Building a Lapstrake Canoe
by Chuck Leinweber

I have been promising Sandra a lapstrake canoe for a long time, and I finally started it last week.  I got plans for this Stephens design from Databoat a couple of years ago.  The plans recommend using the highest quality 1/8 " ply, but since I am cheap by nature, and since this would be my first lapstrake project, I elected to try some cheap stuff.  I found some Luan ply of the right size, but when I got it home, it seemed too poor in quality to use.  Instead, I am using some light underlayment of about 3/16" thickness. 

I am thinking that since it is such a job to set up the strongback and ribands, that I may build a second boat with higher quality materials.

click the pictures to enlarge 

Here you see the strongback set up with three of the station molds and the inner stem/inner keel assembly.
Here I have all the station molds in place and am attaching the first riband.  That is the strip that defines where the overlap will be and how wide it is.
After all the ribands are attached to the molds, I spend a little time adjusting their placement and twist.
The plans say to rip a whole sheet of ply lengthwise, and splice the ends together, then place the whole thing on the boat to mark where to make the cuts. I could not do this with the heavier ply, so I ripped a 5" wide strip and used that.
When the strip was clamped in place, I marked the outside of the first riband on it, and cut it to that shape.  Then I marked the second strake.  You have to mark ahead of the gluing so that you can get to the ribands.
I put packaging tape on the ribands to keep them from sticking to the epoxy. Once the glue on the garboard strake (the one next to the keel) has set up, I get ready to mark the third strake.
Here I am spiling (marking) the third strake.  You need lots of clamps for this kind of boat building.

Speaking of clamps, I had to make a boatload of these simple plywood jobbies and as many little wedges.
When making each strake, I used the power planer to smooth out the edges which are cut with a jig saw.
I also used the power planer to bevel the edges of the strakes that are already in place.  This face is glued just before the next one is placed and clamped.

This shot shows how I ground a regular wood pencil to make a mark right along the ribands.
The spliced together length of ply is presented to the form so that it can be marked (spiled - if you are a purist) prior to cutting the next strake.
Here is how you move the pencil along the riband to make the mark on the ply.  Marks are made on the outside of adjacent ribands so that the strake is wide enough to overlap by the thickness of the riband.
This attempts to show me spiling the strake from the inside of the form.
Where all the strakes come to the stem, each has to be let in where the overlap is.  First you make a short sawcut....
.....then chisel out some of the strake so that the next one will lay flat at the stem.  This is explained much better in Tom Hill's book.
Finally, all the strakes are glued and the 'husk' is off the mold and turned over.

Here is another view of the hull and the mold.
There are always a lot of drips and globs on a job like this.  To smooth things up, I got a scraper from Home Depot, and Modified the shape to match the laps, and worked the whole hull over.
The inside was lots worse, so I got out my trusty heat gun, and softened the epoxy before easily scraping off the excess epoxy.  Richard Spelling taught me this trick.

The plans call for the construction of four seat thwarts.  They are laminated from a dozen thin strips of wood glued into the proper shape.  I made some forms and glued the thwarts in place.  The one on top in the picture has the plastic that keeps it from sticking.  The lower one has the plastic removed so you can see the form.
A center rib is made of four 1/8" thick strips laminated in place.  I used a black plastic trash bag to keep the epoxy off the hull.
After the resin set up, I did a dry fit.
The next step was to glue the rib, the center thwart, and the inwales to the hull.  I used every clamp I could find.
The next day, I took the clamps off.  All that's left now is the outwales and seats, and we can begin painting.
Here is a dry fit of one of the seats.

Let the painting begin!  Ok, we have some blue left over from the Summer Breeze...

....with a little white from the back door we repainted.....
.... some metallic gray left over from another project....
....and, presto, a canoe.  The clouds are one of Sandra's favorite motif's.  I like them, besides, it's her boat.  Now, all that's left are the seats.
The seats are covered with 1" Nylon webbing that is woven and screwed into the bottom of the frame.
Here is a close-up of one of the seats.
She's loaded on the truck and hauled to the closest water we can find....
......and finally Sandra gets to try her new canoe
Our friend Bob Williams joined us with his skin-on-frame Rob Roy.
The last time I saw Sandra, she was headed down the Guadalupe river....