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Thread: Stitch and tape plywood canoes

  1. #1

    Question Stitch and tape plywood canoes

    Has anyone here ever had a go at making their own canoe? I had a book out of the library on how to build a stitch and tape plywood canoe a few years ago, but never got round to building one. Now the nights are getting a bit lighter I thought this might be a worthwhile project, although since my canoeing experience is only a tiny bit more than zero I'd like to know what those with a bit more experience think. Are the boats any good? Or are they just a bit numb and heavy? Actually numb and heavy isn't such a problem as that would suit me pretty well.
    I'm on a fairly tight budget with regard to the whole canoeing project and a home made one would be a nice idea, but would I be better off buying a second hand Coleman or something in the long term?
    Also are there any other methods for the home builder (don't start with the birch bark, ) but people must have been building canoes themselves before the invention of fibreglass.
    Any and all advice greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Hi

    I have built 3 'stitch and tape' canoes using plans from Selway Fisher.

    http://www.selway-fisher.com/

    You can with patience build a very pleasing canoe and they are not at all numb and heavy; one, 'Pete' was a very fast canoe and ideal for lakes and touring rivers. Cost wise I would say £200-250 for plans, materials and trimmings. Wood is however harder to care for and really you will need somewhere fairly dry and sheltered to keep the boat or it will crack and split. I have a plastic boat now but often think about building another wooden one. Indeed it was a wooden homemade canoe that introduced me to canoeing!! Alas the wooden boats are gone now...

    Have a go, you wont regret it.

    Nige

  3. #3

    Default

    cast about a little on the forum and you'll find quite a bit on the subject.
    Obscured by Clouds

    Clipper Prospector 16

    http://lostcoast.blogspot.com

  4. #4
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    Ive not built one myself but the selway fisher boats look nice, particularly the prospector and peterborough. I'm led to believe they are pretty light and responsive. I would be concerned about durability and resilience but then I hit a lot of rocks.

  5. #5
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    Default stitch and tape

    I want to build either a 13' or 15' canoe for solo paddling up to grade 3 water. I am happy that a plywood and epoxy boat will be strong enough for this sort of water but I would be interested to know if anyone has built a boat from any of the Selway fisher designs and how they perform. Clearly some of the designs are not aimed at this sort of paddling but others may be. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thanks

  6. #6
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    Default Plans

    I have some Allan Bridges templates for a 13ft Rainbow that I built some years ago. If anyone wants them they are free but for the cost of the postage. It was interesting to build and I paddled it quite a bit but I think in the end all I proved was that I am no woodworker!

    The paper templates are very simple to use and the design is excellent with, I think, 4 planks per side. Don't think I've got any photos unfortunately.

    Anyway PM me if you want them.

    Chris
    "All right" said Eeyore "We're going. Only don't blame me"

    www.canoepaddler.me.uk

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Randall
    I have some Allan Bridges templates for a 13ft Rainbow that I built some years ago. If anyone wants them they are free but for the cost of the postage. It was interesting to build and I paddled it quite a bit but I think in the end all I proved was that I am no woodworker!

    The paper templates are very simple to use and the design is excellent with, I think, 4 planks per side. Don't think I've got any photos unfortunately.

    Anyway PM me if you want them.

    Chris
    Me Please

    MickT
    It'll be right, trust me, I'm a Yorkshireman.



    ::>>> I'd rather be lucky, than good.

  8. #8

    Default

    Well, I've decided to have a go at building one, as it seems to have more pro's than cons, i.e. environmentally friendlier than synthetic, I'll learn something, it will keep me occupied, it'll be cheaper and I'll have the pleasure of having made my own boat. The main con seems to be storing it as it'll have to live under a tarp in the garden, but if I built it I should be able to maintain and fix it. I've re-ordered the book at the library, so the project is on hold till it comes in, but I'll post the progress if and when I make some.

  9. #9
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    I want to build either a 13' or 15' canoe for solo paddling up to grade 3 water.
    hang on a sec.
    I always thought home made plywood boats were only fit for flat water. Are they really strong enough to paddle white water?

    Don't they have a certain shape, too pointy at the ends and almost no rocker? Or is that because the ones I have seen are designed for flat paddling.

    Could you design one to have a hull shape like an ocoee or a prelude? Lots of rocker and more volume in the ends.
    Rogue

  10. #10
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    post 17 on tis link http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...read.php?t=476

    picture of boat on bif water

    keyboard nick nacked.

    PB

  11. #11
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    I have taken an Selway Fisher Prospector down grade 2+ rapids with out any difficulties. Wood, well ply is quite a strong material. The prospector I made had loads of rocker and could turn and back paddle effortlessly. I have for the last few months (too many months) been working on my website, because of the intrest on this site I started to put some bits on about stitch and tape canoes. Will add some sketch drawings as well over the weekend and add a few more pictures. I have made 4 canoes and quite willing pass on my experiences of building. I am going to make another Pete later in summer for flat water work.

    http://www.nigelparrish.co.uk/tips-a...your-own-1.htm

    Site still being worked so quite a bit missing yet, sorry. All, links should work OK.

    Nigel

  12. #12

    Default

    wood is a wonderful material, good in compression and tension, excellent for penetrative impacts easy to repair and source...........

    once you start engineering in wood [ie ply] you can selectively apply different panels in various areas for the properties needed. add in epoxy with it's superior modulus of elasticity and you get something that really is 21st C.

    Think about it.... a lighweight canoe coming down some rapids is'nt vastly different to a lightweight high speed catamaran beating to windward at 20knots into a heavy sea.

    As for longevity, I built a cabin on my Soling from ex grade ply, cedar strip glass and epoxy 10 yeras ago and I have'nt needed to do anything to it yet.

    If you go stitch and glue, I'd be inclined to use epoxy, fillet [not tape the inside joints, glass the outside entirely [fun that!] adding impact patches where you see fit [stem, stern, keel band]. I'd probably either glass the inside or tape stress points and the coat everything in the right epoxy varnish. Then paint or varnish the whole thing inside and out to protect the epoxy. It will last for years in the open...... just think of all those yachts sitting out there in very corrosive conditions [there really is'nt anything worse than seawater to reduce things to their component parts]

    Dont forget that WEST [epoxies] stands for Wood Epoxy Saturation Technique which says it all really. If anyone wants a look I have the manuals here.

    Whilst I might baulk at running G3 with my beautiful wooden canoe, I have no doubts it could deal with them. In any case........ I have no intention ever of doing such a thing..... is'nt that what lining and portaging is for?
    Obscured by Clouds

    Clipper Prospector 16

    http://lostcoast.blogspot.com

  13. #13

    Default

    Yup they are great boats to paddle and build. A friend and I spent the evenings of a couple of months building "Midnight" (as this is when most of the work seemed to get done !) - a Selway Fisher prospector.
    The results are very pleasing, and she turns heads where ever we paddle her. It gives imense satisfaction to "paddle your own canoe". But great constination when your mate reverses his landrover into a tree and holes her. Still easily fixed in fact - thats the beauty of wood.
    She is a very lightweight craft, we used 4mm marine ply, but then had to reinforce the bottom with stips of D section ply (like ribs). I have yet to paddle a lighter boat (any offers ?? a nice kevlar boat perhaps )
    If i built one again I'd certainly do so in the summer this time. Neither I nor epoxy like the cold, and I'd paint it rather than varnish it - which would save a few days work !
    There are a couple of pics on this thread...
    http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...read.php?t=495

    cheers
    Rich

  14. #14
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    Default

    So, what are you using it for? You say your experience is limited. Will it be primarily flat-water then? Solo?

    I ask because I frequently paddle a local river here in Canada, the Nottawasaga, and the rapids in it are just boulder-gardens with no real channels. After about the 3rd time I damaged my good stripper (Prospector, from "Canoecraft", by Ted Moores) I decided to build a sacrificial canoe. To that end I designed and built a boat that was the length of 2 plywood sheets joined (15' 6"), and has a flat bottom rockered enough to have the ends just touching the water with a 230 lb payload.

    So, it's a very simple boat, 3 pieces, which you can build in 2 weekends out of lumber-yard materials. Mine weighs 64 lbs. I used chine-logs, not stitch-and-glue, because it's easier.

    It turned out to be much better than I thought. I didn't finish it fancy at all. Didn't epoxy anything except the outside chines. And in use, it's delightful. I wiggle through all the little rapids with no problem. It draws very little water. And with a portable seat inside, you can move around easily (flat, though rockered bottom) to trim the boat.

    Anyway, I use it all the time now for these river-running day-trips, and it hasn't been sacrificial at all. If you're interested, I can try to dig up a picture.

    Dave

  15. #15
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    Default Stitch And Tape Canoes

    So what do people think of this idea - build a solo canoe using stitch and tape construction. Instead of putting airbags in build in bouyancy chambers front and rear so that you end up with flush decks front and rear and just a space to kneel in the middle, probably with a saddle fitted. Obviously I am thinking of a boat purely for white water here, a C1 more than anything (which my son is desperate to have).

    Apart from the fact that it might look a bit odd, would this work? I'm just curious as to the effect that much bouyancy would have on the handling of the canoe. Can a canoe be TOO bouyant?

    Any thoughts?

  16. #16

    Default

    Dave - unfortunately just flat water with this boat, the odd weir if its deep enough. As you did, I'd build another sacraficial one and see what it can take. These plywood boats aren't as strong as a cedar strip by a long strtch IMO.
    Viking - I think you might be onto something there. My only concerns - 1 you won't be able to trim the boat at all for paddling in windy conditions. And 2 - the tanks WILL leak.
    So - a cunnning plan - fill the tanks with expanding foam. This will not only stop the leaks, but increase the structural integrity of the whole craft. Dare i say it - it would be pretty bomb proof ! (Titanic springs to mind for some strange reason.... )
    Cheers
    Rich

  17. #17
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    To Roving Rich, you are of course right about the bouyancy tanks - they would leak and expanding foam is probably the answer.

    I'm not too worried about the trim issue, this canoe would be for easy-ish white water use only - such as at Slenningford Mill. I've two "proper" open canoes a 17'6" Trapper which is superb in open water, tracks really well, and a 15' Pyrhana Traveller, either of which I would use on any open water whether or not it was windy in preference to the one I will build.

    Although the Pyrhana performs quite well on white water, sometimes 15' is just too long to fit through a gap.

  18. #18

    Default

    found this link - useful for any budding self builders

    http://www.bearmountainboats.com/

  19. #19

    Default Selway Fisher Designs

    Hi

    Just having a quick lunchtime browse through the forum. Stich and tape boats can be a real success and are capable of handling moving water as long as there aren't lots of rocks, if you've built it you also know how to fix it. A L4 open boat coach I know paddles a plywood boat and is fond of saying you can't buy fast boats you have to build them!

    My girlfriend just finished her Selway Fisher Peterborough last week and first paddled it on a three day trip down the River Barrow (Ireland's second longest river, grade IIB) last weekend. There was also a SF Prospector (quite big volume good tandem boat) and a waterman (bit too big) in the group. Can someone tell me how to attach a JPG image and I'll post some pics?

    She is 5ft and paddled her Peterborough solo with camping gear and food, I'm 5' 11 and she was at least as fast as me in my royalex Mad River Horizon 15 - although I ran all the weirs and she lined lots of them. First impressions are that it is a great, fast boat!!!

    Her bouyancy is roof insulation polystyrene slabs cut to size and covered with PVC (will eventually be nylon) to form really good and very cheap solid bouyancy.

    Its a very rewarding project but a lot of work, far more than the two weekends claimed by SF for a first boat, having friends help is a big advantage as is adequate space to work in as the boat takes up most average garages and doesn't leave much extra room.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Graeme

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graeme
    Can someone tell me how to attach a JPG image and I'll post some pics?
    http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...87&postcount=2
    John

    Now doing for dog owners what I inflicted on canoeists
    www.DogWalkBloggs.com

  21. #21
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    Graeme's photos







    John

    Now doing for dog owners what I inflicted on canoeists
    www.DogWalkBloggs.com

  22. #22

    Default Thanks

    Thanks to John for sorting out my pics for me.

    Just wanted to acknowledge that the picture of me in the big green boat going down the weir was taken by Gartine the guru of the paddle making masterclass elsewhere on the forum. Not to be reused without permission.

    Graeme

  23. #23

    Default

    There is a nice thread within the forum here showing some of the methods as Voyager builds his canoe.

    Building a plywood stitch and glue canoe



    Best wishes
    Michael

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