Once or twice each year, we are able to accommodate individuals who wish to build their own canoes under our
guidance. In fact, since 1983 over one hundred enthusiastic builders have worked with us and taken their canvassed
hulls home for paint and varnish.
The typical course takes eight days and the cost is roughly the same as the price of the canoe selected.
With a bit of help from us the student begins with a stack of cedar planks, and proceeds
through the steps of shaping ribs, steam bending them onto the form, planking, and carving the thwarts and decks.
Once off the form the hull is assembled, the tacks clinched, the canoe sanded inside and out and protected with
a sealing coat of varnish. Next comes the exciting step of stretching the canvas skin over the oiled hull, then
the canvas weave is filled with traditional filler.
The canoe goes home with its builder with gunwales installed, for curing, varnishing, and painting with these
materials provided as part of the course. With care the finished canoe can stand alongside those professionally
made, and the proud builder can rightfully claim most of the credit and all the enjoyment yet to come.
In recent years, we have been offering slightly more intense 7-day courses, which seems to be a more manageable
commitment of time for many students and also for us at the shop. In these shortened workshops the students
still build their canoes from start through canvassing and filling then take them home for final finishing as
in the longer version. But we help things along a bit by working alongside the students as necessary. The cost
remains the same - basically the base retail price of the model chosen.
Nearly 100 individuals have built their own canoes with us at Island Falls Canoe and another 250+ have taken Jerry's courses offered through the WoodenBoat School at Brooklin, Maine and similar programs such as the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle Washington.