How to Build a Still-Water Canoe

How to build a still-water canoe. Building an inexpensive wood boat in a weekend, including building information on hulls, construction diagrams and layout guide.

| August/September 1997

Learn how to build a still-water canoe with these detailed step-by-step instructions. (See the canoe building diagrams in the image gallery.)

Ever dream of building a boat? In your own backyard? We thought so. Building a boat is one of the truly great fantasies that most grown boys and girls have indulged in at one time or another. For most of us, it never gets beyond the dream. Or maybe buying a set of plans and being thoroughly intimidated by instructions that begin: inch Using the table of offsets, loft the chine. inch Offsets? Loft? What's a chine?

Some of us have gone the next step when learning how to build a still-water canoe, bought lumber or a kit, and tried to learn to build a boat the same way we taught ourselves to garden and build our own houses — by reading a book or two and then jes' doin' it. But the boat-building dream dies as our initial enthusiasm is slowly drained by frustration. Conventionally designed and built, even a little dingy requires a great deal of time, specialized tools, and specialized wood crafting skills that are impossible to invent as you go.

A landsman's house or furniture building experience is little help beyond providing basic tool skills. A boat contains precious few straight saw cuts. And words like floor, deck and timber, tiller and sheet — the very term house itself, even — have different meanings, shapes, and functions afloat than ashore. And — unlike garden seeds — chine logs, gunwales, and sheer strakes don't come in handy packets with instructions printed on the back. Examine all of the illustrations in the Image Gallery before beginning this project.

Learn about the tools you will use on this project.


For peak efficiency in moving through its dense, fluid medium, a non-planing inch displacement inch (so-called for the amount of water it displaces or moves aside) is molded into a hydrodynamic shape that presents the least wetted surface to the water. So, most boat hulls are shaped like the bottom half of a fish and are curved in every dimension—front to back, side to side and top to bottom—all at the same time.

12/20/2007 2:56:43 PM

We need to find an article on page 64 in aug / Sep 1997 relating to a "Puddle Duck Sail Rig". Thank you

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