Building a canoe without an inner stem is not the most popular way to build a cedar-strip canoe, but it is definitely an option.
I’ve tried building a canoe with and without the stem and have found both methods to be equally challenging during the building process. The only real benefits I’ve found in building a canoe without the inner stem is the reduced time building and the slightly reduced weight of the finished boat.
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.
Building a canoe without an inner stem
For the first few years, all of the boats I built had an inner stem. Then one day I came across the book by Gil Gilpatrick, titled “Building a Strip Canoe.” In Gilpatricks book, he outlines how to build a woodstrip canoe and his method of construction is without an inner stem.
I was curious to try the method and so decided I was going to try building a canoe without the stem. I had to make some basic modifications to the table of offsets for the stem form to account for the thickness of the missing inner stem. From there I basically stripped the hull the same way I normally would except for where the strips would normally have terminated at the stem I stapled them to the stem form.
I think its important for me to give a friendly warning to would-be builders. Its never a good idea to change a proven design of a boat. If you do decide to modify a design to remove an inner stem, I’d suggest you first speak with the designer of the boat to find out if they believe its safe to do so.
This is a short video that describes how to build a cedar-strip canoe without a stem.