First cedar strip canoe is done – first boat I have built. Plans were from Bear Mountain but I didn’t buy a kit. I made many mistakes along the way but learned a lot about wood, steam bending and application of epoxy and varnish. I’ll only use the best varnish in the future (which I did on this project) – it went on like honey. My biggest fear was the final varnish coat and it came out looking great. This project was my excuse to by some very nice hand tools – mostly from Lee Valley and Japan Woodworker. The hull is Western Red Cedar (wanted Eastern White – weighs less – but it was not available at the time). The stems and gunnels are ash (really steam bent well!). Seats and thwarts were ash, purchased from “Ed’s Canoe” (I wanted to get the thing in the water so I finally decided to get some “off the shelf” help). The fore and aft decks were made from African Mahogany and maple. My 2 biggest mistakes – buying the cedar pre-milled (saved time but what a crappy job they do on a production line) and stopping the epoxy process on the inside of the hull, halfway thru one nite when I just ran out of steam. Plus side on that – I learned how to “repair” a couple of giant bubbles in the ‘glas and epoxy :-).
I’m working on a model of a sailboat now. I’m a big proponent of model-building and/or designing in Skethup prior to building the actual project. Much easier (and cheaper) to make changes. I made a physical model of the canoe and even got comfortable with ‘glas and epoxy application on the model. I’m an architect so boatbuilding is kind of the antithesis of straight lines and dimensions. “Drawing” a boat in any kind of way that is in 3D is difficult (Sketchup doesn’t hack it – at least at my skill level). I learned that I had to “feel” the shape a lot of times and keep working at it until it was right. As one old boatwright told me, “Just cut away everything that doesn’t look like a boat and you’re done – that’s the easiest way”. He was absolutely right!