Producers of Cedar Strips


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
Very new to the Forum and the craft, so forgive me if this is a question that has been posted elsewhere. I am building my first cedar strip, and I am trying to find reliable producers of quality, full length (17' or greater) bead and cove strips for a reasonable price (i.e., less than what they're charging at Bear Mountain Working on a very tight budget, and don't really have the confidence to cut my own. Anyway, hoping someone can point me in the right direction. Thanks in advance.
Welcome Road Runner

Where do you live?
Shipping is a big factor !

When I started building canoes, I was floored at the cost of strips from suppliers. That convinced me that If I was going to build (I'm a poor boy) I'd have to make my own.

All you need is a strongback to cut you strips on, (you need one anyway to build your canoe on), cedar, a skilsaw, 13amp or more. A router, a router table and a set of bead and cove bits. By rolling your own so to speak, you can easily cut the cost in half, that includes buying the tools.

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Thanks Jim. I'm In the Chicago area.....planned to do my own but finding quality material to start with seems to be a bit of a challenge as well so.....maybe I can deepen my search a bit. Thanks!!!

Go to your nearest Menard's and look at the 2x cedar, 6,8,or 10's, looking for a piece you can "hi-grade".
If that doesn't work, find some real lumberyards. Here in the Cities, one store carries Aye grade cedar to 20 ft and D grade to 16'.

You didn't ask but, when I cut strips, I 1st cut the stock into "2"x"2" blanks, which can then be rotated to get the best grain.
Then using a thin kirf blade, the "2x" is cut into 1 1/2 wide strips, they are collected on an outfeed table in order, then taped back together with box tape, then rotate 90 degrees and cut the stacks in half, to get the 3/4 nominal strips. Final process as desired.

You can also try Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) for strips. Unless you can drive to Ontario and pick up, shipping across the border adds quite a bit to shipping costs. I ship kits from B.C. and can ship all the way across Canada for about the same price as going south to Washington or Oregon.
Good suggestion, Rod, thank you!! I'd seen these guys but didn't really give them a solid look. Definitely more cost effective than Canadian suppliers, though their max standard length (they can do special orders up to 20') is 6 - 8 feet. Anyway, big savings, thank you!!
That is the difference between Canadian east and east coast of US. On the west coast we can get clear tight grain up to 30 ft. or more if needed but many builders use shorter strips all the time with beautiful results.
Short poor quality video of cutting strips. Hope you can get something from it !

While I'm at it, I'll throw out another poor quality video of how I bead and cove my strips. The wind made this a short video !

If you can make your own, a clear 17 ft. western red cedar 1 X 6 board cost $99.45 each plus tax and getting it. I think you could get at least 16 strips per board. that comes to .37 cents per foot or about $400 dollars for enough strips to build a canoe. I have looked at Lowes and Home Depot once in a while you can get one or two boards most of the time you find none.
I buy #3 and better 16'x1"x6" and 1x8s for a lot less, from Menards.
I'm able to sort, and your calculations are about right at 16 strips from a 1x6 plank.
I've bought from Lowes and Home Depot, usually just for accent strips. No 16' cedar at either place, and very difficult to sort at their yards.

You might have better luck at a smaller yard.

Just did a quick online check, from Menards.
1x6x16' Western Red Cedar=$37.69
1x8x16' WRC= $47.09

I remember buying 16' 1x12s for $26.00, when I first started building. I still have a couple very clear ones. I doubt you can find them any more !

Another hint, the longer lengths are usually better wood.
I usually look for 2x8's or 2x10's that I can "hi grade", ie, cut off the knots if they are close the the edges.

I know you're working on a stripper, but if I'm looking for planking stock, then I'll look at 10-12 ft'ers, 18 and 20's if for strippers.

Reconsider about using full-length, clear, red cedar boards at $100 each per 1x6. For a standard tandem canoe, you'll need two 1x6 full-length boards per side, or four 1x6s for the entire canoe; that's $400. There's a better and much cheaper way to get the boards you need.

If you use a combination of 8' and 10' boards for your 16' canoe, you can visit small sawmills within driving distance and get roughsawn, air-dried boards for less than 1/4 of that $100 price. Plus, if you don't use 16' or 18' boards (only available in Western Red Cedar, Sitka Spruce, Redwood, and a few other western woods), a whole new world of wood species becomes available to you, depending on what the mill cuts. White cedar, basswood, pine, butternut, and other appropriate species for strips might be available. If the boards of the species you find has a few small knots, that's not a significant problem. A 1/2" diameter knot will only affect two 1/4" strips, and you can probably use some short strips anyway so just break the strip at the knot and mill the rest of the strip. If you're lucky enough to get perfectly clear boards, you'll need only eight or nine 1x6 boards, each board a little over half the length of the canoe. For instance, four 8' boards and four 10' boards will be perfect for a canoe up to 17' long. If you're building a 15' Ranger canoe, you can get by with all 8' boards.

If you try non full-length boards, you'll find everything about handling, ripping, and milling the strips much simplified. And you will be surprised that shorter boards make the stripping much easier, particularly when closing up the bottom "football" and working toward the ends of the canoe. If you stagger joints, and match the color and grain of adjoining strips, and make a neat butt joint, you won't even notice the inconspicuous joints. And when spectators view a well-done cedarstrip, the overall WOW factor is so great that they definitely will not notice little lines marking the joints.

To put the $400 for one canoe's boards into perspective, I just purchased 26 1x6 white cedar, air-dried, roughsawn boards in lengths from 8' 4" to just over 10' from a small sawmill about 2 hours from my home. Two of us, using a very well-equipped shop with power feeds on saws and routers, took those roughhewn boards and in one long day ended up with enough very precise 7/8" x 1/4" cove-and-bead strips for two 16' canoes and one 18' 6" canoe. Total cash outlay was under $250 for three canoes. You decide if you really want and need full-length strips.

If you're in Chicago, you'll have to drive a ways to find small sawmills in the farm country of southern Wisconsin, but it's an option worth considering.

The finest cedarstrip canoe I've ever seen was built by my son-in-law in my shop from roughsawn 8' white cedar boards. I took it to a wooden canoe show for him when he finished it and turned down a $5,000 offer to purchase it from a well-to-do gentleman who was smitten by the quality and beauty of the canoe.
First I disagree with Garypete, on several issues !

Gather all the information you can ! Using one information source, limits your knowledge base !

Cutting your strips on a table saw, first is expensive, second produces inferior strips !
Look for 1x stock, first ! second choice 2x stock. 2x stock requires more work, time, waste, and sawdust ! Uniformity in your strip dimensions is critical, to making your build easy !
The Skilsaw method is by far the best, and most inexpensive method, Hands down ! You have the strongback as your table. For your plank, and walk back and forth with a Skilsaw with a fence attached.
You can set up a 15 amp skilsaw with a 24 tooth Freud Diablo blade, and aluminum angle fence for right at $100, brand new. No better method out there..
Build bead and cove, and Stemless, if at all possible ! It's just as strong, and so much easier, and quicker to build ! Me I prefer the look of stemless !
I takes me a full day to machine 1x stock into bead and coved strips, by myself, with nothing more than a skilsaw, strongback, and a router table set up, for one canoe..

Decorative panel closing off the rear stem

I like the panel you've glassed into the stern section of your canoe that covers the end. I built a similar one but with a vertical panel, using the last station as a template and dadoing out the deck underside to accept the panel. I then installed a screw-in glass deck hatch just big enough to pass thru a can of beer in my hand. The "beer cooler" held a six pack and about three pounds of crushed ice. My canoe partner heartily approved of the added feature, especially on hot summer days.
Most of my lumber for strips, I found at Menards.

I sorted, (which Menards happily allows), through their planks of #3 and better 1x Cedar. The nice thing about this grade of planks ! They are real close to a full 1" thickness.

I looked at the 1x12s first, then on down as far as 1x6s. I would by at least enough planks to exceed 24" wide. Usually enough for any solo, and most tandems. I would always buy extra ! It gives you more to sort from, when stripping. I hate to walk away from a good plank staring at me from the rack ! It's like leaving an abandoned puppy at the pound :rolleyes:!