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Building a Sassafras 14 ft. stitched lapstrake canoe
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HOME 1. laying out
the planks
2. cutting
3. gluing
4. rabbeting
5. stitching
6. shaping
7. filleting
8. gluing
9. removing
10. filling
11. gluing
12. gluing
13. glassing
14. glassing inside 15. glassing
16. decks and
seat mounts
17. installing
18. epoxy
19. sanding 20. varnishing 21. finishing up 22. launching storage BILL OF
This canoe was built from plans in the book "The Canoe Shop"


July 18, 2007
Committing to a design

I have been borrowing my neighbor's 17ft plastic "battleship" canoe occasionally over the last few years.  It weighs a ton and is an big deal to take down to the lake, requiring 2 people to lift it.  The boat launching ramp for Nequasset Lake and river is just 1/2 mile from here and I decided that I would get out on the water and explore the Maine coastal waters more often if I had a smaller, lighter boat that I could throw on the roof rack by myself on a whim.

When I was in my teens, my Dad helped me to build an 11 foot wood and canvas canoe that I used for many summers on Lake Rowland in Baltimore.  So I'm no stranger to the art of building a small boat.  But that little canoe also weighed a lot.  I decided to look for a design that would be light and relatively easy to build. 

After researching canoe designs on the web for days, I decided that Chesapeake Light Craft have the ideal design.  I bought the book "The Canoe Shop - Three Elegant Wooden Canoes Anyone Can Build" by Chris Kulzycki and after reading through it I decided to build the Sassafras 14 foot 2 seater.  C.L.C. offer complete kits for their 12 and 16 foot model, but for the 14 footer I am forced to work from the plans in the book.   The materials cost me $877.00 not including tax which is about what a kit would cost if they offered one.

The design uses stitched lap strake boards made from 4mm Okume marine plywood.  It is glued with epoxy, and the bottom of the hull is fiberglassed inside and out.  I had naively hoped to build this in a few weeks - maybe 50 hours or so of sustained labor.  Well, it took me 9 weeks and I guess it ran over 80 hours of actual hands on labor averaging 2.5 hours a day.  The design says it should end up weighing under 45 lbs when done, but it came out to 47lbs in reality - not bad and very portable.

     On Frenchman's Bay with Calf Island                       On the water                             
in the background                   

A short movie clip of "Sawdust" in action

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