Boat Building Journals
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18' Great Northern Freighter Canoe

great-northern-freighter-canoeFor those of you who have dropped by the shop, you know that you can always find at least a couple of boats being built.  We very rarely however build boats for customers.  Most of our builds are either for locals we know or more often than not are given to charities for auctions.  This allows us to keep doing what we love to do (build boats), without having to purchase acres of land to store the boats we have built.

Over the last couple of years we have been asked a number of times to shrink our 20 foot Mi'kMaq freighter canoe to an 18 foot version.  Well for those of you who have lofted boats, you know that there is more to it than to simply open a program, squeeze it down a couple of feet and hit the print button.

We received a call from a man in texas a couple of months ago who not only wanted the 18 foot freighter canoe, but wanted us to build it for him as well.  Now normally we would have said no but there were a few things which aligned to push us in the other direction.  First, our friend in Texas has an issue which keeps him from building the boat himself, though he is certainly capable of using it.  Second, we were just having meetings around here a few days earlier planning on our winter builds, so that shop would be available for the build. Lastly,  we do send out a DVD with the Freighter which covers a good deal of the building project, however it isn't specifically for a freighter canoe and we have been looking for an opportunity to put together some more building instructions for that boat.

great-northern-freighter-canoe-linesLong story short, we will be building an 18' Freighter canoe in the shop this winter set to launch in May of 2014 (or sooner).  We debated filming the project, however we cannot pull together the resources under the time constraints we have to film for 200 hours between now and May.  So what we will do is video segments to post here as well as a full building journal.

If you have questions or just want to chime in, you can ask them in the forum and we will be happy to answer.  I hope you enjoy the journey.

Best Regards,

Jack Battersby




Building the Solo Canoe Nantucket Sleigh

I had been thinking about building a solo canoe for some time now.  We build a number of new designs here every year, and it has been a while since we have done a double paddle canoe.  Over the years, we have been asked if the Little Rob can be made smaller in size.  Although it is possible, it really wasn't desinged for that.  What we needed was a boat that was smaller than the Little Rob but something more substantial than the  classic Wee Lassie.  I have nothing against the Wee Lassie and have the utmost respect for it's desinger (Henry Rushton), but it is a petite little thing and not suitable for most people.  The little Rob is a nice boat but it was larger than what many people need.The Nantucket Sleigh is stable enough to fish the bays and harbors for Bluefish  but light enough to stick on a small car roof, and built in your dining room if you can get your housemates to agree to it.




"Side by Side"

In a recent launching, Dennis from Belgium sent in some pictures of his finished 16' runabout which came out simply beautiful as you can see.  Dennis let us know that he had been taking pictures during his entire building process.  We are all fortunate that he has made them available here for everyone to learn from.   The boat you see being built here is from plans from Sandy Point Boat Works and you can find them here on this site.

Now let me warn you that Dennis is a technical kind of guy with access to some pretty nifty CNC equipment. So, some of the early info such as making on-trailerthe frames and strongback will seem a bit foreign to us traditional wooden boat builders.  However that is what this site is all about.  The celebration of peoples unique talents and expertise.  For those of you who are new to this, let me assure you that the tried and true wooden building jig and using patterns to make your frames works just fine.  However, if you do have access to CNC equipment, and a bit of metal in your blood, then by all means take advantage of that.

The following pictures and descriptions are a journal of his journey.  Thanks again for sharing with us Dennis.


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I decided to give a small chronicle of the building of the family canoe Billington.  When I designed this boat and generated the canoe plans it was by request for a family friendly canoe that would simply give a day of fun on flat water and would allow for the cooler, the dog, the kids and anything else required for a day on the lake without having to worry about getting wet unless it was a choice.  Though on the surface this seems like a simple request, these canoe plans proved to be a design challenge. 


 Starting with the Frames

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Hopefully this blog will take you on a boat building trip with me as I build an 18' power dory skiff.  The construction method is unique using plywood planking over frames.  I considered building this boat using stitch and glue but as in most cases on boats of this size, I found that the panel size would be daunting and by the time I was done installing all of the supports I needed for the self bailing cockpit, engine splash well, decking and so forth I might just as well built it with frames to begin with.

Having built using both methods, I simply find this construction method suites me far better than stitch and glue for large boats such as this.  I will typically either be working alone so trying to stitch 20 foot plywood panels is a daunting task to say the least.  Using frames I find that I can hang the planks with little assistance, though another pair of hands is very useful and appreciated.

So it all starts with the frames. For this project, I used full sized patterns for frame templates and it worked out perfectly. There is an article here on this site describing the steps of using patterns to build frames. You can find it here. Take a few minutes to check it out.

It took about 8 hours to make all of the frames for this boat using patterns.  Probably could have done it faster but I was in no rush.



The following articles are meant to take you through the process of building a wood strip kayak from setup to launch.  We make every effort to cover the details; however the written journal cannot cover the kind of detail that our kayak building video series can cover.   We are happy to take phone calls and emails from customers who have purchased plans and DVD's, however If you have questions about articles on the web site, please log in and ask them in the forum.

Click here if you are looking for the Kayak Plans or here if you are looking for the Kayak kits 

Enjoy the Journey!