Arts & Crafts: Build a canoe from a few slabs of plywood

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I’m wondering how Nick Offerman would react. Would he admire the resourcefulness, or condemn the choice of materials?


a little of both I would think. He is a big fan of people making their own stuff and getting back to building things. I think he would applaud the fact that he made this instead of buying it and then say “ugh, varnish, really…ugh”.




I don’t know what’s in the kit, but in my case, it had better end with 6 cans of FlexSeal.


I love a good canoe trip.

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I have a buddy who built his own kayak from aluminum tubing, highway signs, kevlar and a lot of hand stitching. It’s an amazing boat but it breaks down a lot.

Me? I bought a second hand ocean kayak, milk jug plastic rotoformed, big, heavy, tough. We’ve dropped a different buddy’s same brand plastic yak off the top of his jeep once and the thing just bounced…

Once landed at a pier and hauled out. As we were watching some otters play, two little old ladies paddled up and one got out of her boat. I offered to help her with her wooden kayak, she accepted. When I lifted it up the thing was amazingly light! Spruce mainly, some other woods, beautiful inlays and layering. She was in her 80s and her sons had made it as a birthday present. “Ma’am you have some awesome sons!” “Indeed I do!”


My ancestors along the Columbia River used to make canoes by taking a tree trunk, and carving it.

The process mostly lost, there has been a revival. Indeed, one reason to make canies traditionally is to visit other people, there are events where grouos of canoes go visiting.

If I was building with modern matetial, I’d copy George Dyson’s baidarka work.


Looks like a classic cajun pirogue.

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'Round these parts, they like to race log canoes

Log Canoes

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I was going to scoff at his “quick canoe” clearly being a multi day affair with many many hours of tedious sanding, but according to the plans you can put one of these together in about 4 hours. Presumably the 4 hour version will look a lot rougher, but it’s much closer to what I’d consider “quick”.

Why do I have a hard time thinking of a flat-bottomed boat as a canoe? I certainly don’t seem to take issue when the bottom is nearly flat. Something about the square corners rubs me the wrong way.

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Jeezus, how much epoxy did he use? That’s probably more than half the entire cost right there.

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I think he had the epoxy donated. He griped about the cost of the plywood and then just started slathering every surface with a thick coat of epoxy so I’m guessing he wasn’t paying for the epoxy.

If I built this I’d be tempted to leave most of the “temporary” screws in place, especially the ones getting covered in fiberglass and painted. Maybe it’s better to remove them, but I like the idea of having some positive connection besides just the epoxy.

In any case this isn’t a canoe I’d take on a whitewater excursion.

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Back in the 1980s my father built one a pirogue out of plywood, similar to the one here. I took it out on the Mississippi several times when we lived in Galena, Illinois. It was a good little boat, even if it only lasted a few years. I moved to Germany, and my parents to Texas, and the little pirogue was scrapped.

I now badly want a canoe. I would live to go down the Isar until it meets the Danube in a boat that reminds me of my French Canadian ancestors.


marine ply might oops help
my late dad made a ten inch reflector with steam treated ply
(quite a job)

it did not float but the mirror was sort of

The designer’s website says “Boats have been built for budgets of $130 – $250 and building time has been as short as 4.5 or 5.5 hours from two experienced builders, though a nice job will take around 20 hours for a first time builder.”

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There’s a more traditionally shaped one from the same designer, though it’s a bit more complicated to build:

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Boats from 0 to 120ft are built without screws or nails. Just glue.

Check for the rivets of the airliner next time over an ocean :slight_smile: And wood is way easier to glue than aluminium!

Every fastening is a means for water to get into the structure.

If glue is adequate (a 50 year track record) then fastenings aren’t needed.

Best wishes :slight_smile:

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One 5’x10’ sheet of coroplast, a few cable ties, some plastic conduit, a couple of elastic cords and some silicone.