Advice on Long Deck Construction

Scott Rowe

Random Adventurer
I'm trying to reconstruct the deck on the infamous canoe shelf whose saga can be viewed at Although this smoothskin lapstrake shell's maker is unknown, I'm thinking from the hole patterns and cross piece imprints that a long deck of thin stock is in order. The question is how to build it? Can I steam bend some 1/4 inch plywood :confused: or segment it into two pieces with a narrow strip covering the seam? Appreciate advice or redirection on this site to construction ideas. I'd like to keep cost and skill level to a minimum while still presenting a period representation of this once beautiful canoe. Thanks.


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1/4 " Luan plywood bends very easily. I don't think you would need to steam it to achieve that shape.

1/2" fir bends quite easily too, and would look more authentic.
Thanks Brian, another stupid question; the deck doesn't sit on the top of the cant ribs does it (they are cut 3/8 to 1/2 inch from the sheer top)? I expect they will sit atop the crosspieces and breast hook and cover the sheer edge? Should this also have a carlin to support the deck circle edge of the deck? Appreciate the advice.
Decks are usually set between the sides such that the top of the deck is flush with the top of the outwales. There are some good example pictures here: .

If your deck is going to be made of really thin material, i.e. 1/4" plywood, then you'll need to construct a frame to support it. I would be inclined to use 1/2" square fir, cedar, or pine strips to make this frame. I would attach the frame to the sides of the canoe first, and then attach the deck to the frame.

You could use glue and a multitude of clamps to attach the frame to the canoe, or you could use a bunch of small screws. The screws would probably be easier.
I took your advice and built a frame using some scrap pine, three cross pieces and a carlin. I'm trying to achieve the look of the Peterborough in your link as I think the marking on the hull's inside indicate a long deck like that. I used some 1/4 ply that I had around but sadly I don't much like the look as it was oak plywood and has a lot of distracting grain. I'll try to mitigate the grain with my finish choice. Thanks again.
I'm glad I could help. Since this is a piece of furniture and will not be exposed to the elements, you could cover the plywood with veneer to achieve the grain pattern you like. Veneer in the size you would want is usually available on ebay for a low price.
The finished deck and canoe shelf

Well you gotta start somewhere. Better that I bugger up a canoe shelf than a true full canoe restoration. Anyway it's done and I can put cool stuff in it. Now the search to find a real restoration project. ....hey how did that pic get in there?


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