I Built a Skin on Frame Canoe

I have been looking for a small boat that I can fish from.  We have tried a pond boat,  a small pram, a medium sized pram, and a sit on top kayak.  Also tried a frameless and regular pontoon boat.  All of them have there good points and each has some drawback.  In my case the drawback is the weight of the boat.   A boat on a trailer would solve some problems but I want to tow my camper and some places we go a trailer wont.

The boat pictured to the right is a double paddle canoe.  It is a fishing canoe.  This canoe is 12 feet long, has a beam of  36 inches and weighs about 30 pounds.  The method used to build this boat is called, skin on frame (sof).  A skin on frame canoe is built by constructing a light framework and covering the frame with a fabric like nylon, canvas or Dacron.  The Dacron I used on this boat is the same stuff used on small aircraft.

I have been building boats since I was a kid, but I never have built a canoe before.  Building a skin on frame canoe turned out to be a lot easier to do than I thought it would be.  The most time consuming part of the construction to build this canoe is preparing the stringers and rib stock.  The stringers are 13 feet long and cant have any flaws.  So I had to cut out all the defects and make scarf  joints to get a stringer long enough.  Once I had all the stock needed the rest of the construction went very fast.

I love to fish from this boat.  Not a sound can be heard as the canoe glides through the water,  not even a gurgle.  I have room for my fishing gear and a dog with out feeling cramped.   It is easy to load on the rack on my truck and I can still tow my camper when I want.

The Dacron skin has held up well.   All six of my grand kids put the canoe’s durability to the test.  It passed with flying colors.

This was a fun boat to build.  This winter I will finish a second sof canoe that I already started and will start a pram style boat using the same skin on frame technique of boat building.

I posted a photo series of the building sequence on another website of mine.  You are welcome to leave questions or comments.  Click on this link to see the photo series I put together.


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