Reviews of previous edition:
An excellent definitive book... something you must read if you are going to build a woodstrip canoe. -- Canoeist
If you want to build a strip-plank canoe or kayak, Canoecraft is the book to buy... A very comprehensive boatbuilding book and highly recommended. -- Water Craft
A Woodworking Magazine Top 40 Book
Now revised and expanded with 32 pages of color and an updated resources section, this 70,000-copy international bestseller, known as the 'Bible of canoe building' is back, bigger and better than ever.
Ted Moores is a master builder of woodstrip/epoxy canoes. Over four decades teaching wooden-boat construction, he discovered that the same dream motivates all of his students, no matter their age: to build something beautiful and functional.
Canoecraft is the road map to that dream. Moores offers comprehensive instructions for the first-time builder, and for the second-time builder. He adds a variety of canoe plans, each presented as a traditional table of offsets. There is also a series of builder's tips and techniques, and an entire chapter on carving a paddle, the perfect accompaniment to a handcrafted canoe.
Whether the goal is to build a general-purpose recreational canoe, or an efficient modern tripping canoe, or a full-decked fast-cruising canoe with walnut veneer, Canoecraft is the ideal guide to making it happen successfully.
Ted Moores is a best-selling author. In 1972, Moores pioneered the woodstrip/epoxy boatbuilding system for canoes and, since then, has promoted the fine art of wooden-canoe and kayak construction. He is the author of Kayaks You Can Build.
Introduction to the Second Edition
I saw my first woodstrip canoe in 1971, over 40 years ago. I was working as a freelance commercial artist in downtown Toronto, Ontario, and was looking for a way out of the city and out of the job. Every weekend, I would drive north, up Highway 11, and as I drove through the little village of Trout Creek, I'd see a couple of beautiful wooden canoes stretched out on the lawn of a fellow I eventually came to know, Ross Ellery. Ross had started out building strip-planked/polyester-resin/ fiberglass-reinforced marathon canoes for his own use, and before he knew it, he was in the canoe business.
Being a dreamer, I didn't find it hard to visualize a peaceful life in cottage country, building beautiful boats for people who would line up at the door, with money in hand, begging for one of my swift little craft. It pays to be naive: a person can do a lot when he doesn't know any better.
I began building boats in 1972 in Gravenhurst, Ontario, but after only two years of life at Sundance Canoes, where I discovered the hard reality of operating a labor-intensive craft business on my own, I sold the business to Greavette Boats and escaped even farther from the big city to a hilltop, known as Bear Mountain, on the northern edge of Algonquin Park.
When I sold Sundance, I was already having worries about the instability of the polyester-resin system I was using, but I hadn't lost the boatbuilding dream. Perhaps it was the blood of seafaring ancestors in my veins. It certainly wasn't my upbringing: I was a city boy who had worked every summer since the age of 9, missing out on the usual Canadian boy's introduction to canoes at summer camp.
After learning about the epoxy resins being developed by the Gougeon Brothers and reading in John Wilson's Woodenboat Magazine about the wooden-boat revival in the eastern United States, I decided to give boatbuilding another try. My partner Joan Barrett and I were still looking for a way to earn a satisfying living in the country working for ourselves. We built a stone house with a workshop attached and named the business the Bear Mountain Boat Shop, a name that has stuck through half a dozen moves, first to Bancroft, then south to Peterborough, the heartland of Canada's historic canoebuilders.
I started as a builder of canoes and added boat restoration as I became more and more interested in the history of the craft. Now I spend my time building 30-foot racing canoes, producing plans for amateur builders, preparing books, teaching wooden-boat building and helping out at the Canadian Canoe Museum. Over the years, I have met a lot of amateur builders, both those who have bought Canoecraft and those who have signed up to build a boat with me.
When I think about it, the faces of so many of these people come back to me: the airline pilot who was scheduled for a second triple bypass and wanted to leave something of himself to each of his five daughters; the administrator of a juvenile correctional institution who started building a boat in his office to relieve the stress and, before long, was approached by his rebellious clients, who crowded into his office, asking questions, offering to help; the family that came, three generations at once, to build a boat together. I've taught people as young as 11 and as old as 87, and if I've learned anything, it's that anyone with the proper attention span can do it.
Most of these builders are motivated, at least in part, by a dream. Many have been harboring the urge to build something beautiful for decades, while they raised children and pursued careers, and only now, at retirement age, are they in the position to do something for themselves.
I am always amazed at the number of people who find the decision to build a small boat a pivotal point in their lives. Maybe this is because building a good boat has all the components of a life under control. Working through the building, step-by-step, from thoughtful preparation and careful execution to the reward of a finished boat is a pattern of living that makes sense. Learning to respond to and to work in harmony with materials can tell us something about getting along with ourselves and others. Finding a fair curve requires looking at a line from many different perspectives before making up your mind -- not a bad life lesson either, when you think about it.
Because of the attention to detail I recommend in these pages, a reader might be inclined to take me for a perfectionist. But the truth is that after more than 27 years of building wooden boats, I have yet to build one that wouldn't be different next time. Perfection is a journey. The point for me--and I hope for you--is to take pleasure in where you are today, believing that it will be somewhere else tomorrow.
Looking back over the years, I can see that my initial inexperience has in many ways proved an asset. I started building boats with a technique that was still in the experimental stage. I had no woodworking or boatbuilding experience, which meant that the learning curve was slow and frustratingly steep at times; but the solutions I eventually worked out for myself were ones that produced good results in the shortest time, using common sense and simple tools. Had I been a boatbuilder by trade, or an engineer, the system I developed would not have been as accessible to amateur builders like myself.
The rightness of my approach lies in this book, which has been continuously in print for more than 40 years. It was ahead of its time when I first wrote it with my friend and northern neighbor Merilyn Mohr. When Canoecraft was published in 1983, little information was available on building woodstrip /epoxy canoes. The book quickly became the most used and most respected text on this method of canoe construction, accepted internationally as "the Bible of canoebuilding." It sold more than 100,000 copies in North America and in 1996 was translated into German.
Although it was updated regularly with each reprinting (the first edition went through 10 reprints), I eventually felt the need to update the text with new materials and tools and the techniques that I have learned over the years. I know a lot more about the craft of canoebuilding now than I did in 1983, and after a decade of teaching workshops, I have learned a few things myself.
Casual boatbuilders are better educated and more sophisticated than they used to be. Teaching kayak- and canoebuilding to about 100 students every year has given me a better idea of the skill level of the typical builder. A growing number of potential builders are about 50 years old, with the majority of these being professionals who need to occupy their time as their careers wind down. These people want concise information presented in a language they can understand. Even though their standards are high and they expect a lot of themselves, this is a vulnerable period in their lives. Instructions, I've discovered, must be complete enough that the boat they build will be of professional quality the first time.
In preparing this second edition, I have tried to offer something for the second-time builder too. I have included a larger variety of plans, many of them different from those in the first edition. To avoid confusion, plans are now presented as a traditional table of offsets. I have added a series of builder's tips--tricks of the trade that those familiar with basic woodworking will especially appreciate. I have also included some new techniques--such as building a stapleless boat--and a whole new chapter on carving a paddle, the perfect accompaniment to your handmade canoe. Fans of the original Canoecraft will also notice that the book has been redesigned for easier reading and that the photographs have been reshot and now follow a single boat--a 16-foot Redbird--through every stage of construction.
I started building canoes with the assumption that a person can get professional results if good materials are used and simple steps are performed with care in the proper order. My techniques have evolved, as have the materials, but that basic assumption has always served me well and, as you begin to build your boat from these pages, it will serve you well too.