How to build a canvas canoe

Canvas canoe

Here’s another terrible temptation for all you winter-time boat dreamers.

I imagine you’d have to be pretty hardy to build a canvas canoe using real canvas these days, but people use Dacron painted over with a seal. I’m pretty sure there will be something on the techniques involved at Duckworks at, as the Duckmeister is himself a canvas canoe fan.

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I think also you might have to think a bit about this author’s suggestions about the kinds of wood you might use for various components – ‘thin oak’, for example, might now be replaced with ply of some kind.

Still, I there’s enough information here to build a fun and very retro little boat, and it would be great to hear that someone has decided to take up the challenge of these FREE BOAT PLANS

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Canvas canoe Canvas canoe Canvas canoe

Canvas canoe Canvas canoe Canvas canoe

Canvas canoe
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12 thoughts on “How to build a canvas canoe”

  1. Hey, Gav. if links work here, you can see some my own SOF work here:… – we used "real" canvas on this boat. I think the total cost was fifty bucks or so. I say real because it might have been part polyester – it's hard to tell these days. Anyway, the little boats are huge fun. We had them at Lake Powell last fall paddling in and out of deep red-rock canyons – fantastic! – Chuck

  2. Mr. Atkin,

    I know it's been a while since these plans were posted and I'm not sure if anyone has taken up the challenge yet, but I am starting construction on this canvas canoe today and if you are intereted, I'll keep you posted. By the way, I found this site while looking up your Cinderella canoe. A friend recently bought me your book with her included plans. A fantastic present indeed!

    All the best,

    -Sean Hartman

  3. Sean –

    Absolutely – please do keep us posted! I'd very much like to see this project going together.

    And I'm delighted you liked the Ultrasimple Boatbuilding book. The Cinderella canoe is a great little boat and deserves to be built much more often.


  4. Hey i was just wanting to let everyone know that ive taken the challenge. I'm fifteen but love to work with my hands and love canoes so the other day i decided to make one. I didnt know about this site at the time so i didnt build it to specs. but it is a very sturdy little craft. It is more of a flatboat and if anyone can tell me how to post pics on here i would be much obliged.

    1. Dustin:

      Congratulations Dustin!

      Send me some photos and something about the story of how you built the boat, and we'll see what we can do.

      I should say that we try to focus on old boats and boats that include the features of old boats here and yours might not meet those criteria – but don't give up hope as there are other places that are probably more suitable. The best place is the wonderful Duckworksmagazine. So do also write to Chuck Leinweber at – his email address is on the Duckworks site.


  5. That's good to hear Ethan – do please let us know how you get on. I'd love to be able to publish photos and a report here at


  6. Hello,

    I have long enjoyed your site. As a boat builder and collector of plan, this is a true treasure chest. I am particularly interested in sailing canoes and paddle canoes. I would like to find an online copy (.PDF) of the above book: canoes, dinghies and sailing punts. Could you direct me to a source? I tried google books to no avail. Again, love your work and effort here.


  7. I inherited my grandfather’s Old Town canvas canoe that was built in the early 1900’s. We retrieved the canoe from a cottage on Lake Michigan back in the 70’s and now it hangs in my garage. I am debating restoring it myself or contracting out–it has dry rotted for many years now and hasn’t been in the water for probably 20 years. This boat has pontoons on both sides and has significant damage on both ends from coming in and out of the water. Any suggestions on the task I am facing and whether or not I should/could take this on myself?

  8. I am probably 75% through your Cinderella canoe with grand plans to launch on the Chesapeake Bay this spring. I am fascinated by the idea of doing things better and cheaper and can’t wait to start my attempt at a canvas canoe with those goals in mind. See my Cinderella project at

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