First time builder

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Joined: Wed May 06, 2015 8:50 am
Location: Lakewood, Colorado

First time builder

Post by mtnbikur » Tue May 12, 2015 1:35 pm

I've been doing a ton of reading and researching and I've got a plan in place. I feel like any wooden canoe is going to be a beautiful creation if I take my time and read/heed the tips/tricks/suggestions etc in this forum. I purchased two cedar beams from a "resource" center(reused materials etc). Score! :applause They were painted but smelled like cedar on the clear areas. They're 19' long and have some knots in them. But after trimming one small area with a chain saw just to get thru the paint, they're not cedar. :mad Douglas fir I think. Am I off to a horrible start right off the bat? The reuse center won't take them back and craigslister's are not knocking my door down.

I have the plans already for a 17'6" redbird. I've seen pictures of canoes made with pine and they're beautiful as well. With some cedar/redwood accent strips, I think it'll look great. The wife says to get what I want, "that's not what you had in mind and this is a lot of work. don't spend all that time and energy on something you might not be happy with."

I'm also concerned with weight, seeing as the redbird is a good sized canoe. I've seen where someone said 3/16 strips of pine would be about the same weight as 1/4 strips of cedar.

Any ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Rude remarks?

Thanks all...

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Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Re: First time builder

Post by Grumple » Tue May 12, 2015 3:02 pm

To be honest I think your wife is right. =)

I'm a newbie too, working through my first canoe. I've invested literally hundreds of hours into my project so far, and in the big picture the cost of the wood is nothing compared to the scale of the project.

Having said that, if you really think you'd be happy with using something else, there are a ton of beautiful canoes out there built with 'non-standard' wood types! Weight is a factor to consider.

As a side note, one thing I learned early on (in case you don't already know this), is to be very aware of the grain direction of your wood! Search flat vs edge/end grain strips and you will see lots of info. People typically use flat grain boards, and mill edge grain canoe strips from them. Some do use the flat sawn strips to awesome effect too, but make sure you know the pro's/cons of each before milling!

Rick in Pender Harbour
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Re: First time builder

Post by Rick in Pender Harbour » Tue May 12, 2015 3:36 pm

I use a lot of fir for trim on rowboats, and it would be my last choice for strips... I find that it doesn't machine well, chips out along the grain and would be much harder to sand.
For gunwales, and keels on the rowboats, I like the nice orange colour it takes on over time, and it is a local wood, one of my goals is to build with local wood.
Best rgds


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Jim Dodd
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Re: First time builder

Post by Jim Dodd » Tue May 12, 2015 6:06 pm

I gotta agree with your wife, and the others !

A canoe can be built with just about anything, but you'll be happiest with Western Red Cedar. Unless you have a lot of big power tools, look for 1X stock. It's the easiest to work with, and can be cut with a simple Skilsaw with at least a 13amp motor. I prefer 1X8s if I can get them. Go for flat grain, or slash cut planks.

Do some searching on this site, there is a lot of good info here !

Welcome aboard !

Keep your paddle wet and your seat dry!

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Re: First time builder

Post by Cruiser » Tue May 12, 2015 7:25 pm

This is your first project, you will be spending a lot of time with it, your wife is totally right ... do whatever you need to do to follow what you want this canoe to be. Whatever you do, keep planning each phase and don't rush ....

As far as wood choices go, depending on your vision, Northern/eastern white cedar and western red cedar are the main 2 I would consider here in Ontario. First 2 canoes for me were WRC and the 3rd will be NWC.

Just make sure to take the time to thoroughly enjoy your build.


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Location: Lakewood, Colorado

Re: First time builder

Post by mtnbikur » Tue May 12, 2015 9:57 pm

Thanks for all the replies. My wife is gloating. She says "get used to it".

alick burt
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Re: First time builder

Post by alick burt » Wed May 13, 2015 4:02 pm

Hi mtnbikur
I wouldn't throw your fir or whatever it is away even if it isn't easy to use for the whole boat perhaps you could get some planks of another timber to go with it and make a hull with stripes.I did this on my first boat which I began with Red Cedar.Part way through I realised I was going to run out so I nipped out and bought some pine.I then used it alternately with the cedar and made a lovely striped bottom on my boat.

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Re: First time builder

Post by hughhallhh56 » Fri May 15, 2015 10:57 pm

Depending on the species of pine it can actually be lighter. See this link ... -d_40.html If find pine to be softer than cedar and the grain is not fantastic.

I am originally from the northwest in western cedar country. Lived in Texas the last 8 years and have come back. I have made 3 strip canoes. The last was 30 years ago, so I am kind of starting over.

For ease, don't go with vertical grain boards. They look lovely, especially when bookmatched and mirrored, but they are a beast to work with. The solo canoe I am currently building is with VG boards. The next will not be, but i'll add some nice accent strips in to make it look good.

I too use fir for the gunnels. It is a softwood that is like a hardwood. Easy for me to get too. Make my thwarts and seats out of it too so you might want to save those boards for these purposes.

It is not about getting it built, it is about building it.

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