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“The Cost of the Curve” 

Companion canoeThose who know me well have heard me say at one time or another that “nothing in life is free”. This is particularly true in some of the design decisions of boats. At the risk of getting myself ostracized from the boating community, I would rather be up front with a prospective builder and tell them the positives and negatives of a design even at the risk of loosing that customer. You will, at a minimum, give up a good number of weekends to build your boat, and depending on the boat you may spend hundreds of hours building. Although I stick by my philosophy that the building of the boat is an important and enjoyable part of the journey, you as the builder have every right to know where that journey will take you.

stapless canoe bulding

First, let me say that building with staples has been done many thousands of times and makes for a beautiful boat. In fact if done carefully and the staples are aligned neatly, it can be very appealing. Boat plans for canoes do not generally specify how to attach your strips as either method will work just fine. That said, if you are of the opinion that those darn little staple holes detract from the beauty of the boat then read on. The actual act of stripping without staples is a fairly easy straight forward process. There are a number of ways to accomplish it but we will get to that in a minute. The actual rub to building without staples lies in the shape of the hull. In general, if the hull has smooth curves which aren't too severe then it is a very straight forward process. When the curves get sharp, then it becomes time to really use some creativity.

There are two basic ways to strip without staples. The first is by using grooves cut into the forms with allow you to clamp the freshly glued strips to the forms. Although this is a fool proof way of getting the job done, it is not one that I often use or recomend. It simply takes too long to get the job done this way. When you have one strip clamped to the hull, it makes it imposible to put another one on. So if it is your intention to put on two strips a day or to wait an hour between strips then this method works. If you are cut from the same cloth that I am then this will simply not do the trick. I typically want my hulls stripped in 3 to 5 sessions and if I am going to work on the boat then I want it to be for more than 20 minutes a day. Stripping the hull will vary from hull shape to hull shape, however in general, I can strip a canoe in about 5 session of about 4 hours or so each.

The Basics of Boat Lofting



Let's get a piece of house cleaning out of the way first. The correct term for one who lofts is a loftsman. This person is defined as one who creates patterns or frames. For the purposes of this document, so as not to alienate all of the very capable woman in my life, I will refer to this person as a lofter.

Which wood is right for you?

wood-collageOne of the more difficult questions we get is "what types of wood.....?" People want to know what they can use for gunwales, planking, decks and so forth and it is easy for us to give an answer if you happen to live where we live. When it comes to wood types and the approrpicate uses, it in fact is not a small world. Shipping a canoe kit from the east coast of the US to Austrailia almost costs as much as a typical canoe kit does doubling the cost of the kit. The the next logical question is, "well what kind of wood in my area can I use". We get pictures from all over the world from people who have built boats out of wood we have never heard of. This is not an exhaustive listing, however it is a great start to avialable wood types and their uses and characteristics. If you have a wood species you would like to add and have experience with please feel free to contact us for inclusion into this listing. Remember that you will be helping people in your area.


White ash is similar to oak in strength, hardness and shock resistance. It is failrly easy to work wth sharp tools, sands well and bends well under steam. Though it is rot resistant, It is not suitable for planking. It is primarily used in smaller round bottom hulls for frames, oars, boat hook, breasthooks, handles and poles. The weight per foot cubed is 42 lbs.