New Canoes

15' Cheemaun

Each canoe is unique and crafted with care using only the finest materials and traditional methods. Ash stems are steam-bent onto the form followed by the spruce inwales. Northern white cedar ribs are shaped and steam-bent in place, fastened to the inwales with bronze ring nails. After allowing the ribs to set, they are faired with a long block and oiled. Planking of either white or red cedar is then shaped and tacked in place. Once most of the planking is on, the hull is lifted free of the form, turned over and finished freehand using a clinching iron to back the hammer blows. Decks are shaped and installed using a miter joint to trap the stem between the inwales and deck. During this phase everything is carefully lined up to ensure the stems are plumb and no twist is imparted to the new hull. Once planking is complete the outside of the hull is faired with the long block and it also gets oiled and sealed. Mildew resistant canvas gets stretched over the hull, fastened along the rails and stems, and three coats of oil-based filler get rubbed in all in one afternoon. Once cured, the filler gets a coat or two of high-build primer, most of which gets sanded off, followed by at least three coats of marine enamel paint to produce a glassy surface that most people mistake for gelcoated fiberglass. The interior and all trim get several coats of marine spar varnish resulting in a deep high gloss finish that not only looks incredible but serves to protect the wood from moisture and UV.

Properly cared for, your new wood canvas canoe will become a cherished family heirloom but please do put it to good use. Our canoes are as durable as they are beautiful!

New orders are entered into the production schedule in the sequence they are received. A $500 deposit along with a signed build sheet secures your slot in the line-up. The schedule consists of both restorations and new builds and each canoe usually throws a few surprises at us so it’s impossible to say with certainty when a canoe will be complete.  An unexpected setback encountered during a restoration job can affect the whole schedule. Every effort will be made to complete your canoe in a timely manner but it won’t be finished until we’re satisfied that it meets our high standards. Paint and varnish can behave unpredictably under varying conditions of temperature and humidity. Some days when we plan to do finishing we simply can’t because of the weather. Deadlines create pressure that’s counterproductive to a quality finished product – after all, you’ve commissioned an expensive, hand-crafted canoe – let the process take place as it must. Each project and each client are equally important to us and we are absolutely dedicated to restoring or producing the best canoes and small craft possible. Below are some standard and optional features as a starting point. We’ll discuss your desires in detail to be sure we’re both on the same page: the build sheet.

A base canoe may vary depending on availability of top quality lumber in apropriate species but usually consists of:

  • Ribs and planking – northern white cedar (western red cedar may be substituted for the planking if desired)
  • Seats and thwarts – ash
  • Decks – ash
  • Gunwales – spruce, cypress, or douglas fir
  • Machine-woven cane seats
  • Mildew resistant canvas with traditional oil-based silica filler
  • Choice of marine enamel paint
  • All fasteners are either bronze or brass – no steel is used

Options include the following (if you would like something not listed just ask):

  • Decks of figured grain (examples: birdseye maple, curly cherry)
  • Hardwood trim package (decks and thwarts of cherry, walnut, or other)
  • Sculped carry yoke in place of center thwart
  • Hand-caned seats, frames to match trim package
  • Outwales of mahogany or similar
  • Half ribs
  • Two-tone paint



Thus the Birch Canoe was builded
In the valley, by the river,
In the bosom of the forest;
And the forest’s life was in it,
All its mystery and its magic,
All the lightness of the birch-tree,
All the toughness of the cedar,
All the larch’s supple sinews;
And it floated on the river
Like a yellow leaf in Autumn,
Like a yellow water-lily.

Yet more from “Hiawatha”

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