Stonefly Launched


Curious about Wooden Canoes
New Skin on Frame Canoe finished. Launched it today.

Yesterday I spent a few hours putting on the rub rails on the boat. Pretty simple matter of just drilling holes and screwing them to the Gunwales. I finally decided on a seat, I built a slat wooden bench and just let it rest on the stringers for now. I am going to mount it differently latter but I wanted to get this out of the shop and on the water.


This morning I put a coat of Tung Oil on the rub rails and seat and loaded it on the trailer and headed to little used ramp and as I hoped I was the only one there. So I unloaded Stonefly and slide her into the water for her maiden voyage.





The first thing I noticed about paddling it is it is no kayak! First impressions were it was a barge. Of course compared to the kayaks it is noticeably slower. But the Greenland paddle I was using wasn't a good match to a canoe either. Checking my GPS I found I cruised around 3.5 mph which isn't as slow as it felt. And while I don't have anything to compare it to, I suspect it is actually is far from slow for a canoe.

I found a stadium seat in the garage so I just put there in there to have a back rest. It slides around a little but overall it worked pretty well. It's simpler than building a back rest so for now it will work.


The one area I was disappointed in was it tracks a little on the hard side. This is nice out on the open lake when paddling down to my fish hole, but I really wanted a boat that would turn easy for use on the creeks and this one doesn't. But I made a conscious choice when designing it to be conservative in this area.

So over all I am pretty happy with it. I see a couple of things I will change in the plans but they are pretty minor. If I were to build another one for myself I would flatten the bottom a little bit and make the bow less 'V' shape to loosen up the tracking. If you were to use it on larger water you probably wouldn't want to change it.
"The first thing I noticed about paddling it is it is no kayak!"

A beautiful, very sleek canoe indeed. But it is not surprising that "The first thing I noticed about paddling it is it is no kayak!" Which is why you might try not paddling it like a kayak.

I suspect you would find it much more maneuverable if you paddled it with a somewhat broader-bladed paddle, and then took advantage of its being an open boat, not a decked kayak, by sitting or kneeling in it like a canoe rather than like a kayak.

With your body higher (derriere against a thwart, or sitting on a higher seat), you would be able readily to reach forward or a bit rearward to rudder, sweep, or pry, all to better advantage than can be had when sitting in one spot very low in the boat against a back rest. You would gain better leverage both from better body position and more favorable paddle location.

Of course, you would feel the tenderness of the hull a bit more, but that is something that can be used to advantage when maneuvering. It would b interesting to see a photo of the canoe loaded, that is, with you in it. Empty, it obviously rides quite high, and it is hard to judge how it might sit in the water as it is actually used.

In any event, I have enjoyed following your thinking in designing and in building the canoe (on the WoodenBoat magazine forum), and think process and the resulting canoe are both fascinating.
And also,

It's beautiful. And, The photography is very nice. I would like to know more about this. I've pondered the idea of this type construction. Did you mention how much it weighs?
Very nice Jeff,

Thanks for posting the pics here.

Your comments about minor changes to the design are interesting. I also have a canoe with a design I modified, and am wondering how it will perform.
Seems like often it is "hit or miss" for most casual builders.

Greg, it was just a matter or paddling with what I had or stay home. ;) I don't own a canoe paddle or a Euro style double blade paddle either. So the Greenland was my only choice. I have built hollow shafts in the past and have a couple laying around the shop I never did anything with. I will build a paddle in the next couple of weeks I am sure.

I will raise the seat up too. I just couldn't bring myself to put an ugly carriage bolt though the gunwale. I found the star(?) headed bolts for an Old Town but they are too short I think. But I have a couple of ideas.

I would like to know how it trimmed out too. I tried to take some photos but it's hard to while paddling by yourself. I am pretty sure it was a little stern down. From the photos I took it looked like the stern was almost up to the 2nd chine and the bow was a little bit over the first one. Midship appears to be right on the designed waterline. i think my seat needs to go just a little bit forward. Another reason I didn't want to permanently mount the seat yet.

Dave, my scales are broke but somewhere between 35-40 lbs and I really don't think it near 40 lbs. I pick it up and carry it by the gunwale with one hand. It is heavier than my Kayaks but there is a lot wood in the gunwales.

If your interested in more on the build start to finish, I just put all this up on my web site under the "Whats New" tab.

Dan, I think design is hit an miss regardless how long you have been doing it. The more experience you gain the more you expect from your designs. I have designed several kayaks and all of them had something I would change. Granted the last one was better than expected and has turned out to be outstanding boat in all respects. But I still have a couple of things I will change to improve it. I think it is just part of it.

Another idea for your too short OT seat bolts.

On my 1st I had the same problem, I ended up getting some SS elec stand-off couplers, that I used to thread an extension to a complete bolt to make it longer.

In hindsite, maybe getting good with a torch to silver solder or braze an extension on would be a better idea.

That's not a bad idea and it had not crossed my mind either. I have a torch (and a brand new Mig welder still in the box) sitting there. I really need to practice my welding and brazing. It's been a long time since I held either in my hands.
I probably would try a silver solder 1st, and I would taper each piece similar to splicing gunwales to get plenty to contact area.

The problem created by the couplers was that then there was a portion of the screw with a larger diameter, that made installation a trick.

Ever heard of McMaster Carr? It is a HUGE industrial supplier, they have things you have never thought of. I have dealt with them for many many years. So I went there and looked and they have some long stainless carriage bolts. I need to do some measuring but I think that these will work. And their prices are reasonable.

I order from them all the time, for both work and pleasure.

What size are the pieces you found? I couldn't find anything longer then 6" unless it was 1/4" dia or more.

Photo of loaded boat

It would b interesting to see a photo of the canoe loaded, that is, with you in it. Empty, it obviously rides quite high, and it is hard to judge how it might sit in the water as it is actually used.

Here you go. A photo of the boat loaded with me paddling it. I included the Lines Plan just for comparison. I don't think it could be much closer! It sits almost exactly as the software predicted. The only difference is at the ends. If you look close the boat doesn't have as much curve in the sheer line as shown in the drawings. Meaning it doesn't have the rocker I designed in.

I learned an important lesson building this one. One of those things you can only learn by messing up or working for a experienced builder. The slight tumble home caused me problems I didn't foresee, but I have learned that lesson well. ;)


Thanks for the additional pictures. Seeing the canoe laden, it becomes apparent that a bit more rocker would improve the maneuverability of the canoe -- and also makes it clear that having a seat lower than is usual for an open canoe is appropriate for this boat.

Robert Morris in his "Building Skin-on-Frame Boats" mentions briefly the difficulty of having a curved sheer on a SOF boat, but does not, if I recall rightly, discuss how this might affect the amount of rocker.

I think that any of us who think of building a SOF canoe someday have learned a lot from watching you design and build this canoe. Thanks for sharing your experience.
This is lesson I will do my best to teach and save you or anyone else from learning the hard way. If the Guwales are plumb, when you bend them they stay plumb. Picture a board laying a table and you bend it. It still lays flat.

If it gunwale.boar is angled outward and you bend it inwards the ends tend to rise upwards as you bend it. You can actually predict with reasonable accuracy how much with some basic trigonometry.

If you have tumble home in your gunwale/board when bent it wants to arc downwards. Stonefly was designed with a little tumble home just because I liked the way it looked frankly. Since I have rather thick inwales and outwales there was enough strength in the 4 board to force the hull out of shape. A single gunwale strip might have stayed in place when I bent it.

Also my building methods that work so well for kayaks (which always have flared outward gunwales) failed on this one and I didn't see till it was to late. I am working on my next canoe and I will be using a different strong back and frame setup. Something better suited to canoes and will still work with the kayaks. I figure if I don't learn something with every boat I build something is wrong. Boy did I lean a lot on this one!!

Live and learn!
Last edited: