A Dutch Toto  
By Hilco van den Berg - Utrect, Netherlands

After having built a couple off sailing/rowing boats, It was time to try a canoe. i couldn’t find a free design that I found suitable so I took a look in the plans off Jim Michalak. Imediately my attention was drawn by the plans form TOTO. What a beautifull design it is, nicely shaped with a sharp bow that cuts through the waves. It slides its way through the water so it should be easy to paddle.

Luckely for me A good friend, Jan van de Laan who works in the states, was kind enough to buy me a set of plans and bring them to Holland.

So there I was, sitting behind a large, fuzzy drawing with all the dimensions in inches, of course. First thing to do is convert all those inches into centimeters, then try to get the drawings onto 2 sheets of 6mm plywood.

All the panels were sawed with a jigsaw.

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Preparing the bulkheads and re-enforcing them with battens, to make a good strong joint.

As you can see you have to make 5 pieces and 3 will stay in the boat. 2 are just for shaping the hull.

Now it's time to sew the parts together with copper wire. I used electrical wire because that was around. But always use copper or plastic tie wraps because the remains of the sewing that stay in the tied seams may not corrode.

To connect side panels to the transom I used stainless steel screws to be sure it stays in plays.

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click to enlarge

As you can see, you “sew” the boat together and all the seams don’t have to close, they will be filled with epoxy resin later on.

The bottom panel was just a little too short (stupid me). But it can be repaired easily as you see.

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click to enlarge

Here you can see the butt joints that make the almost 4 meter long panels possible. Now the nicely shaped bow is starting to show.

A cross batten keeps the hull in the right shape as we start taping the seams.

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click to enlarge

to make strong sides that protect agains impact with
the shore or other boats I installed gunwales. This helps splashing water stay out and it’s also useful for lifting the boat out off the water. As you can see I’m starting to get a little grey

In order to make the canoe safe I made two airtight chambers. The seams are closed by using epoxy fillets. This has to be done before closing the chambers.

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click to enlarge

To make these fillets, just add a filler (often glass bubbles) to the resin and stir until it takes on the consistency of peanut butter. Make sure to clean your tools imediately after use.

The outside off the hull is taped with glasfiber and treated with epoxy resin.
I put one layer of resin on the whole hull and then varnished 3 times. You could cover the entire hull with glasfiber cloth, but I only taped the seams.

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click to enlarge

To keep her on course I made a skeg. It protects the hull and keeps the boat from paddling like a drunk. She can still be easily turned with a firm stroke of the paddle.

And there she is with her tight and slender shape.

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Then she was turned over and I installed a seat and and support for my back. As closed, the buoyancy chambers seemed to miss something in looks……… So I gave her inlaid wood decks.

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Isn’t she a real beauty? The lids on the deck need some painting, then she’s ready.

This isn’t all that hard to do yourself. You don’t need very expensive tools, all you need is some guts and building space.

Good luck!! and greetings from Holland
Hilco van den Berg

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You can purchase plans for TOTO here:


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