DIY Plastic Canoes

Written by daniel sutherland
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DIY Plastic Canoes
Mold your own plastic canoe. (canoe image by Pascal Perinelle from

Building your own canoe makes for a satisfying accomplishment and good conversation -- building a canoe with your family or friends provides an excellent bonding experience. The most common method for making canoes involves bending plywood into the appropriate shape, gluing it into place, and laying fibreglass cloth and resin over it. The result is a hybrid wood and fibreglass canoe. The only method for building a solely plastic or fibreglass canoe is by making a mould, forming the fibreglass over the mould and then removing the mould. This method is complicated and time-consuming, but with the right materials, you can build your own plastic canoe.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Large workspace
  • Plywood
  • Jigsaw
  • Narrow sawhorses or stands
  • Thin foam board (1/2 or 3/4 inch)
  • Hot glue
  • Drywall compound
  • Sandpaper (coarse and fine)
  • Wax
  • Fibreglass or Kevlar cloth
  • Epoxy resin

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  1. 1

    Select a plan for your canoe. There are many plans available on the Internet. Select a plan that is suitable in length and width for your needs.

  2. 2

    Build the mould. Cut out plywood cross-sections at intervals of one foot for the length of the canoe, subtracting five-eighths to seven-eighths-inch from the internal dimensions of the canoe to allow room for the foam board. Cut the foam board into narrow strips (1 1/2 to 2 inches) and fasten it to the mould using hot glue.

  3. 3

    Sand down the foam to remove sharp edges and rough spots. Apply drywall compound or plaster liberally to the foam, smooth it with trowels, and sand it until smooth. Repeat applications of the drywall compound until all the surfaces of the mould are smooth.

  4. 4

    Wax the surface of the mould, making sure that all surfaces have a thick, even coat.

  5. 5

    Apply fibreglass of Kevlar cloth and epoxy resin according to the manufacturer's instructions. Plan a whole day to complete this task.

  6. 6

    Remove the mould. You may have to break up the mould if it will not come free of the canoe. Sand the interior of the canoe.

  7. 7

    Seal the ends of the canoe (if necessary) with your fibreglass or epoxy resin. Install the gunwales and seats. Apply a final coat of epoxy resin and sand it smooth with fine sand paper.

Tips and warnings

  • When working with fibreglass and resin, work in a well-ventilated space.

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