Canoeing – Design Materials

Traditional Design Materials

Traditionally, artisans made canoes with the following materials to make them more usable and attractive to some extent −

  • Birch bark − From an early stage, the indigenous people of Eastern Canada and United States produced canoes with the bark of paper birch trees by taking off the bark in a single piece. Both the ends were sown together and tightened with the pitch of balsam fir.

  • Dugout − Many of the indigenous people across the globe made what are called dugout canoes. It is made by carving a single large piece of wood which could be an entire trunk or a large part of the trunk of large trees.

  • Reed − If people did not have suitable large trees for carving out canoes, they used bundled reeds to construct one.

  • Stitch and Glue − Panels of ply wood are stitched and made into a form of a hull shape. We’ll see the hull shape in a bit more detail later on in this tutorial.

  • Clinker, carvel or lapstrake − Longitudinal plans are kept together and tied and nailed together to form the hull shape.

Modern Design Materials

  • Plastic − There is a composition made of vinyl and hard acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic bonded by heat called Royalex. Royalex is used to make high quality canoes which are highly resistant to Ultra-violet damage. As Royalex can be quite expensive, there is a cheaper alternative called Roto-molded polyethylene.

  • Composites reinforced by Fiber − In canoes manufacturing, the most common material used is none other than Fiberglass. The most advantage of using this material is that it is not only inexpensive but it also can easily be transformed into any shape and can be repaired in case of any damage.

  • Polycarbonate − A polycarbonate called Lexan is used in transparent canoes. It has all the characteristics of plastics like rigidity. It is easily repairable and that’s why it is also a viable option.

  • Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC − Canoes which can be folded are usually made out of PVC around an aluminium frame for the canoe.

  • PVC for inflatable canoes − In case of inflatable canoes, there is no frame used and these can be deflated, folded up and can be stored for travel purposes. In this case as well, PVC is used for making tubes and sides which can be filled with air.