Build a Canoe

If you can tie your shoelaces (thread a plastic cable tie), ice a cake (spread some glue), and hold a cordless drill, then you can build this canoe.

The 3.6m long by 750mm wide marine plywood canoe we are building can be carried by one adult, fits on a standard car roof rack, is easy to paddle, and is very stable. No sawing of plywood or special woodworking skills are required. No experience is needed!

The canoe makes an excellent parent/child/grandparent project. All have had their canoes ready for the water on the last day.

If looked after, this canoe will provide years of boating fun for the whole family.


Course Info

The canoe comes as a complete kit with all marine plywood parts cut out ready to assemble – no sawing needed.

We plane a bevel and drill 4mm holes along the edges of the sheets, glue pairs of panels together using a jig to hold them steady, and then sew them all together with plastic cable ties.

When we have the shape correct we glue and fit the gunwales (strips of timber along the tops of the sides), glue the chines (joins) together with epoxy glue, then plane and sand everything smooth when the glue has cured. Sounds too easy?

It is, although for a few days you will be kept very busy – we start at 8.00 am after the first day.

And after all that effort … success is guaranteed!

Canoe size

The 3.6m canoe will easily handle an 85 kg adult and a very exuberant 25 kg dog – I speak from experience!

The canoe is also available as a 4.2m (14ft) model for those wanting something larger.

As this is not the standard size, anyone wanting a 4.2m version will need to let Brian know a month before Camp Creative.

Launch day

Many of our students choose to give their completed craft a trial run on the Bellinger River on the last day, complete with champagne and serenading from the CC ukulele group!

The canoe can be safely launched without painting, but will need painting or varnishing before being put into general use.


As Ratty said to Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s ‘The Wind in the Willows’

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing… as messing about in boats.”

No prior experience required

To be supplied by participant
  • Cordless drill with 4mm drill bit and phillips head driver. Don’t forget the charger!
  • Pair of pliers for tightening cable ties.
  • Pair of saw horses or folding work benches.
  • Old clothes and closed-in shoes- no thongs or sandals.
  • Plastic gloves to avoid glue on hands.
  • Hand saw.
  • Wood plane and several grades of sandpaper for smoothing timber.
  • Hammer, chisel, woodworking clamps, and any general woodworking tools.
  • Countersink drill bit.
  • Canoe seat – if you’re building a canoe! Plastic chair minus legs. Council clean-ups are good. Check out ‘simple canoe/kayak seats’ on Google Images for ideas, or try eBay for around $50. Patio chairs with armrests are usually too big.

If you wish to bring your own 1.8m x 30mm Tassie oak dowel (about $20 from Bunnings) or 1.5m long broom handle from your local hardware store (even cheaper!) to the course, we will provide the ply paddle blades and glue for you to make your own paddle.


This course has a fee of $280 for all materials to make one canoe. Does not include a seat, paint or paddle.

This is payable to the tutor on the first day.

Brian Jones
Course Tutor

Brian Jones

Brian is a retired primary school and TAFE teacher who is passionate about building boats and getting out on the water, be it sailing, steaming or paddling.

He has built dinghies, canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards with men’s groups, youth at risk and TAFE, and primary and high school students.

He has seen the tremendous sense of pride and self-worth that building their own craft brings- for many students, it has been their first success at school. He has built stitch and glue canoes with students in high schools, TAFE, the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, the Wooden Boat Festivals in Hobart, Rhyll (Phillip Island), and Maleny in QLD.

Seventy-three of these have been at Camp Creative, bringing the total number of these canoes afloat to 185. He also builds boats for himself, including canoes and kayaks, sailing dinghies, a seven-metre steamboat, and a 1920s design speedboat. His aim is to show as many people as possible how easy it is to get afloat in a craft they have built themselves.

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Paul Fisher
Course Tutor

Paul Fisher

Paul has done the Canoe course twice before at Camp Creative, building canoes with his two sons, who enjoyed the course immensely and turned out a couple of very impressive canoes!

Paul has recently retired and is trying his hand at farming in the local district. Paul has been doing woodwork and technical drawing for forty years.

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