Small Boat Building Methods

On this page I present you with a brief overview of a few typical contemporary small boat building methods.

Which Method is Best?

Each of these methods will result in a beautiful, fine wood water craft. It would be wrong to imply that any one method is any more superior to another. Each has its merits and ideally will be appreciated for those qualities.

Learning More

You may click on the picture within each category below to follow a link which will explain the method in more depth.

Wood Canoe and Kayak Plans

Stitch and Glue

Stitch and Glue is a composite boat building method using premeasured planks cut from marine plywood stitched and glued together lengthwise with wire. Seams and holes are filled, final shaping takes place before fiber glassing and the hull is trimmed and finished in the traditional manner.

Stitch and glue does not require an intermediate form set up like that necessary for either wood strip or glued lap construction.

Wood Strip

Wood strip construction consists of uniformly dimensioned wood strips which are glued edge to edge lengthwise with ordinary wood glue initially.

Typically a hull shaped form is first mounted on a strong back. The form is created by using a cross section shape of the hull at uniform stations, typically every foot.

The strong back is a stable platform on which forms are mounted. The forms provide a surface defining the exterior of the hull.

I don't have any personal tips or experience with strip building a canoe. I have built a strong back and stations for a glued lap strake canoe.

Wood Canoe and Kayak Plans

Glued Lap Strake

Glued Lap, like wood strip, requires setting up hull forms along stations mounted on a strong back.

Measurements for planks are taken off the forms and spiled on to marine plywood which are glued together and "lapped" on edge. Hull strength comes from the over lapping glued edges

Skin on Frame

The technique that first motivated me to build my own boat. However I have yet to create one. This groovy canoe is built by Urban Boat Builders in Saint Paul, MN where I volunteered for a brief time back in the day.

I hope to build a comparable canoe as well as a baidarka with skin on frame. The hold back has been concerns about fabric selection, treatment or finishing as well as storage and durability.

Wood Canoe and Kayak Plans

Traditional (Planks and Frames)

This category consists of the methods boat builders used before epoxy and composite methods existed. Most frequently this would include planks with frames, lap strake and caravel construction and even birch bark. Skin on frame would fit here, however its resurgence in popularity with synthetic skins it deserves a distinct category.

Finishing Your Boat

Adding gunwales, decks and seats.