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How To Build a Canoe

Native Americans constructed canoes out of birch bark. Although birch bark is scarce these days, you can easily build one out of plywood.


  • TIP: Attach closed cell foam floating pool noodles to the sides of the canoe as gunwales.
  • Step 1: Varnish the canoe.
  • FACT: Each year, the American Society of Civil Engineers sponsors a contest to see which engineering school can build the best canoe out of concrete.
  • Step 2: Seal the inside seams using polyester resin and 2-inch fiberglass tape. When the resin is dry, cut off the cable ties and smooth the outside. Then seal the outside seams.
  • Step 3: Drill small stitching holes along the bottom edge of the canoe every foot or so, and then fasten the bottom to the sides with cable ties, pulling the ties to the outside of the boat.
  • Step 4: Cut two planks of plywood, 10 inches wide by 8 feet long, from one of the plywood sheets. Place the two pieces on top of each other and drill four stitching holes at both ends. Fasten the two pieces of wood together with plastic cable ties. These planks will form the sides of the canoe.
  • Step 5: Place the two joined sides of the canoe on the third flat piece of plywood and wedge the sides open to the width desired for the canoe.
  • Step 6: Draw the shape of the canoe on the second sheet of plywood and cut that piece out. This will be the bottom of the canoe.
  • : Work in a well ventilated work area when applying resin.

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