We built our first canoe at home ( in the bedroom and in the garden) back in 1993. We had little experience of boat building, and none at all of canoe building. You can do it to.
This page might help you do just that.
One important thing to say : we do NOT supply canoe building materials, canoe building plans, canoe building kits etc.
The following sections will outline how you might go about building a canoe of your own at home, but you would need your own materials and plans.
Okoume Marine ply. Shop around, good Okoume Marineply should be stamped British Standard 1088. It will be okoume throughout, with no voids, and should have 3, 5 or 7 plies of equal thickness. Such a canoe will last. Cheaper exterior ply can be used, but the life of your canoe will be limitedA2 Stainless steel pan head screws. Don't be tempted by countersunk screws, and don't be tempted by normal exterior screws. They will fail in time.
Lloyd's Approved Polyester resin. This is the best resin for canoe building, and can be applied without specialist skills. Besides, it is UV stable and water resistant, which Epoxy resin is not. Mechanically, epoxy is stronger, but since we use glass fibre tape on both sides of the joins, there is no need to worry about strength.
Ash gunwale strips. Ash is supremely flexible and is ideal for gunwales. You can use other timbers, but will need to steam them before bending to shape, while ash will bend into shape readily. We cut our own gunwales, they measure 6000mm long, by 18mm x 18mm cross section. You can't buy this size easily ( or at all). But you can scarf join 2 shorter lengths together successfully.
Seats ( thwarts) and mid-yoke can be of a range of timbers, or made of an ash frame with a woven seat.
PU glue or waterproof PVA glue. Other glues are available, some will cope with the aquatic environment better than others
You will need lots of sundry bits and pieces:
Resin brushes, pots, acetone for clean-up
Sanding blocks, sanding discs, sanding belts of various grits
A large flat workbench, at least 8 feet long, and maybe 900mm wide ( what, mixed measurements??? Yes, I am English!Japanese pullsaws ( because English panel saws just won't do it) or a plunge saw
A drill driver, driver bits, drill bits,
Plane or Planer
Sander or lots of sand paper
Somewhere dry, and preferably warm, where the canoe can be built, and equally importantly, stored when not in use. There is a canoe here in my workshop which was built locally ( not by me) in 1973. It is still looking good. It is dry stored.
We highly recommend www.Jemwatercraft.com of America. Matt, who I have always dealt with at Jem, has been a superb help, and his wide range of plans are available for mail order, including some which are full sized templates.Our Lakota is based on Matt's Iroquois, and the photos on Jemwatercraft's website of the Iroquois are of canoes which were built here at Birchcanoes.
Other plans are available. Our first canoe was a Selway Fisher Beaver. www.Selway-Fisher.com Their plans are lovely, although significantly dated, as are their instructions. Another thing to notice is that their plans are only part-sized, and need to be lofted. This is like plotting a huge graph on your expensive plywood, something you may be unsure about.
It is possible to develop your own plan. However don't make the most common mistake, which is to assume you can make a tiny canoe and still paddle it yourself. Lots of people make this mistake, because canoes look huge on the workbench, and much smaller when you are in them. Be warned. I know you will ignore this advice; people have been ignoring this advice from me for decades, and learning the hard way, and you will no doubt do the same. Don't say I didn't warn you!
As emphasized above, we do NOT sell kits or materials for canoe building. However, Fyne Boats do sell kits. Their kits are available from www.fyneboatkits.co.uk . This might be your best option if you are determined to build your own canoe, and prefer not to attend a course. They also offer canoe building tuition. Note that at Fyne, tuition and kit are both required to be purchased if you build your boat with them, and you will be provided with all the pieces cut out ready for assembly. Important to differentiate this from Birchcanoes, where we make you cut out your own panels, seats etc ( with our help as required)
Spring and Summer 2022 Canoe building
We are very flexible regarding dates for canoe building, paddle making and other events, but the following dates are currently available ( as of 18 Dec 2022--- please check with me to ensure your chosen date is still available before making arrangements.
Monday 18 April to Saturday 23 April 2022
Monday 2 May to Saturday 7 May 2022
Saturday 14 May to Saturday 20 May 2022
Tuesday 21 June to Saturday 25 June 2022
Tuesday 5 July to Saturday 9 July 2022
Monday 11 July to Saturday 16 July 2022
Monday 18 July to Thursday 21 July 2022
Please note, you can opt for a 3 day or a 6 day option within these dates, to start on a date of your choice. In some case, arrival earlier than the first date shown might be possible, do let us know what you would preferText me on 07922 164061 or email me at email@example.com