Build Your Own Skin-on-frame Canoe

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NOTE: Currently all canoes are spoken for by registered students. Available seats in the class are for folks who want to learn the process, and who will not be taking a boat home. These students will pay the discounted rate of $750 ($700 early bird pricing). If you have any questions, email [email protected]


Skin-on-frame boats evolved from baskets. Coracles -- round, basket-like crafts -- are still in use in Wales for salmon fishing; Irishmen still row their Currachs off their wild west coast, and native people of the arctic still fish from kayaks and umiaks. Yet these boats also appear in a variety of modern forms -- from tough whitewater, aluminum-framed take-down boats, to wood-framed, nylon skinned baidarkas. In this course you will build and take home your own skin on frame double paddle canoe. These boats are perfect for flat water paddling, and they are light enough to easily car-top or carry from car to water or from pond to pond. Over the course of the week, we’ll steam and install ribs, lash the stringers (longitudinal pieces) to the ribs, install the inwales and complete the frame, skin the boat with a tough polyester cloth, waterproof the skin, and christen the boats in the pond. Students will build a 13 1/2 foot canoe rigged for both solo and tandem use. It will weigh only about 27 pounds.

This course is best suited for two people working on one boat; the second student working on the same boat will receive discounted tuition at $750 (or $700 early bird pricing if signing up at least 6 weeks before class starts). You are welcome to sign up as an individual; although, we do encourage you to invite someone to join. Please email [email protected] to sign up as a pair.

If you are signing up as an individual and would welcome an assistant, let us know! We may be able to pair you with a student who is interested in learning the skill and does not want/need a boat of their own. If you're interested in signing up as an assistant (i.e. helping someone else build their boat), let us know! Assistants are eligible for the discounted tuition rate of $750 (or $700 early bird).  

Meaghan Vigeant, an alum of the 2017 course, shared her experiences with Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Magazine. You can read the article here.

Course Reviews:

"I liked how the course was set up to give you as much or as little assistance needed to construct the canoe. Those who had background experience with tools and building things were able to go off and do their own thing, while beginners like myself received the proper amount of guidance to go and build."


Woodworking and Craft


All levels


  • Sterling College: 2 Continuing Education Units ($260 additional)

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