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Building a canoe without an inner stem

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.

building a canoe

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.