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My Cedar Strip Canoe

White Pond Panarama

White Pond, Putnam County, NY

Many years ago I lived across the street from the Wappingers Lake on which I had the ugliest water logged rowboat in existance. The boat would take on 6 or 7 inches of water every 15 minutes. I carried a 5 gallon bucket for bailing to keep afloat. Although it was unsafe and very difficult to row I spent many happy days in that boat fishing and just rowing around. Since the water sloshed considerably I had to make sure everyone who got in the boat (yes, there were some brave souls) sat in the middle to balance it properly. At the time my favorite expression was 'Shut up and sit in the middle'. After the boat finally met it's maker (someone pounded a pipe through the floor) I gave up boating.

Then in 2003 my wife and I spent a weekend at Lake George where we had access to an aluminum canoe and a rowboat. After using these for a couple days I started to think about getting my own canoe. I began researching on the internet and fell in love with cedar strip canoes. Of coarse there was no way I was going to pay $4000 for a canoe. I learned that building one was not too difficult and a lot cheaper. I bought 2 books on cedar strip construction, "Canoecraft" by Ted Moores and "Building A Strip Canoe" by Gil Gilpatrick. After reading both books it seemed to me that Ted Moores was building a piece of art while Gil Gilpatrick was building a work horse. In many respects each author contradicts the other which told me there is really no right way or wrong way as long as the thing floats when its done.

Ted had a number of designes in his book and I decided to build the Hiawatha. First order of business is to decipher the Table of Offsets. There is virtually no information on what these numbers mean on the internet. But with persistance I eventually plotted something that looked reasonable. Unfortunatly, at about this same time I also started reading articles about canoe and hull design. Consequently, I started to modify my plots. A little tweak here and another there and so on and so forth and I do not think it is the Hiawatha anymore.

Finally in May of 2005 I started to build my canoe. I did not follow either Ted or Gil's technique explicitly but more or less picked what I liked from both and merged them together. I probably leaned more toward Gil's construction method because it seemed stronger and able to take more abuse. I especially liked his idea of multiple coats of fiberglass on the bottom and on the bow and stern. I will not go into the complete construction detail because there are many books and sites which already do this. After 2 months of work the end result turned out quite well and I get compliments from everyone on it.

There is one very important thing you must realize if you are going to build a cedar strip canoe. When you are finished it is going to look absolutely beautiful. It's going to be shinny and not a flaw in it. If you want it to stay that way go hang it on the wall right a way and never use it. If you do use it it's going to get scratched and dirty and show wear. Also remember you built it and every couple of years you can refinish it and bring it back to it's original glory.

As you will notice in the pictures below I first made the seats using green plastic lacing. This looked good but did not work out very well as the material sagged quite a bit when you sat on it. It would shrink back up when not in use. After a while I decided the plastic had to go even though I put days into the weaving. I found a roll of masons twine at Lowes and it worked great. This is the orange seat and it looks good with the wood. Note: use super glue on all the knots. It melts the twine and prevents them from unraveling.

Below are some construction pictures. Move your mouse over the small images to see a larger version.

Raw Lumber Set Up The Forms Initial Plastic Seat Seat
Add Bead & Cove Add Strips Finished Canoe Little Falls
Almost Done Cut Curve Cindi White Pond
Fiberglassing Inside Ready Varnish Wood Seat
Add Trim Lets Go Canoeing White Pond Finished Canoe
Raw Lumber

raw lumber forms green seat seat bead & cove start stripping finished Little Falls More Strips Get Curve Cindi Fall Fiberglass Inside Refinishing Wood Seats Add Trim Lets Go White Pond Original Seats