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kayakrski 06-22-2012 03:13 PM

What to build, what to build....
Hello everyone,

It's been awhile since I've posted here due to a major career exam and buying a new home. Although I have always lived just north of the park, I am now officially an Adirondacker!

Anyway, my new home came with a barn and so now I have a huge work shop. My plan is to build my first strip canoe or maybe a guide boat if it's not much more difficult than a canoe. I'm not sure yet though because I'm just starting my research.

I know there are at least a few canoe builders here so I have a few questions for you guys and I'd also appreciate input from first time builders too.

What are some good beginner solo designs? Where can I get plans for these? I'm not really sure why some designs would be more difficult to build than others so I will give you an idea of what I'd like my strip canoe to be. I'd like my canoe to be fairly light, 17'+ and have a good bit of tumblehome. I have a Wenonah Prism now and I'd like a faster boat.

Any thoughts, ideas or advice will be greatly appreciated.


EagleCrag 06-22-2012 04:35 PM

Gregg: I don't have as much experience as many on here, but I have built a cedar strip canoe (Redbird design from Canoecraft) and am now finishing up a guideboat. In my mind, the guideboat is not any harder, but is a lot more work because of the added surface area. You don't realize how much bigger they are until you start sanding them. When you say solo canoe, that can mean lots of things. Are you looking for one just for day trips or do you need one big enough for overnights? There are many free designs on the web and you will undoubtedly be buying a book of some sort as a guide and they usually have some free designs included as well. The Canoecraft book is a good one I think and if you want a small solo canoe, Mac McCarthy's Featherweight Boatbuilding has free plans and doesn't overcomplicate the process. I'm looking for a solo canoe to build that I can use for overnight trips and the Osprey design currently has my eye. Good luck on your search and keep us posted with your progress.

Connecticut Yankee 06-22-2012 11:36 PM

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Bear Mountain Boatworks has the Freedom solo that looks like a nice solo tripping canoe, and the Osprey mentioned above looks good too. has the Merlin, a 16' canoe 29" wide plenty of tumblehoam, nice boat. I built one several years ago, mine weighed 45 lbs. but I had a double layer of 6 oz. cloth on the bottom, for river use, tough boat used it hard for many years with no ill effects.. I sold it recently but plan to build another stretched out to 16'8" with 4 oz. cloth and plan to shoot for 35 lbs. I always put 5 layers of cloth on the bow and stern where you may hit things, otherwise the 4 oz is fine and makes for a much lighter boat . Laminated inwales only, no outwales saves quite a bit of weight and forget the big fancy decks or end caps.

John M. A Connecticut Yankee

stripperguy 06-23-2012 08:50 AM


Are you sure you want to build your own boat?
There is the constant hassle of answering questions (did you build that? is that a kit?, how much does it weigh?) and the responsibility of graciously accepting compliments (that boat is beautiful!!), as well as the constant danger of capsize due to a rapid growth in head size. ;)
If you're sure you can handle these effects, then maybe you're ready!

What type of paddling do you want to do? Do you want something around 17' to carry loads? Or for the speed advantages?
As far as light weight goes, nearly any design can be built lightweight, given some modifications to construction and maybe sheer line.

Some boats, like a Kite, could be very tricky for a first time build. Severe tumblehome will also be more challenging than a straighter sided hull. Other than that, decide on your usage and build it! Winters has many designs and you could also try contacting the recognized leader, David Yost, I favor his designs over anything else. There are a number of books on strip building, some of these have plans for a few designs included.

kayakrski 06-25-2012 08:31 PM

Thanks for the responsed guys. Beautiful boat John! I've been surfing around a bit and now I'm really undecided on whether to build a guideboat or a canoe.

I'd like to build a canoe because my girlfriend doesn't have a boat so we usually paddle tandem and my Prism just sits. I thought about building her a canoe but now I'm thinking of building a boat more to my liking than the Prism (and she'll like the stability and weight of the Prism anyway). The canoe I want to build would be fast and still be able to do overnights once or twice a year. It should be under 45 pounds too.

A guideboat appeals to me too. I've always wanted to own one but I've never been able to afford one. I honestly don't think it would see as much use as a canoe though. I would probably use it to fish or take pictures more than anything. I can only imagine the personal satisfaction I'd get from paddling or rowing either craft!

I guess before I worry too much about which craft to build, I should get a book to figure out what tools I need. I really dont have many wood working tools.

Thanks again guys.

Connecticut Yankee 06-25-2012 09:33 PM

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This Sunday July 1'st there will be ,hopefully, 50 plus guideboats in downtown Saranac Lake for the Willard Hanmer 50'th annual Guideboat Races and parade. I'll have my boat there. If you can make it , it should be a good time. I'll let you take mine out for a test drive if you'd like, just look for the woodstrip boat with a LOT of padding in the center seat.

This is a photo of the Guideboat I built a few years ago and raced in the 90 Miler with my son when he was 16. I sold that one and built another, same rib patterns but slightly modified , last year that I'll be rowing solo in the 90 this September, and this Sunday.

Check the archives of this site for threads on building both of these boats and the canoes that striperguy built with great descriptions and photos of the entire process, better than any book in my opinion (still, buy the books though). It really is not hard or complicated, just takes time. I do it as my hobby in my spare time, to me it is very relaxing.

John M. A Connecticut Yankee

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