Building a plywood canoe is child's play

And so it came about that two little girls, Hanne & Leen, showed up at our shop one fine day and told us they wanted to build a plywood canoe. They gathered that building a plywood canoe was the ideal method for novice builders such as them. And rightly so because not only is it relatively easy and straightforward, it’s also a speedy process. And that helps when you’re a 10 year old girl.

In a nutshell, building a plywood canoe in 4 steps

  1. First of all, the plywood panels of the canoe are measured and cut according to our plans. Then small holes are made around the edges of the pieces.
  2. Secondly the canoe is temporarily stitched together using tie wraps. It’s very much like putting a puzzle together or sewing clothing.
  3. Thirdly, thickened Epoxy and fiberglass cloth are used to strongly glue and reinforce the boat joints.
  4. Once the hull is made and rigid the canoe can be finished. This includes gunwales, seats, yoke, decks, etc…

Building a plywood canoe with Hanne & Leen

But back to Leen and Hanne, our youngest builders ever. For four months they courageously drove down every Sunday morning with their dad, Tom, to build their canoe. Admitted, they had some low points but that was more due to the freezing temperatures in our shop then to their stamina. They literally build the canoe by themselves only depending on their dad when muscle power was needed.

Building a plywood canoe with these two wonderful girls has been a feast from start to finish! Thank you girls and our congratulations for the wonderful build! 

The stitch and glue method

The stitch and glue method can be used to make boats small or large. From small dinghies, kayaks and canoes to fishing skiffs, or large and elaborate boats. Because of its simplicity even relatively unskilled beginners without knowledge of boat building can make good strong beautiful boats without a large number of tools or highly developed woodworking skills.

Many designers are offering plans for stitch and glue plywood boats. We have a plywood canoe plan available in our web shop. A large number of plans is available online. Some plans are free. Designers will have wooden boat plans for beginners and less experienced builders, and will clearly indicate this.

Another advantage of the stitch and glue method is that it allows plywood, which is relatively easy to come by, to be substituted for high quality lumber which we use for wood strip construction. It is much more expensive and harder to obtain. Plywood is graded. We always use first grade or marine grades of plywood because they are uniform in quality and resistant to potential water damage.

Besides being an easy method of boatbuilding and allowing boatbuilders to use more commonly obtainable materials, building a plywood canoe offers another significant benefit to builders. Because less structure is required during the build you don’t need a form or stations and a big strongback used to build the canoe on. Two simple trestles is all you need.

Freeranger Canoe Building a plywood canoe

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