What is involved with the canoe building?

First Day

The first stage in the process is to cut out the marine ply panels, and sew these together using cable ties as seen here. This is a fun stage, and you quickly see your canoe coming together. Children often opt to be involved at this stage. Not all children  decide to be with us for the slower paced sections of the build.

Second Day

The second day is mainly taken up with cutting, planing, sanding and fitting the seats ( the Thwarts). At the end of the second day we aim to apply the first coat of resin, to the inside of your canoe, along with glassfibre tape ro reinforce the seams. 

Third Day

 Most of the third day is taken up with preparing the outside of your canoe for the resin and tape. This involves a lot of patient planing and sanding, The whole boat gets two coats of resin inside and out, and all the seams are reinforced with glassfibre tape on the outside too. If the weather is nice, we like to apply the resin outdoors, as seen here.

Other points

Who can help?

Some people arrive with three generations of the family, and at some points everyone gets involved. At other times it might be just one of you.  We generally say bring the family or a small group of friends, but you will be fine building your canoe on your own. We will give you as much ( or as little) help as you feel you need.


You will complete your canoe in about 21-24 actual hours of work. This typically spans three days, but we try to assure all our guests that you must set your own pace, and not feel rushed at any point.   We offer the 3 day course for people who believe me that it will take 3 days, and the 6 day holiday for those who feel it would be impossible to complete a canoe in 3 days. In both cases, the canoes tend to be completed in 3 days! However, families may prefer the 6 day option so they can take the children out occasionally

Ideas and Suggestions

One very important thing to say is that we are always very keen to hear your ideas and suggestions.This could b about the canoe building process, the accommodation, or any other relevant topic.I will do my best to act on any suggestion, and you will see lots of examples of good ideas from past canoe builders and guests.  Similarly, if during your canoe building you have a comment to make, please don't leave it unsaid. We really want all our guests to enjoy their time here, and would encourage you to say something if you are concerned, or maybe if you just want to know why we do things in a particular way. Sometimes, there will be a good reason,and other times there will be an opportunity for us to learn something new.

Towards the end of the first day

The Ash gunwale strips are glued and screwed in place towards the end of the first day. 

By the end of the second day 

We cut plane sand glue and screw the seats on the second day, and by the end of the day the first coat of resin is applied to the inside of the canoe. Tomorrow we will plane the outside and apply tape and resin.

Glorious okoume

The resin stage brings out the glorious colour of the marine  ply. Nice warm weather is a bonus at this stage. In colder weather we use heat to speed up the process of curing the resin

The third day

Most of the morning of the third day is spent getting the outside seams of the canoe planed and sanded ready for the application of resin and tape to the outside of the boat.
The afternoon is spent applying the 2 coats of resin, ready for launch. 

A canoe in just 2 days ?

People sometimes need to build their canoe in just 2 days. I am considering offering this option. If you are interested, let me know.The idea is that we would prepare and cut out all the timber pieces ready for you to assemble under our guidance. There would be some limited opportunity for you to work on the finish of each of these pieces as you assemble your canoe, within the time constraints of a 2 day build.
In the standard 3 day build, you have to cut all the pieces for yourself, involving a significant amount of sawing, some of which is quite demanding in terms of accuracy. This is part and parcel of the Birchcanoes experience, and none of our clients to date have ever asked us if we could cut their panels and thwarts ( seats) for them.
However, other people considering building a canoe with us might be daunted by the prospect of all that sawing and precision work, and might be happy to be provided with all the pieces, ready cut out for them.
In a 2 day canoe build, you would start by trying one of our canoes on the river ( essential before any build), then you would assemble the panels, fit the gunwales, thwarts and deck pieces, before applying resin and tape to the inside of the canoe. 
On the 2nd day, you would plane the outside ready for applying resin and tape to the outside. Both inside and outside gets a further coat of resin. You would conclude the 2nd day by a ceremonial launch of your canoe prior to proudly driving off with your canoe on your car roof.
IF you are interested in this option, let us know. We are considering offering this option at current prices. We don't want to charge more for preparing the pieces, or less for offering a shorter course, but simply charge the same as a 3 day course. 
Since this is a new offer, it comes with a guarantee that you would complete your canoe in the 2 days. In order to deliver on this guarantee, we would assist you at each stage ( if you want us to).