Wide Board Project


student of canoes
Lately I've been working on a Wide Board and Batten project, I thought some of you might be interested in some pictures.
It has four basswood strips per side, the widest strip measures six inches wide amidship. The ribs and battens are 3/8"x3/4" half round oak.
This is my first attempt at a wide board, construction is going smoothly for the most part.
Next comes the gunwales, outer stems, and decks.

Mark Morrall


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Wow, it looks GREAT! How did you go about deciding the planking arrangement? What wood did you use for planking, basswood or white cedar? Again, it looks great.

Thanks Mark.
The width of the rough stock I had decided it was going to have four boards per side. I would have liked to have tried only three, but the tree just wasn't going to allow it.
The keelson strips aren't tapered, I wanted them to be wide where they turned ninty degrees at the ends. The next two where measured out to allow the third strip to make the bulk of the curve of the bildge. I didn't want a seam at such a harsh bend. The top, or shear strip isn't tapered at all at the time it's put on, it's trimmed down to the finished shear line after the gunwales and the decks are installed.
The planking is Basswood, I can see now why it was originally used for "Wide Boards". By wetting the outside only, the thin board cups right around the curves of a canoe. I hope I can get my hands on more of it.

Nice Job!

I was wondering !....I presume you used a mold of the style of stripper installation....Never saw a wide board in the process of construction...I just purchased 18' stripper Laker in Medway Maine. just needs a minimum of restoration...(dings and scratches)..would love to get more information about building a small 13 footer of that style modeled after My Stowe Mansfield..sounds like it would be a nice project.....Good work!
The type of mold I use is solid, just like a cedar/canvas mold less the steel bands.
I hope to have an amateur video edited and ready to go by next fall. On it I will show the building of a cedar strip from milling the lumber to varnishing. Since the wideboard canoe is so similar in construction to the longitudinal cedar strip, I'll show just a portion of it being built.
If there is enough interest in such a video I'll try to make it available.
Good luck with your project, I would love to see some pictures of it.

Hi Mark,

I was just re-reading your posts about your wide board and cedar strip canoes. Do you have an update on the board-and-batten project? And what are the dimensions of the board-and-batten canoe? Is this built on the mold you used for the cedar strip? Finally, in one of your cedar strip posts, there is a photo showing two forms stacked on top of each other. I don't think that the TWO forms were ever mentioned before. Are they of different dimensions?

Hi Michael,

The progress on the canoe has slowed a bit because of the holidays.
I've got the gunwales (ash) on along with the decks (butternut with sycamore accents) and thwart blocks (cedar). It won't take long to finish it up now.
The form you see on the floor in one of the pictures is what I built a boat off of a couple of canoes ago, I don't like it. The bottom of it is too vied, this makes it very fast but doesn't allow it to turn as easily as I like. That canoe is hanging in a local canoe store now. I'm going to change my current design a bit for the next canoe so I'll be cannibalizing the two molds for parts to build a new mold.
The last two canoes I built have these dimensions;
15'6" length overall
29 3/8" widest outside width, around the 5" waterline
At the center- 28 1/4" inside width at gunwales,
30 5/8" width to outside of the gunwales,
12 1/2" deep
21" tall at the ends
1" of rocker at both ends.
With a nice arch shaped bottom.
All the new canoes I build are solos. I'm working towards a design that is suitable for flat water tripping, with a good blend of lightweight, durable, practical, and of course nice to look at.
Anyways, here are a few photos.



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Wide Board Update

I managed to get something done over the weekend.
The deck trim is done as well as the thwart, all made out of sycamore.
The seat frame is also sycamore with ash hanger cleats.



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That looks sweet! So pristine. It gives me a headache thinking about the hundreds of hours more I'll be stripping and sanding a vintage wideboard.
Anyone have any clever techniques for scraping and sanding the "checkboard" openings inside the canoe?
The canoe (previous posts re "R.Maw -builder") came to me with 5 coats of paint, which had to be stripped to do some repairs. I'll likely have to repaint, at least the outside hull, since there is red paint (deck & porch?) stain in the cedar.

That is great work! My "To do" list is already full, and my canoe building time is full with clients work, or I'd be chasing your tail. I've been pursuing the solo canoe design issue for quite a few years now, and have designed a good number. If you ever want to toss some ideas around, feel free to toss some my way.


Its quite likely that the original was painted, not varnished. Quite common, really. I actually like the look of a painted outside and bright interior.
Thanks Doug,

This July I would like to stop by your shop for a visit. My wife and I were up near you last year but didn't have time to stop. This year I will make a point to set a day aside to swing buy, Last year we paddled the Manitogatan, this year it looks like it will be the Berens River.

My canoe designing is mostly by trial and error, mostly error. But I have been getting close lately though.

Hey Mark,

You'd be very welcome to stop by and visit, and no need to make it short either. Its not often that I get to talk shop with someone who knows what's really going on, and who really knows wooden canoes!

Give me a bit of heads up on your itinerary so I can ensure that I'm available.
It's finished!

Just in time for Canoecopia in Madison.


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That is one pretty board and batten canoe.
Are the battens & ribs cherry?
Interesting idea to make floor boards for solo paddling only, rather than cover most of the floor area. What length is that canoe?
Thanks Rob.
The ribs and battens are actually white oak. Normally I like to use elm but I wanted to use up a bunch of oak that I"ve had laying around for too long.
Thanks guys!
It's been fun building it.

This one comes in at around 70#.
The longitudinal cedar strips I build are a bit lighter; they tip the scale at 61#.
My goal has always been to build a canoe light enough for my wife to portage;) I'm almost there.
The trick is to trim the weight without sacrificing strength, appearance, and respect for the building techniques of the originals.


That's awesome! Its great to see that someone is keeping the fire going with these fine old boatbuildling methods, and that you're doing a good job of building. Looking forward to meeting you on your trip up this way this summer. I hope that it works out.
Thanks Douglas, your kind words make all the long hours and bloody fingers worthwhile.
My trip to canoe the Berens River may be on hold till next year. My wife is taking me up on my "next year you can pick the trip" excuse. She has us booked to take a five day sailing class/trip on Lake Superior in August.
Oh well, it's a small price to pay for having wife that will put up with sawdust constantly being dragged into the house, traveling hundreds of miles to buy
lumber, leaving a blood trail going into the house when I cut the tip of my finger off, dropping whatever she is doing in the house so I can have an extra set of hands in the shop, and on and on and on.
Next year for sure though.