Building a Cedar-Strip Canoe: Final Steps

Updated on July 20, 2017
jimmar profile image

Jim is a retired software/electrical engineer who enjoys the outdoors. He likes to challenge himself with creative projects at home.

My Home-Built Cedar-Strip Canoe

This is the last of a series of articles on how I built my second cedar-strip canoe. For an overview, see Building a Cedar-Strip Canoe: The Basics.

Sanding the Hull and Removing Dust

Now that you have a beautiful shiny hull it is time to make it dull by sanding the epoxy so that the varnish you apply will adhere. Epoxy is sensitive to UV light and will degrade over time with exposure.

I first blended (by hand using a coarse grit sand paper) the edges of fiberglass where I double layered sections on and underneath the stems. Then with a random orbital sander I covered the entire hull with 100 grit paper. You can use 80 grit but need to be a little more careful not do “dig” too deep. Once the hull is completely dull, almost white, all the sanding dust should be cleaned. I used a brush, vacuum, a damp rag, and tack cloth. The inside is more difficult as always to sand.

Applying Spar Varnish

The varnish you apply should be a spar (marine) varnish. Marine varnish has qualities of elasticity, UV resistance, and water resistance. It also provide a sort of sacrificial coating to take the small scratches that WILL occur if you actually use your canoe.

I purchased 1 quart of System 3 Marine satin varnish for the outside of the hull. This will take the most abuse and this varnish is supposed to be quite tough, at about $120 per gallon. I applied the varnish using a cheap chip brush to apply and kept going back over to brush out runs, but this leaves visible brush strokes. I used the entire quart which was about 3 coats. The first coat can be thinned a little with mineral spirits, and successive coats were applied prior to 24 hours without sanding in between. Once it dried tack-free, I flipped the hull over and applied 2 coats of Helmsman Spar exterior semi-gloss varnish.

Second Sanding and Varnishing

After that gunnel varnish was hardened I flipped the hull again. I was not happy with the runs on the outside nor the dull satin finish. I once again sanded the hull with 220 grit and the ROS to remove the runs and visible brush strokes. Then I applied about 1-1/2 spray cans of Helmsman Spar Glossy Exterior varnish. I was happy with this finish and glad I decided to sand the runs out.

Bolting on the Seats and Yoke

Next I attached the seats and yoke with the galvanized carriage bolts. I coated the caps of the bolts with a little epoxy which had some graphite power added. This gave a them a shiny black finish. I seated the bolts by applying a dab of Gorilla Glue under each cap. Gorilla Glue will expand as it dries.

The Finished Product

Test Drive

Some of the Mistakes

Wood chip buried in the epoxy
Wood chip buried in the epoxy
Poor stem fit
Poor stem fit
Filler color mismatched
Filler color mismatched
Runs in the varnish
Runs in the varnish
A twisted plank left a gap to fill.
A twisted plank left a gap to fill.
Bow height slightly high
Bow height slightly high
Sloppy inside stem fiberglass and fill
Sloppy inside stem fiberglass and fill

The Last Step

Use the thing!

It's much more beautiful and satisfying when it is on the water, with a few scratches to show you care, than when it is hanging in your garage.

Questions & Answers

  • How have the reduced weight seat frames, mentioned in this article, held up with the laminated maple/cedar?

    So far, so good. I've used the canoe the most and no problem yet. I do wish I had put a bigger radius on the edges. I can start to feel the edge after a week long trip.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Andreas Pedersen (DK) 

      5 years ago

      This guide is awesome

      I barely can imagine how good it must feel after completing such a project. I dream of doing a canoe this way one day!

      Best regards, Andreas from Denmark

    • jimmar profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for reading and yes, it does have a certain charm. Perhaps I would use the word satisfaction or phrase "pride in accomplishment" to describe how I feel using a boat I've constructed by hand.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It hardly matters if it's not perfect, it LOOKS beautiful. I'm sure that if you gave it more time, it would be more perfect (of course there is no such thing as actual perfection), but hardly a better companion (being more precious) than your imperfect jewel. This one you can take wherever you go, not worrying about making a scratch! Making one's own boat has a certain timeless, for want of a better word, charm, does it not?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)