Boat Building Sources of Information:

Gifts for Boaters:

The Simplest and Traditional Boat Building Methods include Plywood Methods.

Books describing particular types of traditional boats, include Surveys and Safety books.

The Sailmaker's Apprentice. Books describing the whole sailmaking process. A Guide for the Self-Reliant Sailor.

Books describing the Restoration and Painting boat process

Other skills used in boatbuilding: Oars and Engines, Lofting amd Rigging.

Boat building Methods, New and non-traditional.

Books: Plans for small Boats

Sailing Canoe Sources of Information, Building Methods and Museums.

Methods and styles,
Canoe Building Books

Canoe building Books

Canoe or Pirogue

Want to build a Canoe? But Canoe or Pirogue?

Canoes are great boats for many purposes.

Canoes are probably the best all around boat you can find - fun, versatile, easy to transport, goes anywhere on water. They can be paddled, or sailed, or even use a little outboard. Heck some even have electic motors, and even steam engines.

A well made wooden canoe can be beautiful.

But canoes are not tops for easy building.

People think canoes should be simple to build because they are small and light. But strength with low weight is demanding to build. And true canoes are all compound curves, and compound curves mean complexity in building.

The most common canoe home building method is cedar strips covered with epoxy resin. That takes roughly 250 hours per canoe, and gets into a lot of messy epoxy resin, but makes a very nice boat. A canvas over wood canoe is even more work. But if that is what you want and you have patience you can make a fine canoe indeed, even if you are a first-time builder.

If you want a 'canoe' type boat that is simple to build try "pirogues" (pronounced pie-roag) and similar boats made from solid wood or plywood:

Phil Bolger's "Pirogue"J. McCallum's "Zydeco" and "Two Moons" the "Caddo Lake Bateau, "Uncle John's Pirogue,Jim Michalak's "Piragua".

Look for ads in "WoodenBoat" magazine, and "Messing About in Boats."

Pirogues might be good for Scout troops who want to build "canoes", especially for those Scouts with limited boat building experience. Boat building takes a lot of detail work and organization. It always takes longer than you expect!

Books: canoe building methods and styles

The following was mostly contributed by Jim Colten and Tim Hewitt.

"The Minnesota Canoe Association is a hot-bed of design and building.
They sell an instruction book and plans for about 20 different craft (solo canoes, tandem canoes, huge canoes, sea kayak and touring kayak)."

"The MCA xplorer is a great design. It is one of the most beautiful hulls ever designed." "It has a traditional look, with a rounded bottom. This canoe is kind of tippy so if you're not comfortable in a canoe, or if your kids can't sit still this may not be the canoe for you."

"There's also a lot to be said for the Prospector."
Minnesota Canoe Association, P.O. Box 13567, Dinkytown Station, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

for wood-strip epoxy-coated canoes:

Canoe Craft by Ted Moores. Published by Whorwood nterprises, 580 Quebec Street, London, Ontario N5W 3Z2. 132 pages with plans included. "should help you immensely"

Canoe Craft by Ted Moores and Marilyn Mohr.
Firefly Books, Willowdale Ontario, or Camden House; 1983; 1994. 145 pages with plans included.

This is a good instruction book and includes some history & photos of the canoe industry in the Peterborough, Ontario area. The plans include a number of traditional Peterborough area designs (including the Chestnut Prospector, Bill Mason's redwood canvas canoe) and some more modern designs.
"Canoes shown in this book are masterpieces."

Building a Strip Canoe, by Gil Gilpatrick. Published by DeLorme Publishing Co., Yarmouth M 04096. 83 pages with plans included. "should help you immensely".
[possibly also titled "How to Build a Cedar Strip Canoe" ]

for the classic cedar planking over steam bent ribs, covered with canvas,
see these two:

Building the Maine Guide Canoe, by Jerry Stelmok.
choosing materials and step by step instructions.
includes making paddles and poles, and rigging for sailing.
Author is renowned builder of this sort of craft.
Lyons and Burford, 256 pages.

The Wood and Canvas Canoe, Jerry Stelmok and Rollin Thurlow, 179 p.
includes history (with some about birch bark), building, restoring. "witty and delightful book to read"

"If you want to see how Rollin Thurlow restored an 1897 Gerrish, WoodenBoat has a two-part fantastic how-to-do-it article by Rollin starting Oct 1987. issue 78."

The following books turn up now and then, but are not mentioned quite so often compared to those above.

The Stripper's Guide to Canoe Building, by David Hazen. Published by
Tamal Vista Publications, 222 Madrone Avenue, Larkspur CA 94939. 94 pages with plans included.

Construction Techniques for Wood Strip Canoes, by Charles Moore.
Published by the United States Canoe Association, Inc. 2509 Kickapoo Drive, Lafayette IN 47905. 18 pages.

"Building a Stripper Canoe by Bruce Winterbon", and "Another Approach
to the Stripper" by Richard Swanson, Fine Woodworking July/Aug 82 ,
No. 35. Published by The Tauton Press Inc., PO Box 355, Newton CT 06470.

Canoes and Kayaks for the Backyard Builder, Skip Snaith 192 p.

Wood and Canvas Kayak Building, George Putz 100 illus Plans for 17' and 18 1/2' kayaks, and how to scale them if desired. Canvas or fiberglass cover.

Other canoe building methods and styles:

Building Lapstrake Canoes, Walter Simmons, 1981, 94 pages.

The Adirondack Guide-Boat. Kenneth and Helen Durant. Covers the history, evolution, construction, and use. Includes lines and offsets, plus patterns for oars, paddles, seats, yokes, and more. In add. plus modern materials and canoe tools chapter by John Gardner. 250pp.
"... the Durant book is excellent, but suffers (only in the opinion of a Rushton fan) from a bit of chauvanism towards Rushton, who is barely mentioned. Seems to be some residual rivalry amoung the heirs of the guideboat builders."

Rushton, His Life and Times in American Canoeing. by ?
This book has the lines for a guideboat in the appendix. "I think the Rushton boat may be the more sophisticated design. The published offsets do need lofting.I built it
as a stripper in 1975 and found that the 2' station spacing was too much. "
"I agree. The offsets in the Rushton book are, regretably, very bad. You will definitely have to loft and rejigger them.
The text is quite good and certainly worth the price of admission."

"Information to build Rushton boats and guideboats is available from the
ever-helpful Adirondack Museum."

Adirondack Museum
PO Box 99
Blue Mountain Lake, NY 12812

Canoe and Boatbuilding: A Complete Manual for Amateurs. W.P. Stephens.
" full of plans of 13-16' sailing canoes. You will have to loft them.
Originally designed for cedar lapstrake, you could modify them for plywood lapstrake or strip." (19th century classic)

Ultralight Boatbuilding, Tom Hill, 134 pages
Glued lapstrake plywood.
Sailing skiff and canoe as examples; list of other skiff and canoe plans. There's a video of this, too. all sold by WoodenBoat and others.

Building Sweet Dream: An Ultralight Solo Canoe for Single and Double Paddle.
by Marc F. Pettingill (1996)
" The SWT DRAM design makes maximum use of materials, is easily and quickly built using hand tools, is stunning to look at, and gives excellent paddling performance for beginning and experienced canoeists alike. SWT DRAM can be built in 12', 13', or 14' lengths and weighs about 27 pounds. The 14' hull can accommodate overall weights up to 350 pounds. " - Marc Pettingill " This is a boatbuilding project that anyone can undertake, no matter the level of experience, no matter the limitations on space and time.

Sweet Dream is an ultralight solo canoe, propelled by either a single or double paddle, that can be built in either 12-, 13-, or 14-foot versions. Usually boats designed for simple building are rather uninspiring to look at. Not the Sweet Dream. She has a rounded bottom, fine ends, and a lovely sheer. The method of building her is so-called tortured plywood, wherein flat sheets of plywood are cut in such a way as to allow the pieces to be bent to shape. The seams are then wired together and sealed with fiberglass tape, Finish her out, paint her up, and you have one of the loveliest canoes to come out of a backyard boatshop; in some time."
- from the International Marine Catalog, Holiday 1996:
" I put everything you need to know in "Building Sweet Dream." I don't assume you have a workshop full of tools, or even a workbench, nor do I assume you know how to paint and varnish. poxy is a wonderful adhesive but it requires some specialized knowledge to use well; this too is covered in detail. very step from building a work table to final launch is covered."

Signed copies of "Building Sweet Dream" are available from the author.

Send check or money order for $29.00US ($32.00US for Canada and overseas) to:
Marc Pettingill, Boat Builder
542 Warrick Road
Chesapeake, VA 23320 USA
[email protected]

Boatbuilder's Manual, Charles Walbridge. 6th ed., Menasha Ridge Press, Birmingham, Alabama, 1987, 126pp. fiberglass boats for whitewater only.
Claims to have sold 20,000 copies.

Build Your Own Canoe. Dennis Davis. Crowood Press North Pomfret VT
151 p. $18. stitch and glue multichine plywood canoe, paddle, sail.

Building Your Kevlar Canoe. - A Foolproof Method and Three Foolproof Designs
by James Moran, 1995, 184 pages, 134 illus. Designs for "a stable family canoe, a solo canoe, and a wilderness tripper" Ragged Mtn. Press.

This is for those who must have a KEVLAR canoe but do not wish to pay retail price for a factory canoe. Otherwise for the cost of materials (say $600) you can buy a good used or even new canoe of other materials, and save the trouble of building. Does NOT have line drawings OR photos OR sketches of the completed boats! Only has offset tables (numbers), so you can't see what the canoes look like until you make them. The canoe shown in the photos is NOT one of the designs in the tables.
"I found some errors in the coordinates given for the blueprints for the Tandem Tripper, and am having to adjust as I go." one builder says "There were a few things that really needed clarification in the book.

The photos show a very different bow and stern than the coordinates of any of the three designs would produced. Also, the procedure for tacking the foam strips in place is described thoroughly except for the difficult part: the bow and stern!" another builder

The Aleutian Kayak: Origins, Construction, and Use of the Traditional Seagoing
Baidarka. Wolfgang Brink. 176 p. Walker. step by step instruct for 17' boat
"for around $200" in materials.

Baidarka. George Dyson.
It's all about ancient and modern lashed-and-sewn boats.

birchbark canoes:

article in "Messing About in Boats", June 1, 1995

The Survival of the Birchbark Canoe, John McPhee, 1975.

Building a Birchbark Canoe: the Algonquin Wabanaki Tciman. David Gidmark,
132p. Stackpole, 1995. History, and step by step methods of three builders.

Used materials: Wikipedia, part of the "Great Encouragement to Boatwrights" available on and contributors.