1936 Homecraft Canoe Plans

Kathryn Klos

squirrel whisperer
Denis has bound editions of the Homecraft magazine, and wanted to share the plans for a home-built canoe which include building the form. It's an interesting read, even if you don't plan to use the instructions... I like the part about the seats-- helps me understand why people thought they needed sponsons.

Knowing how these canoes were constructed may help us identify them when they show up at our door or on eBay.

This is only the first of four articles, and Denis is hunting down the others...



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Part Two

Turned out that they only took three issues to get their canoe into the water. Would have been nice to see pictures of them paddling it.


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Part Three

Here's the last little bit.

The magazines are very interesting, by the way... lots of cool projects and interesting ads.



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Thanks for posting this, Kathy. I'll most likely never build one from these plans, but as an illustrator I sure love looking at that bold, graphic cover!
Forgive me a slightly tangential thought... I think it's interesting that in 1936, it was possible to produce at home, a product (i.e. canoe) that was essentially identical to products being produced commercially. How many things can we say that about today? Try building your own iPhone in your basement, or finding plans for a flat screen tv. To be fair, not many folks were probably building their own radios at home in the '30's either... But how many "modern" canoe styles can you build at home today (I know there are ways to do kevlar, but I'm not sure about rotomolding something out of polyethelene or royalex - not that most of us would WANT to...)?

I guess it's just an observation on the mechanization of modern society. In 1936 you could build on your own - with mostly sustainable/biodegradable materials - a canoe that was the accepted technological standard of the day.
But then, back in '36, not too many people could build their own band saw, either... so the alleged "progress of man" was well under way...

Of course, another perspective, a few years before that, might have been that this newfangled canvas covering was not traditional, and therefore unacceptable to some...

Which then raises the rhetorical question of "How long does something need to be around before it's considered 'traditional'?"
There's always something on eBay from the '60s or later that's labeled "antique"...

My interpretation of "traditional" would be that it's part of "the tradition" of some cultural group... so the bark canoes would be "traditional" and the wood and wood/canvas would most-nearly approximate the traditional canoe.

I just looked up "tradition" in the Wikipedia, which says this: "Traditions may also be changed to suit the needs of the day, and the changes can become accepted as a part of the ancient tradition." I think this fits our canoes. And the traditional way of building a bark canoe is still being used-- without use of any power tools-- by several of our members.

The Homecraft article begins with building the form on which the canoe will be constructed... and mentions that the form differs from the one being used commercially (the traditional form).

Nick-- In addition to your observations, I'd like to add that this article came out during the Great Depression, when people were less wasteful and did more for themselves--- my grandmother saved aluminum foil until it couldn't hold together; people fixed their shoes and their toasters. It seems to me that there was a sense of pride in "keeping things going" and building things yourself.

There was a time when a canoe was a necessity... and by the 20th century it became a leisure-time plaything. So it seems very cool that during the Depression, when folks didn't have much money, they'd build a canoe so that they could relax and have some fun. The first Homecraft article mentions that the cost of building only one canoe might be the same as buying one ready-made... suggesting that people get together and build more than one.

What I noticed was the similarity to a 16 ft OT HW. Length and width are the same. Looking at the outline of the molds leaves me with an impression of a slightly rounded hull which would be similar. If I had the time and the space it would be a fun project.
First, you'd download them into your computer, and then print as you would anything in your computer.

If you click on the image, it will enlarge. Then right-click and click on "save as", and the image will download as the larger image. Remember where the image is being saved. I often save to my desktop and then put things somewhere else.

My image program has "print" as one of the options, so I'm assuming yours does too. If this doesn't work for you, post again and we can figure it out.

Lines for Claussen Canoe

I was curious about the shape of this design so I did a rough test loft. The lines in the attached drawing show the outside shape of the canoe - the forms given in the article are of course minus the thickness of ribs, planking, and mold ribbands. The offsets are not all legible in the scanned article, but even those that are clearly legible do not all fair out well, and there are not enough offsets provided to adequately specify the bottom shape amidship. There are abundant typos and other errors in the offset figures that make this design very difficult to work from. It would require being fully lofted to give an acceptably fair hull.
My drawing was not fully lofted to resolve errors, because I just wanted to see the general shape and find out if the patterns were any good as given. They're not. Many of these old magazine article designs aren't.