Canoes and Kayaks


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Build this Plywood Kayak (Pub. No. 5477)

by George Emory

You'll like the simple construction of this tough little lightweight. Fun to paddle or sail, it's designed to be steered by a novel kick-up rudder you control with foot pedals.

Unlike most kayaks, this easy-to-build plywood design has a generous beam and a perfectly flat bottom from stem to stern, both of which increase the stability. Even more novel, though, is the way it’s put together. There’s no tricky toolwork involved. The sides and bottom are 1/4-in. plywood with uncomplicated 90° chines and simple fore-and-aft curves. To keep the weight down, 1/4-in, plywood is also used for the frames, making it necessary to add stiffening cleats to the edges to give them more rigidity and provide the required surface area for mounting the planking. From the sheer down, it’s an ultrasimple plywood hull. For the deck, however, you switch to fiberglass, stretching 71/2-oz. glass cloth over the tops of the frames and saturating it with resin, then feathering the joint where the cloth laps the side planking.

6 pages, 2 plate(s)

Build this 14-foot Canoe for Little Money (Pub. No. 5484)

by Roy W. Beeching, Jr.

Of the numerous techniques I know for building a canoe, the one described here is by far the easiest. Two f'rinstances: the canoe has no ribs, and no steam-bending is required. Its principal ingreadient is 1/8-in. marine plywood--two 4x8-ft. panels sawed in half lengthwise. Gunwales, keelson, thwarts and breasthooks are stock lumber (fir or pine.) On completing it you will have a fast, stable, lightweight canoe--perfect for two, perfect for lake or river, and perfect for camping trips.

6 pages, 1 plate(s)

Rob Roy Canoe--How to Build It, The (Pub. No. 5494)

by Adrien Niesen

(Excerpted from Practical Boat Building for Amateurs)

From the opening paragraphs. "In this chapter it is proposed to show how to build a Rob Roy canoe, giving its dimensions and mentioning its peculiarities.  Every one knows that a canoe is only a modified boat reduced to its smallest dimension, and it is, in fact, very much the same as the skiff just described to build, with the exception that it requires much more careful work, because, as it is small, the parts will not stand the same "dodging" in the event of an error being made. There are many kinds of canoes made, though they are all on the same principle; some of them are intended for sailing purposes, and are, therefore, made so large, and have such a weight of ballast, that they are really boats in every respect, retaining a sort of fancied resemblance to the justly celebrated Rob Roy. The beauty of a canoe is its extreme simplicity and yet efficiency, so that when a great complexity is produced with sliding keels, topmasts, rudders, mizenmasts, etc., all the quality of this kind of boat disappears.  Besides which, the portability of a canoe is, or should be, a leading feature, and not in any way to be despised. Of the different kinds of canoes that have been brought out since the introduction of the Rob Roy, none have really surpassed it for general travel, though in special descriptions of travel there are some which are superior.  For instance, the bluff lines of a Rob Roy make it a rather heavy craft to paddle against the current of a fairly swift stream, and so here a Ringleader has advantages; but the Ringleader is not nearly so handy as the Rob Roy on account of its great length-viz., 17 ft. 6 in., and some have been made as long as 22 ft.  For this reason it is not nearly so quickly turned, but it was claimed to stand rough water better, which, however, has never been really proved.  The Nautilus, which is the other variety which is most adopted, is a decided improvement on the Ringleader, standing very rough water much better and is far more manageable, but it has the same disadvantage as the Rob Roy in being heavier to paddle.  All these varieties have, in their turn, given birth to many others, and there are at least eleven distinct varieties of the original canoe, besides a great number of nondescript arrangements, used for fast cr peculiar work, as racing and sporting.  In a manual like this, where only a few pages can be devoted to one particular craft, it would be impossible to describe all the varieties; but for general work an ordinary Rob Roy is best."

12 pages

Little Chief-- A 15 Foot Canvas Canoe (Pub. No. 5515)

by William D. Jackson, N.A.

"Little Chief" is a canoe with many virtues, ideally adapted to quick, easy construction. Canoes are not easy to build, but here is one example of the red man’s boat that can be made of ordinary materials and covered with canvas for a fraction of the cost of conventional canoes. It has attractive molded lines and may be built either as a paddling model or, with slight changes, adapted for use with small outboard motors.

8 pages, 1 plate(s)

Blue Bill--A 13' Kayak/Canoe (Pub. No. 5521)

Combining the features of both kayak and canoe, “Blue Bill” is offered to those out-of-doors men who hunt or the sportsmen who need an ultra lightweight portable boat for use upon any waters. Besides being usable for building a double-end paddling model, a few changes permit the plans to be used for making a canoe that will accommodate outboard motors up to 6 hp. for swift, speedy transportation on any stream or waterway. Weighing only 75 lbs. complete, “Blue Bill” is easily transported atop an auto anywhere. All details of “Blue Bill” have been simplified for easy fabrication and the construction cost is within reach of everyone’s pocketbook.

8 pages, 1 plate(s)

Gypsy a 15 ft Strip-Built Canoe (Pub. No. 5605)

You don’t have to steam bend any ribs to build this sturdy, light-weight canoe. Construction is modern and simplified using plywood forms.

While canoes have always had a greater appeal than perhaps any other type of boat, especially to those who like to hunt and fish, the thought of having to steam and bend in the fifty some odd ribs necessary in their construction discourages most men from attempting to build one. There are no bent ribs in this fifteen-footer; edge-nailed strip construction is used with plywood bulkhead moulds; the same type construction as is being so successfully used now aboard even large boats to give all the lightness, strength and grace associated with round-bilged boats without the trouble of steam bending

10 pages, 3 plate(s)

Jibe-Cat--A 16 ft Decked Racing Canoe (Pub. No. 5619)

If you're looking for a safe comfortable boat for pleasant afternoon sailing don’t build "Jibe-Cat". But if you’re in search of speed coupled with excitement and thrills and are willing to sacrifice comfort, this racing canoe is guaranteed to give satisfaction. All gear has been made as simple as possible consistent with maximum performance, and most of the fittings can, if necessary, be homemade of odds and ends. The construction is not difficult but since strength must be coupled with lightness, accurate workmanship and careful fitting is necessary if the boat is to look and perform her best. Just do right by the gal and she’ll attract favorable attention in the fastest company.

16 pages, 5 plate(s)

How to Make a Canvas Canoe (Pub. No. 5653)

by E.T. Littlewood

Reprinted from "The Boys Own Book of Boats"

"I propose to give directions for the construction of a canvas canoe, requiring no great expenditure of money, from a week to a fortnight of spare time, a very few tools, and a moderate amount of skill.  I have from time to time made canoes of various kinds, and have been led to adopt the pattern to be hereafter described as being most easily and cheaply constructed, and as possessing the important characters of speed, comfort, safety, and fair durability, and not being too heavy to carry on the shoulder for a quarter of a mile or so if necessary."

12 pages

How to Build a Sectional Canoe (Pub. No. 5654)

by George Pontin

Reprinted from "The Boy's Own Paper."

I do not remember having seen a sectional canoe built to pack up and carry away in a very handy and portable state, and I think the accompanying designs will appeal to many readers as just the thing for the next holidays.  If a train journey has to be accomplished at first to get to the water, a canoe of ten or twelve feet long becomes somewhat of a trouble and is liable to get damaged en route as well, but when the twelve-footer can be made to take to pieces and pack up into one parcel of, say, five feet by two feet six, then the advantage of this type of craft becomes apparent.

7 pages, 1 plate(s)

How I Rigged the Canoe "Frolic" (Pub. No. 5655)

by Major Battiscombe

Reprinted from "The Boy's Own Paper."

"On the afternoon of one day in the month of September of a year long past, when I was fifteen years old, I had walked down to the house of a man who had always been a great friend to my brothers and myself, and who lived close to the river Wye. In the course of conversation he said:  “I’ve thought of something to do this afternoon; we will launch my two Rob Roy canoes, and, as there is a nice breeze blowing up the river, we will have a sail.”  I nearly jumped for joy at the words; I had never sailed a canoe or anything else in my life, except a toy boat on the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens, and here was the ambition of my existence about tobe fulfilled. . . ."

8 pages, 1 plate(s)

Canvasback--A Canvas Kayak (Pub. No. 5688)

by S. Calhoun Smith

Build this kayak in your bedroom with hand tools and C-clamps

This kayak is the answer for young people who want to build an inexpensive boat for summer fun. We turned out several Canvasbacks—and each took only a week of spare time. A shop full of power tools isn’t necessary, either. Ours consisted of a power jig saw and a quarter-inch electric hand drill. But all the work can be done with ordinary hand tools and a few C clamps.  Canvasback will carry one adult but it’s handiest when paddled by a youngster. The boat is stable in the water and, even though it can be turned over, it won’t sink. It’s also light enough to be carried with ease. Building is so simple that the “jig” consists of only two blocks and a few bricks.

8 pages, 3 plate(s)

Build Plyak (Pub. No. 5719)

by M.E. Afford

The name Plyak comes from the elision of the two words that describe it--plywood nad kayak. It's a single-seater for the enthusiast, analogous to a sports car in performance. Designed fot he navigation of small fast streams or rough water. And as a result of an unusual design feature, it is very easy to build. Its unique keel/rib not only gives the kayak unusual strength but serves as a built-in jig. In addition, gunwale mounts make it possible to attach such accessories as tie-down straps and an outrigger for sailing. Plyak's features are summarized as follows: length, 14 ft. 9 in.; beam, 30 in.; weight, 65 lbs.; draft, 31/2 in. (carryig 250 lbs.); time to build, 50 hours.

6 pages, 1 plate(s)

Buiding a Birch-Bark Canoe (Pub. No. 5754)

by George F. Snell, Jr.

The almost-lost art of building a true Ojibway canoe is here recorded and preserved for future boatbuilders.

Ever since my salad days, when I infested the West Side of St. Paul, Minnesota, I’ve wanted to build, or at least see built, a birchbark canoe. I wanted one then for the purpose of removing myself from under the irksome parental thumb; Joe McMahon and I intended, at the advanced age of seven, to canoe to Hudson Bay, via the Minnesota, Red and Nelson rivers, and live with the Eskimos. Our notions of construction were, unhappily, vague, being based on the ideas of Longfellow, as set forth in Hiawatha. So it came to this, that we peeled a few trees down on the bluff, and gradually forgot about the canoe. Or, at least, Joe did. I never quite have. The article that follows, then, is the fruition of a long-standing ambition. When I started working to get the material for this article, I soon found the thing assuming the proportions of the revival of a nearly lost art. it is not lost completely, since there still are Indians who remember the venerable technique of building birchbark canoes—a "wigwahs cheemahn", the Ojibways call it. There is another reason why very few birch bark canoes are built today. That is the scarcity of suitable canoe birches and white cedars, the lattet almost indispensable for the framing. It was not difficult to find an Indian who would agree to build a canoe fot me. I had only to ask of my friends among the Pine County, Minnesota Ojibways living in the settlement north of Highway 48 and near the St. Croix River. Fred St. John was the one who took the job, and I was happy about that. I knew him to be a marvelous workman with the pioneer’s tools involved; ax, saw, froe knife and drill.

20 pages

Build this 15.5 ft Sportsman's Canoe (Pub. No. 5797)

by Bruce N. Crandall

This developable-surface design for the first time, permits the amateur builder to construct a really serviceable canoe from marine plywood

A developable-surface design is one with no compound curvature to the planking. The bull form is made up entirely of portions of conical and cylindrical surfaces. Without developable surfaces, thin plywood planking would not lie smoothly but would tend to buckle at various points so that, no matter how expert the builder, a poorly built canoe would result. The conventional method of building a canoe with bent ribs and thin planking covered with canvas has always been impractical for the amateur. No one can do a good job of this type without the canoe forms that the factories use, which of course are practical for them because they use them many times, not just once. Carrying capacity, stability, ease of paddling and handling of this sportsman’s canoe compari favorably with the average 16-footer. Its over—all length is 15’ 8” so it can be planked with 16’ lengths of plywood. The sawn-frame construction is similar to that used on most plywood boats and is extrcmely strong in proportion to weight. Both temporary and permanent repairs will be easier than with any other type of canoe construction. With the use of marine plywood and modern wood preservative it can be made to outlast any other type of canoe construction. For long trips on open waters it is a little small but is about the right size for wilderness trips where many portages arc encountered. In this design, the bow and stern are exactly alike so that it can be paddled in either direction. It will be noticed that the plans and list of materials give many choices as to size and kind of materials used in construction, and the weight will vary accordingly. Using the lightest materials specified in the list of materials, weight will be about 65 pounds, including seats but without inwales or thwart.

12 pages, 4 plate(s)

How I Built an Aluminum Canoe (Pub. No. 5804)

by Emil E. Brodbeck

Aluminum and small boats are made for each other. And it’s no mystery material to use

Since its brisk entrance into the boating picture, aluminum has continued to dominate the smallboat field. Lightness, strength, lack of maintenance problems, long life are some of the reasons why unit sales of aluminum boats in the 10’to-14’ class continue to outpace all others by a considerable margin. Not so well known even after 15 years of universal use is the fact that aluminum is no mystery material. It can be cut, shaped, formed and fitted by amateurs with no other tools than would be necessary to build with wood. And the use of aluminum doors and storm windows has filled local hardware stores all over the country with aluminum extrusions, sheets and fastenings in all sizes. These are ready material accessories to an aluminum design. With these facts in hand, I decided to pioneer and build my own boat out of aluminum. The result is a prototype craft that satisfies me and holds out exciting promise for any backyard builder.

12 pages

Glide-Easy (Pub. No. 5832)

by William D. Jackson


A rugged, quickly built canoe.

If you have ever struggled with the oars of a heavy, slow-moving rowboat—and then paddled a swift, high maneuverable canoe—you can appreciate why many true sportsmen prefer canoes. But, too often, the multi-ribbed conventional canoe is not only hard to build but too thin-skinned for hard usage. This design teams up plywood and fiber glass to produce a tough, scrape-proof canoe you can build in one-tenth the time it would take you to turn out a conventional canoe. The use of only one frame offsets the extra weight of using plywàod, so that this canoe is still light enough for comfortable portage. Glide-Easy can be built with a square stem for use with an outboard motor or as a double-ender for paddling.

10 pages, 4 plate(s)

Rob Roy--A Combination Canoe-Kayak (Pub. No. 5836)

by Weston Farmer

She’s a combination boat with two sheer heights. You’ll use her as a one- or two-man canoe, a one-man rowboat, or even as a large kayak.

LOA 15 ft., BEAM 42 IN., DRAFT 41/2 IN.

An ardent canoeist and black fly devotee dropped into my Powder Island boat shop up on Nipigon Bay, Canada, last  summer. “I gotta have a boat that doesn’t exist,” sez he. “It’s got to be as good as a canoe, but lighter. I may want to paddle her as a kayak, the better for shooting come fall. If I’m alone and toting a good camp load, rowing will cover more miles in a day than paddling. She’ll have to be light because I may want to strap her to the pontoons of my Beaver and fly inland. I’ll want her to be stiff, too.” He allowed as how he was going to hang around my boat and stoke at my galley stove until I designed him a special sort of craft for cartop and camp use. So it didn’t take me long to galvanize the idea of Rob Roy. She is named for the famed Scottish canoe of several generations ago in which Robert Louis Stevenson crossed Europe on its canals and lakes, and about which he wrote so charmingly in The Adventures of Rob Roy*. This Rob Roy in no way resembles Stevenson's boat, except that she is small, slim, and light. Our current Rob Roy fills my friend’s variety of needs to a T, and is built of plywood which Stevenson never heard of. Her main function will be as a canoe; she’ll serve as a kayak; she’ll row easier than a St. Lawrence skiff, though she is really none of these. You will note from the arrangement plan that Rob Roy is a double-ender. And, if you want to use her as a canoe as most people will, she is fitted with cane canoe seats. Placed as shown, these seats will properly balance two persons for team paddling on long treks. Between paddiers you can accommodate a goodly load—up to 400 pounds of tent, gun, food and gear. She’ll be tender when light, of course—all light craft with dead rise are—but load her down, and she stiffens surprisingly and is much stiffer than a canoe. Yet she moves easily under paddle. Her steeved-up bow will not dump seas inboard as a canoe’s bow does. When camping alone you sit on the bow thwart or seat, the narrow end of the craft is astern, and your load forward. Balanced thus, normal oneman canoe action prevails. But I like my friend’s idea of rowing when single-handing it. It’s less tiring faster going safer So I have shown permanent rowlocks. Seven-foot silver spruce oars in loose, leathered oarlocks - (the only safe oarlock) will complement your equipment. Kayak cranks will not fare badly on a seat placed as shown, using a double-bladed paddle and facing forward. Fine for marsh crawling, casting and camera work.

*The correct title for Stevenson's fine book is "An Inland Voyage", and it is availble in reprint in The Shellback's Library from The Press at Toad Hall.

13 pages, 2 plate(s)

Chippewar--A Plywood Canoe (Pub. No. 5883)

by Weston Farmer

LOA 15 ft., Beam about 34 in., weight about 63 lbs in 5/16 in ply and about 76 lbs. in 14 in. ply.

Here is the first design ever published for a plywood canoe that has all of the real canoe size and shape.

In these plans you are looking at the first design ever published for a plywood canoe that has real canoe shape and size. Her name is Ckippewa, and she is carefully engineered to a fine grain for those canoe lovers who have the skill to do a nice bit of wood cutting. For some reason, canoe builders are rabid purists—heat, close work does not stump them, and they’ll agonize over every little fastening and refinement. Eighty per cent of all boat design lies in the art of sizing. This is most true of a canoe, because, like a fly rod, or a gun butt, or a golf club, the thing is almost worn, and slight differences in measurements become very noticeable. Chippewa, you’ll find, is sized just right. I’ve taken great pains to make her so. Although her construction will not trouble anyone who is competent with hand tools, I am presuming that she will not be your first boat and that you’ll understand the rudiments of laying down, fairing and, in general, setting up the moulds on which to build her.

8 pages, 5 plate(s)

Skimmer--A Sturdy Plywood Kayak (Pub. No. 7822)

This kayak is staunch and seaworthy because it’s built of waterproof plywood over a conventional frame. Sides are vertical and only 6 in. high from the bottom edge of the chine to the top edge of the sheer batten, but this gives enough freeboard to keep off moderately rough water.

2 page(s)

King Canvasback--A 15 ft. Plywood Kayak (Pub. No. 7861)

by John M. Miller Jr.

Here’s a classic kayak easily built in plywood and~canvas.

Fifteen ft. long and 31 in. in beam, King Canvasback is an ideal fatherand-son project. The craft is easily handled by one man and two boats can be car-topped on a small foreign car. It takes only a few weekends of work from layouT to launching. The project is simple enough for hand tools. but a variable-speed jig saw, drill and orbital sander make the job go faster.

4 page(s)

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