Canoe Building Tools
 Below is a list of useful tools to have at hand when starting a project


Block planes
(small and medium preferably)
For shaping stems pieces, gunwales
and other finish work.

The Surform™ scrapers from Stanley™
to fair the hull; it will make quick work of it.

T Squares and framing square
A general framing square and a sheetrock T square is best, and they
are for the lofting of the forms.

Orbital sander
If you do not already have one and will be buying one, pay a 
few extra bucks and get a decent one with a vacuum 
attachment, it will be worth it.

Staple gun
Nothing special about this, however, make sure you have one 
that feels good in your hand as you will be using it a lot.  



Tack puller or flat tipped screwdriver
If you choose to strip your hull using staples, this tool will pull 
out all of the staples you put in the hull while stripping.

Drill bit with counter sink (#6 and #8),
These will mostly be used for attaching the stems and if you 
choose putting screws into the gunwales.  They are 
inexpensive and will make the job of getting those screw 
heads flush much easier.

 Spring clamps
You should have 5 or so around. They are extremely helpful when you need 
and extra hand to hold down a piece of wood or hold up the cloth while you 
fibreglass the inside of the hull.  Also, when using epoxy as glue, not only is it 
not necessary to have high pressure clamping, it is undesirable.  The idea of 
epoxy as a glue relies on the ability of the epoxy to absorb into all pieces 
being glued.  When too much pressure is applied, the epoxy will squeeze out.


Electric Teakettle or Wallpaper Steamer
This is one of the ingredients of the poor mans steam box. You will need this 
for steaming the inner and outer stem pieces as well as the deck supports if 
you are building a decked canoe.


5-foot section of 3 inch PVC pipe capped on one end
Use this over the teakettle spout or the end of the wallpaper steamer for your 
steam box.  By simply stuffing a few hardwood strips up the pipe and adding 
steam you will be able to bend the stems and supports to what you need.

Belt sander
There is absolutely no better tool for shaping the stem pieces and shaping your scarf joints than 
a belt sander; it will make quick and accurate work of it. However this can be accomplished with 
files, planes and the oscillating hand sander.


Oscillating spindle sander or disc / belt sander

 Shop Vacuum
This is an invaluable piece of equipment if you can hook it up to your orbital sander.  It provides 
a much healthier environment not to mention far more pleasant working conditions.  Although you do not need it to build the boat.

Chalk line
You only need this once to snap a line down the strongback. It will make the job easier and more 
accurate.  If you don't have one you will have to very carefully measure out the centreline of the 
strongback and draw a line with a pencil.  If you plan on using the strongback from more than 
one boat you may want to consider using a circular saw set to a 1/8 inch depth and cut down the 
chalk line to make it permanent.


A box of pencils
nclude this here because of the great nuisance it is to constantly be looking for one and 
you will need one often.  You can either buy a box now or count the number of times you will 
hear yourself say "Where the heck is that pencil".


Hot glue gun
If you are building without staples, this is our preferred way to 
keep those strips in place while drying.  If you are building 
using staples then it is not absolutely essential to have one, 
however, it is extremely helpful for temporarily attaching blocks


Hole Saw or Forstner bit
You will need a 2 to 2 1/2 inch bit or saw for drilling holes around 
the edges of the stem forms.  These holes will be used for 
clamping down the inner and outer stems during the steam 
bending and glue up phase.  Either one will do though I prefer to 
work with a Forstner bit for drilling holes.  Complete sets can be 
had for a reasonable price.


Japanese back saw
Sometimes known as a pull saw, these saws are invaluable 
for their flexibility.  used extensively for cutting off the 
ends of strips flush to the stems, notching out support 
members for the decked canoes, sizing up the gunwales and 
a host of other jobs.  Inexpensive versions can be found at 
the local big box hardware store.

You will likely on need a good 3/4 inch chisel if you are good with a chisel.
However, I highly recommend a good set of basic sizes.  If you fancy yourself a wood worker and you 
donít already have a good set of chisels, then this is your opportunity to get a set.  A good set of well maintained chisels will last a lifetime.


Razor knife and a pack of razors
This will become one of your best friends as you whittle down the
strips to fit.  Be sure and get a pack of extra blades.  You will blast through a dozen or so building a 
stripper.  A dull blade will cause frustration and bad cuts that you will be tempted to use, not to 
mention the increased likeliness that you will cut yourself trying to plow a dull blade through the wood.  


You will use this for cutting the decks and the forms mostly, though if you have a deep-throated band 
saw, by all means use it. 

Mitre box or mitre saw
The mitre box will make quick work of scarfing the strips together,
However, if you have a mitre saw, so much the better.  Most Mitre saws will cut to 60 degrees on one 
side of zero and 60 degrees is good enough when talking about scarfing strips together.  Let me make 
a huge disclaimer here.  A 60-degree cut on a gunwale is definitely not enough for a scarf joint.  

3 inch C Clamps (At least 20 for a canoe)
There is no way around it; you will need these to put the gunwale in place. If 
you only do one gunwale at a time you will need 20 for a larger canoe, if you do 
both sides at the same time you will need twice that many.  Other than saving 
time on the project, there is no need to clamp both sides at the same time.



1/4 inch round course File
During the stripping project, there will be a number of strips that will have to be cut and fitted into the 
hull.  Mostly this is either when you are using filler and relief strips or when you are stripping the 
bottom of the hull.  When you cut strips to fit into another strip you typically like to keep the bead 
side in tact and cut away at the cove side.  When you do that you will have to replace the cove to 
match up with the adjoining strip on the boat.  This is the perfect tool for that.  Typically clamp the 
strip in a bench vice and spend about 15 seconds or so filing away on the edge that was cut and 
end up with a perfect cove.