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Building a Canoe Strongback

Building a Canoe Strongback is one of the first steps in cedar strip canoe building.

Canoe building is a craft that a lot of paddlers and woodworkers dream of trying one day. I was one of those people. Nearly two decades ago I picked up a copy of Wooden Boat magazine and saw pictures of canoes and other small boats that home-builders had built on their own.

I had always enjoyed spending time outdoors and especially enjoyed canoeing. So those pictures inspired me to one day build my own.

building a canoe strongback

There are a variety of different building methods, including cedar-strip, and skin-on-frame. Both of which will require a building a canoe strongback and station forms. The forms are different for the these two types of canoe building, but the principles are the same.

The following videos are what we consider “Archive Footage” around here. Back in 2010, I made a few Youtube videos about canoe building, these were the first videos I had made and a lot has changed since then (look how young I look). Nowadays I have a new shop, a new camera, audio equipment, lighting… The remarkable thing about these early videos is that as embarrassing as they are to watch, they are what got me started producing film.

Canoe Building: Cutting the Station Forms

Whether you’re lofting the station forms from a table of offsets or using a set of full-sized plans, one of the first steps is to cut the station forms.

The easiest way to cut the forms is by using a Jig Saw. Due to the size of the forms, most home shops don’t have a bandsaw that’s large enough to accommodate the size of the forms.

Building a Canoe Strongback, Part One

The “strongback” is the name for the building platform or frame that you’ll be attaching your station forms to.

I’ve seen different types of strongbacks, but the main idea in each is that you want it to be strong (hence the name) and stable enough not to shift around while you build your boat. Another consideration is to plan your strongback so that once you have attached your forms, you’re able to reach across and work easily.

Building a Canoe Strongback, Part Two

In part two of Building a Canoe Strongback we assemble the strongback to prepare to build our canoe.

Canoe Building: Setting Up the Strongback and Station Forms