no additional cost. Yes, I had to scrape old dried chewing gum off the board. The grain appeared to be perfectly straight with no knots. After ripping the board, I found couple of well hidden pin knots in the lamination joint and had to work around bolt holes. The board yielded 2 layers of the gunwale lamination ( 3rd layer was made from red cedar), the bottom 4 stringer and the keel. The remaining stringer was made out of cedar. The cedar parts had to be scarf jointed together to make the length. I used epoxy for the glue joints which are unbelievably strong. It takes an extra day to scarf joint boards together. In the future, I would not hesitate do it again for a larger build.
Laminating the Gunwales
The gunwale was laminated on the side of a strong back. I used Titebond III to glue up the laminations which worked fine. Since I have not worked with Gorilla Glue, I was hesitant to try it here, although, I made quite a mess using Titebond.
Building the Frame
Finishing and Skinning the Canoe
Finishing the canoe was fairly uneventful. I impulsively used cherry tinted Danish oil to seal the frame. It turned much darker than the samples I had prepared. The color has grown on me and I imagine it will fade with exposure to the sun. On the first coat of polyurethane, I used 8/4 and came up short. Since my mixing cup did not have 10 oz mark, I went with 12/6 for the next two coats. I have not noticed any cloudiness in the finish coating. It got a little cloudy along the stitching and where I attempted to thicken up the coat on the keel. Compared to an epoxy finish, this was a much more enjoyable experience.
For the maiden voyage, I took it out last weekend to a local forest preserve. Unfortunately, it was quite windy so I couldn’t get a good feel for how it tracks. I will say it is lively. One gust of wind put me up on an edge but didn’t feel like I was going to tip. I had about 9″ of free board with just me (220lbs) in the canoe. Since I don’t have a great deal of solo paddling experience, I think a couple more inches in width would help settle it down. With some improvement in my J stroke, I imagine this will be a very fast and nimble canoe. Stay tuned for updates.
On Sunday, I took the canoe out under better weather conditions. It was a great opportunity to get a true feel for how the canoe handles. Before this canoe, I’ve only had experience paddling commercial tandem canoes. The big change is having engage your lower half. Once I was comfortable with the canoe on edge it met my expectations for speed and control. Surprisingly, I discovered I favor paddling on my left side. I also tried out a double bladed paddle. Paddling in rhythm, the canoe was considerably faster. Although, I still prefer the single blade paddle.
The seat position is the last thing I need to explore. Currently, it is set 9″ back from the center and there is a 3/4″ gunwale spacer. It just feels like I a lot of canoe behind me. I have room for a second mount 5″ further back. I would also like to try a contoured seat.
One of the many reasons I found Brian’s system intriguing is the flexibility. I like to tinker. At some point I’m sure that I will also explore the sailing option. I’m also starting to plan a tandem canoe to nest over this one. Next year, I’m looking forward to taking my boys and the canoes to the boundary waters.
January 27, 2022
Your canoe looks great! Congrats!
I was wondering what the boat weighed and if the dimensions you planned came out in the final build.
I am just North of you in WI and am planning two canoes for me and my wife. Still not sure of dimensions to use or to go medium/ large or large/medium in sizes.
Hope you have fun with it!