Deciding on Canoe plans.

Canoes, Kayaks, Pedal power

Moderator: BruceDow

Post Reply
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:02 pm

Deciding on Canoe plans.

Post by Roger9 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:33 pm

Hello all.
After years of wanting to build a boat, I decided its time to get started! I am trying to decide on which canoe plans would be best for an amateur like me. I am looking into the Huron or Rob Roy. I want something that will be in my capability and budget while still producing a sturdy well built canoe that can with stand a low water river float. I simply looking for guidance from people who have built either of these canoes. Does the Rob Roy hold up in tough water or would it be best to go with the Huron? What was the approximate build time and cost? Also is it more cost effective to purchase the fastening kit and fiberglass kit or buy it locally? And any additional photos that you might have of either canoe would be great; Possibly some more photos will help me decide. Thanks everyone, any knowledge is greatly appreciated.

Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:59 am

Re: Deciding on Canoe plans.

Post by timbeiss » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:16 am

Good thinking getting started! I am building a cedar strip canoe, and it looks like you are looking into stitch-and-glue boats, but I wrote all of the following before I realized that so I'm going to post it anyway and hopefully it will help you. Also, the cedar-strip method has been surprisingly simple, so if you are considering it I say do it that way!

I was going to wait until retirement or so to build one, but that's many decades away and I got impatient, so I made the plunge starting last summer. I can't speak too much to specific designs, because I'm not an expert canoer and I haven't even finished my build, but I can say that I love the look of my Wabnaki by Gil Gilpatrick, and the plans are included at no extra charge in his book, "Building a strip canoe". Also, Gilpatrick's book has had wonderfully simple instructions and has been very pleasant to use as my primary guidebook. Gilpatrick's methods are durable, as proven by him using them for many decades as a guide in Maine on trips that included rapids!

When I looked into kits I realized that without a doubt they are significantly more expensive than doing everything from scratch. This is especially true with respect to milling strips, but then again that was my LEAST favorite part of the build and probably the part that I did the worst job of--my shop equipment is minimal. However it was still quite doable with just a table saw and table router, so if you have those you can do it too! As an added bonus, if you don't use a kit you can brag that you've done absolutely everything from scratch. It's like baking--everybody prefers homemade brownies over the kind from a box, even if they don't taste that much better. If you want to pay more and have something perfect, you can just buy a strip boat... but that isn't what you want to do at all, is it!?

My build time looks like it will be just under a year, but that includes about six months of doing nothing while I procrastinated on milling the strips. Actual working time has been surprisingly quick. I think my total cost will end up between 700 and 1000 USD. That includes a few tools, but I don't know how it could be done for too much less. Minimums seem to be around 75 for strongback wood, 150 for strip wood, 100 for trim wood, 300 for fiberglass and epoxy, and a couple hundred more for things like brushes, sandpaper, screws, polyurethane, and whatever miscellaneous tools you don't have (e.g. I bought used router table for $50 and a Shinto rasp for $30, etc), and these little things do add up quickly.

I have a bunch of photos. I've been updating this website regularly:

Yesterday I fiberglassed the outside of the boat. It was the scariest experience ever, because it is time sensitive and a screw up could destroy the project... but it went well! One tip: try to make sure your strips join tightly during layup... otherwise you'll get glue lines that are impossible to sand out and do show up after glassing... I learned this lesson the hard way!

User avatar
Gayle Brantuk
Posts: 1765
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:02 pm
Location: San Clemente, CA

Re: Deciding on Canoe plans.

Post by Gayle Brantuk » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:21 pm


Glad to hear you're considering building a Glen-L design! The Rob Roy will be more tender than the Huron. These designs are built very differently from each other. The Rob Roy is stitch & glue and the Huron is not--it's designed for conventional plywood construction. Either is certainly suited to a beginning builder. S&G is easier but also more costly because it requires more epoxy. Cost and time to build are difficult to answer--if anyone has input, please add it. Cost will vary depending on materials in your area. There's a bill of materials for each design on our website so you can actually cost out the build based on costs in your location. Time to build is the toughest to answer, IMHO. I spoke to a man today who built our Poweryak in 5 weeks. That's a S&G design and possibly a little more time consuming as it's bigger and has a motor.

Not sure how our prices compare to those in your area but the quantities in the fiberglass kit are listed so you can compare and the fastenings are noted on the bill of materials. I hope this helps!

Post Reply

Return to “Human Power”